Last week, a guy on Reddit posted a photo of a weird device that was found strapped beneath his roommate’s car. (A mechanic had found it while working on the car.) Well, it turned out to be a tracking device, and the FBI has since asked for the unit back. It would seem that the young man who owned the car, had come to the attention of the FBI after posting the following on Reddit:
khaledthegypsy 874 points 3 months ago[-]
bombing a mall seems so easy to do. i mean all you really need is a bomb, a regular outfit so you arent the crazy guy in a trench coat trying to blow up a mall and a shopping bag. i mean if terrorism were actually a legitimate threat, think about how many fucking malls would have blown up already.. you can put a bag in a million different places, there would be no way to foresee the next target, and really no way to prevent it unless CTU gets some intel at the last minute in which case every city but LA is fucked…so…yea…now i’m surely bugged : /
It seems like a fairly innocuous statement to me. And I doubt that, had I pointed out the obvious fact that setting off bombs at shopping malls would be easy, the FBI would be tracking me. But, then again, my name isn’t Khaled, and my dad wasn’t a religious leader in the Mulsim community. (The roommate who left the initial post on Reddit mentions that his friend’s father, who had recently passed away, was a Muslim religious leader.)
Leaving aside for a moment whether or not the FBI was justified in flagging this individual as a potential terrorist threat based on such seemingly scant evidence, I find it quite unnerving that they can, without a warrant, come onto your property and place a tracking device on your vehicle. And, yes, it looks as though, at least according to this recent column in Time, the FBI does in fact have the legal right, based on rulings of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, to track you in the western United States. Here’s a clip:
Government agents can sneak onto your property in the middle of the night, put a GPS device on the bottom of your car and keep track of everywhere you go. This doesn’t violate your Fourth Amendment rights, because you do not have any reasonable expectation of privacy in your own driveway — and no reasonable expectation that the government isn’t tracking your movements.
That is the bizarre — and scary — rule that now applies in California and eight other Western states. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which covers this vast jurisdiction, recently decided the government can monitor you in this way virtually anytime it wants — with no need for a search warrant…
It’s likely that the subject of warrantless tracking will be heard by the Supreme Court soon. But, given the current makeup of the high court, I’m not terribly encouraged that they’ll do the right thing.
[Tonight’s post is brought to you courtesy of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, channelling foreign money into U.S. elections on behalf of Republican candidates with the help of the Supreme Court since 2010.]