Posts Tagged ‘surveillance’

Encryption and the Paris attacks

Almost at once after the Paris attacks, speculation began to circulate that the murderers had used encrypted communications to plan their operation and that legislation giving government backdoor tools to break encryption was therefore needed more urgently than ever. Later reports have suggested, however, that the plotters employed a combination of plain vanilla unencrypted messaging with in-person communication. [Karl Bode/TechDirt, The Verge, Vice “Motherboard” (“How the Baseless ‘Terrorists Communicating Over Playstation 4’ Rumor Got Started”)] Related: Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg View. A contrary view: Alex Spence and Duncan Gardham, Politico Europe.

Federal law enforcement roundup

  • Manufacturing while foreign: Holman Jenkins compares Department of Justice’s handling of General Motors case with those of Toyota and Takata [WSJ, paywall]
  • “Electronic surveillance by the Drug Enforcement Administration has tripled over the past 20 years, and much of that increase has involved bypassing the federal courts.” [Brad Heath, USA Today via Balko]
  • Sen. Hatch: criminal justice reform needs to include reform on issue of mens rea/criminal intent [John Malcolm, Daily Signal]
  • Clinton administration tended to embed its anti-gun gestures in its then-popular carceral-state enactments [Jesse Walker on the 12-year lull in anti-gun legislation and whether it’s ending]
  • New DoJ policy on corporate criminal prosecutions risks scapegoating [Thaya Knight, Cato] Despite transient surge early in Obama years, federal white-collar crime prosecutions have now fallen to 20-year low [TRAC Reports]
  • A legal remedy should federal law enforcers falsely malign you in a press release? Dream on [Scott Greenfield]
  • If you oppose high U.S. incarceration rate, but wish more corporate executives went to prison, check your premises [Matt Kaiser, Above the Law]

September 9 roundup

  • Mess surrounding ex-Willkie partner could drag down giant credit card settlement after exposure of “burn this” emails to adverse lawyer [Alison Frankel, WSJ Moneybeat, New York Post]
  • “The war against homeschooling is…not a fight to make sure children are safer/better educated” [Bethany Mandel, Acculturated, reacting to ProPublica/Slate piece raising alarms about how, e.g., 48 states don’t make parents go through background checks before being allowed to homeschool their kids] ProPublica also complains that parents with criminal records are allowed to homeschool; did they run this by the “Ban the Box” advocacy groups?
  • President Jimmy Carter’s deregulatory record looks even better in retrospect [Cato podcast with Peter Van Doren, Caleb Brown]
  • Ugly tactic: protesters rally at home of Judge Bunning in Kim Davis case [River City News, Kentucky; links to some other instances]
  • “Obama celebrates Labor Day by making it more expensive to hire employees”; executive order requires federal contractors to provide paid sick leave [W$J, Sean Higgins/Washington Examiner (“offering paid leave is already the norm among the vast majority of federal contractors”)]
  • “FBI, DEA and others will now have to get a warrant to use stingrays” [ArsTechnica]
  • After the prosecutorial abuses: “John Doe Reform Bill Moves to Assembly” [Right Wisconsin]

Police and prosecution roundup

  • NYC Legal Aid lawyer “represented four defendants in a row who had been arrested for having a foot up on a subway seat” [Gothamist, including report of arrests for “manspreading”]
  • Recommendations would expand federal role: “President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing” [Tim Lynch]
  • Profile of Pat Nolan and momentum of criminal justice reform on the right [Marshall Project] Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan shows how Republicans are experimenting with criminal justice reform [Ovetta Wiggins, Washington Post]
  • “Though we weren’t at any toll plazas, something was reading the E-ZPass tag in our car.” [Mariko Hirose, ACLU on New York monitoring of car transponders, presently for transport management purposes] DEA license plate tracking has been subject to mission creep [L.A. Times editorial via Amy Alkon, earlier]
  • “Texas’s governor signs a bill that will end the ‘key man’ grand jury system, also known as the ‘pick-a-pal’ system.” [Houston Chronicle via @radleybalko, earlier]
  • “There’s little dispute overincarceration is a problem demanding immediate redress. Except when it comes to sex.” [Scott Greenfield]
  • Massachusetts SWAT teams retreat from position that they’re private corporations and needn’t comply with public records laws [Radley Balko, earlier]

Want to tag “Big Brother”?

Facial recognition technology has advanced rapidly, and its integration into social media provides gee-whiz features to users as well as plenty of opportunities to marketers. It also interests government actors, who already have ways, through subpoenas and otherwise, to harvest both public and non-public information from social media providers without notice to users. [Trevor Timm, The Guardian (“Think it’s cool Facebook can auto-tag you in pics? So does the government”)]

Police and prosecution roundup

  • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau cracks down on “rent-a-D.A.” scheme in which private debt collector acquired right to use prosecutor’s letterhead [Jeff Gelles, Philadelphia Inquirer, earlier here and here]
  • What Santa Ana, Calif. cops did “after destroying –- or so they thought –- all the surveillance cameras inside the cannabis shop.” [Orange County Weekly via Radley Balko]
  • Maryland reforms mandatory minimums [Scott Shackford/Reason, Sen. Michael Hough/Washington Times]
  • Locking up past sex offenders for pre-crime: “Civil Commitment and Civil Liberties” [Cato Unbound with Galen Baughman, David Prescott, Eric Janus, Amanda Pustilnik; Jason Kuznicki, ed.]
  • Two strikes and you’re out, Sen. Warren? Or is there some alternative to DPAs/NPAs (deferred prosecution agreements/non-prosecution agreements?) [Scott Greenfield, Simple Justice]
  • Covert cellphone tracking: “Baltimore Police Admit Thousands of Stingray Uses” [Adam Bates, Cato, related on Erie County/Buffalo]
  • “Citizens face consequences for breaking the law, but those with the power to administer those laws rarely face any.” [Ken White, Popehat] “61% of IRS Employees Who Cheated On Their Taxes Were Allowed To Keep Their Jobs” [Paul Caron, TaxProf]

Traffic and road law roundup

  • Driver’s license suspensions, which many states use to punish unpaid court debt and other offenses unrelated to driving skill, can accelerate spiral into indigency [New York Times]
  • Your war on distracted driving: woman says she received $200 ticket “for putting on lip balm at a red light.” [KLAS Las Vegas, Nev.]
  • “Of Course We Have No Ticket Quotas, But ….” [Lowering the Bar; Edmundson, Mo., in St. Louis County; Mariah Stewart, Huffington Post on revenue generation in Berkeley, Mo., and other neighboring towns; Scott Greenfield (“Ferguson: Where Everyone’s a Criminal”)]
  • Yet more on St. Louis County: it started with a “defective muffler” stop in Florissant [Riverfront Times]
  • NYC: “Speed cameras lead to surge in tickets and $16.9M in revenue for city” [NY Daily News]
  • New Los Angeles parking signs explain it all for you, also recall design of craps table [Mark Frauenfelder, BoingBoing]
  • Virginia: “How Police Drones and License-Plate Readers Threaten Liberty” [A. Barton Hinkle; related, Jim Harper/D.C. Examiner]

Scotland’s sad state of statism

We’ve covered many of the individual controversies before — including police crackdowns on the singing of sectarian songs, and the introduction of named government functionaries charged with looking after the interests of every single child (not just, e.g., orphans or those whose custody is contested). And some of the endless nanny statism: Prices of alcohol are too low! The public’s eating habits must improve! And all of Scotland is to be smokefree by 2034, with the legal fate of those who might wish to continue smoking not yet specified. Brendan O’Neill in Reason pulls the whole depressing thing together. Scotland also has not only thousands of CCTV surveillance cameras but also “camera vans,” which “drive through towns filming the allegedly suspect populace.” And did we forget the warnings from Police Scotland about unlawful speech on social media?

Surveillance and privacy roundup