Monday, January 31, 2011

Cops To Get See-Through-Walls Radars?

From WJXT Jacksonville:
A proposal by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson to give officers technology used by the military to see through walls is raising eyebrows.

The technology would give officers the ability to see where people are inside a building or house before they go inside.

Nelson said the detector would keep officers safer, but some believe it would be an invasion of privacy.

The idea comes days after two St. Petersburg police officers were killed by a fugitive hiding in an attic.
The article goes on to mention the privacy issues:
It also brings into question a person's Fourth Amendment rights, the right to privacy.

University of North Florida political scientist Nicholas Seabrook said police would be able to use the devices if they follow very strict rules.

"If law enforcement want to make use of these kinds of technologies, they need to have a warrant first, and that's a very important distinction within the constitutional sense, whether it's a search with a warrant or a warrantless search, which would be unconstitutional."
Professor Seabrook is probably correct. In Kyllo v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the use of a thermal imaging device from a public vantage point to monitor the radiation of heat from a person's home was a "search" within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, and thus required a warrant. That would seem to be controlling regarding the use of a "see-through-wall" radar.

TSA shuts door on private airport screening program

A program that allows airports to replace government screeners with private screeners is being brought to a standstill, just a month after the Transportation Security Administration said it was 'neutral' on the program.

TSA chief John Pistole said Friday he has decided not to expand the program beyond the current 16 airports, saying he does not see any advantage to it.

Though little known, the Screening Partnership Program allowed airports to replace government screeners with private contractors who wear TSA-like uniforms, meet TSA standards and work under TSA oversight. Among the airports that have 'opted out' of government screening are San Francisco and Kansas City.

The push to 'opt out' gained attention in December amid the fury over the TSA's enhanced pat downs, which some travelers called intrusive.

Has The Fourth Amendment Been Dismantled By Technology And The Courts?

From Techdirt:
Michael Scott points us to a fascinating book chapter by Christopher Slobogin, in which he discusses how the courts have effectively stripped away the Fourth Amendment in a technological era by effectively saying that 'virtual' technology-based searches don't fall under the Fourth Amendment and, thus, do not need the same sort of oversight. This is, as he notes, a problem and he argues that it's time to bring those types of searches back under the umbrella of the Fourth Amendment...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mukilteo School Board OKs rules on checking students’ cell phones

School leaders in Mukilteo now have clearer authority to check student cell phones for bullying or sexually explicit photos or messages.

The Mukilteo School Board approved a new policy Monday night that allows administrators to examine cell phones if they have reason to suspect a problem.

A similar policy, proposed by the Oak Harbor School Board, made headlines last summer when the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington said that it threatened students’ privacy rights.

Since then, the Washington State School Directors’ Association revised its model policy to make clear that a cell phone may only be searched when school officials have reasonable suspicion that a student is using a cell phone or other communication device that violates schools rules or law.

House Subcommittee Revives Mandatory Data Retention Debate...With a Surprise Attack on EFF

From the Electronic Frontier Foundation:
This morning, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security held a hearing on mandatory Internet data retention, once again reviving the debate over whether Congress should pass legislation to force ISPs and telecom providers to log information about how users communicate and use the Internet. The hearing, awash with rhetoric about targeting Internet crime and including an unexpected condemnation of EFF's privacy advocacy, was purportedly an information- and fact-finding hearing to explore the issue of data retention and consider what Congress' role should be. However, it's already clear where the new House Judiciary Chairman, Representative Lamar Smith, stands on the issue: he introduced data retention legislation just last year and likely will do so again this year.

DOJ seeks mandatory data retention requirement for ISPs

From Computerworld:
The U.S. Department of Justice and an organization representing police chiefs from around the country renewed calls on Tuesday for legislation mandating Internet Service Providers (ISP) to retain certain customer usage data for up to two years.

The calls, which are stoking long standing privacy fears, were made at a hearing convened on Tuesday by a House subcommittee that is chaired by Rep. James Sensenbrenner, a Republican congressman from Wisconsin. Four years ago, Sensenbrenner proposed, and then quickly withdrew, legislation calling for mandatory data retention for ISPs.

GPS Tracking No Warrant Keeps Robbery Suspects in Jail

From Field Logix:
Last week there were more legal disputes involving GPS tracking without a warrant and 4th Amendment rights. The highest courts in New York, Oregon and Washington have ruled that warrants are required when law enforcement officers want to track someone with GPS tracking technology, but the Ohio Supreme Court has not yet decided on the issue.

Jesse Ventura sues TSA over body scanners

From The State Column:
Former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura filed a lawsuit against the federal Transportation Security Administration.

Mr. Ventura sued the Department of Homeland Security and the TSA on Monday, alleging full-body scans and pat-downs at airport checkpoints violate his right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.

Mr. Ventura asking a Minnesota court to issue an injunction ordering federal officials to halt the controversial procedure.

The lawsuit alleges that the pat-downs represent an ”unwarranted and unreasonable intrusions on Governor Ventura’s personal privacy and dignity and are a justifiable cause for him to be concerned for his personal health and well-being.”

The lawsuit is the latest twist in the TSA saga which captured the nation’s attention just before millions of Americans traveled to airports during the holiday season.

Mr. Venture is a former governor of Minnesota.

TSA may not be able to detect Moscow-like attacks

A program called SPOT was created by the Transportation Security Administration, TSA, in 2006, to prevent suspected terrorists in United States airports. An article in ABC News, suggests that TSA may not offer enough for protection.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Frisk Me, Baby, One More Time: New TSA Regulations

From The Saint:
Flying in and out of any airport has always been a hassle due to customs, metal detectors and the ever-infamous pat-down.

Privacy is a thing of the past and airline security procedures are only getting more invasive.

Stating that the added technology and law enforcement is to protect us from terrorists and the threats they pose to our nation - our government has gone to extremes to defend the United States.

But has the government gone too far? Is walking through a full body scanner or having yourself frisked by airport security officers worth it when you consider your safety?

D.C. bill would make credit checks by most employers illegal

From the Washington Examiner:
The D.C. Council is considering a bill that would make it illegal for most employers to run credit checks on prospective employees.

Employers have increasingly turned to credit checks as part of vetting potential new hires, saying that a poor credit history could reflect poor judgment. But privacy advocates say in many cases the checks delve too far into job applicants' personal information.

As credit scores have dropped during the bad economy, lawmakers have sought to protect job applicants. Bills similar to D.C.'s have been introduced in New Jersey, Oregon and in Congress.

Whew! Traveler sporting 4th Amendment not terrorist

Charges have been dropped against a student arrested at an airport for unusually displaying the Fourth Amendment.

Aaron Tobey was going through airport security at Richmond International Airport when he was instructed to undergo a full body scan.

'He pulled off his shirt and dropped his pants. He had running shorts on. On his chest, he had the Fourth Amendment written,' reports John Whitehead of The Rutherford Institute. 'Part of the Fourth Amendment [is] against unreasonable search and seizure of our homes and our persons, and the TSA agents arrested him after they took him through the metal detector to make sure he was safe.'

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Jury Finds Phil Mocek Not Guilty of All Charges From TSA Arrest

From the Seattle Weekly:
After an hour of deliberation Friday evening, a Bernalillo County, New Mexico jury found Phil Mocek not guilty of all four charges he faced after refusing to show his ID and using a video recorder at a TSA checkpoint in 2009. If you're keeping score at home, that's Mocek: 1, TSA: 0.

Friday, January 21, 2011

TSA on the hot seat

From the Washington Times:
It was only a matter of time before the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) campaign of groping and intimately photographing frequent flyers would come back and bite the agency. That time has come. House leaders have put a frequent traveler in charge of the Oversight Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations.

In an interview with The Washington Times, Rep. Jason Chaffetz vowed to use the chairmanship to encourage the agency to adopt a new outlook. 'TSA has a credibility problem from my vantage point,' the Utah Republican explained. 'They have said things repeatedly to the public that just aren't true.'

Seattle man on trial for refusing to show ID to TSA agents

From KOMO News:
In November 2009, Phil Mocek was scheduled to board a Seattle-bound plane in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Instead, he wound up in a jail cell, headed for a fight that could prove historic.

The Seattle man refused to show TSA officers his ID with his boarding pass, and argued he has a right not to show it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Corporate 'personal privacy'? Case watched for any hint of Supreme Court bias

From the
A lawyer for communications giant AT&T faced an uphill battle on Wednesday while trying to convince the US Supreme Court that “personal privacy” protections in the Freedom of Information Act should be extended to corporations as well as to individuals.

The lawyer, Geoffrey Klineberg, urged the justices to uphold a federal appeals court decision that the release of federal documents under FOIA could harm a corporation through an invasion of “personal privacy.”

But during an hour-long argument session, Mr. Klineberg fielded what seemed an accelerating barrage of skeptical questions from the justices.

TSA Gets a New Watchdog Group - Everyone

From SFGate:
Elguji Software, LLC. released their second app for the iOS platform: TSAzr - Share Your TSA Experience.

TSAzr (pronounced 'TAY-zer'), allows the flying public to share their TSA screening experience with the world.

Passengers can provide information such as if they went through a body scanner, received a pat down (and what the pat down experience was like), even if their 'junk' was touched.

Now with the Apple iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch and the new TSAzr app, everyone can rate their experience with the TSA, airport by airport. Even post their TSA experience on their Facebook wall.

Phil Mocek: On Trial For Being TSA Checkpoint Worker's Worst Nightmare

From the Seattle Weekly:
On November 15, 2009, Phil Mocek stepped into the main terminal at the Albuquerque International Sunport planning to board a Southwest Airlines flight bound for Sea-Tac. He carried with him two pieces of luggage, a boarding pass, and a cell phone capable of recording audio and video. What he didn't have was a valid form of identification -- no driver's license, no passport, nothing. So when Mocek reached the front of the line at the airport security checkpoint, the TSA worker asked him to step aside for further questioning. A few hours later, Mocek's flight touched down in Washington. He wasn't on board. Instead, the 37-year-old software developer was stuck inside a cell at the Albuquerque jail.

When Mocek attempted to record his conversation with the TSA checkpoint workers, they summoned both the Albuquerque Police and the FBI. Mocek was eventually arrested and charged with four misdemeanors: trespassing, disorderly conduct, refusing to obey an officer and concealing his identity.

Tomorrow, after more than a year of legal wrangling, Mocek goes on trial in Albuquerque for the charges. Civil liberties advocates are paying close attention to the proceedings.

Undercover TSA Agents Sneak Mystery Package on Plane

From Brickhouse Security:
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is usually given media attention for its intensive screening practices and controversial body scanners at airport check-in stations. But this is the first time we’ve actually heard about TSA agents going undercover and trying to find out just how easy it really is to bypass security.

This undercover mission took place at Charlotte, N.C.’s Douglas Airport where the agents were testing out JetBlue’s security. The point of the mission was to see if an unaccompanied package could be snuck onto a plane without having to go through the entire security process.

The result?

The agents succeeded with great ease. The only thing that they needed was a corrupt ticket agent and $100. The TSA agent simply told the ticket agent, who is now fired, that he needed to get the package to Boston and would give him $100 for helping.

Using cell phones to track criminals' movements is on rise

From the Standard-Examiner:
When FBI agents wanted to reconstruct the movements of a rogue New York City cop who staged a $1 million perfume heist in Carlstadt, N.J., last February, they turned to cell phone records to trace his steps.

Using a computer mapping program and 'call detail' logs obtained from Sprint Nextel, agents plotted the locations of 42 cell sites in Bergen and Hudson counties and New York to track Kelvin L. Jones' movements as the armed robbery plot unfolded. Jones was convicted last month.

Cellular tracking of criminals -- including those like Jones who use prepaid mobile phones that can't easily be traced because there is no subscriber contract -- has become a cottage industry for the FBI.

Why you should always encrypt your smartphone

From ars technica:
Last week, California's Supreme Court reached a controversial 5-2 decision in People v. Diaz (PDF), holding that police officers may lawfully search mobile phones found on arrested individuals' persons without first obtaining a search warrant. The court reasoned that mobile phones, like cigarette packs and wallets, fall under the search incident to arrest exception to the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.

California's opinion in Diaz is the latest of several recent court rulings upholding warrantless searches of mobile phones incident to arrest. While this precedent is troubling for civil liberties, it's not a death knell for mobile phone privacy. If you follow a few basic guidelines, you can protect your mobile device from unreasonable search and seizure, even in the event of arrest. In this article, we will discuss the rationale for allowing police to conduct warrantless searches of arrestees, your right to remain silent during police interrogation, and the state of mobile phone security.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

ACLU, EFF Contend Government Needs Probable Cause & Warrant to Track Cell Phones

From the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas:
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and American Civil Liberties Union of Texas have joined the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in opposing federal government attempts to obtain cell phone users’ historical location data from cell phone service providers without establishing probable cause and obtaining a warrant.

In an amicus (friend of the court) brief filed Friday in U. S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas in Houston, EFF and the ACLU argue that absent judicial safeguards, the government’s ability to obtain detailed information about a person’s location using historical cell phone data may violate the Fourth Amendment.
Amicus brief of ACLU and EFF

Monday, January 17, 2011

TSA targets 2011 screening date

From Air Cargo News:
As details surrounding Al-Qaeda’s air cargo bomb plot emerge, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has brought forward its 100 per cent cargo screening target to 31 December 2011.

Intelligence information obtained on 23 December reveals militant organisation Al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula sought to make a bomb using insulated drinking mugs and thermoses, leading to enhanced checks in air cargo security lines in the US over the holiday period.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

When police accidentally catch a drug user, can they arrest him?

From the Constitution Daily:
This week the Supreme Court heard argument in Kentucky v. King, a case that involves the question of the warrant requirement under the Fourth Amendment before a search can be conducted of someone’s home or apartment.

To get a warrant, police must convince a judge that there is “probable cause” for its issuance. Like virtually every rule in law, there are exceptions. If the police find themselves in an emergency situation – “exigent circumstances” – they don’t need to get a warrant. For example, if they hear a violent argument or gun shots coming from a home, they don’t have to get a warrant. They can break in. However, there are exceptions to the exceptions. If the police themselves create the exigent circumstances, they can’t break in. Or, if they do, any evidence of criminality will be suppressed at the subsequent criminal proceedings.

Kagan, Sotomayor, Ginsburg, and the 4th Amendment

From the New American:
When the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear oral arguments on a Fourth Amendment case decided by the Kentucky Supreme Court (Kentucky v. King), alarm bells went off. Under the Fourth Amendment, as readers are no doubt aware, “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

But what if police pick the wrong house, pound on the door loudly, announce that “This is the police!” and then, smelling pot, break down the door without a warrant and arrest the homeowner for violating local drug laws? What if the homeowner is sentenced to 11 years? What if all appeals rule in favor of the police?

Texans to TSA: You keep scanners, we'll keep privacy

From World Net Daily:
You've heard the Texas jokes, such as: A New Yorker points to Niagara Falls and tells a Texan, 'You don't have anything like that!' To which the Texan responds, 'Naw, but we got a plumber who can fix it in 30 minutes.'

But they don't joke about their rights and responsibilities, which is why they're considering a plan to impose jail time on federal workers who want to enforce Obamacare provisions and are in the hunt to be the first state to require presidential candidates to document their constitutional eligibility.

Now, a government advisory board in Austin, joined by a team of citizen groups, is asking the city council there to tell the federal Transportation Security Administration that the government can keep its invasive airport pat-down procedures and nude-imaging scanners, and they'll keep their privacy.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Internet ID: Do we have any say in it?

From TG Daily:
It’s been called the 'Trusted Internet ID' scheme by some observers. It won’t matter what we choose to call the government’s proposed Internet licensing system because in the end we probably won’t have a say in it.

Earlier in the week we reported that the US Department of Commerce was preparing to create an Internet ID for all Americans. White House Cyber security Coordinator Howard Schmidt said that the Department of Commerce is 'the absolute perfect spot in the US government' to build an online 'identity ecosystem.'

Right off the bat I can tell you that attempting to force people to identify themselves on a national level doesn’t have much to do with the Department of Commerce’s official mission. We should all be feeling skeptical about this ID scheme.

Homeland Security's laptop seizures: Interview with Rep. Sanchez

For those who regularly write and read about civil liberties abuses, it's sometimes easy to lose perspective about just how extreme and outrageous certain erosions are. One becomes inured to them, and even severe incursions start to seem ordinary. Such was the case, at least for me, with Homeland Security's practice of detaining American citizens upon their re-entry into the country, and as part of that detention, literally seizing their electronic products -- laptops, cellphones, Blackberries and the like -- copying and storing the data, and keeping that property for months on end, sometimes never returning it. Worse, all of this is done not only without a warrant, probable cause or any oversight, but even without reasonable suspicion that the person is involved in any crime. It's completely standard-less, arbitrary, and unconstrained. There's no law authorizing this power nor any judicial or Congressional body overseeing or regulating what DHS is doing. And the citizens to whom this is done have no recourse -- not even to have their property returned to them.

TSA head: Agency seeks less intrusive scan

From WTAM 1100:
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration is trying to make airport screening less invasive, Administrator John Pistole said Thursday.

In a speech to the American Bar Association, Pistole said the possibilities include a type of full-body scanner that shows bodies as stick figures, The Washington Times reported.

Another is adopting methods used at Israeli airports. Pistole said Israelis rely less on physical searches and more on scrutiny of passengers that begins when they arrive.

Pistole said the TSA's goal is to make screening as 'minimally invasive as possible.' He said the TSA will decide in 2011 whether to switch to the stick-figure scanners, which are already being used at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport.

JetBlue Pilot Loses Handgun In JFK

JetBlue says it is cooperating with federal investigators after one of its pilots lost his government-issued handgun at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Authorities say the pilot was waiting for his flight to Pittsburgh Thursday morning when a passenger mistakenly picked up his backpack along with her family's bags.

Ticket agent took bribe to put package on plane at Charlotte air

Less than a week after an incident authorities called a 'major' security breach at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport in November, a second breach occurred, security documents allege.

Boston CBS affiliate WBZ-TV has obtained the internal TSA document that says a JetBlue ticket agent at the Charlotte airport accepted a bribe to violate security procedures.

According to WBZ, the document said an undercover TSA agent walked up to the JetBlue counter November 19 and told the ticket agent there was a package he had to get to Boston that day.

The undercover agent, the document said, slipped the ticket agent $100 bill, and the ticket agent took the package, believing he was sending it to a plane bound for Boston.

TSA Subjected to on-going Public Criticism While Increasing Airline Security

From Planet Insane:
2010 was not a good public relations year for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). This U.S. government run agency has borne the brunt of on-going public criticism for infringement on passengers’ personal comfort and privacy, in its recent policies, which included outlawing water bottles, and conducting intrusive body searches.

The most recent security breach occurred when a flight was delayed due to a JetBlue pilot’s backpack being mistakenly picked up by a woman traveling with her children. The security risk occurred when officials determined that the backpack contained the pilot’s government-issued handgun.

San Diego Cops Sued For Bringing TV Crews Along To Arrest Woman

From the San Francisco News:
Our cover story this week dissected how the San Francisco police department teamed up with truTV's 'Bait Car' to film a car theft sting here in San Francisco. Some of the people caught in the sting told SF Weekly they're flirting with the idea of suing the police or the TV network.

Well, they're certainly not alone. In an interesting case filed in federal court in Southern California this week, Deidria Nicholson of La Mesa is suing the San Diego Police Department for allegedly inviting three TV crews along while searching her apartment and car. Nicholson alleges the cops violated her fourth amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Airport Security: Loaded Gun Slips Past TSA Screeners

From ABC News:
Last fall, as he had done hundreds of times, Iranian-American businessman Farid Seif passed through security at a Houston airport and boarded an international flight.

He didn't realize he had forgotten to remove the loaded snub nose 'baby' Glock pistol from his computer bag. But TSA officers never noticed as his bag glided along the belt and was x-rayed. When he got to his hotel after the three-hour flight, he was shocked to discover the gun traveled unnoticed from Houston.

'It's just impossible to miss it, you know. I mean, this is not a small gun,' Seif told ABC News. 'How can you miss it? You cannot miss it.'

But the TSA did miss it, and despite what most people believe about the painstaking effort to screen airline passengers and their luggage before they enter the terminal, it was not that unusual.

Four fired in Tucson after unauthorized access of victim medical records

From the Tech Herald:
Tucson University Medical Center has alerted patients and terminated employees after what they called inappropriate access to electronic medical records. The hospital has a zero tolerance policy on privacy violations.

In a statement, University Medical Center commented that they take the privacy of all patients very seriously.

Woman whose breasts exposed settles with TSA

A woman who claims Transportation Security Administration officials exposed her breasts during a pat-down in 2008 will receive compensation from the agency, the Daily Mail reported.

Lynsie Murley, 24, of Amarillo, Texas, filed a lawsuit against the TSA last year, accusing the agency of negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The incident, which occurred in May 2008 at a Corpus Christi airport, left her feeling 'extremely embarrassed and humiliated,' according to the lawsuit.

Murley claimed that a TSA agent pulled her blouse completely down, exposing her breasts to everyone in the area. Despite her embarrassment, the lawsuit claims that 'TSA employees in the area continued to joke and laugh about the incident for an extended period of time.'

TSA: Body Scanners Cannot See Through Turbans

From the Sikh News Network:
The Transportation and Security Administration will use secondary screening measures for turbans, such as a hand-held metal detector and pat-down chemical detection, even after travelers successfully pass through full-body scanners, because the new scanners being deployed across the country cannot see through the layers of a standard Sikh turban, TSA told Sikh advocacy groups.

In a statement emailed to SikhNN on Dec. 28, the agency said: “With the addition of Advanced Imaging Technology (body scanners), TSA continues to screen bulky items (including turbans) to ensure they do not contain a threat, which includes the use of a hand-held metal detector.'

TSA Chief Explains Intel on Thermos Threat and Extra Screening

From ABC News' Political Punch:
ABC News' Jason Ryan reports: TSA Administrator John Pistole today disclosed that intelligence information was obtained on Dec. 23, 2010 that Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) was seeking to make a bomb using insulated drinking mugs and thermoses, leading to the extra check in security lines over the holiday.

Pistole also advised the public to expect additional screening if they travel with the thermal mugs and thermoses.

“In the near future if you want to take your thermos with you just be aware that your going to be subject to more physical screening,' the TSA head said today.

Warrantless searches give off a bad smell

From The Town Talk:
According to the Fourth Amendment people have the right 'to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures,' and that right 'shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.'

There is little ambiguity in that statement. We have the right to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures.

The problem is that over the years the U.S. Supreme Court has broadened the definition of what is reasonable and what isn't -- thus allowing more and more instances where police can search you, your car, your home and your possessions without first securing a warrant.

They've broadened the definition of probable cause as well, and it looks as though they may consider broadening it again.

Court reviews when police may enter someone's home without warrant

From the Washington Post:
Kentucky police were following a man who had just sold drugs to an undercover informant. They entered an apartment breezeway, heard a door slam and found they had two choices.

Behind door No. 1 was the dealer. And, unfortunately for him, behind door No. 2 were Hollis King and friends, smoking marijuana.

Smelling the drug, the officers banged loudly on King's apartment door and identified themselves as police. The officers said they heard a noise and feared evidence was being destroyed. They kicked down the door and found King, two friends, some drugs and cash.

King was sentenced to 11 years in prison, but the Kentucky Supreme Court overturned his conviction. It said that the officers had entered the apartment illegally and that the evidence they found should not have been considered in court.

Pennsylvania Appellate Court Embraces First Amendment Protections for Anonymous Speech

From Public Citizen's Consumer Law and Policy Blog:
In a ruling yesterday, the Pennsylvania Superior Court has embraced the majority standard applied by state and federal courts across the country to decide whether a plaintiff in a defamation or other lawsuit should be able to identify the anonymous authors of speech over which the plaintiff wants to sue. The Court therefore held that, on the record of the case, former Scranton City Council President Judy Gatelli could not identify constituents who published scathing criticisms of her conduct in office on a message board attached to the “Doherty Deceit” web site maintained by Scranton resident Joseph Pilchesky.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Privacy Laws at Risk for Internet Users

From the New American:
Telecommunications and Internet companies are increasingly finding themselves in uncomfortable positions, caught between privacy laws that protect their consumers and law enforcement efforts that necessitate privacy invasion. As Internet and telecommunications services grow in popularity, law enforcement agencies have utilized them as a means to find information about individuals that would otherwise be difficult to obtain.

However, there are specific laws, enacted in 1986, that govern communication privacy. The 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act established rules for information access, but they are contingent upon the type of information sought and how old it is. Unfortunately, views of the sanctity of those laws are beginning to evolve.

Rep. Clyburn Miffed That TSA Treats Congressmen “Like Everybody Else”

From the New American:
“We’ve had some incidents where TSA authorities think that congresspeople should be treated like everybody else,” Rep. James Clyburn (left, D-S.C.) told Fox News Sunday.

What an outrage! How dare the Transportation Security Administration treat our exalted leaders the same way they treat the rest of us peons? Sure, “everybody else” should be subjected to virtual strip searches or invasive pat-downs of private parts, but not politicians who have managed to fool a plurality of those who bother to show up at the polls every two years.

Does the secure flight program mean more money for airlines?

From 77 Square:
Jesse Demastrie and his wife flew from Washington to Las Vegas without incident the day after Christmas. TSA agents waved them through the screening area, and United Airlines allowed the couple to board the aircraft.
But Demastrie had been worried that they might be turned away from their flight. When his father booked their tickets through Travelocity as a gift, he typed his daughter-in-law's name as Dianne Elizabeth Demastrie instead of her legal name, Dianne Tharp Demastrie.
'I called both Travelocity and United to see if we could get the ticket changed,' said Demastrie, a media buyer from Washington. 'But the best they said they could do was to make a note on the account of the name change.'

TSA: Trying To Fool Scanners With Clever Clothes Will Just Lead To A Pat-Down

From The Consumerist:
You might remember our story from July on Flying Pasties, the stickers that purported to hide your private bits from airport scanners. Those are just one of many products released in recent months attempting to cash in on travelers' anti-scanner attitudes. However, the TSA has made it pretty clear that all you're really doing when you walk through security carrying or wearing one of these products is asking for a pat-down.

More airports consider ditching TSA

From Budget Travel:
Some of the the country's largest airports are thinking about hiring private firms to replace the Transportation Security Administration's front-line screeners. Sixteen airports, including San Francisco and Kansas City, have switched since 2002, says The Washington Post. Charlotte, N.C., Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Dulles Airport in Washington, D.C., are all considering converting to private contractors, says MSNBC.

With private screeners, the security line moves the same way it does when TSA employees handle the process. Passengers take off their shoes, and they are just as likely to face the same pat-downs or full-body scanners as before. The private security firms themselves are vetted by TSA administrators, and their front-line screeners work under TSA rules.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Wikileaks, Twitter, and Our Outdated Electronic Surveillance Laws

From Cato @ Liberty:
This weekend, we learned that the U.S. government last month demanded records associated with the Twitter accounts of several supporters of WikiLeaks—including American citizens and an elected member of Iceland’s parliament. As the New York Times observes, the only remarkable thing about the government’s request is that we’re learning about it, thanks to efforts by Twitter’s legal team to have the order unsealed. It seems a virtual certainty that companies like Facebook and Google have received similar demands.

Most news reports are misleadingly describing the order [PDF] as a “subpoena” when in actuality it’s a judicially-authorized order under 18 U.S.C §2703(d), colloquially known (to electronic surveillance geeks) as a “D-order.” Computer security researcher Chris Soghoian has a helpful rundown on the section and what it’s invocation entails, while those who really want to explore the legal labyrinth that is the Stored Communications Act should consult legal scholar Orin Kerr’s excellent 2004 paper on the topic.

Do DoJ Subpoenas of WikiLeaks' Twitter Accounts Violate 1st, 4th, 5th and 14th Amendments?

Follow @WikiLeaks on Twitter? If so, the U.S. government wants your details, and is trying to get at it through an extraordinary legal procedure.

Last month, in covering the landmark appellate court decision, United States vs. Warshak [PDF], which invalidated provisions of the 1986 Stored Communications Act to the extent that the Act permitted the government, without a warrant, in violation of the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure without probable cause, to obtain electronic communications from an ISP (Internet Service Provider), we cautioned that it was unclear whether our courts would arrive at the same conclusion when the government invokes claims of 'national security' issues.

That question is about to be tested as the Eric Holder Department of Justice has obtained what Salon's Glenn Greenwald described as a 'sweeping' District Court order seeking --- in relation to WikiLeaks' Twitter account --- 'all mailing addresses and billing information known for the user, all connection records and session times, all IP addresses used to access Twitter, all known email accounts, as well as the 'means and source of payment,' including banking records and credit cards.' ...

Disorderly conduct charge dropped in airport protest case

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:
A disorderly conduct charge against a Charlottesville man who stripped off his clothes to protest airport-security procedures was dropped Monday in Henrico County General District Court.

Aaron B. Tobey, 21, a student at the University of Cincinnati, was charged on Dec. 30 at Richmond International Airport, where he was catching a flight to attend a family funeral.

Before boarding the plane, he removed his shirt and displayed his chest, on which was written words from the Fourth Amendment: 'The right of the people to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated.'

The charge was not prosecuted at the request of Henrico Commonwealth's Attorney Wade Kizer, who appeared before Judge Archer L. Yeatts III on Monday morning.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Fifth Circuit Permits Warrantless Government Searches Based on Previous Private Search Not Known To Police

From Orin Kerr at The Volokh Conspiracy:
Last week the Fifth Circuit handed down a significant decision on the “private search” doctrine in Fourth Amendment law, United States v. Oliver. Oliver permits warrantless searches under the private search doctrine even when the police who conducted the search didn’t know about the private search. I don’t think the private search doctrine can extend so far, and in this post I hope to explain why I think the decision is wrong. I also want to explain why a different Fourth Amendment rule, the “apparent authority” doctrine, very possibly applies to the facts of this case. The apparent authority doctrine was not litigated in the Oliver case, but it should have been. If I’m right about that, the Oliver decision may have reached a plausible result but did so using a rationale that is quite troubling and likely to cause more problems in the future.
Follow the link for Kerr's analysis on the case; the text of the decision is below.

United States v. Oliver

Saturday, January 8, 2011

DNA test for all men

A frightening proposal for a huge invasion of privacy in the UK. From the Daily and Sunday Express:
An MP led the call for all men living in the same city as the landscape architect to give saliva samples to the police as their investigation makes slow progress. Kerry McCarthy, Labour MP for Bristol East, said the need to catch Joanna’s killer overrides the questions of intrusion and invasion of privacy in a mass screening.

A tiny forensic trace of Joanna’s suspected killer is believed to have been recovered by crime scene investigators when her body was found in a remote lane on Christmas Day.

This potentially precious clue has left senior officers with the tough decision to launch an expensive and manpower-intensive operation to eliminate all the men living in not only Joanne’s neighbourhood in Clifton, but across the city using the latest DNA techniques.

Judge takes week-long course on Fourth Amendment

From the Palestine Herald:
Longtime local judge Bascom W. Bentley III recently completed a week-long course on the Fourth Amendment presented by the National Judicial College on the University of Mississippi campus in Oxford, Miss.

Bentley, the judge of the 369th state district court serving Anderson and Cherokee counties, completed “The Fourth Amendment: Comprehensive Search and Seizure Training for Trial Judges” which spanned 4 1/2 days and was held at the campus’ law school.

The Fourth Amendment pertains to governmental searches and seizures.

“We went as thoroughly over the Fourth Amendment as you can,” Bentley said this week. “They were good classes with great speakers. It was in-depth and thorough. I learned a lot.”

Obama Eyeing Internet ID for Americans

From CBS News:
President Obama is planning to hand the U.S. Commerce Department authority over a forthcoming cybersecurity effort to create an Internet ID for Americans, a White House official said here today.

It's 'the absolute perfect spot in the U.S. government' to centralize efforts toward creating an 'identity ecosystem' for the Internet, White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt said.

Prescription Privacy Laws Get U.S. High Court Scrutiny

From Bloomberg:
The U.S. Supreme Court accepted a case that pits medical privacy interests against speech rights, agreeing to consider whether states can limit how drugmakers use data about the prescription-writing practices of doctors.

The justices today said they will review a Vermont law being challenged by a pharmaceutical industry trade group and three “data-mining” companies that help drugmakers target individual doctors with sales pitches. The 2007 Vermont law, struck down by a federal appeals court, bars use of prescription information for marketing without the doctor’s consent.

Top 6 TSA Parody Videos Round-Up

From Tips from the T-List:
It’s not surprising that with all the new TSA regulations and people organizing events such as National Opt Out Day, it was only a short time before people started making their own light-hearted commentary.

Granted there’s a lot of gawdawful stuff on YouTube, there are a few great TSA parodies to provoke some chuckles. NSFW warning: there’s some randy lyrics in some of these, so might we suggest you listen before you forward to your entire office? [Ed note: We're always watching out for you] Enjoy!

Special airport checkpoints urged for frequent fliers

From the Seattle Times:
As lines in the nation's airports grow longer with newly enhanced security measures, many travel groups suggest the best way to speed passengers through would be to create separate, faster checkpoints for frequent fliers, including business travelers.

It's an idea promoted by the International Air Transport Association, the trade group for the global airline industry, and the National Business Travel Association, the trade group for the U.S. business travel industry.

Would You Fly Liberty Air?

From The American:
Full-body scanners, invasive pat-downs, harsh carry-on restrictions—has the Transportation Security Administration gone too far? Critics and defenders of the TSA tend to talk past each other, so I propose a new approach to answering the question. Let us imagine there were a major airline that could opt out of all TSA regulations. Call it “Liberty Air.” Liberty Air openly advertises that it takes zero safety precautions when it comes to screening passengers and baggage. Would you fly on this airline?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Heart patient demands apology from TSA

A heart patient from Converse is demanding an apology from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

Ora Blake, 70, claims a worker at San Antonio International Airport ignored her medical condition. Blake claims the officer subjected her to security screening that could have jeopardized her health.

'I've just been through hell,' said Blake.

Airport Security: Unreasonable?

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:
The Fourth Amendment in the Bill of Rights says, 'The right of the people to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated.' Aaron Tobey recently reminded Americans of the proscription when he took off items of clothing to protest the security procedures at RIC.

The Stripping of Freedom: EPIC vs. DHS on TSA Body Scanners

From Network World:
The Department Of Homeland Security finally filed an its answer brief in EPIC's suit to suspend TSA's controversial airport body scanner program. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) argued that body scanners are 'unlawful, invasive, and ineffective,' but DHS responded that EPIC's claims are 'unfounded' and 'meritless.'

The EPIC opening brief [PDF] outlined several violations and asked the Court to halt all use of DHS naked body scanners. EPIC brought claims under the Fourth Amendment, the Privacy Act, the Video Voyeurism Prevention Act, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Cross-sex strip searches ruled unconstitutional

From SFGate:
A female jail guard's strip search of a male inmate was a 'humiliating event' that violated his rights, a divided federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled Wednesday.

Such searches of a prisoner by a guard of the opposite sex are unconstitutional except in an emergency, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in a 6-5 decision.

The ruling, in a case from Arizona, sets standards for nine Western states, including California. Dissenting judges said the court was improperly second-guessing jail officials.

WSVN-TV - Drone may be coming to Miami-Dade

A new piece of technology may soon be coming to South Florida, but is already raising concerns from residents.

The Miami-Dade Police Department recently finalized a deal to buy a drone, which is an unmanned plane that is equipped with cameras. Drones have been used for years in Iraq and Afghanistan in the war against terror.

Many residents are concerned that the new technology will violate their privacy.

Florida Professor Arrested for Having a "Suspicious" Bagel on a Plane

From NBC Miami:
A Florida professor was arrested and removed from a plane Monday after his fellow passengers alerted crew members they thought he had a suspicious package in the overhead compartment.
That 'suspicious package' turned out to be keys, a bagel with cream cheese and a hat.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Appeals courts reel in community caretaker function, clarify law for vehicle searches

From the State Bar of Wisconsin:
Two recent Fourth Amendment cases clarify the law relating to warrantless searches of a home and vehicle. One case deals with the community caretaker exception that allows police to enter a home without a warrant if they believe someone is in need of assistance. The other case deals with vehicle searches in light of a U.S. Supreme Court case restricting police authority.

The Stripping of Freedom: A Careful Scan of TSA Security Procedures

The Stripping of Freedom: A Careful Scan of TSA Security Procedures:
WHEN: Thursday, January 6, 2011, 8:30 am Registration
WHERE: The Carnegie Institute for Science – 1530 P St. N.W. Washington, DC
WHO: Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ)
WHAT: An Assessment of the TSA Airport Body Scanner Program

This one-day symposium will explore the controversy surrounding the TSA airport screening program. Panelists will review the scientific and legal objections to the program and discuss areas for reform.

Brian Doherty on the TSA's Intrusions on American Dignity

From Reason Magazine:
The new scanning technologies rolled out by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are undignified and meant to be. The illusion of choice surrounding their use is intended to funnel us into an even more undignified situation. Be exposed electronically in full, or physically molested, or go back home. These are unprecedented demands on Americans moving through the theoretically free world, not some penitentiary or asylum.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

TSA cares deeply about privacy - Their own

From the Washington Examiner:
The Transportation Security Administration cares deeply about privacy. Just not yours. While we are subject to invasive searches bordering on gynecological exams, the TSA has spent years defending its own privacy and successfully evading Freedom of Information Act requests.

Brian Williams Groped by the TSA

From TVNewser:
On “Late Show with David Letterman” last night, NBC’s Brian Williams talked about recent heightened TSA screening procedures and had to admit, the TSA has gone there with him.

Plastic kiddie wings no longer a threat!

At least one major U.S. airline has restarted an old tradition: giving away little plastic wings to kids.

This practice had been curtailed in the wake of the 2001 terror attacks. If I told you the curtailment was done as a cost-cutting measure, well, that would be embarrassing enough (a set of wings can't run more than a penny or two). Actually, it's worse than that. The real reason is almost too pathetic to be believed: Transportation Security Administration banned the distribution of toy wings because of the small metal pin affixed to the backside.

More than 600 sign petition against Metro bag searches

From the Washington Examiner:
More than 600 people have signed a petition against Metro’s new random bag searching policy.

The D.C. Bill of Rights Coalition and the Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition have been gathering signatures since the transit agency began checkpoints to randomly screen riders’ belongings for explosives late last month.

Privacy concerns go beyond airport

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:
When it comes to privacy invasion, some folks must get hit below the belt before they cry foul.

'Don't touch my junk' has become the rallying cry of travelers who argue that Transportation Security Administration airport screenings have gone too far.

Last week, Richmond International Airport became the focus of this debate when Aaron B. Tobey was charged with disorderly conduct after taking off some of his clothes in protest at the security checkpoint. Inscribed on his torso was this message: 'Amendment 4: The right of the people to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated.'

But the assault on the Fourth Amendment began long before the TSA installed new high-tech body scanners at RIC in November 2008, or before it instituted aggressive airport pat-downs two months ago.

Details of "unlawful search" protest released by airport

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:
Images of Aaron Tobey's protest of airport search procedures were released this evening by Richmond International Airport Police.

The images and arrest information, requested through the state's Freedom of Information Act by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, show a frontal image of the 21-year-old Charlottesville resident's inked torso carrying the familiar words of the Fourth Amendment.

Warrantless cellphone search OK in California, but not in Ohio

Earlier today I wrote about the decision by the California Supreme Court to permit warrantless searches of cell phones in searches incident to a lawful arrest.  Here is a case from December 2009 from the Ohio Supreme Court which has similar facts but the court ultimately came to a different conclusion.  With conflicting rulings from two separate state supreme courts (and a federal district court), the issue will likely to get more attention from the Supreme Court.

State v. Smith

Court clears warrantless cellphone searches

From TG Daily:
California's Supreme Court has ruled that the police don't need a warrant to read text messages held on a suspect's phone.

The opinion was handed down during the trial of Gregory Diaz, arrested for drug dealing in 2007. On his arrest, the police found tabs of Ecstasy in his possession, along with a phone containing a suspicious text message that appeared to be agreeing a price.

Warrantless searches of 'persons, houses, papers, and effects' are permitted where they are 'incident to lawful arrest' - on the grounds that there's always a danger that the arrested person might try to conceal or destroy evidence.
This article also gets a +1 for actually linking to the text of the decision. Bravo!

People v. Diaz