By Rachel Youmans

Hey, US government? Sorry, I guess you didn’t get the memo. It turns out George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four was not, in fact, a guideline for how to run a country.

A new ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals says that it is perfectly legal for government agents to plant GPS devices on your vehicle without warrant- even if it’s parked in your driveway.

This might seem extremely disturbing to you. It directly conflicts with the fourth amendment, which protects Americans from search and seizure without warrants.

And how is the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals explaining this? Apparently driveways just are not considered private. GPS devices do not require warrants in public because theoretically the information gathered from them could be found without tools, so classifying driveways as public means law enforcement does not need a warrant at all to track your every move.

But at least this is being used to catch criminals, right? Even if it’s an invasion of privacy, we know that it’s only for our own protection.
Yeah, right.

Yasir Afifi, a 20 year-old California college student, made news a few weeks ago when he found a GPS attached to his car and his friend posted pictures of it on the social news website Reddit. Soon after the post was made, FBI agents arrived at Afifi’s door, asking for their device back. They also interrogated him about a Reddit post another friend had made.
So what could the post possibly have said to have gotten not only the writer but a completely unrelated friend tracked by the FBI? It must have been a serious threat!

In short, it was an observation on how easy it would be for an unsuspicious person to blow up a mall, and a comment on the inefficacy of mall security systems.

This is ridiculous. The FBI should not be given the right to invade our privacy at any point in time if they are going to abuse that right by viewing a stupid joke a student made online as a serious threat to society.
Stop playing around on the internet and start doing your jobs, FBI.

18 COMMENTS

  1. okay. well i for one do not care if they put cameras up to monitor the american population. i do not have anything to hide. if people complain, they probably have something to hide. I probably wouldnt care if they put a camera in my house because im one person on a screen among thousands. so im not even worried about them looking at my camera. it would only be a glance and then move on to the next one and then the next one until they find illegal activity.

  2. I have nothing to hide, but it is still a little concerning to hear that the government is taking away the privacy of American citizens. I understand that it is all to provide more protection so that it is easy to catch people who are committing crimes. GPS on cars is not an extreme, but if it starts out with this what will the government do next?

  3. I don’t think that putting a gps on someones car is actually invading their privacy all that much. All it pretty much does is tell the gov. where that car is being driven. I think making a comment like the one this guy did should be checked out. If a student made a comment like that about school they would be checked out. Or at least I hope so. What I don’t understand is why someone would make a comment like that online and expect not to be watched.

  4. Every magician decieves his audience while they are looking and listening directly at him. GPS tracking devices that keep track of every citizen’s movements is an invasion of privacy disguised as a protective program. Americans continue to voluntarily give up their rights, privacy, and free thought to give into a culture of fear that politicians and buisnessmen perputrate to stay in power. People who notice and speak out find themselves in a magic show where the political and buisnessmen magicians literally fool the public into believing these people are paronoid or crazy.The problem is if we don’t say no now, how will we say no to future things when the government gains even more power?

  5. As crazy as this GPS thing sounds, I feel that nowadays it is completely necessary. There’s a reason we haven’t had a major terrorist attack since 9/11. This kind of goes along with the recent complaints about the high security at airports but I feel that I’d rather spend extra time being searched then have something terrible happen.

  6. I don’t like a very proactive law enforcement, but this is not bad. What does it matter that the government always knows the location of your vehicle? If they could plant a GPS device on your car that deactivated when you entered your drive way, so as not to be monitoring your position on your private property, then the government would still know where your vehicle were at all times because when the GPS device is deactivated, then they know that your vehicle is on your property. Therefore, if the government monitoring the public is not an issue, then neither should be the government monitoring the position of your vehicle, which might as well be classified as public monitoring.

  7. I really just do not like this. It not that this is a horrible idea, it is that it could lead to other invasions of privacy. Like Olivia said, I have nothing to hid, but at a certain point the government should be sperate from people’s personal lives.

  8. I don’t feel as if though this is neccesarily invading peoples privacy. If the government has reason to believe that the person as an individual needs to be monitored, then by all means they should be allowed to place a GPS on someones car. However I do believe that there is a line that the government should not cross but the government knowing that I drove my car to dairy queen to get a shake is irrelevant to that matter.

  9. I feel that this is a scenario where the ends justify the means. If you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear. The governmen has a certain right in itself to moniter its citizens as long as they dont go so far as to moniter people in their own homes. Remember, big brother is always watching.

  10. I believe this is a little rediculous. I don’t think the government should be taking such extreme measures. And second off, if a driveway is public property, then why do someone have to personally pay to maintain it? if the goverment is going to use the excuse drive ways are public property then the government out to start paying for it as well.

  11. I think this is a little scary. This is a violation of privacy that goes against the United States Constitution. We should not give up our rights for a little security, especially when they are tracking people that are unsuspicious and wasting their time. This is one of the many things that makes me worried about the state of our nation.

  12. I feel that this new system of GPS tracking is completely necessary to keep up with the prevalent crime rates in the United States. Many may see this as a violation of privacy; however, all the government is doing is helping protect its constituents. There is no way security can be possibly if people want to live private lives. If individuals are so concerned with “privacy violations” get off facebook and get off twitter. Americans need to appreciate the fact that their government, even being quite flawed, is making an attempt to further protect its people.

  13. I definantly feel that this an invasion of privacy. The government has no right to know exactly where you are at all times that’s something you don’t even what your parents to know sometimes. Although it would be protecting us somewhat is that reall worth our personal comfort?

  14. As mentioned before by many posters, I agree with that if you have nothing to hide there is nothing to fear. If people are so woried about the invasion of their privacy, while they are in their car not their home, then they are probably doing someting they shouldn’t be doing. And also, talking about blowing up a mall or something of that nature is nothing to try and even joke about. How could the government know that is was a joke and not actually a real threat, the internet doesn’t not have the capability to tell the differnece and sarcasm and jokes are not easily dectable by all. So that friend who decided to joke about it got what he deserved when he posted that, and he didn’t want the FBI on him he shouldn’t have done it in the first place.

  15. I am happy the FBI is trying to protect us and find criminals, but this is overstepping the boundary. I have no problem with these GPS systems and what they are being used for, but I DO have a problem with how the government thinks it can invade privacy so easily. Again, I think this is a smart way to find criminals, but good ideas are a cover to allow more regulation and control. If we allow the FBI to put a GPS on our car, they will soon be putting microchips in our arms under the name of “protection”.

  16. Planting a GPS on an allegedly “suspicious” person’s car without their knowledge does sound a little sketchy of the government, but when it comes down to it, all a GPS can give you is a location. The fact that the FBI is concerned with even minor threats could be seen as heartening, but I tend to agree with the article that they should be better conserving their efforts for major issues. As others have said, it all starts with a GPS but it could lead to even more alarming forms of “observation.”

  17. The government already has so much control and power and I think that this whole GPS thing is taking the their authority way out of hand. I don’t think it is right at all and what you do in your car and where you go is your business not theirs. We live in America where should live out lives freely, not under surveillance. Good article by the way!

  18. Even though one could consider government GPS devices an invasion of privacy, I think that if it is justified the right way it is okay. When the devices are implemented with motives involving stereotypical ideas, then it is wrong and goes against privacy; however, if one is a suspect in an investigation, why not track where they go? People should keep in mind the policies that they in fact, even if it is indirect, voted for. If you don’t want the government to be nosy and able to use GPS devices intended for safety, then you shouldn’t expect their contribution in other aspects. You cannot have laissez-faire one way and not in another.

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