Score one for Luddism: FBI reverts to old-school tracking tactics -

Score one for Luddism: FBI reverts to old-school tracking tactics


For those who feel like strangers in a digital world, who long for the relative simplicity of a bygone era, a bit of heartening news: thanks to a court order in the United States, agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) must revert to the old-school practices of inconspicuously following their targets, watching them with binoculars and staging stakeouts in fake ice cream trucks, rather than rely on the technology of planted GPS transmitters.

The move, which is sure to please Luddites everywhere, was prompted by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that banned the use of such transmitters without a court-issued warrant. The court felt the use of these transmitters, which allow agents to track suspects electronically, violate American citizens’ constitutional rights to privacy.

The FBI reportedly has thousands of these GPS devices, and has admitted to planting them on people’s cars without court permission. But those days are over, much to the chagrin of FBI Director Richard Mueller. “Trackers enabled us to use resources elsewhere,” he said at recent law school conference in San Francisco. “Putting a physical surveillance team out with six, eight, 12 persons is tremendously time intensive.”

Time intensive, yes, but it’s a heck of a lot sexier. Detective work will once again be just like it is in the movies.

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