• Oct 8, 2010
So, now that we know it is legal for the FBI to place GPS trackers on cars without a warrant, the next logical question is, how often does it happen? We can't say for sure, but the recent experience of 20-year-old U.S. student Yasir Afifi leads us to believe it's taking place more often that we'd like to think.
Afifi, who is an American citizen born here in the States with an Egyptian father, brought his Lincoln LS sedan to a mechanic who put it up on a lift. There, underneath the car, was an odd cylindrical tube connected to a device with an antenna. It wasn't a bomb, but it was a tracking device.

A friend took pictures of the device and put it up on the interwebs... which led to a gaggle of police officers and FBI agents showing up at Afifi's apartment complex in California asking for their device back... sternly. "We're going to make this much more difficult for you if you don't cooperate."

A tad worrisome, no? Says Afifi, "It seems very frightening that the FBI have placed a surveillance-tracking device on the car of a 20-year-old American citizen who has done nothing more than being half-Egyptian." We agree... but it apparently doesn't violate the 4th Amendment.

Turns out Afifi has nothing to worry about. "You're boring," said an unidentified agent. This is one of those rare cases where being boring is a rather good thing.

[Source: Wired via Engadget]


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  • 81 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Can I use the GPS to fix my Samsung Captivate?
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'd have quickly driven to the nearest FBI office just to scare them
      • 4 Years Ago
      Oh, by the way can you say HOME GROWN TERRORISM.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'd let them have it back - for the low, low price of $100k
        • 4 Years Ago
        I would have put it back the day I found it then sold my car with this thing still attached to someone leaving the country. When the FBI comes knocking I'd tell them, 'You want it? Go get it.'
        • 4 Years Ago
        Forget taking pictures and posting it on the interweb. Had this happened to me, I would've said nothing. Instead, get a UPS box and mail it to some far off country with a bogus address and sit back and watch. At least I'd get a chuckle out of it.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Put it on ebay then ship it ups cross country... :-)
        • 4 Years Ago
        If he lived in DC, he could have thrown it over the fence at of any Embassy...

        Good luck for the FBI getting it back once it's on foreign soil...
        • 4 Years Ago
        I would have been tempted to tell them "finders keepers" or take it with me on a bus and "forget" it. Unfortunately, I'm sure the FBI would then find some obscure federal law to arrest me.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I'd place it in a lead lined case and just wait...
      • 4 Years Ago
      HE NEEDS TO SUE.

      These losers have NOTHING to do all day but harass innocent people!
        • 4 Years Ago
        I'm quite sure they picked his name out of a hat.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm half pakistani... Should I go check underneath my car?
        • 4 Years Ago
        dont bother doing that. being a pakistani puts you on the fbi blacklist anyway.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Senator McCarthy would have been proud.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Ever notice that in most TV shows and movies, the FBI is nearly always the bad guy, or at least extremely annoying and stupid? Sadly, in real life, this seems to be true. These guys rub a lot of innocent people the wrong way. I believe this has a lot to do with the mentality Hoover instilled in them. The FBI and other federal departments need retraining, and perhaps to reevaluate how they hire. It seems you need to have lived in a box your whole life to get hired with these people.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I will gladly say "no thanks" to the so called "security" we have here and the fruitless war on terror, if things like this didn't happen. What a joke this country has become.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Should have put it on a Greyhound bus...
        • 4 Years Ago
        Or put it out with his garbage :)

        Can't believe they had the gall to demand it back while threatening him.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Look, I'm not happy that this can be done without a warrant. But otherwise, this guy wasn't really harmed, they didn't stop him from doing anything, just check up on him.

      He seemed a lot less angry about it than the sites that are repeating the story.

      As to whether he did anything more than be half-Egyptian to merit being checked up on, he did post this 3 months ago:

      http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/ciiag/so_if_my_deodorant_could_be_a_bomb_why_are_you/c0sve5q

      We all are pretty sure it's just a joke (especially now), but can you really blame government agents for taking a 2nd look after seeing that?
        • 4 Years Ago
        So, his heinous crime is pointing out how ludicrous Security Theater is? Because that's clearly all he said in the linked posting... that if random generic terrorism were really a big problem, things like malls would be blowing up left and right.

        The feds owe him an apology. Unfortunately it seems they owe him nothing more, but perhaps attention to things like this can at least get us back to the point at which they need a warrant to GPS-track your car and tap your phone.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Bungle, this is the same poster who posted the pic you're viewing in the AB article above. Friend or not, does it matter?

        There is no evidence this consumed significant resources for months on end. Yes, they have info from months ago, but they could have easily gotten it in a day or two months ago.

        Investigating legitimate leads? How are they to know what is a legitimate lead or now if they don't look into them?

        How do you know the FBI isn't making you safer?

        I don't have a problem with investigating people who make threats like that. A quick look into just isn't a problem for me. I'd rather they had to get a warrant, but if the law says they don't have to, I can't criticize them for not getting one.

        People are just looking for an excuse to get angry over this. When the people involved are more angry than you, maybe you need to think about it more first.
        • 4 Years Ago
        After reading that, I'm all for the government keeping track of him.

        What a jackass.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The reason you should be pissed is that they were tracking his car with a very expensive piece of ear when they could have probably tracked his cell phone for free..
        • 4 Years Ago
        After reading what he wrote, he deserves to be checked. The FBI isn't broken, it's working in this case.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Would have sold it on eBay. Shipping worldwide.
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