Posts Tagged ‘FBI’

Our future privacy may already be a thing of the past

Monday, October 18th, 2010

FBI Agents showed up to claim this GPS device... Fortunately they left their memory flasher at home.

What would you do if you found a GPS tracker on your vehicle? Would you just assume you were being tracked by a federal agency? Would it make you paranoid? Would it confirm all the reasons you wear a tinfoil hat while you comment on underground conspiracy forums? Is that last one just me?

The legality of law enforcement agencies using GPS devices is being called into question after Yasir Afifi, a 20 year old college student, discovered a GPS device attached to his car during an oil change earlier this month. Uncertain of the device’s function or its origins, Yasir took pictures of the device and posted them up to see if he could determine what was going on. Shortly after the pictures had gone up, the FBI showed up to demand the return of the device.

I’m not here to argue against racial profiling (which would appear to be the case here) or scream government conspiracy but rather to take a look at where the past few years have gotten our “democratic” society as the technology has quickly outpaced the laws of our nation.

When the telephone was put into common use, law enforcement agencies found the means to listen in on the conversations. Discovering they could record the conversations in the late 1800s, it would be a few decades before the constitutionality of the process would be decided upon. Above all else, it was determined that the right of the individual to their privacy outweighed the legal arguments that were presented by the authorities. The matter was revisited during World War II where it was argued that allowing more leeway in wire taps would assist in the defense of the United States. But it was not until 9/11 that the courts determined to allow “wiggle” room in the laws regarding phone taps which was then expanded to include electronic communication via the means of data transfers.

But the recent advancements in GPS technology have allowed for a “gray” area. It isn’t technically and invasion of privacy, authorities argue, and provides a minimum of information in regards to the general whereabouts of the “suspect”. It also saves money that would otherwise be spent on surveillance and “tails” while still allowing the suspect to be tracked, at least while in their vehicle.

But how long before this data becomes damning in a court of law? We’ve already seen cases where a suspect’s cell phone calls are triangulated via cell towers to place them at the scene of the crime. How long before GPS is an accepted means of placing someone in danger of being convicted for a crime they didn’t commit? How long before the authorities bring in suspects merely based on their locale rather than by any other actual facts?

While the Internet rumbles with conspiracy theories and talks of “Big Brother” and “1984”, it may be best that we listen to those rumblings. We are entering a day and age where satellite tracking is not only feasible but a reality. We live in a time where devices we use on a daily basis determine our location and track our routines. Our online browsing habits are recorded each time we log onto the web, our cell phones keep track of who we call and when, and our every action that we see fit to record to the various social networks are kept for months, sometimes years, at a time.

We should be concerned by the lack of concern by the California courts in regards to law enforcement agents not being required to submit for warrants before attaching tracking devices to vehicles. We should be concerned with the lack of understanding with regards to the judges making decisions in exactly how this information affects our privacy. We should be concerned that the value of that privacy is becoming less and less in the eyes of the court. We should, as a collective, be concerned that the law isn’t keeping up with the technology.

And you guys wanted to make fun of my tinfoil hat.

Gritskrieg – End of Line










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