Posts Tagged ‘surveillance’

February 27 roundup

Warrantless police access to hotel records

Time to rethink a traditional law enforcement practice? “In City of Los Angeles v. Patel, which will be argued in the Supreme Court March 3rd, a group of hoteliers have challenged the city’s ordinance requiring them to hand over customer data whenever a police officer wants it.” The innkeepers prevailed in an en banc Ninth Circuit ruling and the case is now before the high court [Jim Harper, Cato] More: Tim Cushing, TechDirt.

“U.S. Spies on Millions of Cars”

Per documents released in response to a FOIA request, the federal government maintains a large program using automatic license-plate readers to track vehicles in real time (not just in later investigation) and nationwide (not just near borders). The program “collects data about vehicle movements, including time, direction and location, from high-tech cameras placed strategically on major highways.” The resulting photographs are “sometimes” clear enough to identify drivers or passengers. “One email written in 2010 said the primary purpose of the program was asset forfeiture.” Although the program is run by the Drug Enforcement Administration, its data is increasingly shared for investigations unrelated to drugs. [Wall Street Journal]

Forfeiture-driven law enforcement is at this point deeply embedded in our practice at both federal and local levels, and the small and ambiguous federal-level reforms announced by AG Holder earlier this month are unlikely to turn that around in themselves.

Conor Friedersdorf comments: “The DEA will obviously continue to lose the War on Drugs. We’ve traded our freedom to drive around without being tracked for next to nothing. … Unfortunately, leaders in the U.S. law enforcement community feel that they’re justified in secretly adopting sweeping new methods with huge civil liberties implications.” (cross-posted and expanded at Cato at Liberty). A different view: Jazz Shaw, Hot Air (could be useful in “managing crime,” and think of the children: unless we let government monitor our comings and goings, the throwers of little girls into vans will win). And more: They can watch your car, but as Waze flap confirms, don’t you dare watch theirs [Liz Sheld]

Update: new emails reveal plans of even wider scope, including a proposal (which DEA says was not acted on) to cooperate with BATF to track license plates of gun show attendees. The Guardian quotes me about the chilling effect systematic surveillance can have on the exercise of rights, and about the impetus for cooperation between Right and Left on reining in law enforcement use of data tracking. Note pp. 10, 27-28 of this NRA amicus brief in an ACLU mass-surveillance case. And earlier on license plate tracking here (Los Angeles FOIA), here and here (Maryland), and here (Radley Balko). And with the rapid development of onboard computer technology, our cars ourselves could soon be reporting our driving habits to the government. But that’d never happen, right? [Steven Greenhut] “Taxing Us To Spy On Us” [Chris Edwards]

Police and prosecution roundup

  • “Georgia’s Highest Court Limits Power Of Private Probation Industry” [WABE, Augusta Chronicle, earlier here, here, here, and here]
  • Federal judge slams as “preposterous” DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) actions in raid on Tampa pharmacy [Tampa Bay Online]
  • “At Least 40 Federal Agencies Now Conduct Undercover Operations” [Jesse Walker]
  • “’Gotcha’ program designed to rake in revenue”: “Nassau County Lawmakers Repeal Speed Camera Program” [CBS New York]
  • “Creepy”: “FBI Agents Pose as Repairmen to Bypass Warrant Process” [Bruce Schneier]
  • Somewhere an old guy in his room is wondering about ending it all, and somewhere a fanatic has been made happy [Elizabeth Nolan Brown on launch of Anaheim, Calif. shaming program to post names of sex purchasers online indefinitely]
  • Heather Mac Donald: In defense of broken-windows policing [Time]

Santa’s surveillance

…the Federal Bureau of Investigation approached Santa Claus to enlist his cooperation in a new surveillance program. FBI agents advised Santa that his extensive knowledge regarding “bad” children, and failure to disclose this information to the government, likely made him guilty of millions of counts of misprision of a felony. But, the agents added, perhaps a deal could be arranged.

Relax, it’s not real, it’s just Prof. Kyle Graham’s annual Christmas card couched in the form of a criminal procedure final exam. (Last year’s was a constitutional law final exam).

August 4 roundup

  • Administration tees up massively expensive regulation docket for after election [Sam Batkins, American Action Forum]
  • More on FedEx’s resistance to fed demands that it snoop in boxes [WSJ Law Blog, earlier]
  • Ethics war escalates between Cuomo and U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, but is sniping in press suitable role for prosecutor? [New York Post, Ira Stoll]
  • “Mom Hires Craigslist Driver for 9-Year-Old Son, Gets Thrown in Jail” [Lenore Skenazy]
  • One-way fee shifts, available to prevailing plaintiffs but not defendants: why aren’t they more controversial? [New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Watch]
  • Water shutoff woes sprang from Detroit’s “pay-if-you-want culture” [Nolan Finley, Detroit News]
  • “CPSC Still Trying to Crush Small Round Magnet Toys; Last Surviving American Seller Zen Magnets Fights Back” [Brian Doherty]