"Once you walk into a courtroom, you've already lost. The best way to win is to avoid it at all costs, because the justice system is anything but" Sydney Carton, Attorney. "There is no one in the criminal justice system who believes that system works well. Or if they are, they are for courts that are an embarrassment to the ideals of justice. The law of real people doesn't work" Lawrence Lessig, Harvard Law Professor.
About 80% of U.S. households have come to do their banking over the Internet, banking consultancy Novantas says. Many consumers believe online banking is every bit as safe as branch banking. But that's clearly not the case, banking and tech security specialists say.
Cyberattacks against individual online accounts have become so sophisticated and pervasive that the American Bankers Association (ABA) is now asking consumers to "partner" with banks to keep cyberrobbers in check.
The banking industry wants consumers to monitor their online accounts for unauthorized transactions on a "continuous, almost daily, basis," says Doug Johnson, the ABA's vice president of risk-management policy. That's because PCs and smartphones have become "the online bank branch for a lot of individuals," he says. "The customer needs to really recognize that security is most effective when they work in partnership with their financial institution."
Even so, cyberrobbery has evolved into a multifaceted, multibillion-dollar global industry that shows little sign of cooling. Last year, the number of malicious software programs designed to pilfer online bank accounts — referred to as banking Trojans — rose to 65,098 in December, up from 4,295 at the start of 2009, according to Panda Security, a Madrid-based antivirus software supplier.
Writers of malicious software code are prolific, always focusing on new ways to get past the latest defenses erected by banks and antivirus companies, says Panda Security researcher Sean-Paul Correll.
A 2009 ABA survey of 170 U.S. banks revealed that 85% of big banks are incurring losses stemming from cyberattacks on consumer online accounts. Banks responding to the survey rated the "threat level" of online attacks at 2.58 on a scale of zero to five; that's up from a 1.84 rating in 2007.
"Every single bank I've talked to in the last six months, big and small, has seen these attacks," says Avivah Litan, banking security analyst at research firm Gartner. "It's an arms race. There are solutions — until the next kind of attack comes along. And if you're caught in the middle, you're screwed."
Citibank and Bank of America rank third and seventh among the top 10 most frequently attacked banks in the world, according to Kaspersky Lab. Each uses a variety of security systems and relies on consumers to help protect their online accounts.
Lookout Inc., a mobile-phone security firm, scanned nearly 300,000 free applications for Apple Inc. ( AAPL - news - people )'s iPhone and phones built around Google Inc. ( GOOG - news - people )'s Android software. It found that many of them secretly pull sensitive data off users' phones and ship them off to third parties without notification.
That's a major concern that has been bubbling up in privacy and security circles.
The data can include full details about users' contacts, their pictures, text messages and Internet and search histories. The third parties can include advertisers and companies that analyze data on users.
The information is used by companies to target ads and learn more about their users. The danger, though, is that the data become vulnerable to hacking and use in identity theft if the third party isn't careful about securing the information.
Lookout found that nearly a quarter of the iPhone apps and almost half the Android apps contained software code that contained those capabilities.
The code had been written by the third parties and inserted into the applications by the developers, usually for a specific purpose, such as allowing the applications to run ads. But the code winds up forcing the application to collect more data on users than even the developers may realize, Lookout executives said.
"We found that not only users, but developers as well, don't know what's happening in their apps, even in their own apps, which is fascinating," said John Hering, CEO of the San Francisco-based Lookout.
Part of the problem is smart phones don't alert users to all the different types of data the applications running on them are collecting. IPhones only alert users when applications want to use their locations.
In 2008, Senator Jim Webb, D-VA, said, in announcing a proposed bill, that “the criminal justice system as we understand it today is broken, unfair.” This unfairness is visible every day in the disparate and contradictory court decisions regarding the admissibility of D-L test results. Not only have courts contradicted one another on admissibility, but some courts have even chosen to admit the results of a D-L test while ruling that it does not prove the presence of marijuana beyond a reasonable doubt. This patchwork of admissibility means that a person in one state can be convicted of possessing marijuana on the sole basis of the D-L test while a resident of another state cannot.
In June 2006, the Virginia legislature went so far as to pass “emergency regulations” permitting law-enforcement officers to testify at trial for simple possession of marijuana cases solely on the basis of a D-L field test. Prior to these regulations, officers had to send suspected material to an approved lab for testing. Nothing in the new legislation specified that the field tests used had to be specific, or even accurate. Frederic Whitehurst, a North Carolina-based defense attorney and former FBI special agent with a doctorate in chemistry, considers the law to be an unconstitutional usurpation of the authority of the courts to determine what test results can be admitted as valid evidence.
The trend toward police officers using the D-L as a confirmatory test has been encouraged by the National Institute of Justice, an agency of the Department of Justice which has funded programs to transform police officers into court experts, based on their use of these faulty field tests. One such ongoing program for the Utah police claims to offer, in four days, “the necessary training” to positively identify marijuana, which would allow officers to serve as “expert witnesses in the courtroom setting.” The program briefly covers the “botany, chemistry and analysis of marijuana preparations,” after which police officers, including street detectives and crime scene lab personnel, “will assume responsibility for all of their agency’s marijuana submissions.” By the end of 2005, such submissions became the exclusive provenance of the Utah officers who had attended the training, and suspected marijuana samples were no longer accepted at the state lab for processing.
In 2009, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation trained more than 1,600 police officers in the use of the D-L test, resulting in a 98 percent reduction in the use of marijuana lab tests. This troubling program garnered the bureau a 2009 Vollmer Excellence in Forensic Science Award by the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
In 2008, Whitehurst, the chemist and former FBI agent, substantiated Kurzman’s findings in an article in the Texas Tech Law Review. That same year, Dr. Omar Bagasra, director of the South Carolina Center for Biotechnology, conducted experiments in his lab also demonstrating that the D-L test is nonspecific and renders false positives. Bagasra, too, has impeccable credentials — he’s a leading pathologist and a board-certified forensic examiner.
As noted, even the test’s manufacturers do not claim that their product can definitively identify marijuana. The literature accompanying NIK’s NarcoPouch 908 cautions, “The results of a single test may or may not yield a valid result… There is no existing chemical reagent system, adaptable to field use, that will completely eliminate the occurrence of an occasional invalid test results. A complete forensic laboratory would be required to qualitatively identify an unknown suspect substance.”
In truth, everyone arrested on marijuana charges has a Constitutional right to a GC/MS analysis. Otherwise, they are being denied both due process and a fair trial. “It is not only unnecessary for the courts to continue to accept conclusory drug identifications based on nonspecific tests, it is also unwise for them to do so,” wrote Edward Imwinkelried, a professor of law at the University of California at Davis whose work on scientific evidence has been cited by the Supreme Court. “Conclusory drug identification testimony is antithetical and offensive to the scientific tradition, and courts should not allow ipse dixit to masquerade as scientific testimony… Even more importantly, sustaining such drug identifications places a judicial imprimatur on testimony that cannot justifiably be labeled scientific. The rejection of such identifications is necessitated not only by due process but also by the simple demands of intellectual honesty.”
Sustaining evidence from nonspecific tests like the D-L, he concludes, “is both bad science and bad law.”
One afternoon, Duane P. Kerzic was arrested by the Amtrak police while taking pictures of a train pulling into Pennsylvania Station. At first, the police asked him to delete the images from his camera, but he refused. He ended up handcuffed to the wall of a holding cell while an officer wrote a ticket for trespassing.
Mr. Kerzic, a semiprofessional photographer, proceeded to describe his detention on his Web site and included images of the summons. He also hired a lawyer to sue.
Since 9/11, a number of government bodies have sought to limit photography in railroad stations and other public buildings. One rationale is that pictures would help people planning acts of mayhem. It has been a largely futile effort. On a practical level, decent cameras now come in every size and shape, and controlling how people use them would require legions of police officers. Moreover, taking photographs and displaying them is speech protected by the First Amendment, no less than taking notes and writing them up.
After Mr. Taylor’s case, the New York Police Department reminded officers that there was no ban on taking pictures in the subway system.
Sydney, AU: A man's business and reputation are tainted, a young woman's HSC and mental health are in tatters and prosecutors have been ordered to pay more than $30,000 in legal costs for a bungled rape investigation on Sydney's northern beaches.
But it could have been worse still, if not for the trove of secrets stored in one of the world's most popular mobile phones.
In what may be the first time an iPhone's elephantine memory has saved someone accused of a serious crime, deleted data retrieved by a leading surveillance expert appears to have led to the dropping of five rape charges against a Sydney man.
The only thing standing between the accused man and five sentences of up to 14 years were the messages from the victim on his iPhone, which he had deleted to conceal the relationship.
The man's lawyer, John Gooley from Collins & Thompson solicitors, commissioned Gary Coulthart, a former covert operations policeman and ICAC surveillance expert, to plumb the depths of the accused man's iPhone.
Mr Coulthart retrieved more than 300 deleted texts and phone calls from the alleged victim, some of which appeared to undermine the allegations.
Hackers believed to be operating out of Russia have figured out a high-tech way to carry out the decidedly low-tech crime of check fraud, a computer security company says -- writing at least $9 million in fakes against more than 1,200 legitimate accounts.
But these hackers got the account information in an unusual way: They broke into three websites that specialize in a little-known type of business -- archiving check images online.
Check counterfeiting is a crime that savvy Internet criminals usually pass up. After all, it's far easier for them to make money by stealing credit cards and online banking passwords.
Retailers and other businesses use the sites to store records of all the checks they write. Check-cashing operations use them to sock away images of checks they receive. And some banks pay them to store images of customers' checks, so the customers can see them when they log in to their online banking accounts.
The criminals downloaded all the images they could find, grabbing bank routing numbers, names and addresses and even signatures of legitimate account holders. They used the information to create their own checks using easy-to-acquire software and printers.
If you find your home or car broken into in San Francisco, sometimes police respond in minutes. Other times it takes hours.
Fingerprints and DNA evidence are often not collected, Police Chief George Gascón said. To do so, a separate crime scene technician has to be called out, which could stretch into the next day.
"When the police get there, you've been waiting for three, four, five hours," Gascón said. "By this time, you're really fit to be tied."
That's all supposed to change under a pioneering and controversial test program included in the city's new budget that will use civilian investigators to respond to nonviolent crimes like burglaries or car break-ins, freeing up police officers to focus on crimes in progress or dangerous offenders.
Under a $955,000 pilot project to begin in January, 15 civilian investigators trained to interview victims and witnesses, write reports, take crime scene photos and collect fingerprint and DNA evidence would respond to less-serious cases where the crime occurred some time ago and no perpetrator is believed to be nearby. The civilian investigators would work in one or two of the 10 district stations.
Rather than making victims wait indefinitely, civilian investigators could schedule an appointment over the phone for a set time. Civilian staff wouldn't be called away for a crime in progress and would also be trained to offer crime prevention tips, Gascón said.
"Their job will be to basically start handling all of those calls that do not require someone with a gun," he said.
Some national experts say it's an innovative plan, but critics of similar programs in Britain have raised concerns that civilians could miss important clues and aren't as accountable as police officers.
The program, modeled on one Gascón introduced while chief in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa, Ariz., before being hired in San Francisco last year, comes as the chief expects 78 officers to retire this year, positions the city doesn't have the money to fill. Civilian investigators can be hired with salaries ranging from $47,000 to $57,000 a year, compared with base salaries ranging from $88,000 to $110,000 a year for police officers, according to city figures.
Schools are putting children at risk of identity fraud by obtaining their Social Security numbers when it is not required by law and often unnecessary, the Social Security Administration's Office of Inspector General has concluded.
Some school systems in at least 26 states collect the nine-digit identifiers when students from kindergarten through high school register for classes, even though the respective state does not require it as a matter of law, according to a report released last week.
Seven states require school systems to collect Social Security numbers as their primary means to track and identify students, though other methods would be as efficient, investigators said.
U.S. Government Audit report:
The Privacy, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties Compliance Verification for the Intelligence Enterprise, developed by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Global Justice Information Sharing Initiative, assists law enforcement agencies in determining whether they are in compliance with applicable privacy-related policies, procedures, rules, and guidelines. (June 2010)
The document includes a suggested methodology for conducting the review
of an agency’s intelligence enterprise and identifies the high-liability areas of concern that should be included when performing the review. The document also contains a suggested list of questions to answer when conducting the compliance process but may not cover all laws, policies, and procedures that are applicable to a particular state or agency. Agencies are encouraged to add questions or enhance sections to include questions/items that may be applicable to their particular jurisdiction’s rules, standards, or policies, thereby making certain that the verification is comprehensive for their intelligence enterprise.
The world of law enforcement intelligence has changed dramatically since
September 11, 2001. State, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies
have been tasked with a variety of new responsibilities; intelligence is just
one. In addition, the intelligence discipline has evolved significantly in
recent years. As these various trends have merged, increasing numbers of
American law enforcement agencies have begun to explore, and
sometimes embrace, the intelligence function. This guide is intended to
help them in this process.
LifeLock, an Arizona company promising customers protection from identity theft, has agreed to pay $12 million to settle charges that the company overstated its benefits and used "scare tactics" to gain subscribers.
Since 2006, LifeLock has promised in television and newspaper advertisements that it would protect customers from ID theft, but a complaint from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and 35 state attorneys general said the company over-promised what benefits it could provide.
The company's $10-a-month subscription service provided some benefits, but "this was a fairly egregious case of deceptive advertising," said Jon Leibowitz, the FTC's chairman. "They promised protection, and they didn't deliver."
You won't find any hard and fast guidelines about what to look for if you decide to buy into an identity-theft protection service. "Consumers need to do their homework," says Jay Foley, executive director with the Identity Theft Resource Center. Before signing up, you should ask what these companies offer, and evaluate whether their services fit your needs.
According to Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, identity-theft protection services don't monitor certain types of identity theft, such as prior instances of identity theft, Social Security number fraud (a point of contention with the LifeLock advertising), debit/check card fraud, criminal identity fraud (that is, a criminal assumes your identity when arrested), and medical fraud (a criminal assumes your identity when seeking medical attention). Paul Stephens, director of policy and advocacy with Privacy Rights Clearninghouse, notes that these sorts of crimes "are more difficult to recover from than financial identity theft."
"There is nothing you can do or purchase that will provide you with a 100 percent guarantee against being a victim of identity theft," said Lisa Madigan, attorney general for Illinois. "But that doesn't mean you should do nothing."
IT’S the latest criminal investigation technique, and it gives new meaning to that old saw “the ties that bind.”
Recently, forensic scientists in California used a genetic analysis procedure called “familial searching” or “kinship searching” to help the police identify a suspect in the “Grim Sleeper” serial murder case — and they did so by using a DNA sample collected for another purpose from the suspect’s own son. The Los Angeles police later arrested the father, Lonnie David Franklin Jr., who has since been charged with 10 counts of murder.
Forensic scientists routinely use a standard search method to try to identify a suspect who has left bits of DNA at a crime scene. They use a computer analysis to compare DNA from the scene to DNA profiles of known convicted offenders stored in a state database. When the profiles match exactly, genetic analysts call it a “cold hit.”
But the Grim Sleeper case (so named because of an apparent hiatus in a killing spree that dates back to 1985) is unusual because, after regular searches came up empty, officials at California’s Bureau of Forensic Services decided to use familial searching, a more controversial technique.
The procedure involved widening the genetic net to include convicted felons whom they knew had not committed the murders but whose DNA profiles were partial matches to the suspect — similar enough to the suspect’s that they might be related to him.
Lo and behold, Mr. Franklin’s son had recently been convicted on a felony weapons charge, and his DNA offered a partial match to crime-scene DNA. And for the first time in California, that kind of one-degree-of-separation search ultimately led to an arrest.
Would Americans stand for kinship searches if the police were given free rein to knock on the doors of people on a partial DNA match list, many of whom may not have anything to do with the unsolved crime?
“I think here we’d be a little more concerned with privacy,” said Frederick R, Bieber, a medical geneticist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
HOUSTON – Faced with hundreds of lawsuits and a deep need for experts, BP has been offering some Gulf Coast scientists lucrative consulting contracts that bar them from releasing their findings on the company's massive oil spill for three years.
Some scientists say the contracts constrain academic freedom. A few signed the agreements, then changed their minds.
And others argue BP's contract is standard, and with little federal funding available to study the spill's impact, Gulf Coast researchers have few other options.
"What we have asked is that they treat information from BP's lawyers as confidential, as is customary," said David Nicholas, a BP spokesman in London. "But we do not take the position that environmental data is confidential and we do not place restrictions on academics speaking about scientific data."
Still, American Association of University Professors President Cary Nelson said the three-year limitation could suppress information key to restoring the environment.
"Many scientists are turning down these contracts because they feel this research needs to be shared with the public, it needs to be shared with the government," said Nelson, whose group represents about 48,000 academics.
A Texas state board is set Friday to revisit questions surrounding a controversial 2004 execution, with supporters of the man's family warning the panel is trying to bury its own critical review of the case.
Cameron Todd Willingham was executed in 2004 for a fire that killed his three daughters. Prosecutors argued that Willingham deliberately set the 1991 blaze -- but three reviews of the evidence by outside experts have found the fire should not have been ruled arson.
The last of those reports was ordered by the Texas Forensic Sciences Commission, which has been looking into Willingham's execution since 2008. But a September 2009 shake-up by Texas Gov. Rick Perry has kept that panel from reviewing the report, and the commission's new chairman has ordered a review of its operating rules. Critics say that may kill the probe.
The Forensic Science Commission's chairman is now John Bradley, an Austin-area district attorney with a reputation as a staunch supporter of the death penalty. Bradley has pledged to state lawmakers that the Willingham investigation "absolutely" will continue -- but said the panel needs better rules to guide its work, and could not say when the Willingham issue would move forward.
Bradley was named the panel's chairman two days before the Forensic Sciences Commission was to hear from Craig Beyler, a Maryland-based fire science expert. Beyler concluded the arson finding at the heart of the Willingham case "could not be sustained," either by current standards or those in place at the time.
News that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's office allowed political appointees to review hundreds of public records requests is shameful. Political considerations have no place in the government's compliance with the Freedom of Information Act.
Of all people, Napolitano, a lawyer, former U.S. attorney, Arizona attorney general and governor, should know that.
An Associated Press investigation found that requests for information and documents that were flagged as being politically sensitive - not sensitive for national security reasons, but politically sensitive - were scrutinized by eight appointees for "awareness purposes."
One was Jan Lesher, a Tucsonan who until earlier this year was Napolitano's chief of staff for operations.
The AP said the political hires didn't stop records from being released. Instead, their review at times slowed the release of documents for weeks. Delays were long enough that another top employee worried the government would be sued.
The political appointees showed "a probing curiosity" about the people and organizations that made requests for public records, the AP found.
The government says that fewer than 500 requests were subject to political review. They included all requests from lawmakers, journalists, and activist and watchdog groups between July 2009 and early this month. Lawmakers were identified by their political party.
In Maywood,CA as elsewhere, the economic crash has choked off the tax revenue on which the municipal government subsists. The town is currently facing a $450,000 deficit. But what finally broke the city, reports the Los Angeles Times, was the decision by the California Joint Powers Insurance Authority to terminate “general liability and workers’ compensation coverage because the city posed too high a risk.”
More specifically, the city was un-insurable because of “a large number of claims filed against the police.” This is because the department (which also afflicted a neighboring town called Cudahy) had become the police equivalent of The Island of Misfit Toys – a sanctuary city for criminals in state-issued costumes…
“The Maywood Police Department has the reputation for being an `agency of last resort’ for those who seek employment as a peace officer,” explained a March 2009 report compiled by the California Attorney General’s Office. “Review of the Maywood Police Department’s hiring practices over the past ten years validates this perception.”
The April 2007 investigative report by the Los Angeles Times found that at least one-third of Maywood’s officers “had either left other police jobs under a cloud or had brushes with the law while working for Maywood.” The department was a full-spectrum kakistocracy: In February 2008, the city council selected as Police Chief an individual named Al Hutchings, who had been convicted of theft and forced to resign from the LAPD. (The man Hutchings replaced had been convicted of domestic abuse while serving as Police Chief.)
The White House recently released a draft of a troubling plan titled "National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace" (NSTIC). In previous iterations, the project was known as the "National Strategy for Secure Online Transactions" and emphasized, reasonably, the private sector's development of technologies to secure sensitive online transactions. But the recent shift to "Trusted Identities in Cyberspace" reflects a radical — and concerning — expansion of the project’s scope.
The draft NSTIC now calls for pervasive, authenticated digital IDs and makes scant mention of the unprecedented threat such a scheme would pose to privacy and free speech online. And while the draft NSTIC "does not advocate for the establishment of a national identification card" (p. 6), it’s far from clear that it won’t take us dangerously far down that road. Because the draft NSTIC is vague about many basic points, the White House must proceed with caution and avoid rushing past the risks that lay ahead.
It seems a warning more appropriately aimed at fifth-graders than firefighters attending a national conference in Baltimore: If there's no fire, don't pull the fire alarms. Don't activate the sprinklers and don't empty the water pipes.
The warning was given Thursday morning by Baltimore Fire Chief James S. Clack, who said that last year visiting firefighters pulled numerous false alarms and flooded the top floors of the city-owned Hilton Baltimore Convention Center Hotel, causing "hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage" and earning him a scolding from the mayor.
"I got in trouble," Clack told hundreds of attendees who are visiting from across the country. More than 16,000 firefighters are expected to pass through the 27th annual safety and training expo, which began Wednesday and ends Saturday with a parade of fire trucks.
Clack reminded the visitors what he doesn't need to tell city residents — the 757-room, $301 million hotel was built with taxpayer money, and the city is self-insured. But taxpayers won't be footing the bill; the money to cover the damages comes from the hotel's revenue.
And so as Clack welcomed his guests to Baltimore, he urged participants to have a good time while touring the Inner Harbor and other attractions. But, he told them: "Leave the sprinklers alone. Leave the fire alarms alone."
His admonishment, which took up most of his three-minute welcome address, came a day too late.
On Wednesday night, a firefighter pulled the fire alarm, the chief said, prompting four engines, two trucks and a battalion chief to speed to the hotel across from Camden Yards for what amounted to a prank call.
The cost to taxpayers: roughly $1,000.
Tom Noonan, president of Visit Baltimore, the sales and marketing arm of the convention center, described it as one of the city's largest conventions, bringing in $12 million to $15 million each year. He said the problems in 2009 were discussed at length with its promoters, whom he described as "horrified that this kind of activity took place."
Noonan said the hotel investigated but never found the fire alarm culprits.
Human error caused the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office tri-county crime lab to report inflated blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels in 111 driving while impaired (DWI) cases.
The error was mathematical. According to Sommer, lab scientists are supposed to multiply the end result by 0.67 to determine the grams of alcohol per 67 milliliters of urine. The multiplication was not done, so the end result reported the grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of urine.
“The science was not bad. Nothing was tainted. It was a human error,” Sommer said.
According to defense attorney Michael Brandt, who is based out of Anoka, this error meant his client was originally reported to have a 0.21 BAC, but the real BAC was 0.14.
Brandt said the error was revealed during the evidence discovery process after his client was charged with the 0.21 BAC, which carries a higher degree level charge than 0.14.
Brandt is concerned that “the ship has sailed” for people who have already served time in jail, paid fines or had to pay to get their driver’s license reinstated because of these human errors.
Today, most people walk around with a camera of some sort in their possession. Point-and-shoots, DSLRs and tiny video cams--not to mention cellphones--have become ubiquitous. And yet it seems that in many public locations, security officials are touchier than ever about letting people actually use those cameras. Our guardians of public safety often have the idea that shooting pictures in public places might be a precursor to some sort of terrorism. It's an understandable concern, but misguided. I believe there is a good case to be made that having lots of cameras in the hands of citizens makes us more, rather than less, safe.
Here's how bad it has gotten: Not long ago, an Amtrak representative did an interview with local TV station Fox 5 in Washington, D.C.'s Union Station to explain that you don't need a permit to take pictures there--only to be approached by a security guard who ordered them to stop filming without a permit.
Legally, it's pretty much always okay to take photos in a public place as long as you're not physically interfering with traffic or police operations. As Bert Krages, an attorney who specializes in photography-related legal problems and wrote Legal Handbook for Photographers, says, "The general rule is that if something is in a public place, you're entitled to photograph it." What's more, though national-security laws are often invoked when quashing photographers, Krages explains that "the Patriot Act does not restrict photography; neither does the Homeland Security Act." But this doesn't stop people from interfering with photographers, even in settings that don't seem much like national-security zones.
The National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project (NPMSRP) was started in March of 2009 as a method of recording and analyzing police misconduct in the United States through the utilization of news media reports to generate statistical and trending information about police misconduct in the United States.
As part of this project, credible reported incidents of misconduct are aggregated into a publicly available news feed and then added into an off-line database where duplicate entries and updates are removed and remaining unique stories are categorized for the statistical information which is presented in this report.
While the use of news reports to generate statistical data may seem strange, keep in mind that police departments do not normally release any detailed information about disciplinary matters, and sometimes they don’t release any information at all. The use of court records by themselves would only garner information about misconduct cases that were successfully prosecuted and would miss confidential settlements and cases of misconduct that were not prosecuted but did result in internal disciplinary action. Therefore, the use of media reports, while not perfect, represents the most efficient method of data gathering available at this time.
It should also be noted that the use of media reports acts as a filter that limits the number of outwardly questionable allegations of misconduct, but that this may also increase risks of under-reporting due to laws that limit the amount of information law enforcement agencies report to the press. Therefore, if anything, the resulting statistics we publish should be considered as a low-end estimate of the current rate of police misconduct in the United States and for any locality we cite.
Additionally, In order to allow for accurate comparisons between this project’s statistics and the US DOJ/FBI Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) statistics, it should be noted that this project utilizes the same methodology federal government uses to generate crime rate statistics by way of a hierarchical reporting system that only records the most serious allegation when more than one allegation is associated with an singular alleged incident of misconduct. It should also be noted that both the federal government crime statistics and the NPMSRP statistical reports are based on a combination of alleged and confirmed activity, not just convictions.
Hedge fund mogul Jeffrey Epstein becomes a free man today, five years after he was first accused of sexually abusing underage girls. After months of reporting, The Daily Beast’s Conchita Sarnoff reveals exclusive details of the investigation and the legal wrangling that saved him from a long prison term. She reports:
Epstein’s attorneys investigated members of the Palm Beach Police Department, while others ordered private investigators to follow and intimidate the victims’ families; one even posed as a police officer.
For one, it was clear from the start that Epstein would spare no legal expense and that his team of veteran lawyers, whose cases ranged from O.J. Simpson to the investigation of Clinton’s relationship with an intern, would play rough. When the Palm Beach police started to identify victims, according to Detective Joe Recarey’s report, Dershowitz began sending the detective Facebook and MySpace posts to demonstrate that some of these girls were no angels. Reiter’s deposition also states that he heard from local private investigators that Dershowitz had launched background checks on both the police chief and Det. Recarey. Dershowitz denies all of that. According to Reiter, both he and Recarey also became aware that they were under surveillance for several months, without knowing who ordered it. And the Florida victims began to complain that they and family members were being followed and intimidated by private investigators who were then linked to local attorneys in Epstein’s employ. In one reported instance, the private investigator claimed to be a police officer, and Reiter considered filing witness-tampering charges.
A study currently under way, called the OpenNotes project, is looking at what happens when doctors' notes become available for a patient to read, usually on electronic medical records. In a report on the early stages of the study, published Tuesday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers say that inviting patients to review the records can improve patient understanding of their health and get them to stick to their treatment regimens more closely.
But researchers also point to possible downsides: Patients may panic if their doctor speculates in writing about cancer or heart disease, leading to a flood of follow-up calls and emails. And doctors say they worry that some medical terms can be taken the wrong way by patients. For instance, the phrase "the patient appears SOB" refers to shortness of breath, not a derogatory designation. And OD is short for oculus dexter, or right eye, not for overdose.
Terms physicians use in their notes that could be confusing to patients:
SOB- Shortness of Breath.
NERD- No evidence of recurrent disease.
Thrill- Sound or movement felt on chest wall with an abnormal heart
Shotty Mildly enlarged lymph nodes.
Somatizing- Complaints of physical symptoms with no physiological origin
Flat affect Expressionless face, which can mean depression, schizophrenia, or nothing.
Demented- Medical term for memory loss, inability to learn new materials
Imp Short for impression; doctor's conclusion of patient's condition
Patient denies- Patient reports no symptom.
Congestive heart failure- No literal failure; a manageable heart condition.
Crackles/Rales- Lung sounds that indicate respiratory disease.
Sources: Annals of Internal Medicine, medicinenet.com
A Washington, D.C. resident has filed a lawsuit on Tuesday in Los Angeles federal court against a website which is allegedly selling financial and personal information about individuals without their consent.
In the proposed class-action lawsuit, Tom Robins alleges that Spokeo.com violates the Fair Credit Reporting Act(FCRA) by collecting data from online and traditional sources and publishing the information.
The website allows Internet users to search for anyone by name, e-mail address or phone number. According to the allegation, Spokeo provides searchers with in-depth consumer reports, including the person's address, marital status, age, occupation, wealth level and a credit/economic health estimate.
Spokeo makes much of the information available for free, but reserves the most detailed and personal information for paid subscribers, Robins contended.
Videos of alleged police misconduct have become hot items on the Internet. YouTube still features Anthony Graber's encounter along with numerous other witness videos. "The message is clearly, 'Don't criticize the police,'" said David Rocah, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland who is part of Graber's defense team. "With these charges, anyone who would even think to record the police is now justifiably in fear that they will also be criminally charged."
Attorney James Green, called videotaping "probably the most effective way to protect citizens against police officers who exaggerate or lie."
"Judges and juries want to believe law enforcement," he said. "They want to believe police officers and unless you have credible evidence to contradict police officers, it's often very difficult to get judges or juries to believe the word of a citizen over a police officer."
David Rocah of the ACLU disagreed. "It's not that recording any conversation is illegal without consent. It's that recording a private conversation is illegal without consent," he said. "So then the question is, 'Are the words of a police officer spoken on duty, in uniform, in public a 'private conversation.' And every court that has ever considered that question has said that they are not."
If you live in West Covina, California, the likelihood of all these things coming to fruition is likely to become a reality if Police Commander Paul La Commare has his way.
Recently, La Commare penned an article entitled “Generating Revenue Streams” for “Police Chiefs Magazine” encouraging other departments to adopt his dystoptian policies of austerity on the already strapped American people.
Some of the ideas that La Commare suggests police departments across the nation adopt are:
•city tow companies,
•fine increases by 50 percent,
•vacation house check fees,
•public hours at police firing range for a fee,
•police department-run online traffic school for minor traffic infractions,
•department-based security service including home checks and monitoring of security cameras by police department,
•a designated business to clean biological crime scenes,
•state and court fees for all convicted felons returning to the community,
•allowing agency name to be used for advertisement and branding,
•triple driving-under-the-influence fines by the court,
•resident fee similar to a utility tax,
•tax or fee on all alcohol sold in the city,
•tax or fee on all ammunition sold in, the city,
•public safety fees on all new development in the city,
•9-1-1 fee per use,
•police department website with business advertisement for support,
•selling ride-a-longs to the public, and
•police department–run firearm safety classes.
To fulfill responsibilities to the public, law enforcement must prepare for the worst while hoping for the best. These recommended steps concentrate on the most likely trend of increased financial strain:
•Law enforcement executives must evaluate their agencies’ financial situation to determine the necessity of developing new revenue streams. While all cities will have certain factors in common, many characteristics will be different and call for a different level of need for new revenue sources. This evaluation should be ongoing as most financial situations develop rapidly. Executives should seek to identify the overall economic trend and its projected impact on the department. This assessment will determine the extent of resources and the need for the development of new revenue streams.
•Once the executive staff of an agency has determined that new revenue streams are necessary, they must commit and communicate. Much of this responsibility rests with the chief of the agency. Because this project is outside of the mainstream duties of law enforcement, the chief must communicate the vision and the necessity of success in this endeavor. The level of commitment displayed by command staff will in great part determine the success of the new endeavor.
•Agencies should involve many people in the process of generating ideas for new revenue streams. This recommendation is very important because the more people who are involved, the more likely an agency is to find the ideas that will work best in its jurisdiction. The solicitation of ideas should extend past department personnel and include the remainder of the city and community members.
•Agencies should establish a broad-based committee to evaluate new revenue stream ideas. This committee should be charged with evaluating each idea’s profit potential and determining if the strengths and weaknesses of the department could support a successful implementation. Most importantly, the committee must assess if the idea falls within the standards of the department, the city, and the general law enforcement community.
•Once one or more revenue-generating ideas are chosen, the agency must spend the time and resources necessary to develop strategic implementation plans. This background work will greatly increase the agency’s chance of success. The department also should focus on goal establishment and evaluation methodology.
•A critical part of implementation is the development of project support. Determine the stakeholders and actively build their commitment level. Lack of political support can sabotage even the most viable project.
Keystone cops gave permission for a movie gun battle in London -- then later declared it a crime scene when a member of the public found bullet casings, The U.K. Sun reported.
Amazingly, they failed to link the incident to a film crew who hours earlier fired 1,700 blank rounds for a scene in gang flick "The Veteran," starring Toby Kebbell, 28, as a soldier who turns to crime.
No big U.S. bank -- Wells Fargo included -- has ever been indicted for violating the Bank Secrecy Act or any other federal law. Instead, the Justice Department settles criminal charges by using deferred-prosecution agreements, in which a bank pays a fine and promises not to break the law again.
Indicting a big bank could trigger a mad dash by investors to dump shares and cause panic in financial markets, says Jack Blum, a U.S. Senate investigator for 14 years and a consultant to international banks and brokerage firms on money laundering.
The theory is like a get-out-of-jail-free card for big banks, Blum says.
“There’s no capacity to regulate or punish them because they’re too big to be threatened with failure,” Blum says. “They seem to be willing to do anything that improves their bottom line, until they’re caught.”
Wachovia, it turns out, had made a habit of helping move money for Mexican drug smugglers. Wells Fargo & Co., which bought Wachovia in 2008, has admitted in court that its unit failed to monitor and report suspected money laundering by narcotics traffickers -- including the cash used to buy four planes that shipped a total of 22 tons of cocaine.
The admission came in an agreement that Charlotte, North Carolina-based Wachovia struck with federal prosecutors in March, and it sheds light on the largely undocumented role of U.S. banks in contributing to the violent drug trade that has convulsed Mexico for the past four years.
Wachovia admitted it didn’t do enough to spot illicit funds in handling $378.4 billion for Mexican-currency-exchange houses from 2004 to 2007. That’s the largest violation of the Bank Secrecy Act, an anti-money-laundering law, in U.S. history -- a sum equal to one-third of Mexico’s current gross domestic product.
“Wachovia’s blatant disregard for our banking laws gave international cocaine cartels a virtual carte blanche to finance their operations,” says Jeffrey Sloman, the federal prosecutor who handled the case.
“It’s the banks laundering money for the cartels that finances the tragedy,” says Martin Woods, director of Wachovia’s anti-money-laundering unit in London from 2006 to 2009. Woods says he quit the bank in disgust after executives ignored his documentation that drug dealers were funneling money through Wachovia’s branch network.
“If you don’t see the correlation between the money laundering by banks and the 22,000 people killed in Mexico, you’re missing the point,” Woods says.
Wachovia is just one of the U.S. and European banks that have been used for drug money laundering. For the past two decades, Latin American drug traffickers have gone to U.S. banks to cleanse their dirty cash, says Paul Campo, head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s financial crimes unit.
In one-party consent states if a citizen video & audiotapes a police officer. State laws allow the DA to charge people with illegal wiretapping. It is an abuse of prosecutorial authority and a misinterpretation of state law to charge people with illegal wiretapping. It's typical of the attitude of too many prosecutors and police toward people who record their encounters with law enforcement and are usually completely within their rights to do so.
Websites that monitor these cases have posted stories from around the country of police ordering people to stop videotaping or photographing them, sometimes violently. Most of the time, the police apparently either don't understand the law or are deliberately misstating it to bully people into putting away their cameras or cellphones.
Only in Massachusetts and Illinois is it explicitly illegal to make an audio recording of people without their consent, so officials there can prosecute those who tape police encounters. Ten other states, including Maryland, have "two-party consent" laws that require both (or all) people being audiotaped to approve, but the statutes apply to "private" conversations, such as a phone call. Generally, courts and prosecutors conclude that an officer arresting someone in a public place has no expectation of privacy.
Nurse Craig Peske was fired from a hospital in Wausau, Wis., in 2007 after stealing the powerful painkiller Dilaudid "whenever the opportunity arose," state records say. In one three-month period, he signed out 245 syringes full of the drug — nine times the average of his fellow nurses.
The ease of Peske's move illustrates significant gaps in regulatory efforts nationwide to keep nurses from avoiding the consequences of misconduct by hopping across state lines.
But an investigation by the non-profit news organization ProPublica found that the pact also has allowed nurses with records of misconduct to put patients in jeopardy. In some cases, nurses have retained clean multistate licenses after at least one compact state had banned them. They have ignored their patients' needs, stolen their pain medication, forgotten crucial tests or missed changes in their condition, records show.
Critics say the compact may actually multiply the risk to patients. There is no central licensing for the compact, so policing nurses is left to the vigilance of member states.
Outside the compact, each state licenses and disciplines its own nurses. But within it, states effectively agree to allow in nurses they have never reviewed.
By comparison, when a compact state is slow to act or fails to share information, nurses suspected of negligence or misconduct remain free to work across nearly half the country, Lee says.
But compact officials do not track how many nurses are sanctioned by their primary state for misconduct elsewhere. They also don't question whether states are adequately policing visiting nurses: 10 states have disciplined three or fewer such nurses in the past decade, compact records show.
Nationwide, nursing shortages have forced hospitals to rely on traveling or temporary nurses. Nurses working in one state now take medical-advice phone calls or use teleconferencing to see patients in another.
Most states have the ability to immediately suspend a nurse’s license, but some can’t — even when the allegations are severe. Likewise, some states require criminal background checks as a condition of getting a license, while others don’t.
Joel Hardin can tell a lot about a person by following his or her footsteps.
Or so he says. But you’ll have to take his word for it, Hardin says. Aside from a handful of people he has trained and still works with, there is nobody else in the world who is doing what he does.
The retired U.S. Border Patrol agent runs a private training and consulting business where he teaches tracking, goes on search-and-rescue missions, and consults with prosecutors and defense lawyers as an expert in criminal cases.
Hardin once claimed he could tell that a murder suspect was a young Mexican male by the way the suspect maneuvered his way through a raspberry patch.
Hardin himself won’t say whether he thinks what he is doing is scientific, only that the courts have decided that it is. Carlstrom allows that tracking may not be scientific in the same way DNA testing is, but says it is specialized knowledge that goes back hundreds of years and is useful in certain scenarios, such as the Groth case.
Julie Lawry, Groth’s public defender, thinks Hardin might be a great tracker—the kind she’d want on the case if one of her own kids was missing in the woods. But she thinks Hardin’s evidentiary value is something less than scientific. In fact, she thinks it’s bunk.
She brought in retired FBI agent William Bodziak, one of the world’s leading authorities on footwear impression evidence. Bodziak, now of Palm Coast, Fla., has spent 37 years evaluating footwear impressions, 29 of them with the FBI. He reviewed the crime scene photos in the Groth case at Lawry’s request and was outraged by Hardin’s claims.
Bodziak says he could make out a partial print in a few of the photos of a very common sole design that has been used on a wide variety of footwear, including work boots, hunting boots and the boots worn by many police and emergency responders since 1937.
But he says there’s no way that Hardin or anybody else could tell from a set of 34-year-old crime scene photos—many of which were dark, out of focus or taken at weird angles—exactly whose shoes had made the prints or when they were made.
Hardin says he doesn’t keep track of his success or error rates, except to ask some of the people he’s successfully tracked whether his observations about them had been correct. And his work has never been subjected to peer review mostly because he doesn’t have any peers outside of his students. But rest assured, he says: He never draws any conclusions about a case without first running them by two of his senior trackers, or sign cutters.
Your doctor could be drunk, addicted to drugs or outright incompetent, but other physicians may not blow the whistle.
A new survey finds that many American physicians fail to report troubled colleagues to authorities, believing that someone else will take care of it, that nothing will happen if they act or that they could be targeted for retribution.
A surprising 17 percent of the doctors surveyed had direct, personal knowledge of an impaired or incompetent physician in their workplaces, said the study's lead author, Catherine DesRoches of Harvard Medical School.
One-third of those doctors had not reported the matter to authorities such as hospital officials or state medical boards. The findings, appearing in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association, are based on a 2009 survey of 1,891 practicing U.S. doctors.
"The answers on this page are my opinions. While they are certainly controversial they are not meant to offend people who take a different position. Over the years I have learned that two people can take a different approach to dog training and both be successful.
I try and answer every question I receive on dog training. I may often come across as a little on the blunt side, (some may call it brash). That is because I consider myself an advocate for dogs and not dog handlers. I am an advocate for common sense dog training and not the latest fad that appears on the horizon. Good dog training is not rocket science. It's common sense."
When night falls, police officers blanket some eight odd blocks of Brownsville, Brooklyn. Squad cars with flashing lights cruise along the main avenues: Livonia to Powell to Sutter to Rockaway. And again.
On the inner streets, dozens of officers, many fresh out of the police academy, walk in pairs or linger on corners. Others, deeper within the urban grid, navigate a maze of public housing complexes, patrolling the stairwells and hallways.
This small army of officers, night after night, spends much of its energy pursuing the controversial Police Department tactic known as “Stop, Question, Frisk,” and it does so at a rate unmatched anywhere else in the city.
The officers stop people they think might be carrying guns; they stop and question people who merely enter the public housing project buildings without a key; they ask for identification from, and run warrant checks on, young people halted for riding bicycles on the sidewalk.
These encounters amounted to nearly one stop a year for every one of the 14,000 residents of these blocks. In some instances, people were stopped because the police said they fit the description of a suspect. But the data show that fewer than 9 percent of stops were made based on “fit description.” Far more — nearly 26,000 times — the police listed either “furtive movement,” a catch-all category that critics say can mean anything, or “other” as the only reason for the stop. Many of the stops, the data show, were driven by the police’s ability to enforce seemingly minor violations of rules governing who can come and go in the city’s public housing.
Some former officers who worked the area say the stops seem less geared to bringing down crime than feeding the department’s appetite for numbers — a charge police officials steadfastly deny. Though none said they were ever given quotas to hit, all but two said that certain performance measures were implicitly expected in their monthly activity reports. Lots of stop-and-frisk reports suggested a vigilant officer.
“When I was there the floor number was 10 a month,” one officer said. Like many of the officers interviewed for this article, he asked not to be identified because he was still in law enforcement and worried that being seen as critical of the New York department could hurt his future employment opportunities.
He said if you produced 10 stops — known as a UF-250 for the standardized departmental reports the stops generate — you were not likely to draw the attention of a supervisor. “And in all fairness,” he said, “if you’re working in that area, 10 a month is very low. All you have to do is open your eyes.”
Another former officer who worked in the 73rd Precinct said the pressure was felt more overtly to get an arrest or a criminal summons, but in lieu of those, extra 250s would compensate.
“A lot of us didn’t want to bang everyone,” the officer said. “These people have a hard enough time in the situation they’re living in without making it worse by hitting them with a summons, having them travel to Manhattan for criminal court, and the bosses would get upset and say, ‘Well, give us some UF-250s.’ It’s an easy number.”
While each 250 is required to be approved and signed by a supervisor, one former housing officer said getting them was easy: “Just go to the well.”
The well, said this officer, is the lobby of any of the many housing buildings. Ryan Sheridan, one of the former officers who said he had never heard supervisors emphasize numbers, nonetheless acknowledged that the lobby and hallways were a legitimate source of 250s.
The state of Ohio has collected millions of dollars selling records with their name, address, driver's license number and other personal information so it can be used in all sorts of ways, from crafting insurance policies to screening job candidates.
Since 2005, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles has sold more than 1.39 trillion records containing personal information to various companies, municipalities and other customers for about $42 million, according to state records.
Most of those records sold for a fraction of a penny each -- $0.00139 to be exact.
Other states charge a lot more for personal information from drivers' records. But Ohio officials say their hands are tied because the information is considered public record, and the state can only charge what it costs to provide the information -- a minimal fee given that it is mostly transferred electronically.
But many other states do not treat the information as public records because federal and state exceptions must be met to access the information. So the states can sell the records at what they consider a fair price.
"Western lore has long suggested a relationship between the phases of the moon and various forms of aberrant, antisocial, deviant, and criminal human conduct," begins the Journal of Criminal Justice study led by criminologist Joseph Schafer of Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. "Policing, crime, and criminal justice have not been immune from speculation concerning the lunar-crime relationship."
So, to find out, the study team looked at San Antonio, Tex., from 2001 to 2005, a city of more than a million people for which exhaustive crime data is available. The team crunched nightly crime data, noting rain, daylight, indoor vs. outdoor locations and other environmental effects unaccounted for in past efforts. Murder happens too rarely in San Antonio to give a statistical signal, so the team looked at assaults, burglary, theft, drugs and vice crimes, traffic crimes, and "other disturbances," totaling about 130,000 incidents a year.
The study concludes. "Substantive lunar effects on crime were not found in the data analyzed here," say the report. "Although popular culture, folk lore, and even certain occupational lore suggested the 'freaks' come out during full moons, this phenomenon was not reflected in San Antonio police data as used here."
Instead, weekends and warm weather were linked to crime, as you might expect. Winter and rain decreased crimes, except in the city's Riverwalk entertainment district, home to bars, hotels, convention facilities, shops, and theaters, where the level of crime was the same regardless of conditions. The only slight effects of a full moon were a small increase in burglaries citywide, and a drop in vice arrests in the Riverwalk center, at the same time. Neither was statistically convincing, compared to weather or time of day.
But while the crime data don't show any lunar effects, that doesn't mean people aren't weirder during a full moon, the study authors acknowledge, something unlikely to come across in the dry language of a police report.
Excerpt taken from ProPublica:
"Lance Rosenfield, a freelance photographer we had hired to work in Texas City, Texas, on stories about BP's refinery there.
Rosenfield said he had been detained by local police after snapping a picture on the road into Texas City. Rosenfield said he had shown the officers and a BP security guard a letter from ProPublica that said he was on assignment. Police said he would be "taken in" if he did not let them look at the photos in his camera."
Rosenfield demurred but did allow police to review his photos. No threat to national security was detected -- the pictures were innocuous shots of the refinery and signage nearby. Rosenfield was eventually allowed to leave after being warned to clear further photography with the local authorities. At the request of police, he turned over his social security number and date of birth which were promptly given to the BP security officer who was present.
Why would potential terrorists take photos from a public street when they can view detailed reasonably high-resolution satellite photos via Google? What could possibly be gained from a ground-level shot, even with a telephoto lens?
But the public and the press have good reason to be suspicious when a major corporation and the government try to curtail photography or reporters' firsthand access. The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana has raised questions about why reporters' movements have been restricted by local sheriffs.
And it's even harder to understand what circumstances justify allowing the police to review a journalist's or a private investigator's
work before publication." (bold font and words added in this last sentence by me, italic's don't show up that well in blogspot.)
A 25-year-old Santa Ana woman was sentenced to a year in jail Friday for sending hundreds of threatening text messages – to herself.
Jeanne Mundango Manunga's criminal problem was that she blamed the harassing text messages on an ex-boyfriend and his sister-in-law, and reported them to the police.
They were arrested on false charges of making criminal threats and required to post thousands of dollars in bail. The sister-in-law was arrested three times, and spent some time in custody before she could gather enough funds to pay the bail on her third arrest.
Samuel Walker is a nationally recognized expert on police accountability. His specific areas of expertise include citizen oversight of the police, early intervention systems to identify problem officers, federal pattern and practice litigation, and mediating citizen complaints.
Police handbooks etc found on his website:
"No matter how you parse it, doctors don't avoid the Internet and social media because they're simply Luddites," Westby Fisher, an Evanston, Ill., cardiac electrophysiologist, wrote last month on his blog, Dr. Wes. "They avoid the Internet because they enjoy the benefits of anonymity, privacy, efficiency and legal protection that come with dropping off the grid."
As Nashua, N.H., internist Kevin Pho wrote in a USA TODAY op-ed piece in January, "there is little guidance on how physicians can incorporate (social media) into their medical practice."
Acknowledging that problem, the American Medical Association's Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs last month passed a resolution to "study the issue of physicians' use of social networking, as exemplified on sites such as Facebook and Twitter" and report to the AMA's House of Delegates at its meeting in November.
Another roadblock, Pho said, is that doctors usually get paid only for talking to patients in the examining room, giving physicians little financial incentive to reach out to them over the Web.
But, continued Pho, whose Twitter and Linked-In profiles refer to him as social media's leading physician voice, "doctors who are not active online risk being marginalized."
IPhones store more information than users may realize, and some of it could be used against them if they're ever charged with a crime.
Law enforcement officials have long used phone records and, more recently, e-mails and text messages to help solve crimes. Now a field of forensic study is emerging that deals with iPhones specifically, targeting GPS data, browser history and other potentially incriminating information.
"Very, very few people have any idea how to actually remove data from their phone," says Sam Brothers, a cellphone forensic researcher with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection who teaches investigators how to retrieve IPhone data.
Self-described former hacker Jonathan Zdziarski, who has written a book, IPhone Forensics, has been tapped by agencies nationwide to teach how the information is stored.
Numerous states across the country allow police to videotape and audio record anyone. When citizens attempt to do the same in "Two- Party Consent" states often they are charged with illegal wiretapping, disoderly conduct or obstructing government administration!
PORTSMOUTH, NH — A New Castle man arrested at a July 4 house party is charged with a count of wiretapping, alleging he used his cell phone to film the police response.
A press release about the party where 20 people were charged did not disclose the wiretapping arrest, but police confirmed Tuesday that Adam H. Whitman, 20, of New Castle was arrested for wiretapping. However, the charge is likely to be dismissed and/or replaced with another charge, possibly disorderly conduct or obstructing government administration, said Capt. Mike Schwartz.
A study released this year by SpiderLabs, a part of the data-security consulting company Trustwave, found that 38 percent of the credit card hacking cases last year involved the hotel industry. The sector was well ahead of the financial services industry (19 percent), retailing (14.2 percent), and restaurants and bars (13 percent).
Why hotels? Well, to paraphrase the bank robber Willie Sutton, hackers hit hotels because that is where the richest vein of personal credit card data is. At hotels with inadequate data security, “the greatest amount of credit card information can be obtained using the most simplified methods,” said Anthony C. Roman, a private security investigator with extensive experience in the hotel industry.
“It doesn’t require brilliance on the part of the hacker,” Mr. Roman said. “Most of the chronic security breaches in the hotel industry are the result of a failure to equip, or to properly store or transmit, this kind of data, and that starts with the point-of-sale credit card swiping systems.”
“We’re seeing thousands and thousands of credit cards being hacked out of hotel systems. So I would say the industry is not doing incredibly well on this,” Mr. Roman said.
The full extent of credit card fraud by those who breach hotel systems is unknown. But anecdotally, hacking incidents occur with disturbing regularity.
The Massachusetts secretary of state’s office, which is charged with enforcing financial rules for investment companies, accidentally released confidential personal information earlier this year on 139,000 investment advisers registered with the state.
In addition to their names and Social Security numbers, this list included their dates and locations of birth, height, weight, hair color, and eye color.
“It’s a pretty big mistake,’’ said Carl Ayers, IA Week’s publisher. “It’s pretty shocking, because it’s such a large number of people.’’
An experienced freelance photographer, Lance Rosenfield said he was detained shortly after shooting a photograph of a Texas City sign on a public roadway. Rosenfield said he was followed by a BP employee in a truck after taking the picture and blocked by two police cars when he pulled into a gas station.
According to Rosenfield, the officers said they had a right to look at photos taken near secured areas of the refinery, even if they were shot from public property. Rosenfield said he was told he would be "taken in" if he declined to comply.
See the pictures he took:
What does this mean for private investigators, when private companies make it a felony to take pictures closer than 65 feet (20 meters)?
The United States Coast Guard considers me a felon now, because I "willfully" want to obtain more photos like these to show you the utter devastation occurring in Barataria Bay, Louisiana as a result of the BP oil catastrophe. If the Coast Guard has its way, all media, not just independent writers and photographers like myself and Jerry Moran, will be fined $40,000 and receive Class D felony convictions for providing the truth about oiled birds and dolphins, in addition to broken, filthy, unmanned boom material that is trapping oil in the marshlands and estuaries. We don't have $40,000 to spare, and have had to scrape the bottoms of our checkbooks as is to hire boats to take us to the devastation the Coast Guard, under the direction of BP, does not want you to see.
Working and reporting from the American Gulf Coast is starting to remind me of working in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where photos and recordings must be hidden on secreted flash drives at border crossings, and where interrogation by drunken border patrols certainly follows if one does not provide a proper "explanation" for visits to certain regions. In 2007 I was accused of being a "spy" and held by the secret police in Goma, DRC for having video of illicit "conservation" activities. Now the same sick feelings of fear, anger and helplessness is stalking my mind as I try to plan for the next round in south Louisiana. Never in my lifetime could I imagine that a foreign company could dictate my ability to move freely and openly in American territorial waters.
Already we have been challenged by the private security firm, Talon, on the oiled beaches of Grand Isle, and hassled by the Coast Guard and Louisiana Wildlife officials for not wearing flotation devices when it was not necessary. The law was on our side then, now the "law" is being used to limit free speech.
What's next? Will media be totally shut down? Will we face assassinations like journalists do in Rwanda? I realize assassination is over-the-top, but when it crosses your mind, even for a moment, you know something is terribly wrong.
IGO, Calif.—Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko, his budget under pressure in a weak economy, has laid off staff, reduced patrols and even released jail inmates. But there's one mission on which he's spending more than in recent years: pot busts.
The reason is simple: If he steps up his pursuit of marijuana growers, his department is eligible for roughly half a million dollars a year in federal anti-drug funding, helping save some jobs. The majority of the funding would have to be used to fight pot. Marijuana may not be the county's most pressing crime problem, the sheriff says, but "it's where the money is."
Washington has long allocated funds to help localities fight crime, influencing their priorities in the process. Today's local budget squeezes are enhancing this effect, and the result is particularly striking in California, where many residents take a benign view of pot but federal dollars help keep law-enforcement focused on it.
In Northern California's rural Lake County, which applied for $275,000 in federal anti-pot funding this month, Denise Rushing, a county supervisor, says it is "a vexing problem" whether to accept such money. She worries that doing so causes local sheriff's offices to skew their priorities toward pot busts and away from things that more directly affect residents, like property crime. At a meeting last month, Ms. Rushing opposed applying for the federal anti-pot funds but was outvoted by other supervisors.
Women will use persuasion, intuition and co-operation, skills their boss, Chris Butler of Concord-based Chris Butler & Associates, said male investigators often lack.
"Male investigators have an alpha mentality. They're competing, not acting as a team," said Butler, a former Antioch police officer and SWAT team member who took over the Concord company in 2002. "They have a law enforcement mentality and see themselves as authorities. In private investigation, you live by your wits. Moms are used to dealing creatively with unexpected developments."
Truer words were never spoken, as Charmagne Peters and Denise Altoon, two of Butler's employees, demonstrated on that night in April, when they helped nail the man in the Mustang. That's why all but one of Butler's 11 investigators are women, and seven are mothers.
The strategy seems to be paying off; Butler's 14-year-old firm earned about $500,000 US in revenue in 2009 and is on track to top that in 2010. Clients pay $150 an hour for sting operations such as the one planned for the Danville man, and $75 for surveillance. The agency has garnered much media attention, with an appearance on the "Dr. Phil" show and stories in publications including People magazine.
Present data on identity theft victimization reported by households from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). These statistical tables provide 2007 data on rates and types of identity theft, as well as demographic characteristics of victimized households and their monetary losses. Tables compare rates of identity theft victimization in 2005 to 2007. Estimates from the last half of 2008 are also presented and compared to estimates from the same 6-month period in 2007.
Highlights include the following:
The number of households with at least one member who experienced one or more types of identity theft increased 23% from 2005 to 2007.
From 2005 to 2007, the number of households that experienced credit card theft increased by 31% and the number that experienced multiple types during the same episode increased by 37%.
During the 6-month period in 2008 for which identity theft victimization data was collected as part of the regular NCVS, 3.3% of households discovered that at least one member had been a victim of one or more types of identity theft.
Last November a police officer shot and killed David Masters, an unarmed motorist, as he sat in the driver’s seat of his car on the side of Richmond Highway, a major thoroughfare in Fairfax County, Virginia. Masters was wanted for allegedly stealing flowers from a planter. He had been given a ticket the day before for running a red light and then evading the police, though in a slow and not particularly dangerous manner.
In January of this year, Fairfax County Commonwealth Attorney Raymond Morrogh announced through a press release that he would not be filing any charges against the officer who shot Masters. The shooting, Morrogh found, was justified due to a “furtive gesture” that suggested Masters had a weapon. The only eyewitness to this gesture was the police officer who pulled the trigger.
There exists dash-camera video of Masters’ shooting. There are also police interviews of other witnesses, and there is the police report itself. But the public and the press are unlikely to see those, or even to learn the officer’s name. That’s because the Fairfax County Police Department—along with the neighboring municipal police departments of Arlington and Alexandria—is among the most secretive, least transparent law enforcement agencies in the country.
Alexandria Commonwealth Attorney Randolph Sengel fired off an indignant letter to the editor after Pope wrote about the secrecy in the northern Virginia police departments. Calling Pope’s well-reported piece a “rant” that was “thinly disguised as a news story,” Sengel declared, “Law enforcement investigations and prosecutions are not carried out for the primary purpose of providing fodder for his paper.” Mocking the media’s role as a watchdog, Sengel added, “The sacred ‘right of the public to know’ is still (barely) governed by standards of reasonableness and civility,” as if those two adjectives were incompatible with a journalist inquiring about the details of a fatal police shooting of an unarmed man.
“The most offensive theme of this article,” Sengel complained, “is the notion that law enforcement agencies decline to release these reports to protect their own, or to conceal corrupt behavior.…Believe it or not, the reporter and his colleagues are not the last true guardians of truth and justice, the attainment of which does not hang on unfettered exercise of journalistic zeal. Last time I checked there were multiple safeguards in place to assure the integrity of the criminal justice system.”