|FBI Tracking Device found on American citizen's car
without a warrant. (Source)
Last year Yasir Afifi, a 20-year-old U.S.-born citizen, found a strange device attached to his car. When he posted a photo of it online, the FBI showed up at his home two days later. They wanted their GPS tracking device back. The FBI had been tracking Afifi’s movement for months without his knowing about it. Moreover, the agency did so without a warrant and apparently based on the flimsy rationale that his friend wrote a blog they felt was questionable. This type of warrantless tracking seems to be an increasingly common government practice.
Following this incident, as well as revelations about how much location information Apple and Google are storing about their customers, there has been a significant public outcry over the privacy of location information. Congress has held a number of hearings on the topic and today Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) introduced companion bills in the Senate and House, respectively, to protect location privacy. The bills not only require law enforcement to get a warrant based on probable cause before accessing location information, but also regulate the use of this information by businesses. With location tracking cases popping up all over the country, this would provide a strong and clear national standard for law enforcement.