The American Civil Liberties Union filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the FBI seeking details of its surveillance policy -- who it spies upon, and how, and under what circumstances. The FBI sent back two 50+ page memos in reply, each of them totally blacked out except for some information on the title page.
In a 12-minute video posted online, Weissmann spoke about two memos: one focused on the use of GPS tracking on forms of transportation beyond cars, the other regarding how Jones applies to tracking methods outside of GPS (presumably like cellphone ping data).
“Is it going to apply to boats, is it going to apply to airplanes?” Weissmann asks in the video. “Is it going to apply at the border? What’s it mean for the consent that’s given by an owner? What does it mean if consent is given by a possessor? And this is all about GPS, by the way, without getting into other types of techniques.”
And those questions remain wholly unanswered.
“The Justice Department’s unfortunate decision leaves Americans with no clear understanding of when we will be subjected to tracking—possibly for months at a time—or whether the government will first get a warrant,” Catherine Crump, an ACLU staff attorney, wrote on Wednesday.
FBI to ACLU: Nope, we won't tell you how, when, or why we track you [Cyrus Farivar/Ars Technica]
Bay Area law enforcement agencies are considering aerial drones
originally designed for military use "as a cost-cutting way to replace helicopters." The drones under consideration as crime-fighting, protest-eyeing, life-saving tools include "live-video-feeding capabilities and different features, like infrared devices" and can cost cities $50K to $100K and up. I'd presume that the string of news items like this from around the US points to stepped-up lobbying and marketing on the part of the drone manufacturers. (via punkboyinsf)
A court filing from an FBI Special Agent reports that the Bureau's forensics teams can't crack the pattern-lock utility on Android devices' screens. This is moderately comforting, given the courts' recent findings that mobile phones can be searched without warrants. David Kravets writes on Wired:
A San Diego federal judge days ago approved the warrant upon a request by FBI Special Agent Jonathan Cupina. The warrant was disclosed Wednesday by security researcher Christopher Soghoian,
In a court filing, Cupina wrote: (.pdf)
Failure to gain access to the cellular telephone’s memory was caused by an electronic ‘pattern lock’ programmed into the cellular telephone. A pattern lock is a modern type of password installed on electronic devices, typically cellular telephones. To unlock the device, a user must move a finger or stylus over the keypad touch screen in a precise pattern so as to trigger the previously coded un-locking mechanism. Entering repeated incorrect patterns will cause a lock-out, requiring a Google e-mail login and password to override. Without the Google e-mail login and password, the cellular telephone’s memory can not be accessed. Obtaining this information from Google, per the issuance of this search warrant, will allow law enforcement to gain access to the contents of the memory of the cellular telephone in question.
Rosenberg, in a telephone interview, suggested the authorities could “dismantle a phone and extract data from the physical components inside if you’re looking to get access.”
However, that runs the risk of damaging the phone’s innards, and preventing any data recovery.
FBI Can’t Crack Android Pattern-Screen Lock