Photo of a GPS tracking device
A secret GPS tracking device was found attached to a citizen's car. CC by kobakou/Flickr

A citizen born in the United States, Yasir Afifi, got a bit of a surprise recently. Oil change technicians pointed out an unusual anomaly to him. Magnetically attached to the undercarriage of his vehicle was a global positioning system tracking device. The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has since demanded the GPS equipment back, and the ACLU has vowed to challenge the FBI’s actions.

Surprise comes from FBI with an oil change

Yasir Afifi was surprised when the auto mechanics doing his oil change found the GPS tracking device attached to the undercarriage of the vehicle. A friend of Yasir Afifi explained that the GPS was the same type the FBI uses. That friend also posted photos of it online. Afifi had police and Federal Bureau of Investigation officials show up at his home to collect the device, although the FBI doesn’t confirm it belongs to the Bureau.

No reason why a GPS should be there

The GPS tracking device was allowed on the vehicle because of a recent U.S. 9th circuit court ruling. The ruling says that a warrant isn’t needed to secretly track vehicles. Yasir Afifi is half Egyptian. This is why he believes the FBI was interested him. Yasir Afifi was son of an Islamic-American community leader, but Afifi is a U.S.-born citizen.

ACLU doesn’t approve of the GPS tracking

The American Civil Liberties Union quickly contacted Yasir Afifi when the FBI device was found on his vehicle. The ACLU considers this a great opportunity to challenge the 9th circuit on its ruling that the FBI doesn’t need a warrant to track cars. In fact, the ACLU has been waiting for a case that would help challenge it. The FBI contacted Afifi six months ago. Afifi cooperated with the FBI, saying that he would be happy to answer questions if his lawyer approved. The lawyer contacted the FBI, but he never heard anything back. An “anonymous tip” was given to the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Afifi. The tip suggested he was a threat to national security.

Citations

Wired.com: wired.com/threatlevel/2010/10/fbi-tracking-device/all/1

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