by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
fbi, gps, tracking, warrant, yasir afifi

Student Who Found GPS Device On His Car Due To Reddit Comment Sues The FBI

from the don't-mess-with-reddit dept

Last fall, we wrote about the bizarre situation of Yasir Afifi, a student here in California who discovered a GPS tracking device on his car during an oil change, and then posted photos of the device on Reddit. Following that, the FBI showed up at his house demanding the tracking device back. It later turned out that the key reason behind tracking him was a random comment on Reddit that -- if read in context -- did not represent any kind of threat or warning that should have resulted in FBI surveillance. But, of course, since there's almost no oversight on who the FBI gets to spy on, it didn't care and just started tracking Afifi.

Afifi has now sued the government over the tracking action, claiming that it was a violation of his civil rights. There are some differences of opinion in the courts over whether or not the government needs a warrant to place GPS devices on cars, which provides some background for this case. There's a bit of a circuit split on that right now, with the government (obviously) insisting that no warrant is needed. Part of the goal of this lawsuit appears to be to get another ruling on this issue to push it forward. Given the history on this subject, I would guess that Afifi will likely lose the lawsuit, but the possibility that it actually does go in his favor makes the case worth paying attention to.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jul 2014 @ 4:18am

    Re: Classic

    Actually profiling is pretty goddamn stupid. Despite any illusions of efficiency doing so creates an exploitable gap in your security. If you give them something to watch it means free stealth for those who don't fit the profile. Barring feelings of validation of bigotry the only "feature" is that it leaves feelings of security without inconvenience because you're not "those people".

    One hilariously karmic example of profiling backfiring: retail. A store watches closely and practically stalks any black customers that enter. Meanwhile the actual shoplifters have figured it out, bring a black friend as a decoy and walk right out of the store with expensive items.

    Bonus to the stupidity: they're focusing on the wrong source of theft. The biggest source of retail shrinkage comes from the employees.

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