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 Republican lawmaker who voted to eliminate Internet privacy rules said, “Nobody’s got to use the Internet” when asked why ISPs should be able to use and share their customers’ Web browsing history for advertising purposes.
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.
All of this military-like activity was implemented and completed without Jessen’s request, approval, or consent. Jessens are informed and believe the training operation was undertaken because the Fresno County Sheriff’s Department and/or Clovis Police Department had found, by accident, the perfect location to conduct a training exercise on a rural home, on a dead-end street, in rural Fresno County, where “civilians” were not present, “civilians” were not going to congregate, “civilians” were not going to observe or interfere with the military training assault on the Jessen’s home and the situation posed no risk of injury to the officers. The Fresno County Sheriff‘s Department and Clovis Police Department seized upon this fortuitous opportunity to engage in a real-life training exercise.
It’s time we had another talk about relationships between journalists and things they cover. Tech website The Verge recently reported on a troubling offer from a startup, JetSmarter, to “demonstrate” its services with a free flight. To accept, a reporter had to agree to publish a positive story, quickly, or be charged $2,000 by JetSmarter.