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Privacy Government

Helping the FBI Track You 193

Posted by Soulskill
from the here-is-a-list-of-my-favorite-socks dept.
Hasan M. Elahi writes in the NY Times about his run-in with the FBI several months after September 11th, 2001. They'd received an erroneous report that he had explosives and had fled the country, so they were surprised when he showed up at an airport and was flagged by watch-list software. Elahi chose not to fight the investigation, and provided the FBI with enough detail about his life to convince them that he was a lawful citizen. But then, he kept going, providing more and more information about his life, documenting his every move and making it available online. His experience has been that providing too much information affords almost the same privacy blanket as too little. Quoting: "On my Web site, I compiled various databases that show the airports I’ve been in, food I’ve eaten at home, food I’ve eaten on the road, random hotel beds I’ve slept in, various parking lots off Interstate 80 that I parked in, empty train stations I saw, as well as very specific information like photos of the tacos I ate in Mexico City between July 5 and 7, and the toilets I used. ... A lot of work is required to thread together the thousands of available points of information. By putting everything about me out there, I am simultaneously telling everything and nothing about my life. Despite the barrage of information about me that is publicly available, I live a surprisingly private and anonymous life."
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Helping the FBI Track You

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  • by sco08y (615665) on Sunday October 30, 2011 @12:27PM (#37886608)

    FTFA:
    "I COULD have contested the legality of the investigation and gotten a lawyer. But I thought that would make things messier. It was clear who had the power in this situation."

    No, American police, whether FBI or state or local, have no power unless you let them interrogate you without a lawyer. This isn't Europe where police investigations start with a beating: you just have to ask, politely, for a lawyer, and you hold all the cards.

    He gave them all the power. Was he justifiably scared? Sure, I can completely understand that. He probably wasn't prepared to be grilled.

    But this is all the preparation anyone needs: just remember to say, "I'd be happy to help you, officer, but to answer any questions I'll need a lawyer."

  • by Rockoon (1252108) on Sunday October 30, 2011 @01:48PM (#37887052)

    Any trivial fact about you that sounds the slightest bit suspicious can be used against you to get an indictment or just a search warrant.

    Thats why the only fact you give them is that you want a lawyer.

    Anything that you say to the police during an investigation can be used against you, but nothing that you say to the police during an investigation can be used to help you.

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