Activists teaching Australian Aboriginals to protect themselves by recording their interactions with law enforcement

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:

The Copwatch workshops, activists said, are intended to teach people their legal rights and how to safely record interactions with police officers.

Read the rest

Magic cocaine rides the wind into Florida woman's purse

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

Cops routinely unlock phones with corpses' fingers

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

A detailed look at how US police forces collude with spy agencies to cover up the origin of evidence in criminal cases

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

Applicants for the Customs and Border Protection agency keep admitting to ghastly crimes during polygraph tests

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

147-mph biker chase demonstrates latest aerial surveillance tech

On Independence Day, one American decided to exercise his freedom to ride his motorcycle at speeds up to 147 miles per hour. That and several other freedoms were quickly taken away thanks a police plane which released aerial footage demonstrating an astonishing array of data overlaid. Read the rest

Drone-catching drone portends coming drone arms race

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

Chelsea Manning threatened with 'indefinite solitary confinement' for expired toothpaste and asking for a lawyer

The infractions she's charged with are so minor, it's hard to believe.

FBI chief demands an end to cellphone security

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

RAIDS: law enforcement training film (c. 1974)

RAIDS, a c.1974 Federal law enforcement training film, looks like a pilot for a cop show from that era. (via r/Documentaries) Read the rest

FBI responds to ACLU FOIA request...with 111 blank pages

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

Bay Area law enforcement agencies eye aerial drones

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) Read the rest

Android screen lock bests FBI

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.

Read the rest