“The final resting spot of the once glorious glazed donuts.” Read the rest
“The final resting spot of the once glorious glazed donuts.” Read the rest
I know a guy who works at Boston Dynamics. He spends all day fussing over how to get a robot leg to bend the right way. It's kind of boring, but he likes tinkering with things. And hey, it's a job. When he sees people freaking out about whatever new robot they've unleashed unto the world, he just laughs, because he knows how much time he's spent futzing with those stupid joints.
For the most part, he's got a point; we like to freak out about our Terminator future, but mostly it's pretty lame, like that dumb-looking Knightscope mall security guard. The surveillance components are creepy; but the thing itself is hardly threatening.
The state’s bomb squad had Spot on loan from the Waltham-based Boston Dynamics for three months starting in August until November, according to records obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts and reviewed by WBUR.
The documents do not reveal a lot of details on the robot dog’s exact use, but a state police spokesman said Spot, like the department’s other robots, was used as a “mobile remote observation device” to provide troopers with images of suspicious devices or potentially hazardous locations, like where an armed suspect might be hiding.
On one hand, this makes sense; cops have been using robots to take point in potentially dangerous scenarios for years. On the other hand, it's still kind of creepy, and not just because I personally skeptical of Staties in my home Commonwealth. Read the rest
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) this week released new rules that limit when police can access family tree DNA databases to identify crime suspects. This new genealogy policy is the first ever at the federal level to address how online genetic databases sold as services to the public can be used in law enforcement. Read the rest
The Electronic Frontier Foundation and Muckrock teamed up to use the Freedom of Information Act to extract the details of 200 US cities' Automated License Plate Recognition camera programs (ALPR), and today they've released a dataset containing all the heretofore secret data on how these programs are administered and what is done with the data they collect. Read the rest
I own a DJI Spark. It's not the most expense drone out there, but it's a good one. I love its ability to take video and photos from angles that I could never manage from the ground. I do not, however, love the fact that law enforcement officials in the United States will soon be able to shoot it down. Read the rest
Smartphone video footage of police brutality being exercised against black Americans and other ethnic minorities living their lives within the nation’s borders have become depressingly commonplace. While difficult to watch and, most likely for the videographer, difficult to stand by and film, such footage can be an important tool in bringing cops who abuse the power of their office to justice. The news, social media and water cooler talk here in North America often overflows with reports of abuses of power by law enforcement officials. It’s easy to forget that the very same brand of injustice and violence are served up in other parts of the world – a lot.
According to The New York Times, in Australia, a country that’s been marred by institutional racism since its inception, “...aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are incarcerated at 13 times the rate of non-Indigenous Australians. They make up 27 percent of Australia’s prisoners, compared with 3 percent of the overall population.” Given the disproportionate representation of Indigenous Australians in the clink, it’s safe to say that there’s some greasy shit going on Down Under, of a similar sort to the greasy shit we see going on up here in places like New York City and Ferguson, Missouri.
To help Australia aboriginals and Torres Strait Islander peoples to mitigate this prejudicial treatment at the hands of those meant to serve and protect them, human rights activists are teaching them how to respond to the threat of police violence and to record their interactions with law enforcement, just like we do up here:
From The New York Times:
Read the rest
The Copwatch workshops, activists said, are intended to teach people their legal rights and how to safely record interactions with police officers.
As Rick James would be the first to tell you if he weren't dead, cocaine's a helluva drug. Aside from providing an intense high that can be followed by an even more intense bout of depression, tons of fun paranoia, anger, breathing issues and maybe if you're really into the stuff, death. Until today, I have to admit that I was unaware that it also has the power of flight.
According to the New York Times, Floridian (of course she's from Florida) Kennecia Posey was found by officers from the Fort Pierce Police Department to have a goodly amount of marching powder in her purse. The pouch of nose candy was discovered during a traffic stop after seeing the car that Posey was a passenger in was swerving all over the road. The cops decided to search Posey's purse after smelling marijuana in the car. I can't tell you what Posey had to say about her left-handed cigarettes, but her theory on how the bag of rail ended up in there is amazing: she claimed that with it being a windy day, the stuff must have blown in there.
I guess it goes without saying that Posey is getting dinged up on charges of cocaine possession and a misdemeanor count of marijuana possession. I really hope that she fights the charges in court – hard. I want expert witnesses called in to able to talk about the flight qualities of a bag of blow. I demand to hear the arguments over the aerodynamics of an ounce of Yeyo. Read the rest
Since 2016, when an FBI agent first used a dead suspect's finger to unlock his phone, police forces across the USA have made a routine practice of unlocking phones using suspects and victims' dead fingers, saving big on buying cyberwar tools like Cellebrite's $1500-$3000 unlocker, or Grayshift's $30k/year Graykey. Read the rest
Since the 1970s, spy agencies have been feeding police forces tips about who to arrest and where to look for evidence, despite the illegality of their practicing surveillance within the USA. Read the rest
Back in April, experts warned that Trump's plan to hire 5,000 new Customs and Border Patrol officers was unlikely to succeed: the agency already loses 1,000 employees per year and a significant number of applicants are disqualified on the grounds of past bad actions, from theft to rape to drug smuggling. Read the rest
This drone-catching drone video from Airspace Systems suggests that drones and counter-drones will soon be filling the skies. Drone deliveries will be skyjacked by robber drones, then cops and private loss prevention firms will use drones to catch those drones (and probably target all kinds of benign drones). Read the rest
If your phone is designed to be secure against thieves, voyeurs, and hackers, it'll also stop spies and cops. So the FBI has demanded that device makers redesign their products so that they -- and anyone who can impersonate them -- can break into them at will. Read the rest
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] Read the rest