I heard an interesting story this morning on NPR about the FBI (and other law enforcement agencies) using GPS tracking devices, magnetically attached to cars, to track people; typically drug dealers, and the occasional terrorism suspects. They say it’s easier than doing traditional visual surveillance: You can gather more data, with less manpower. Also they claimed that it was “fail-safe” (which I think means something different… I think they meant “fool-proof”) since you don’t run the risk of the tail being made and lost by the quarry. And as I listened I could already hear the Conservatives complaining about Liberals wanting to take this critical tool away from Law Enforcement. And of course I had to tell those voices in my head that it’s not about whether or not they can DO it, but whether or not they should have a warrant. (Yes, I often have these little conversations with myself. I do so love good conversation!)
But for the moment, I’d like to put aside the legal issues here and the subtle differences between visually tailing someone (which typically can be done without a warrant) and tracking them (which is in question, but for now is typically being done without a warrant.) I mean… Yeah, I think they should need a warrant. But it’s a point that I can certainly see being debated either way. In any case, that’s not what I really want to talk about right now. I want to put all that aside for the moment, and instead give the following advice to anyone who should come across one of these devices on their cars:
1) If they're tracking you? It’s because they don’t have enough agents to actually WATCH you. (That’s the whole cost-effectiveness argument, remember?) So there’s a good chance they won’t see you do what I’m about to suggest.
2) Remove the device, but just leave it in the back seat, so they won’t notice anything. (Yeah, and whatever you do, don’t take pictures of it and put them on the internet!)
3) Drive into the city, or whatever your “downtown” is.
4) Look for a car with out-of-state plates.
5) Park next to them.
6) Attach the device to THAT car.
7) Sit back for a few days and LOL at the FBI, as they try to figure just out what the hell is going on, and why their suspect suddenly up and moved to Wyoming.
So much for this being a more fool-proof way to keep tabs on someone than basic, visual surveillance, huh?
I love the smell of entropy in the morning!