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Dallas Police Dept Loses 8 Terabytes of Crime Data, Throwing Court Cases Into Chaos

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The Dallas Police Department has announced that a city employee accidentally deleted eight terabytes of its data—a fuck-up that has now endangered an unknown amount of court cases that relied upon the data as evidence.

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Source: https://gizmodo.com/dallas-police-dept-loses-8-terabytes-of-crime-data-thr-1847494228
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Lucas Ropek

Maine bans facial recognition technology from schools and most police work

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Maine has passed the strongest statewide law regulating government use of facial recognition to date. The state’s House and Senate voted unanimously in favor of rules that prohibit law enforcement from using the technology unless they have probable cause that an unidentified person in an image committed a serious crime. Once the law goes into effect later this year, it will also limit how police conduct facial ID searches. They won’t have direct access to the tech. Instead, they’ll need to go through the FBI and Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) in the few instances where they’re sanctioned to use it.

Additionally, the law affords citizens the right to sue the state if they believe a government agency has used the technology unlawfully. It also prohibits Maine from deploying facial recognition systems in schools, and mandates that both Maine State Police and the BMV will need to maintain public records of search requests from law enforcement.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said the bill “stands in sharp contrast” to Washington state’s SB 6280, the only other statewide law in the US governing the use of facial recognition. That bill was sponsored and primarily written by a current Microsoft employee. It has also been criticized by privacy advocates for giving police too many opportunities to use the technology for surveillance purposes. 

Source: https://www.engadget.com/maine-facial-recognition-law-191252742.html?src=rss
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Igor Bonifacic

How the FBI Is Trying to Break Encryption Without Actually Breaking Encryption

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Since at least the 1990s, federal officials have publicly worried that encrypted communications give aid to terrorists and criminals. More often than not they have, to some degree, been right.

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Source: https://gizmodo.com/how-the-fbi-is-trying-to-break-encryption-without-actua-1847054471
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Lucas Ropek

Supreme Court narrows scope of sweeping cybercrime law

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The Supreme Court has sharply curtailed the scope of the nation’s main cybercrime law, limiting a tool that civil liberties advocates say federal prosecutors have abused by seeking prison time for minor computer misdeeds.

The 6-3 decision handed down Thursday means federal prosecutors can no longer use the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to charge people who misused databases they are otherwise entitled to access. The ruling comes six months after justices expressed concern that the government’s sweeping interpretation of the law could place people in jeopardy for activities as mundane as checking social media on their work computers, with Justice Neil Gorsuch saying prosecutors’ view risked “making a federal criminal of us all.”

In an unusual lineup, the court’s three Trump appointees — who are also the newest justices — joined the court’s three liberals to reject the Justice Department’s interpretation of the statute.

The majority ruling, written by Justice Amy Coney Barrett, is largely devoted to a meticulous parsing of the statue’s language. However, she also noted the dangers of the approach prosecutors have advocated.

“The Government’s interpretation of the statute would attach criminal penalties to a breathtaking amount of commonplace computer activity,” Barrett wrote. “If the ‘exceeds authorized access’ clause criminalizes every violation of a computer-use policy, then millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens are criminals.”

While insisting that the court arrived at its ruling based solely on reading the statute, and not considering its potential effects, Barrett concurred with critics who said the broader interpretation would “criminalize everything from embellishing an online-dating profile to using a pseudonym on Facebook.”

In dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas said the majority’s reading was contrived and off-base. He also said there are many areas of law where permission given to do something for one purpose does not imply permission for an unrelated purpose.

“A valet, for example, may take possession of a person’s car to park it, but he cannot take it for a joyride,” Thomas wrote in an opinion joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito.

Thomas also noted that violations of the law are typically a misdemeanor, and he said the breadth of the statute is no reason to misread it. “Much of the Federal Code criminalizes common activity,” he wrote. “It is understandable to be uncomfortable with so much conduct being criminalized, but that discomfort does not give us authority to alter statutes.”

Past controversies involving the law included a two-year prison sentence for a journalist who helped hackers deface the Los Angeles Times’ website and, most notoriously, a prosecution that led to the suicide of a prominent internet freedom activist who faced the possibility of decades behind bars for downloading millions of scientific journal articles.

The case decided on Thursday, Van Buren v. United States, involved a former police officer convicted of violating the CFAA for searching a license plate database in exchange for a bribe as part of an FBI sting operation. The officer appealed the conviction, arguing that the law did not cover the unauthorized use of a computer system that the user was allowed to access as part of his job.

The Supreme Court agreed, holding that Nathan Van Buren’s conviction was invalid.

A broad coalition of technology experts, civil-society activists and transparency advocates had poured amicus briefs into the high court as it considered its first-ever case involving the law.

The National Whistleblower Center warned that applying the CFAA to any unauthorized use of computer data would invite “retaliation against whistleblowers who provide evidence of criminal fraud and other criminal activity” to authorities. The libertarian Americans for Prosperity Foundation said the government’s interpretation of the law would cover “violations of the fine print in website terms of service, company computer-use policies, and other breaches of contract” and “wrongly criminalize a wide swath of innocent, innocuous conduct.”

Free-press advocates warned that a ruling for the government “would significantly chill First Amendment activity,” while technologists said it would allow prosecutors to go after good-faith security researchers attempting to raise awareness of digital vulnerabilities.

But supporters of the broad use of the CFAA said it was necessary to combat insider threats facing businesses and government agencies’ sensitive computer systems. Narrowing the law “would allow any person who has legitimate access to the data carte blanche to access and use (or indeed in many cases destroy) that data for any manifestly blameworthy reason they choose,” the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association told the court.

Source: https://www.politico.com/news/2021/06/03/supreme-court-cybercrime-law-491764
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Eric Geller and Josh Gerstein

A drug dealer sharing a photo of cheese online also shared his fingerprints, leading to arrest

A drug dealer who went online to show off a block of cheese also unwittingly showed off his fingerprints, which led to a prison sentence of 13 years and six months.

Carl Stewart, from Liverpool, England, had purchased a block of Mature Blue Stilton and proudly displayed it on EncroChat, a now defunct service provider for criminals. — Read the rest

Source: https://boingboing.net/2021/05/25/a-drug-dealer-sharing-a-photo-of-cheese-online-also-shared-his-fingerprints-leading-to-arrest.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=a-drug-dealer-sharing-a-photo-of-cheese-online-also-shared-his-fingerprints-leading-to-arrest
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Carla Sinclair

Ransomware crooks threaten to ID informants if cops don’t pay up

Ransomware crooks threaten to ID informants if cops don’t pay up

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Ransomware operators have delivered a stunning ultimatum to Washington, DC’s Metropolitan Police Department: pay them $50 million or they’ll leak the identities of confidential informants to street gangs.

Babuk, as the group calls itself, said on Monday that it had obtained 250GB of sensitive data after hacking the MPD network. The group’s site on the darkweb has posted dozens of images of what appear to be sensitive MPD documents. One screenshot shows a Windows directory titled Disciplinary Files. Each of the 28 files shown lists a name. A check of four of the names shows they all belong to MPD officers.

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Other images appeared to show persons-of-interest names and photos, a screenshot of a folder named Gang Database, chief’s reports, lists of arrests, and a document listing the name and address of a confidential informant.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Source: https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2021/04/ransomware-attack-on-dc-police-threatens-safety-of-cops-and-informants/
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Dan Goodin

Fort Lauderdale police mistook Star Trek memorabilia for weapons: lawsuit

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A lawsuit against the Fort Lauderdale police department alleges that officers mistook Star Trek memorabilia for weapons as part of the reason they used excessive force in arresting two brothers.T…

Source: https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/547062-fort-lauderdale-police-mistook-star-trek-memorabilia-for-weapons-lawsuit
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Lexi Lonas

Cops playing copyrighted music to stop video of them being posted online

On several occasions, cops have started playing popular music when they realize they’re being filmed. The odd behavior has a point: they hope that copyright-strike algorithms on YouTube, Instagram and other social media sites will prevent the video being posted and shared. — Read the rest

Source: https://boingboing.net/2021/02/10/cops-playing-copyrighted-music-to-stop-video-of-them-being-posted-online.html
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Rob Beschizza

NYPD’s New Robot Police Dog Will Get Special Arm For Opening Doors

The New York Police Department’s new robot dog will receive a special robotic arm for opening doors and moving objects next month, according to a new report from ABC7 in New York. The existence of the NYPD’s robot was first revealed in late October after it assisted in the apprehension of a suspect in Brooklyn. But d…

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Source: https://gizmodo.com/nypds-new-robot-police-dog-will-get-special-arm-for-ope-1845858406
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Matt Novak

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