DC Council: ‘Our citizens are minding the law too well… Fuck them, raise the price of parking’

The D.C. Council on Thursday is prepared to consider whether to raise parking ticket fines by $5 and extend the hours for when meters in “premium zones,” which include the busiest commercial districts, will be in effect, from the current 10 p.m. until midnight. Parking ticket fines currently range from $25 to $250, depending on the violation.

via End of an era: Technology is changing the way we park as tickets decline – The Washington Post.

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FBI says search warrants not needed to use “stingrays” in public (con’d)

Update: San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department doesn’t tell judges it’s using spy device (Stingray)

The sheriff in San Bernardino County—east of Los Angeles County—has deployed a stingray hundreds of times without a warrant, and under questionable judicial authority.

In response to a public records request, the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department (SBSD) sent Ars, among other outlets, a rare example of a template for a “pen register and trap and trace order” application. (In the letter, county lawyers claimed this was a warrant application template, when it clearly is not.) The SBSD is the law enforcement agency for the entire county, the 12th-most populous county in the United States, and the fifth-most populous in California.

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This template application, surprisingly, cites no legal authority on which to base its activities. The SBSD did not respond to Ars’ request for comment.
“This is astonishing because it suggests the absence of legal authorization (because if there were clear legal authorization you can bet the government would be citing it),” Fred Cate, a law professor at Indiana University, told Ars by e-mail.
“Alternatively, it might suggest that the government just doesn’t care about legal authorization. Either interpretation is profoundly troubling,” he said.
The documents sent to Ars by the SBSD’s county attorneys also show that since acquiring a stingray in late 2012, the agency has used it 303 times between January 1, 2014 and May 7, 2015.

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The template is likely to mislead judges who receive applications based on it because it gives no indication that the Sheriff’s Department intends to use a stingray,” he wrote by e-mail.
“We have seen similarly misleading applications submitted to judges by police departments across the country,” he continued. “Judges have no hope of ensuring that use of stingrays complies with the Fourth Amendment if they are kept in the dark about law enforcement’s intent to use a stingray. When police hide the ball from judges, our justice system cannot ensure justice.”

Update: Baltimore Police Spying On Cellphones And Hiding It

A detective’s court testimony Monday revealed that Baltimore law enforcement is spying on residents at an incredible rate without a warrant — and doing their best to hide it.
Detective Michael Dressel testified that Baltimore law enforcement have used “sting rays”–devices that can track personal cell phone data and location–without court orders, The Baltimore Sun reports. Police said they have used sting rays 4,300 more than times since 2007.
“This is scandalous,” Tim Lynch, the Cato Institute’s Director for the Project on Criminal Justice, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Police agencies have misled the public about how the stingray devices have been used and how often. We need to find out what has been happening in other cities around the country. FBI officials and police chiefs need to come clean about this.”

Update: NYCLU releases details of EC Sheriff’s cell phone spying

The NYCLU says documents show the sheriff’s office has a confidentiality agreement with the FBI that allows it to maintain almost total secrecy over the records for this device, including that the FBI can request the sheriff’s office dismiss criminal prosecutions rather than risk compromising the secrecy of how the Stingray is used.]
“Stingrays are an advanced surveillance technology that can sweep up very private information, including information on innocent people,” said NYCLU Western Region Director John Curr III. “If the FBI can command the Sheriff’s Office to dismiss criminal cases to protect its secret stingrays, it is not clear how the $350,000 we are spending on stingray equipment is keeping the people of Buffalo safer.”

Update: NYT catches up on Stingray

A powerful new surveillance tool being adopted by police departments across the country comes with an unusual requirement: To buy it, law enforcement officials must sign a nondisclosure agreement preventing them from saying almost anything about the technology.
Any disclosure about the technology, which tracks cellphones and is often called StingRay, could allow criminals and terrorists to circumvent it, the F.B.I. has said in an affidavit. But the tool is adopted in such secrecy that communities are not always sure what they are buying or whether the technology could raise serious privacy concerns.
The confidentiality has elevated the stakes in a longstanding debate about the public disclosure of government practices versus law enforcement’s desire to keep its methods confidential. While companies routinely require nondisclosure agreements for technical products, legal experts say these agreements raise questions and are unusual given the privacy and even constitutional issues at stake.

Update: WaPost wakes up on Stingray

The Tallahassee police have used the StingRay or a similar device in 250 investigations over a six-year period from mid-2007 through early 2014, according to a list of cases compiled by the Tallahassee Police Department and provided to the American Civil Liberties Union.
That’s 40 or so instances a year in a city of 290,000, a surprisingly high rate given that the StingRay’s manufacturer, Harris Corp., has told the Federal Communications Commission that the device is used only in emergencies. At least 48 state and local law enforcement agencies in 20 states and the District of Columbia have bought the devices, according to the ACLU.
The secrecy surrounding the device’s use has begun to prompt a backlash in cities across the country. In Baltimore, a judge is pushing back against the refusal of police to answer questions while testifying. In Charlotte, N.C., following a newspaper investigation, the state’s attorney is reviewing whether prosecutors illegally withheld information about the device’s use from defendants.
In Tacoma, Wash., after a separate newspaper investigation found that judges in almost 200 cases had no idea they were issuing orders for the StingRay, the court set new rules requiring police to disclose the tool’s use. The state legislature is weighing a bill to regulate police use of the equipment.

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The bureau’s position on Americans’ privacy isn’t surprising. The Obama Administration has repeatedly maintained that the public has no privacy in public places. It began making that argument as early as 2010, when it told a federal appeals court that the authorities should be allowed to affix GPS devices on vehicles and track a suspect’s every move without court authorization. The Supreme Court, however, eventually ruled that warrants are required. What’s more, the administration has argued that placing a webcam with pan-and-zoom capabilities on a utility pole to spy on a suspect at his or her residence was no different from a police officer’s observation from the public right-of-way. A federal judge last month disagreed with the government’s position, tossing evidence gathered by the webcam that was operated from afar.

In their letter, Leahy and Grassley complained that little is known about how stingrays, also known as ISMI catchers, are used by law enforcement agencies. The Harris Corp., a maker of the devices from Florida, includes non-disclosure clauses with buyers. Baltimore authorities cited a non-disclosure agreement to a judge in November as their grounds for refusing to say how they tracked a suspect’s mobile phone. They eventually dropped charges rather than disclose their techniques. Further, sometimes the authorities simply lie to judges about their use or undertake other underhanded methods to prevent the public from knowing that the cell-site simulators are being used.

via FBI says search warrants not needed to use “stingrays” in public places | Ars Technica.

Liberator Gun, Software Creator Sues State Department

Wilson has tried to keep on the right side of ITAR law. He’s asked them in at least 10 separate official requests to tell him if his original Liberator plans actually fall under its jurisdiction. He’s also inquired if if his current main project, the “Ghost Gunner,” a home CNC mill which allows individuals to make metal AR-15 lower receivers at home without serial numbers, falls under ITAR. (Such a request is known as a “commodity jurisdiction” request.)

Their answer, if I’m reading the suit correctly, is that the hardware does not but that software does. The suit details at length a confusing series of bureaucratic buck-passing from the ITAR people that makes it very hard for Wilson and Defense Distributed to know whether their planned activities will bring criminal punishment down on them.

Wilson said in a phone interview this morning that he’s trying to get all Ghost Gunner customers to affirm that they are U.S. citizens, since he fears if he sells one to a non-citizen (which could constitute “export”) he just might run afoul of ITAR.

 

via Cody Wilson Sues State Department Over Threats About Spreading Digital Gun-Making Files – Hit & Run : Reason.com.

Technology at Wash U maps human genome in 3 days

The two 3-inch-by-1-inch glass chips held the unfathomable amount of genetic information contained in 16 human genomes. On Thursday, a technician placed the chips — called flow cells — in a new genetic sequencing machine at the Genome Institute at Washington University and closed the door.
In just three days, the task will be complete.
It’s mind-boggling given that it took scientists working all over the world more than 10 years and about $1 billion to first sequence the human genome, a feat declared officially complete in 2003.
This ultra-fast sequencing machine, which hit the market last year, is only sold in groups of 10 — a system capable of sequencing 18,000 human genomes a year at just $1,000 to $1,500 per genome.

Excellent.

via New technology at Wash U maps human genome in days; large-scale studies now possible : Lifestyles.

“That’s right sir. 30 city and 42 highway and 5-10 years in the penitentiary for changing your owns spark plugs “

Dear Car Companies: This is NOT a Good “Features and Benefits” Point

These 12 car companies are lobbying hard to make working on the electrical and computer components of your own car illegal. General Motors has told the Copyright Office that proponents of copyright reform mistakenly “conflate ownership of a vehicle with ownership of the underlying computer software in a vehicle.”
General Motors also says that your car qualifies as a “mobile computing device.” Tinkering with it, therefore, could be a copyright violation because although you do own your car, you do not own the computer code inside it. Jail-breaking your iPad is currently illegal for the same reason. By the way, jail-breaking your iPhone is still legal; it’s just one more example of a government regulation that is full of double standards.

Get. Bent.

via 12 big car companies are trying to make working on your own car illegal – Watchdog.org.

The Misguided War on Sexting

Such programs have demonstrated very little success, but at least they don’t directly harm teens. Other responses are more dangerous. Teen girls can be prosecuted under child pornography laws for taking nude photos of themselves. As one judge said, incredulously, “It seems like the child here [is]…the victim, the perpetrator, and the accomplice. I mean, does that make any sense?”
If sexting is framed as dangerous in itself, girls who sext become perpetrators. And that means the state can target them for punishment. Among other consequences, this means sexting laws become a way parents can use law enforcement to squash relationships they don’t like. (Hasinoff points to instances in which parents used sexts to prosecute their children’s same-sex boyfriends or girlfriends.)

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Parents, understandably, may not be eager to hear that their children are sexting, just as they may not be eager to have their kids date. But sexting isn’t innately harmful or pathological or evil, and the worst-case consequences are less dire than for many other forms of teen sexual expression. Criminalizing it doesn’t make sense.

I am uncertain of what, if any, legal solution there is for a morals issue.  You cannot legislate morality (drugs, prostitution, gambling) and criminalizing teens, branding as a “Sex Criminal” for ill-thought actions will not ‘help’ them.

 

via The Misguided War on Sexting – Reason.com.

Virginia and North Dakota Wrestle with Restrictions on Drones

North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R) has signed legislation that drastically reduces the ability of police departments in his state to use drones for surveillance.
It also makes it clear that drones should never be equipped with weapons, used for private surveillance, or to keep an eye on people speaking or holding rallies in public.
North Dakota is not the only state to be embroiled in a discussion over the use of drones to spy on its citizens.
But in North Dakota, the debate has been about more than the protection of privacy. Economic development and jobs were factors just as, if not more, important than constitutional concerns.
The North Dakota Legislature and Gov. Dalrymple agreed on legislation limiting the use of drones in mid-April. This was not a debate quickly settled.
It took the legislature in Bismarck more than two years to do this deal, in part because the Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Department has been relying on the use of drones in its surveillance operations.

via Virginia and North Dakota Wrestle with Restrictions on Drones | PJ Media.

Attention All FORTRAN Programmers: Call your office, you are on deck

What made Ada difficult also made it secure and reliable—in simplified programing terms, it was hard to get code past Ada’s exacting compiler, but once you did, it was extremely reliable and resistant to many types of attacks. Could that reliability and security be combined with an easier development path?

via An unexpected source of mobile security: Ada — Defense Systems.

Just a coincidence?

Or is Free Market Competition good for the consumer?

It doesn’t matter if you subscribe to the Google service or not; the mere fact that there’s now competition in this market is enough to bring down prices for everybody.

TWC, without incoming treat of competition, would have left their ‘package’  just the way it was.  If you wanted something else–tough.  If you wanted faster internet speed-tough.

What are the internet packages/pricing in cities that have (city/stated) granted monopolies?  I would be willing to bet that TWC, Comcast, and FIOS do not change or offer better pricing where they are entrenched.

Locally, in the Tidewater area, when Verizon FIOS was beginning to to lay fiber for FIOS, the dominate cable provider, Cox Cable, started running these self-serving ads, praising themselves:  “Cable Competes”

Ummm, no.  The speed/bandwidth was not even close.  It still is not close today.  Cox offers: 150Mb Down / 20Mb UP.  FIOS offers: 500/500 Mbps. (very pricey)

I would like to see what would happen if Google Fiber were to come to Hampton Roads.

via TWC boosts its internet speeds to counter Google Fiber.

US jobs and crops to increase with drone use

In the report, The Economic Impact of Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration in the United States, the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International estimates that integrating drones into U.S. airspace could, by the year 2025, create 100,000 new jobs for the U.S. economy. Most of those jobs, they estimate, will be in the agricultural market.

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Although U.S. farms are mechanized and extremely productive, they still rely heavily on an age-old practice known as “crop scouting.” In its basic form, crop scouting, or field scouting, is simply observing conditions by traveling around and through a field. This is done so farmers can see how well crops are growing and, when necessary, take corrective action to prevent or mitigate crop damage. The process begins by observing fields before seeding. At this point, farmers are looking for weeds that might impact the growth of crops once their fields have been planted. After planting, ongoing scouting can reveal damage from moisture issues, pest infestations and the effect of fertilizers and pesticide applications.

Scouting is critical to farming because it improves crop yield. It’s also the single most compelling reason that drones will transform the agricultural industry. Viewing crops at 200 feet from a drone has many advantages over walking a field with a note pad. Not only can UAVs provide a comprehensive picture of field conditions, but crop development can also be documented with images and videos from an onboard camera and compared over time.

via US jobs — and crops — to increase with drone use.

The SoS Email Security Breech and Putin’s Actions in Ukraine

Update: Top Spy: Hillary’s Emails ‘Likely’ Hacked by China, Russia, Iran

“As a military officer, if I said I was doing something for convenience’s sake to the soldiers that I was leading and it was solely for my convenience instead of their, you know, their welfare, I should be relieved of duty. I would expect to be fired,” Flynn said. “You know, it’s one of those things where if it doesn’t feel good it probably isn’t. And this one doesn’t feel good to me.”
Kelly asked, “What do you think the odds are that the Chinese, the Russians hacked into that server and her e-mail account?”
“Very high,” Flynn said without hesitation. “Likely.”
“Really?”
“Yep. Likely. They’re very good at it. China, Russia, Iran, potentially the North Koreans. And other countries who may be ‘our allies’ because they can.”

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The home-brewed server was not set up to defend against cyber threats from nation-states.  Had it been, Granny would have trotted that IT person out to Sing and Dance in front of the media.  The SoS email account, next to the CIA Chief and POTUS is one of the highest targets for other nations to attack. If the home-brew server was cracked (and likely was) we may never know the extent of the damage and how many different countries were reading the mail.

Hypothetical …. but perhaps Vlad has acted against Ukraine because he as been reading State Dept email. That would tell him what our intentions and response will be if he takes ‘action X’.  [Then again, with the current POTUS, it is not too hard to foresee what the US actions will be to his foreign policy Iron Fist.]

A second question but just as important: who inside the government broke the law (8 U.S. Code § 798) and passed US Classified intel summaries and documents to Sidney Blumenthal? Why did Blumenthal have US Classified documents? On his fricken AOL account? Did Clinton “farm out” the heavy reading to her dear friend Sid, and make him a “shadow SoS”? http://wp.me/p31sf8-1G5

Jeb Love Big Government Spying

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush stated that he is “nervous” about criticism of the NSA and that he wished the president would do a better job defending government surveillance systems on Monday’s “Hugh Hewitt Show.”
Bush said that lone wolf terrorism “is a serious threat in a world where we’re so connected with the rest of the world. We have people moving in and people moving out. People get their information now, not everybody gets to listen to your show to get all their information. People get their information in different ways. They get disaffected, disillusioned, preyed upon, and so yeah, I think that this is an ongoing threat, and I hope that our counterintelligence capabilities are always vigilant. I’ve always been nervous about the attacks on the NSA, and somehow that we’re losing our freedoms by keeping the homeland safe. I think we need to be really vigilant about that.”

via Jeb: I’m ‘Nervous’ About NSA Criticism, Obama Should Defend NSA – Breitbart.

Legal defense for political aristocrats vs. low-born

The government attorneys, however, insist that the officials didn’t break the law or act in bad faith by not revealing to anyone that it never searched Mrs. Clinton’s emails, despite hundreds of requests for her electronic communications that were unable to be completely fulfilled because the department didn’t gain access to her messages until late last year.

You try this SHIT excuse in court and find out what happens.

‘Well, Your Honor, its not criminal because my client’s emails were not on the company server.  The CEO had a personal server outside of company HQ and we did not know it until just last week.’

via Obama scrambles to limit Hillary Clinton email scandal damage – Washington Times.

Ethereum, Information Technology that Could Transform Law, Finance, and Civil Society

Ethereum’s developers believe their project will lead to the proliferation of programs they call “smart contracts,” in which the terms of an agreement are written in code and enforced by software. These smart contracts could carry out the instructions of a complex algorithm based on data feed—such as a stock ticker. They could facilitate practically any financial transaction, such as holding money in escrow or dispersing micropayments among autonomous machines. They could be used to create a peer-to-peer gambling network, a peer-to-peer stock trading platform, a peer-to-peer social network, a prenuptial agreement, a will, a standard agreement to split a dinner check, or a public registry for keeping track of who owns what land in a city.

Transparency and freedom from government busy-bodies.  Whats not to like.

via Here Comes Ethereum, an Information Technology Dreamed Up By a Wunderkind 19-Year-Old That Could One Day Transform Law, Finance, and Civil Society – Hit & Run : Reason.com.

Apple Watch: An 18-hour albatross on the wrist

Update: Faulty taptic engine slows Apple Watch roll out

The part involved is the so-called taptic engine, designed by Apple AAPL, -1.47% to produce the sensation of being tapped on the wrist. After mass production began in February, reliability testing revealed that some taptic engines supplied by AAC Technologies Holdings Inc., of Shenzhen, China, started to break down over time, the people familiar with the matter said. One of those people said Apple scrapped some completed watches as a result.

Update: 18 Hour Albatross Late for Its Debut

Angela Ahrendts has told Apple Store staff that the Apple Watch is unlikely to be available for in-store purchases before June – but they should expect the usual ‘blockbuster launches’ in retail stores for future products.

Update: Slow apps, low battery life limit appeal of Apple Watch

Loading an app required the watch to pull tremendous amounts of data from iPhones, Patel said, adding that Apple had told him upcoming software updates would address performance issues.
“The maps app, surely the answer to wandering pedestrians’ dreams, is so slow it makes me want to pull out my paper Rand McNally,” the Journal’s Fowler said.
Re/Code’s Lauren Goode said the watch’s battery life was not nearly as long-lasting as some other wearable devices. CNET’s Scott Stein said the battery’s recharge time was slow.

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“…If you can tolerate single-day battery life, half-baked apps and inevitable obsolescence, you can now wear the future on your wrist,” Fowler said.

“Hey, what time is it?”

“Ummmm I dunno.  I didn’t charge my watch today.”

Apple Watch is attempting to be the technology jack-of-all-trades of smartwatches — making big trade-offs in exchange, namely battery life. And the Apple Watch is closed and proprietary — working only with Apple’s smartphones.

The Apple Watch is expected to last only 18 hours between charges, yet the Band can go roughly two days on a single charge.

Idiots.  This turns a small, clever, device of convenience (no more sun dials) into an albatross on the wrist.

via Microsoft outsmarts Apple Watch | America’s Markets.

DJI is about to become the first billion dollar consumer drone company

Over the last two years DJI has emerged as the world’s most popular consumer drone maker, at least by revenue. And The Verge has learned that the company is currently in talks with Silicon Valley’s top venture capital firms to potentially raise a new round of funding. Sources familiar with the negotiations say DJI reported around $500 million in revenue for 2014, roughly four times what it did in 2013, and is on pace to do about $1 billion in sales this year. The potential valuation of the company would be a healthy multiple of that, several billion dollars, although no deal has yet been finalized.

via DJI is about to become the first billion dollar consumer drone company | The Verge.

It depends on what your definition of, “…signed the paper…” is

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki couldn’t tell reporters on Thursday if Hillary Clinton signed an official records form presented to all employees as they leave the department — a crucial question in determining whether the former Secretary of State committed a felony by failing to turn over government e-mail records.
Former Department of Justice lawyer and National Review contributing editor Shannen Coffin noted this week that Clinton should have signed form OF-109 as part of her standard exit from the department. That form declares that she turned over all relevant records at the time of her departure — and stipulates that any failure to do so could result in felony fines and jail times.
Clinton did not turn over her government communications to the State Department until asked for them late last year.

Dear Talk-Face Psaki,

Do you realize, that, as a government employee/agent you are helping to hide information.  Only a Party Functionary, ja?  Total kool-aid drinker.  Is this what you think each morning, “I’m ready to go out there an muddy the waters of understanding for the people”?

via National Review.

Windermere Cay apartments in Florida are so awful they will fine residents $10,000 for negative reviews

Windermere Cay apartments in Winter Garden, Florida makes its residents sign a “Social Media Addendum” agreement that stipulates a $10,000 fine for “publishing or airing negative commentary” about Windermere Cay.
The agreement also stipulates that residents must transfer copyrights of written or photographic works about the Windermere Cay to the owner so the “owner will have the right to notify the website to take down any such online posting pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.”

Just a little help with the Streisand Effect.  Idiots

via Windermere Cay apartments in Florida are so awful they will fine residents $10,000 for negative reviews – Boing Boing.