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Tag: GPS

FBI Cuts Back on Use of GPS Systems After Supreme Court Ruling

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Supreme Court has ruled and the FBI is responding.

USA Today reports that the FBI has started cutting back on the use of GPS surveillance in wake of a Jan. 23 Supreme Court ruling which said law enforcement needs court authorization to attach a GPS to a vehicle.

The paper reported that the FBI implemented the change the day after the court ruling which said that mounting the device secretly on a car amounted to a search protected by the Fourth Amendment.

To read more click here. 

 

Supreme Court Rules Police Must Have Search Warrant Before Using GPS Device

By Robert Barnes
Washington Post

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday that police must obtain a search warrant before using a GPS device to track criminal suspects. But the justices left for another day larger questions about how technology has altered a person’s expectation of privacy.

Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that the government needed a valid warrant before attaching a GPS device to the Jeep used by D.C. drug kingpin Antoine Jones, who was convicted in part because police tracked his movements on public roads for 28 days.

“We hold that the government’s installation of a GPS device on a target’s vehicle, and its use of that device to monitor the vehicle’s movements, constitutes a ‘search’ ” under the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, Scalia wrote.

To read the full story click here.

Read opinion United States v. Jones.

Former Leaders of FBI, DEA Urge Stricter Privacy Laws in GPS Tracking

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The tension between effective law enforcement and personal privacy is always present to some degree, but has certainly intensified in the decade following 9/11.

Now, a bipartisan group including former FBI and DEA leaders are calling for new safeguards to protect individuals’ personal privacy.

The Constitution Project, a D.C.-based think tank, is calling for limit’s on law enforcement uses of GPS and other tracking technologies, reports the Associated Press.

A report released by the think tank urges that a search warrant be required for any GPS surveillance lasting more than 24 hours, and that the specific use of GPS devices being applied secretly to a suspect’s car require a warrant from the get-go. In the past few years reports have surfaced of FBI agents secretly placing GPS tracking units under the bumper’s of individual’s cars, such as an animal rights activist and an Arab-American student.

The GPS tracking debate is “one instance of the much broader problem of regulating new technology,” said Patricia Wald, of the Constitution Project and the former chief judge on the federal appeals court in Washington.

The White House maintains that warrants would hamper law enforcement investigations and, because the surveillance monitors movements made in public, they are not needed, according to the AP. The latter would presumably not apply to the secretive installing of tracking units on citizen’s cars.

Among the members of the committee that produced the report is Asa Hutchinson, who ran the DEA under President George W. Bush. “As the former head of the DEA, I understand the need for tracking bad guys, being able to secretly monitor a suspect’s movements. But this is a good balance between the needs of law enforcement and privacy issues,” Hutchinson said, according to AP.

The report comes as the Supreme Court is set to consider the issue in November.

To read more click here

 

Calif. Student Sues FBI for Putting GPS Tracking Device on Car

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A 20-year-old Egyptian-American college student in California filed a lawsuit against the FBI on Wednesday, saying the agency violated his civil rights when it secretly placed a GPS tracking device on his car, the Associated Press reported.

Yasir Afifi, a student at Mission College in Santa Clara, Calif., who insists the FBI has no reason to show interest in him, discovered the tracking device last October after a mechanic doing an oil change pointed it out, AP reported. The suit was filed by Council on American-Islamic Relations, claims the FBI violated his civil rights by putting the device on his car without a warrant.

AP reported that Afifi travels frequently to the Middle East and helps support his two brothers. His late father, awell-known Islamic-American community leader, died last year in Egypt.

FBI spokesman Michael Kortan declined to talk specifics, but told the AP: “The FBI conducts investigations under well-established Department of Justice and FBI guidelines that determine what investigative steps or techniques are appropriate. Those guidelines also ensure the protection of civil and constitutional rights.”

Arab-American Student Who Found FBI GPS on Car Wants Congressman to Find Out Why

Rep. Honda/official photo

Rep. Honda/official photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Arab- American student from California who recently found an FBI GPS on his car is asking his Congressman to help find out why he was being followed, Jeff Stein of Spy Talk reports.

Stein reports that student Yasir Afifi has turned to Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) for help.

Afifi’s attorney told SpyTalk she was drafting a letter to the Congressman to “put some pressure on the FBI to explain its practices.”

The attorney Zahar Billoo told Spy Talk the FBI was “wasting tax dollars” by tracking Afifi and “not pursuing serious suspects.”

The son of an Islamic-American community leader, Afifi found a GPS device on his car during an oil change and the FBI came knocking to get it back.

The whole thing started one recent Sunday when Yasir Afifi, a 20-year-old American born business marketing student at Mission College in Santa Clara, Calif., discovered the device while getting an oil change at Ali’s Auto Care, WIRED reported.

The mechanic saw a mysterious wire near the right rear wheel and exhaust and removed it, WIRED reported. A friend of Ali’s then posted a photo the the GPS device online, according to an interview with Ali.

Two days later, WIRED reported, the FBI came for the device and Afifi turned it over.

Arab-American Student Finds FBI GPS Device on Car; FBI Comes Knocking For It

santa claraBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ooops!

The publication WIRED reports that a student in  California, the son of an Islamic-American community leader, found a GPS device on his car during an oil change and the FBI came knocking to get it back.

The whole thing started last Sunday when Yasir Afifi, a 20-year-old American born business marketing student at Mission College in Santa Clara, Calif., discovered the device while getting an oil change at Ali’s Auto Care, WIRED reported.

The mechanic saw a mysterious wire near the right rear wheel and exhaust and removed it, WIRED reported. A friend of Ali’s then posted a photo the the GPS device online, according to an interview with Ali.

Two days later, WIRED reported, the FBI came for the device and Afifi turned it over. Afifi said that comments from agents indicated he’d been under surveillance for at least three months, but Afifi added he’d done nothing to warrant the attention.

WIRED said San Francisco FBI spokesman Pete Lee declined to acknowledge the existence of the device, saying:

“I can’t really tell you much about it, because it’s still an ongoing investigation.”

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Justice Dept. Wants Appeals Court to Reconsider Warrantless GPS Issue

gpsBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The issue of law enforcement using warrantless GPS is still simmering.

The latest: The Justice Department on Monday asked the full U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C. to overturn a ruling by a three-judge panel, which said law enforcement must get a warrant when using a GPS to track a suspect, the BLT:The Blog of the Legal Times reports.

The three-judge panel ruled that authorities violated the privacy of Antoine Jones, the co-owner of a nightclub in Washington, by using the GPS to link him to a  suspected Maryland drug house, the blog reported. The court vacated his conviction and life sentence.

Federal prosecutors have cited a 1983 Supreme Court ruling that said a person traveling on a public road should have no expectation of privacy, the blog wrote.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Smith wrote in the petition for a rehearing that the ruling”raises enormous practical problems for law enforcement,” the blog reported.

“The decision leaves unresolved precisely when the monitoring of a GPS device becomes a ‘search’ under the Fourth Amendment, and implicitly calls into question common and important practices such as sustained visual surveillance and photographic surveillance of public places,” Smith wrote, according to the blog.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

New Weapon in Bank Robberies: GPS Device

bank-robberyBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Apparently GPS isn’t just for the geographically challenged anymore.

The Chicago Tribune is reporting that police were able to track down three bank robbers in suburban Chicago last week, thanks to a credit-card sized GPS device that had been stuffed in with the stolen cash.

The paper, referring to an FBI affidavit, said the GPS led police almost instantly to the robbers in Dolton, Ill.

The Trib reported that the FBI and banking officials said “they believed it was the first time the technology — similar to what is increasingly used in cell phones and other devices — had been deployed to solve a bank robbery in the Chicago region. The FBI did use a GPS device last year to help free a man being held for $40,000 ransom, placing it in a bag of money tracked to a South Side home.”

Debbie Jemison, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Bankers Association, told the paper that banks started using the device about two years ago, but is unclear how widespread it’s use is.