As decreed by the Orwellianly-named DHS office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. Wired reports:
The Department of Homeland Security’s civil rights watchdog of has concluded that travelers along the nation’s borders may have their electronics seized and the contents of those devices examined for any reason whatsoever — all in the name of national security.
“We conclude that imposing a requirement that officers have reasonable suspicion in order to conduct a border search of an electronic device would be operationally harmful,” the two-page memo said.
The President George W. Bush administration first announced the suspicionless, electronics search rules in 2008. The Obama administration followed up with virtually the same rules a year later.
According to legal precedent, the Fourth Amendment — freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures — does not apply along the border. The government contends the Fourth-Amendment-Free Zone stretches 100 miles inland from the nation’s actual border.
In a case more interesting for its look at the state of modern tracking technology and the brave new world we all live in than for its legal ramifications, a Florida appeals court said Wednesday the police didn’t violate a drug dealer’s rights when they used his cell phone to pinpoint his whereabouts as he drove across the state.
While the legal outcome of the case may catch some people off guard (any idea how close the government can get to your cell phone with GPS?), the legal issue breaks no new ground. The question in the case has already been answered by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Fourth District Court of Appeal said the Read more…
|With new mobile gadgetry, suspects will no longer have to be taken to police stations for their fingerprints and irises to be scanned and recorded [GALLO/GETTY]|
We’re fast approaching a time when law enforcement will no longer need to ask you for your identification – your physical self, and the biometric data therein, are all that will be required to identify you.
A gadget attached to a mobile phone can photograph and plot key points and features on your face (breaking the numbers down into biometric data), scan your iris and take your fingerprints on the spot.
This gizmo doesn’t exist in a futuristic world – it’s already been prototyped and tested. By autumn, the Mobile Offender Recognition and Information System (MORIS), which will allow 40 law enforcement agencies across the US to carry out such biometric diagnostics, will be rolled out. So far, the 1,000 units on order – at $3,000 and 12.5 oz per device – will be going to sheriff and police departments.
Proponents of the technology figure the Read more…
Last week Republican senator John McCain called for the government to establish a special panel to come up with legislation to address supposed cybersecurity threats facing the United States.
“The only way to move comprehensive cyber security legislation forward swiftly is to have committee chairmen and ranking members step away from preserving their own committees’ jurisdiction … (and) develop a bill that serves the national security needs of all Americans,” McCain said.
As if on cue, the Pentagon announced two previously unpublicized attacks following McCain’s call for a bipartisan action.
On Thursday, out-going deputy secretary of defense Bill Lynn said a foreign intelligence service had stolen 24,000 files on a sensitive weapons system from a defense contractor’s network.
Lynn said the Defense Industrial Base Cyber Pilot was established to work with the private sector in the battle against cyber foes.
“Our success in cyberspace depends on a robust public Read more…
The United States Supreme Court handed down a decision today that will profoundly affect the way police search for drugs. In reviewing a case out of Lexington, Kentucky, the Court—in an eight to one decision—ruled that “exigent circumstances” are created when police reasonably believe a suspect is in the process of destroying evidence, and therefore a search warrant is not constitutionally required.
In the case of Commonwealth of Kentucky vs. Hollis DeShaun King, the Lexington police conducted a “buy bust” raid on October 13, 2005, at an apartment on Center Parkway. Officers followed a suspected drug dealer to the apartment complex, and testified that they smelled marijuana outside an apartment door, knocked loudly, and announced their presence. As soon as the officers began knocking, they heard noises coming from Read more…
The Obama administration is urging the Supreme Court to allow the government, without a court warrant, to affix GPS devices on suspects’ vehicles to track their every move.
The Justice Department, saying “a person has no reasonable expectation of privacy in his movements (.pdf) from one place to another,” is demanding the justices undo a lower court decision that reversed the conviction and life sentence of a cocaine dealer whose vehicle was tracked via GPS for a month without a court warrant.
The petition, if accepted by the justices, arguably would make it the biggest Fourth Amendment case in a decade — one weighing the collision of Read more…
April 11, 2011
The city of Boston has been taken to task by the ACLU over concerns about a roll-out of thermal imaging cameras being used to monitor energy efficiency inside homes. A pilot program to take aerial and street-level photos of heat loss in Boston was part of a scheme to encourage participation in home energy improvement programs, as well as to drive consumers towards green companies.
According to CBS, the project had been halted following public outcry about invasions of privacy, namely that “infrared cameras would reveal information about what’s going on inside the homes.” Further objections have been raised about potential violations of the Fourth Amendment (but what’s that anyway?). Officials reportedly “planned on sharing the photos and analysis with homeowners, and were hoping the findings would increase enrollment in efficiency programs and also create business opportunities.”
MIT, who helped develop the technology’s use for energy tracking, has already thermally-mapped the entire city of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Their press writers brag that automated cameras attached to vehicles would collect data “similar to the way Google Street View vehicles obtain visual imagery.” This 55 second video provides a glimpse at their system: Read more…
What First Amendment?
March 8, 2011
The Department Of Homeland Security has concluded that it is perfectly reasonable for it to spy on dozens of peaceful advocacy groups and monitor scores of lawful protests and political rallies in the name of national security.
The ACLU details the DHS’ response to a complaint the group filed with the DHS’s Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (OCRCL).
The ACLU demanded an investigation into whether DHS officials abused their authority by improperly collecting and disseminating information regarding political demonstrations, following revelations that Homeland Security’s Federal Protective Service (FPS) had been engaging in such activity dating back to 2006.
The OCRCL has refused to disclose the memorandum detailing its investigative findings, however it sent a letter to the ACLU last week reaffirming that it sees no wrongdoing in the actions whatsoever, while admitting that there was no adequate differentiation between civil activist and violent extremist organizations.
“We strongly disagree with Read more…
February 16, 2011
Under the banner of fighting child pornography, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice knocked out 84,000 websites last week. The websites did not host or link to child pornography as the government claims.
“As part of ‘Operation Save Our Children‘ ICE’s Cyber Crimes Center has again seized several domain names, but not without making a huge error. Last Friday, thousands of site owners were surprised by a rather worrying banner that was placed on their domain,” reports TorrentFreak, a tech site.
Senator Joe Lieberman peddles his kill switch legislation under the rubric of the phony war on terror.
“Advertisement, distribution, transportation, receipt, and possession of child pornography constitute federal crimes that carry penalties for first time offenders of up to 30 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, forfeiture and restitution,” was the message visitors to the sites were Read more…
February 9, 2011
– Senate amendment introduced to make misuse of images a federal crime punishable by prison
– Further amendment introduced to force all scanners to use “privacy enhancing” software
– TSA once again lies, tells media machines are not capable of storing images
The chairman of a House oversight committee on homeland defense has labeled “inexcusable” the TSA’s continued refusal to release it’s internal reports on the safety of radiation firing airport body scanners.
“The public has a right to know, and there isn’t something so sensitive that requires holding it back,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah. tells USA Today.
The newspaper filed Freedom of information requests for the reports over two months ago, prompting members of congress to get involved, with a group led by Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass, demanding that the TSA Read more…