Tag Archives: mobile applications

Senator Leahy Slams DEA For Impersonating A Woman On Facebook

Apparently, it's not just Facebook that is furious with the DEA for impersonating a woman, posting pictures from her phone, in an attempt to get evidence concerning a drug dealer. Senator Patrick Leahy has now sent an angry letter to the DOJ about this situation as well.
I am greatly concerned by recent reports that the Drug Enforcement Administration used the identity of an unsuspecting young woman to create a public Facebook profile to interact with suspected drug traffickers. This extraordinary tactic placed this woman and her family at risk, and I expect the Justice Department to reconsider the use of such techniques.
Senator Leahy didn't hold back in explaining just why this whole situation was "appalling."
Viewers of the fake profile, which was only removed from Facebook this month, could believe the woman was currently involved with illicit activities or was actively cooperating with a law enforcement investigation. The DEA agent's decision to post suggestive photographs of the woman as well as pictures of her young child and niece is appalling and placed them at even greater risk.

I understand that cooperating defendants often provide critical assistance to criminal investigations. However, the decision to cooperate and the nature of that cooperation is a decision to be made by the defendant and the defendant alone. Law enforcement agencies should not risk the safety of innocents or those who are serving their debt to society without their knowledge or consent. Although the Justice Department has indicated that this incident is under review, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of New York has thus far defended the practice. I hope the Justice Department will agree that creating an online profile using an unsuspecting person's identity to communicate with criminals is unethical, potentially dangerous, and should not be condoned by our nation's law enforcement agencies.
However, remember, this is the very same DOJ which has argued in other cases that violating the terms of service of certain websites is a violation of the CFAA. But, of course, when the government itself does it, in much more appalling situations, they don't seem to think there's any problem.

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Engadget Daily: New iPad and Retina iMac reviews, the do’s and don’ts of social media, and more!

Want to upgrade to an iPad Air 2 or iPad mini 3? Maybe you're just drooling over the new Retina iMac. We reviewed them all, so you're covered either way. But that's not all we have on deck -- read on for Engadget's news highlights from the last 24...

The FCC Just Released 2,444,672 Public Comments About Net Neutrality

The FCC Just Released 2,444,672 Public Comments About Net Neutrality

The FCC's proposed "Open Internet" rule is the single most commented-on rulemaking in the history of the agency, with nearly 4 million submissions to date. The FCC just dumped all of the words from the second commenting period, which ran from July 19th-September 15.

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UFO Soap Pumps: Take Me To Your Lever

UFO Soap Pumps: Take Me To Your Lever

If you've seen War of the Worlds, then it only makes sense that if an alien race were to visit our planet, they'd be pretty strict about personal hygiene before making contact with humans. Those tiny bacterial organisms all over our hands pose a real threat to extraterrestrials, so what better way to scrub up than with this alien abduction-themed soap dispenser?

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Google Earth for Android is now faster, better at 3D exploration

Heads up, Android fans: Google Earth for your phones is about to get a lot better. That's what the folks in Mountain View are promising, anyway -- they've released an update to the app brings with it snappier performance and improved labels for maps...

Google Can’t Fix What’s Really Wrong With Email: Us

Google Can't Fix What's Really Wrong With Email: Us

Today Google announced an ambitious project called Inbox , a new way to manage your Gmail that looks like an absolute godsend. There is, however, one thing that Google's clever engineering won't fix, and might actually make worse: The humans sending the emails.

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NY Police Commissioner Bill Bratton Latest To Complain About Phone Encryption

The latest law enforcement official to enter into the "debate" over phone encryption is none other than NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, most famous around Techdirt for being "not Ray Kelly." Bratton sees eye-to-eye with pretty much every other critic of Google's and Apple's move to provide encryption by default: this is bad for us (meaning "law enforcement"), therefore new laws.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton ratcheted up the rhetoric against Google and Apple Friday, vowing to push for legislation now that the tech giants have announced operating systems with encryptions that block law enforcement access.

“It does a terrible disservice to the public, ultimately, and to law enforcement, initially,” he said. “It really does impede our investigation of crimes.
That's some mighty fine spin by Bratton. Something that will make a vast majority of the public's data less susceptible to hackers' attacks is a "disservice to the public" because in a very small number of cases, this encryption could hamper an investigation. Because some criminals might use this encryption, no one should be allowed to have it.

Bratton also fired the following (cheap) shot across the bow of the cell phone giants, insinuating that the companies are profiting from law enforcement pain, deliberately.
“For them to consciously, for profit and gain, to thwart those legal constitutional efforts, shame on them.”
Businesses turn profits. Otherwise, they're not businesses (or not in business for long). Offering encryption by default does not -- in itself -- make Apple and Google more money. Nor does "thwarting legal constitutional efforts." It could actually be argued that this will cost both companies more money in the long run, considering they will both be facing additional legal challenges and very-specifically-targeted legislation.

Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance, who notes that he's in "lockstep" with Bratton's views, sounds like he's in lockstep with the former keepers of NYC's security state -- Ray Kelly and Michael Bloomberg -- when he opines that the balance between privacy and security should always be tilted towards law enforcement.
"I think that the balance, however ... can’t be one where saving people’s lives, solving serious crimes from child abuse to terrorism, is the price we have to pay for blanket privacy.”
I keep hearing "child abuse" and "terrorism," but keep envisioning law enforcement's desired encryption backdoor being used for the same thing Stingray devices and cast-off military gear are used for: plain vanilla drug warring and other assorted "normal" criminal investigations. Tears are shed over the pedophile who got away, but in practice, it's rarely anything more than Officer Smith flipping through the digital rolodex of some low-level meth dealer.



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We could have had AC 50 years earlier but the ice lobby killed it

We could have had AC 50 years earlier but the ice lobby killed it

With another sweltering summer over you might have already forgotten the glory of your AC unit, the 100-year-old modern convenience which truly changed the way we live. But the U.S. might have felt the cool breeze of relief a half-century sooner, if an entire industry built on keeping things frozen hadn't stopped the first air conditioner from being made.

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Cybercriminals Are Using Cloud Storage to Hoard Stolen Files

Cybercriminals Are Using Cloud Storage to Hoard Stolen Files

Cybercriminals: They're just like us! At least, their choice of cloud storage isn't so far off from your average non-despicable data thief. Instead of using dedicated servers to hoard stolen data, hackers have taken to using popular consumer products like Google Drive and Dropbox.

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Bank of America issues refunds after double-charging Apple Pay users

Went on a spending spree with your Bank of America debit card the moment Apple Pay hit your iPhone? You might be in for a (brief) shock. The bank is now issuing refunds after it charged at least some Apple Pay users twice when they made purchases at...