A California college student got an interesting surprise when he recently took his car into the shop for repairs: mounted to his car’s undercarriage was an FBI tracking device, monitoring his every move.
According the International Business Times, Yasir Afifi posted pictures of the curious device on the Internet and the FBI arrived to reclaim their device without an explanation as to why they were tracking him. Zahra Billoo, an attorney with the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) said the group is contemplating legal action on Afifi’s behalf, noting two similar cases in Ohio.
The case raises new privacy issues related to modern technology. Afifi’s discovery comes in the wake of a recent ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declaring it’s legal for law enforcement to secretly use tracking devices on a suspect’s car without a warrant, even if the car is parked in a private driveway. In a similar case, however, the D.C. Circuit Court came to a different conclusions, meaning that a Supreme Court showdown over law enforcement’s use of GPS technologies may be coming in the near future.
Several news outlets have reported that Afifi has been on a federal “watchlist.”
He has two brothers in Egypt, and lived there for five years. His father, Aladdin Afifi, was head of the Muslim Community Association in California. Billoo noted that it runs one of the largest Mosques in the state and has done so foe many years. Aladdin Afifi died in 2009. There is no evidence that Afifi is connected to any radical groups.
According to Wired, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is also taking a serious interest in the case:
Brian Alseth from the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington state contacted Afifi after seeing pictures of the tracking device posted online and told him the ACLU had been waiting for a case like this to challenge the ruling.
“This is the kind of thing we like to throw lawyers at,” Afifi said Alseth told him.