How a suspected gang member’s traffic stop led to a crucial privacy case

Enlarge (credit: Tomás Del Coro / Flickr)

The following is an excerpt of Habeas Data, which shows how the explosive growth of surveillance technology has outpaced our understanding of the ethics, mores, and laws of privacy.

Award-winning tech reporter Cyrus Farivar makes the case by taking ten historic court decisions that defined our privacy rights and matching them against the capabilities of modern technology. This particular section explores the run up to the landmark 2013 Supreme Court case, Riley v. California. In that case, the Supreme Court ruled, unanimously, that in most circumstances, police cannot search a cellphone during an arrest without a warrant. (credit: Melville House) August 22, 2009 San Diego, California The intersection of Euclid and Imperial avenues is fairly unremarkable. It’s comprised of wide Southern California streets, with at least two lanes of traffic (more if you include the left-turn lanes) in each quadrant. On one corner is an Arco gas station, just in front of St. Rita’s Catholic Church. On the northeast corner is Greene Cat Liquors, a strip mall liquor store, adjacent to Jaquin Mexican Food, which advertises $1 tacos (“w/ onion and cilantro only”). Along the southwest corner is El Real Mexican Food, a single-story green-and-white building with a small balcony. Its sandwich board advertises “5 rolled tacos—$4.25.”

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“He lied about who he was. She agreed to have sex blindfolded. That doesn’t count as consent, rules Iowa’s Supreme Court.”

“He lied about who he was. She agreed to have sex blindfolded. That doesn’t count as consent, rules Iowa’s Supreme Court.” Stephen Gruber-Miller of The Des Moines Register has this report. And David Pitt of The Associated Press reports that “Man who tricked woman into blindfolded sex loses appeal.” You can access Friday’s 4-to-2 ruling of the Supreme Court of Iowa at this link. That court also posted online the briefs filed in the case and the oral argument video, which you can access via this link.

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Bitcoin heist suspect reportedly walked out of low-security prison, onto flight

The view taking off from Keflavik International Airport. (credit: Eric Salard) One of the arrested suspects believed to be involved in Iceland’s “Big Bitcoin Heist” has reportedly fled the country for Sweden. According to the Associated Press, Sindri Thor Stefansson likely left a “low-security prison” in the southern region of the country on Wednesday. He then apparently made his way to the Keflavik International Airport and boarded a flight bound for Stockholm. Coincidentally, Iceland’s prime minister, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, was also on the very same flight. Stefansson, who was one of 11 arrested over the recent theft of 600 Bitcoin mining computers, likely did not have to show a passport in order to board his flight as Iceland is part of the European passport-free Schengen zone. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Florida Judge Berated Sick Woman Who Died Days Later

Judges wield a lot of power. Particularly in their courtrooms, where they are the ultimate authority and their attitude can set the tone for the entire proceeding. Generally speaking, judges are able to balance their power with the quest for justice. But in those instances when the scale gets overly weighted on the side of power, well, the results are just awful.

Take the recent example of Sandra Faye Twiggs, 59, who appeared before Judge Merrilee Ehrlich, a Broward County Florida circuit court judge, on April 15th facing misdemeanor charges following a dispute with her daughter. According to reporting by the Miami Herald, this was Twiggs’s first brush with the law, and it was destined to be her last.

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Florida to Initiate Sweeping Consolidation of Justice Data

Under a new law that takes effect July 1, Florida will begin consolidating criminal justice data from multiple agencies, including prisons, law enforcemers, and courts, into a single data base that will make the information easier to access and analyze, reports the Capitol News Service. Lawmakers call it the gold standard in crime reporting. The goal is to get a better understanding of criminal justice trends in the state to help inform policy decisions.

The new system will require law enforcement agencies, court clerks, state attorneys, public defenders, jails and the Department of Corrections to submit statistics to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The data will be available to the public on FDLE’s website. Florida has the third-largest prison population in the country, costing taxpayers $2.3 billion a year. Barney Bishop of the Florida Smart Justice Alliance said that a long view of better data will bring into relief certain trends that may not be apparent now–for example, whether the system is discriminatory. Agencies that fail to comply with the new reporting requirements can be declared ineligible for state funding for up to five years.

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Former law student obtains $6.45M judgment in revenge porn case

A former law student in California has obtained a $6.45 million default judgment against a former boyfriend accused of posting her intimate photos after their breakup.

The woman, identified as “Jane Doe”in the case, was awarded $3 million in compensatory damages, $3 million in punitive damages and $450,000 for copyright infringement, report Law360 and CNN.

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F.B.I. Raids Office of Trump’s Longtime Lawyer Michael Cohen

The F.B.I. on Monday raided the office of President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, seizing records related to several topics including payments to a pornographic-film actress.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan obtained the search warrant after receiving a referral from the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, according to Mr. Cohen’s lawyer, who called the search “completely inappropriate and unnecessary.” The search does not appear to be directly related to Mr. Mueller’s investigation, but likely resulted from information he had uncovered and gave to prosecutors in New York.

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Court Vacates 11,000 More Convictions in MA Based on Former Drug Lab Employee’s Misconduct

Massachusetts’ top court issued another sweeping dismissal order stemming from misconduct by a former chemist at the Amherst, Ma., drug lab and two former state prosecutors, the Boston Globe reports. The order vacates an estimated 11,000 convictions in 7,700 criminal cases, most of them from Hampden County. “Today, the burden of an unjust criminal conviction has been lifted off the shoulders of thousands of people, people who can now apply for jobs and housing and move forward with their lives,” said public defender Rebecca Jacobstein of the Committee for Public Counsel. The order is the latest development in the Amherst drug lab scandal. In January 2013, former lab chemist Sonja Farak was arrested on charges of stealing from the evidence locker to feed her own addictions. After pleading guilty, Farak was sentenced to 18 months in jail. The scandal was compounded by misconduct by two former prosecutors from the Massachusetts attorney general’s office. A judge ruled Anne Kaczmarek and Kris Foster, who worked under former attorney general Martha Coakley and have since left the office, blocked defense attorneys from obtaining key evidence about Farak’s drug use. The thousands of cases vacated on Thursday are those that were voluntarily dismissed by the state’s 11 district attorneys after litigation brought on behalf of “Farak defendants.”

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EPIC, Consumer Groups Urge FTC to Investigate Facebook’s Use of Facial Recognition

EPIC and a coalition of consumer groups have filed a complaint with the FTC, charging that Facebook’s use of facial recognition techniques threaten user privacy and “in multiple ways” violate the 2011 Consent Order with the Commission. “The scanning of facial images without express, affirmative consent is unlawful and must be enjoined,” the groups wrote. Last week the organizations urged the Federal Trade Commission to reopen the 2009 investigation of Facebook, arguing that the disclosure of user data to Cambridge Analytica violated the consent order, and noting that the order also prohibited Facebook from “making misrepresentations about the privacy or security of consumers’ personal information.” In 2011 EPIC and consumer groups urged the FTC to investigate Facebook’s facial recognition practices. In 2012 EPIC advised the FTC “Commercial actors should not deploy facial techniques until adequate safeguards are established. As such safeguards have not yet been established, EPIC would recommend a moratorium on the commercial deployment of these techniques.” EPIC President Marc Rotenberg said today, “Facebook should suspend further deployment of facial recognition pending the outcome of the FTC investigation.”

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