by Mike Masnick
Thu, Feb 3rd 2011 11:01am
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jan 14th 2011 4:31pm
from the uh-oh dept
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Jan 6th 2011 11:55am
from the don't-the-police-want-people-to-slow-down? dept
After flashing his brights at oncoming cars, to warn them of a mobile speed camera he had spotted, Michael Thompson was pulled over. This, alone, seems pretty questionable. After all, shouldn't the purpose of speed cameras be to get people to slow down? Thompson's actions probably did succeed in getting more people to slow down. But, of course, in many cases the real reason for speed cameras is money, so interfering with that is seen as a problem. Now, it does appear that, after being pulled over, Thompson got a bit belligerent and questioned the fairness of being pulled over. The officer responded by saying he was going to let Thompson off with a warning, but had changed his mind -- and was going to charge him with "perverting the course of justice." It seems ridiculous to think that warning people they should obey the law is "perverting the course of justice."
In the end he was not actually charged with "perverting the course of justice," but instead with "willfully obstructing a police officer in the course of their duties," which is a criminal offense. Lawyer David Allen Green, who wrote the article I link to above, points out that warning other motorists to obey the speed limit is hardly obstructing a police officer:
Preventing police officers from seeking to impose as much criminal liability as they possibly can is not the same as "wilfully obstructing a police officer in the course of their duties". Police officers' ability to arrest and charge is not an end in itself, but just one means of serving the wider interests of justice and the public. The criminal justice system does not exist solely for the satisfaction of a police officer wanting to coerce another human being.And yet, the court found Thompson guilty, and fined him £175, along with having to pay £250 in "costs" and an extra £15 "victim surcharge." He sure does seem like a victim, alright. UK government prosecutors have defended their pushing forward with the case, still claiming that the police officer's job was obstructed, but failing to explain how. They also told Green that the UK highway code forbids flashing of headlights for any purpose other than letting people know where you are. However, Green points out that this still doesn't support the lawsuit and the fine, since a violation of the highway code is not a criminal offense.
It seems like the police and the UK prosecutors simply decided that getting people to actually follow the speed limit gets in the way of police making money -- and thus, it's an obstruction.
from the it's-just-crime dept
When someone is mugged, harassed, kidnapped or raped on a sidewalk, we don't call it "sidewalk crime" and call for new laws to regulate sidewalks. It is crime, and those who commit crimes are subject to the full force of the law...He similarly attacks the concept of "cyberwar" and the fact that various governments are hyping that up these days:
Some of these crimes involve technology. So what? Criminals have used technology before.
Some of these crimes cross borders. So what? Crimes have crossed borders before.
While we are at it, we should mention 'cyber-warfare', something often conflated with cyber-crime. Cyber-crime is not "cyber-warfare." There may be state or terrorist agencies copying the tactics and methods of these criminals, but that does not mean that the criminals must be left alone until new cyber-warfare agencies have been created and funded.But, of course, by naming it "cyberwar," it creates something that seems "new," and with something "new," money can flow. The reason for these new "cyber-war agencies," is money. The suppliers want to sell to the government, so they hype it up. The folks who want more power get to set up an entirely new group -- and in an area that's considered "hot." The use of "cyber" is generally there to mislead people, and often for the sake of money.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Aug 19th 2010 11:41pm
from the times-not-to-fact-check dept
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jun 30th 2010 1:25pm
from the ah,-the-digital-era dept
The site, Chitanka.info let anyone upload works for a Bulgarian audience -- so there definitely were some infringing works on the site. However, the site was quick to take down any material upon request. The effort was strictly non-commercial, with no ads appearing anywhere on the site. In fact, many authors uploaded their own works, as they realized what a great resource it was.
However, the Bulgarian Book Association flipped out, and once it flipped out, the Bulgarian government had its organized crime law enforcement group raid the site, and describe the organizers as a "gang." Users of the site also took issue with the claim that the site was in any way damaging. They said it was regularly used like a library, but since you could only read the books on a computer, it likely resulted in more sales (or visits to physical libraries). A user of the site told TorrentFreak:
"I can't understand how any library can damage the the culture of any nation. And, as there are virtually no e-readers sold here, the only way to read the downloaded books, was on the monitors of PCs,"...There's a great detailed legal analysis of Chitanka's position, noting that the law is a bit ambiguous here, but the site may have a reasonable defense, and qualify as protected under safe harbors by making its works "publicly accessible" as a library.
"Anybody that has ever read a book on a screen knows that it isn't very comfortable. So, lots of paper books have been bought, because when someone starts reading on the screen, likes the book, but is not comfortable, he goes to the book shop and buys it."
Either way, all of this makes you wonder: if traditional public libraries were just being founded today, how much effort do you think publishers would go through to shut them down by claiming they were illegal and violations of copyright law?
by Mike Masnick
Fri, May 28th 2010 10:20am
from the please-explain... dept
A bill headed to Gov. Bobby Jindal's desk would increase penalties for crimes committed with the use of an Internet-generated "virtual street-level map."Apparently the bill passed by a vote of 89-0. I'm trying to figure out what the rationale for this law is, and the best I can figure out is that this is a bizarre kneejerk reaction to services like Google's Street View, and the claims from some that such services could be used to "scout out" crime locations. Of course, the same is true of driving by a location. Will Senator Adley add a new bill that increases your prison sentence if you first drive by the location before committing the crime?
Senate Bill 151 by Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton, provides for an additional year in prison for crimes committed using the maps, including acts of terrorism or other criminal offenses like burglary or stalking.
An act of terrorism using the maps could mean an additional 10 years behind bars.
from the that's-not-how-this-is-supposed-to-work dept
"A motorcyclist was showboating and recording himself doing it using a helmet cam. While stopped at a stop light, an off duty police officer stepped out of his (unmarked) car with his gun drawn. The rider received a citation and posted the whole episode on YouTube. 4 days later MD state police seized his computers and helmet cam and threatened to arrest him because it is illegal to record someone without their consent."You can see a long version of the events (without any sound) which shows the 3 minutes leading up to the incident here:
Or if you want to just see the part where the off duty cop pulls the gun (with sound), it's here:
The laws against audibly recording someone without their permission are not designed for situations like this one. They're designed for eavesdropping or things like recording phone calls. Using such a law to crack down on a guy showing an off-duty police officer totally overreacting to a traffic stop by drawing his weapon seems like a clear abuse of this sort of law.
However, now that we're reaching an age when everything anyone sees will soon be able to be recorded -- and for years, various research groups have been working on tools to make that easier -- these kinds of laws may need to be revisited. If many people are wearing devices that record everything they see and hear, suddenly such laws become a bit ridiculous -- even outside of the clear abuse above when such laws are being used to punish a whistleblower.
by Karl Bode
Thu, Apr 15th 2010 12:03pm
from the your-future-self-appears-to-be-a-trouble-maker dept
We've covered several different instances where the country has been taking baby steps toward the kind of precognitive crime prevention featured in the movie Minority Report -- sans naked gibbering women floating in bathtubs. The most recent effort was courtesy of the Homeland Security Department, who is busily developing a body language analysis prediction system dubbed "Future Attribute Screening Technologies" (FAST) -- which aims to detect "shifty" people who may be getting ready to commit a crime of some sort (or just drank way too much coffee).
More common approaches simply involve software that analyzes a database of offenders and cherry picks out the most likely future offenders (very popular in the UK), or analyzes crime patterns to predict future criminal trends. Along those lines, it looks like the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice has decided to start using IBM predictive analytics software (via Gizmodo) to help them determine which of the 85,000 kids who enter their system each year poses the biggest future threat. IBM has this to say about the new system -- which was an upgrade from Excel:
"Predictive analytics gives government organizations worldwide a highly-sophisticated and intelligent source to create safer communities by identifying, predicting, responding to and preventing criminal activities. It gives the criminal justice system the ability to draw upon the wealth of data available to detect patterns, make reliable projections and then take the appropriate action in real time to combat crime and protect citizens."Of course many of these patterns simply become evident when people bother to pay attention and use their intellect, and these tools are often just an extension of that. When prediction technology is used, the technology will only be as good as the people using it (in this case to choose rehabilitation paths for kids). But you still have to wonder how accurate these kinds of systems are and how independently verifiable the evidence will be. Can kids who feel they were unfairly, preemptively declared to be bad asses in 2014 see the "reliable" source code?
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Mar 30th 2010 6:32am