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College student finds an FBI tracking device on his car, big brother or necessary evil?

SAN FRANCISCO – Yasir Afifi, a 20-year-old computer salesman and community college student, took his car in for an oil change earlier this month and his mechanic spotted an odd wire hanging from the undercarriage.

The wire was attached to a strange magnetic device that puzzled Afifi and the mechanic. They freed it from the car and posted images of it online, asking for help in identifying it.

Two days later, FBI agents arrived at Afifi's Santa Clara apartment and demanded the return of their property — a global positioning system tracking device now at the center of a raging legal debate over privacy rights.

One federal judge wrote that the widespread use of the device was straight out of George Orwell's novel, "1984".


Asked by sweet-a-kins at 8:59 PM on Oct. 16, 2010 in Politics & Current Events

Level 34 (67,502 Credits)
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Answers (24)
  • That investigators don't need a warrant to use GPS tracking devices in California troubles privacy advocates, technophiles, criminal defense attorneys and others.
    this is the only part that bothers me. You should have a system of checks and balances to be sure that innocent citizens aren't being targeted. This can go for both racial profiling type problems as well as personal vendettas. You should have something of a reasonable suspicion before being able to invade someone's privacy like that.

    Answer by lovinangels at 11:00 PM on Oct. 16, 2010

  • Well I can say this much, the FBI doesn't just say, oh hey look there's a guy I want to know what he's doing and where he's going. No reason, just want to invade his privacy and violate his rights.

    Answer by Anonymous at 9:07 PM on Oct. 16, 2010

  • Here's what I find fishy about the story. That the FBI didn't hide it better. An every 3,000 mile oil change comes really fast when you are in sales. Probably every month. Out of all the probably awesome spy toys they have, they couldn't make a tracking device that was not easily found by the Jiffy Lube guy?

    Answer by karamille at 9:33 PM on Oct. 16, 2010

  • If the FBI was involved, there was a good reason to do it. They can't and won't just pick anyone to stick a bug to. No it isn't an invasion of privacy or his rights. This day and age it is necessary for everyone's safety for them to do their job. We would be the first ones to blame them if something would happen and they weren't doing their job.

    Answer by Lifes-A-Dance at 9:06 PM on Oct. 16, 2010

  • Ya know, I'd want them to do their job and follow up on their leads and sometimes it involves doing it this way. I'm glad they are trying to keep my community and my country safe. It's their job and they are doing what they can. I agree, too many times people complain about law enforcement doing their job and then the very next breath complain because they think they aren't doing their job. Can't have your cake and eat it too.

    Answer by Anonymous at 9:09 PM on Oct. 16, 2010

  • Sweets, You've now relinquished the right to EVER complain about past or future terrorist attacks, by questioning the right of the FBI to THEIR JOBS and investigate leads! Do you REALLY think the best way of stopping a terrorist plot, is by police by chance pulling over a truck loaded with explosives en route to it's destination?!

    "One of the agents produced a printout of a blog post that Afifi's friend Khaled allegedly wrote a couple of months ago. It had something to do with a mall or a bomb, Afifi said. He hadn't seen it before and doesn't know the details of what it said. He found it hard to believe Khaled meant anything threatening by the post. He's a smart kid and is not affiliated with anything extreme and never says anything stupid like that, I’ve known that guy my whole life.“


    Answer by LoriKeet at 9:30 PM on Oct. 16, 2010

  • Hmmm, that's pretty effed up. I am reasonably sure that there is more to the story.

    That said, I don't know what right the FBI has to demand their device back after abandoning it with someone that didn't even realize it was there. How can he be responsible for something he knows nothing about?


    Answer by QuinnMae at 10:36 PM on Oct. 16, 2010

  • That is terrifying. What gave them the right?!

    Answer by Ati_13 at 9:03 PM on Oct. 16, 2010

  • anyone ever heard of how citizens are treated in countries where they do not have the right to question the practices of their government? anyone want to move there? come on now, people. i'm interested in a link with some facts, maybe statements from the FBI or a reliable source regarding their reasoning with documentation. And I do find it odd that they did not hide the tracking device from regular maintenance. I thought that some of the government's ability to invade privacy rights was fixed... that whole random phone and computer tapping thing - i thought that was dealt with. i must have spaced out... hopefully someone can come up with some real information here. this sounds very ugly.

    Answer by figaro8895 at 11:31 PM on Oct. 16, 2010

  • Did the FBI have a warrant or not to put it on his car? The courts have been all over the place on whether they need a warrant or not. The Obama administration has been arguing with the courts that the federal government does not need a warrant.

    It's going to take the Supream Court to figure this all out.


    Answer by Natesmom507 at 12:43 AM on Oct. 17, 2010