A number of statutes and practices have created perverse incentives for law enforcement, but none are nearly so blatant as this Alabama state law governing the feeding of inmates. The law, passed over 100 years ago, says law enforcement personnel — mainly sheriffs — can keep whatever’s left over from state and federal inmate food stipends. This doesn’t mean the leftover money is routed to a general fund or used to defray law enforcement/jail-related expenses. No, this means the money flows from taxpayers, (mostly) bypasses prisoners, and ends up in sheriffs’ personal checking accounts. (via Radley Balko)
…a bittorent copyright troll David A. Lowe (Guardaley) became a laughing stock over the last couple of months by predictably dismissing his victims – one after another – as soon as the next said victim retained attorney Christopher Lynch, and Mr. Lynch sent a demand letter threatening to expose the troll’s fraudulent conduct.When I reported this pattern for the first time, there were only four dismissed defendants. Today the count is eleven.
Right now, anyone – citizen or not – entering the Land of the FreeTM can be subject to warrantless probing of their electronics, which can be seized for further study in the lab for months if necessary. It’s just that citizens can’t be prevented from entering their home country: you can have your equipment taken and scanned, you can be questioned for hours, but you’re still ultimately allowed in. Foreigners, on the other hand, have no such protections: they can be searched, grilled, and sent back the way they came, if immigration officials deem you to be a problem.
The draft legislation – which is still in its early stages – is essentially designed to make it a lot tougher to stop and search citizens on the spot when they return to the US of A. However, the bill is weighed down with one major caveat. If officers have serious concerns about a traveller but have no time to get a warrant, they can seize the electronics and later apply for a warrant retroactively. If the warrant application fails, all the information harvested must be destroyed and may not be used in further prosecutions.
An Internet of Things maker has just had first-hand experience of the Streisand effect – after remotely killing a customer’s Wi-Fi garage door for being rude.
Garadget builds and sells a so-called smart door opener that can be operated remotely from a smartphone app. Once installed, Garadget’s $99 gizmo wirelessly connects to backend servers on the internet. This allows you to remotely control your door, or check if it’s open or closed, from anywhere in the world: your phone app talks to Garadget’s servers, and these talk to the smart door controller.
As one Garadget owner Robert Martin found on Saturday night, the gadget can therefore be killed at any time by Garadget staff: they just simply have to block access to a particular gizmo, cutting off the hardware from its app – and leaving the garage door stuck in place.