Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve today filed a lawsuit in Washoe District Court against David McNeely, a private investigator with 5 Alpha Industries.
Schieve said a GPS tracking device was found by an automobile mechanic on her car.
“Our complaint is based on Defendants’ outrageous invasion of privacy by installing a GPS tracking device on Ms. Schieve’s personal vehicle,” Adam Hosmer-Henner, her attorney, wrote in an emailed statement. “We will aggressively seek to determine who hired the private investigators and will be amending our complaint to assert claims against them as well.
“Further, we have been informed that the tracking and surveillance was not limited to Ms. Schieve and so potentially affected community members should inspect their vehicles and property for similar devices.”
McNeely did not return a phone inquiry by the time of publication.
Schieve’s complaint alleges “other prominent community members” also have been similarly surveilled. She is seeking to find out in litigation who may have hired McNeely.
“In a time of heightened political tumult, the recent revelation of Defendants’ actions still managed to shock the conscience. Private investigator David McNeely, at the request of a presently unidentified third party, surreptitiously installed a sophisticated GPS tracking device on the personal vehicle of Schieve, monitoring her every movement,” the complaint alleges.
“Defendants, acting in concert with third parties, trespassed upon Schieve’s private property to install the tracking device and then received minute-by-minute updates of her location, in a continuous violation of her privacy. By tracking her, Defendants exposed Schieve to an unjustified and unwarranted risk of harassment, stalking, and bodily harm.”
Schieve’s case is filed as a private individual, not in her capacity as mayor.
“Defendants intended to cause harm to Plaintiff and knew or recklessly disregarded the reasonable likelihood that the dissemination of Plaintiff’s location could lead to death, bodily injury, harassment, stalking, financial loss, or a substantial life disruption,” the complaint also states. – This RENO Local News and Events
But The Big Question is : How many People across the Nation have been Victimized by Private Investigators.
How many people across the nation have been victimized by these so called private investigators who are driven by monetary gains from their clients than the laws surrounding civil rights of privacy for every citizen.
In 1992, the United States ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), a human rights treaty that guarantees privacy rights. More specifically, Article 17 of the ICCPR protects everyone from arbitrary or unlawful interferences with their “privacy, family, home, or correspondence.”
Again and again, cases of people been victimized by private investigators even to the point of blackmail and defamations. What’s the dividing line between investigations and the violation of privacy.
A Private Investigator who has no knowledge of his client’s intent but gathers information including minute-minute tracking, should be held responsible for any damages incurred by the actions of his client.
Though private investigators can go anywhere that is public, they are not allowed to trespass. They cannot enter a property, house or building that they do not have permission to enter. If the owner of a home gives them permission, they may enter the home to look for information that is needed. This also includes the rights of a tenant to the privacy of their home; entering without the consent of the tenant, regardless if the landlord grants the permission, it is still a violation of privacy.
In 1996 Congress passed an anti-stalking law as part of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Under this law it is a federal felony to cross state lines to stalk or harass an individual if the conduct causes fear of serious bodily injury or death to the stalking victim or to the victim’s immediate family members.
There are also state laws dealing with the crime of stalking. If a private investigator violates the privacy of someone even to the level of causing physical, emotional, financial damages, they should be charged with felony just like a stalker.
It is a federal felony to stalk or harass on military or U.S. territorial lands, including Indian country (18 U.S.C. § 2261A). It is also a federal crime to cross state lines or enter or leave Indian country in violation of a qualifying Protection Order (18 U.S.C. § 2262).
THE USE OF TRACKING DEVICES AND HOW CIVIL RIGHTS FIT INTO PRIVACY
Alarming concerns are rising, that personal information gotten from these tracking devices might be used in ways that perpetuate or exacerbate bias have become more prominent as predictive analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence magnify the power to use personal information in granular ways.
A White House task force concluded in 2014, while data can be used for good, it “can also be used in ways that perpetuate social harms or render outcomes that have inequitable impacts, even when discrimination is not intended.”
In the contexts of policing and criminal justice, this concern intensifies. The death of George Floyd is only one of the most recent examples of the disproportionate impact of systemic discrimination on the lives of disadvantaged people, especially Black Americans.
This concern also applies to more subtle impacts in the commercial arena where hidden proxies can operate to reduce opportunities for Black Americans and other disadvantaged populations. In a stark example, Latanya Sweeney, a Harvard professor and former Federal Trade Commission (FTC) chief technology officer, demonstrated that online searches using names associated with African Americans were more likely to generate advertisements relating to arrest records and less favorable credit cards.
HELP IS AVAILABLE
If you are a victim of a stalking crime, either physically or by using GPS and other technological devices. it is normal to sometimes feel frightened and vulnerable. The following agencies exist to help victims of crime. Seek their help.
• National Domestic Violence Hotline
• National Center for Victims of Crime
• National Organization for Victim Assistance
• National Coalition Against Domestic Violence