One of the downsides of technology is the loss of privacy. What can be done to preserve the right to privacy? How much interference is too much?
Cell Phone and Other GPS tracking
...It appears that watches will be the next big item to integrate GPS surveillance and tracking. Even today you can buy any of a dozen or more Timex watches that have integrated GPS tracking and surveillance. But along with this incredible micro technology goes a huge legal problem. Currently the software for these GPS surveillance devices does not contain significant safeguards against legal and privacy abuses but hopefully that will change before things get out of control
The simplistic approach continues to be used in an attempt of silencing any concerns over our ever-diminishing rights to privacy: Only criminals are concerned with being watched if you have nothing to hide, dont worry about your privacy. If only it were this simple.
OnStar will track your car and hand over all of your information at their disposal to the feds, as long as they get a subpoena or a court order. Unbeknownst to you, somewhere in court a miscellaneous motion is being heard, entitled "In the Matter of the Application of the United States of America for an Order Authorizing the Monitoring of a Mobile Tracking Device as a Physical Surveillance Aid on a Motor Vehicle Registered to [your name], [your vehicles year, model and VIN number]. This application will be based upon Title 18 USC § 3123, including provisions that Upon an application made under section 3122 (a)(1), the court shall enter an ex parte order authorizing the installation and use of a pen register or trap and trace device anywhere within the United States, if the court finds that the attorney for the Government has certified to the court that the information likely to be obtained by such installation and use is relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation.
It gets even better. You (the subject of surveillance) may never know any of this took place, because the surveillance order will be sealed by court, specifically ordering OnStar NOT to disclose its existence to you, the subscriber. What will OnStar tell you if you subpoena this information? Simply put, they will lie. They will claim there was no order and no tracking. Of course, thats what the court order told them to do and now theyre obligated to lie. Its in their best interests, since the same court order indemnifies OnStar from being held accountable for allowing its systems to be used by the government, violating your privacy.
FBI and Home Land Security
The wire was attached to a strange magnetic device that puzzled Afifi and the mechanic. They freed it from the car and posted images of it online, asking for help in identifying it.
Two days later, FBI agents arrived at Afifi's Santa Clara apartment and demanded the return of their property a global positioning system tracking device now at the center of a raging legal debate over privacy rights.
One federal judge wrote that the widespread use of the device was straight out of George Orwell's novel, "1984".
wrote Alex Kozinski, the chief judge of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a blistering dissent in which a three-judge panel from his court ruled that search warrants weren't necessary for GPS tracking.
That investigators don't need a warrant to use GPS tracking devices in California troubles privacy advocates, technophiles, criminal defense attorneys and others.
The federal appeals court based in Washington D.C. said in August that investigators must obtain a warrant for GPS in tossing out the conviction and life sentence of Antoine Jones, a nightclub owner convicted of operating a cocaine distribution ring.
The Obama administration last month asked the D.C. federal appeals court to change its ruling, calling the decision "vague and unworkable" and arguing that investigators will lose access to a tool they now use "with great frequency."
Legal scholars predict the U.S. Supreme Court will ultimately resolve the issue since so many courts disagree.
George Washington University law professor Orin Kerr said the issue boils down to public vs. private. As long as the GPS devices are attached to vehicles on public roads, Kerr believes the U.S. Supreme Court will decide no warrant is needed. To decide otherwise, he said, would ignore a long line of previous 4th Amendment decisions allowing for warrantless searches as long as they're conducted on public property.
"The historic line is that public surveillance is not covered by the 4th Amendment," Kerr said.
All of which makes Afifi's lawyer pessimistic that he has much of a chance to file a successful lawsuit challenging the FBI's actions. Afifi is represented by Zahra Billoo of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the country's largest Islamic civil rights group.