Technology and Law Enforcement-New DOJ Report

Observations Technology has not had a game-changing impact on policing in terms of dramatically altering the philosophies and strategies used for preventing crime, responding to crime, or improving public safety. The bottom line of technology? It’s very labor intensive for it to be effective. Author  Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr. Thirty-five years of speaking for national […]

Observations Technology has not had a game-changing impact on policing in terms of dramatically altering the philosophies and strategies used for preventing crime, responding to crime, or improving public safety. The bottom line of technology? It’s very labor intensive for it to be effective. Author  Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr. Thirty-five years of speaking for national […]

from https://www.crimeinamerica.net

Phenotyping Uses DNA to Create Suspect Sketches

The DNA sketch technology is a relatively new tool that can generate leads in cold cases or narrow a suspect pool. For some ethicists and lawyers, it’s an untested practice that if used incorrectly could lead to racial profiling or ensnaring innocent people as suspects.

After her oldest daughter was killed last year, Michelle McDaniel and her family isolated themselves in their small Texas town out of fear that the unknown killer could be standing in line with them at the grocery store or passing them on the street. Last month, Brown County sheriff’s investigators sent McDaniel a sketch of the man they suspected in her daughter’s death, despite having no witnesses. The sketch was created using DNA found at the crime scene; a private lab used the sample to predict the shape of the killer’s face, his skin tone, eye color and hair color, the Associated Press reports. Within a week, the sheriff’s office had a suspect in custody.

For McDaniel, the DNA sketch technology known as phenotyping was an answered prayer. For police officers, it’s a relatively new tool that can generate leads in cold cases or narrow a suspect pool. For some ethicists and lawyers, it’s an untested practice that if used incorrectly could lead to racial profiling or ensnaring innocent people as suspects. Several private companies offer phenotyping services to law enforcement to create sketches of suspects or victims when decomposed remains are found. The process looks for markers inside of a DNA sample known to be linked to certain traits. Police in at least 22 states have released suspect sketches generated through phenotyping. It works like this: Companies have created a predictive formula using the DNA of volunteers who also took a physical traits survey or had their face scanned by recognition software. That model is used to search the DNA samples for specific markers and rate the likelihood that certain characteristics exist.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Justices Lean Toward Defendant in Cellphone Privacy Case

Based on oral arguments Wednesday, it seems that the Supreme Court may rule in favor of Timothy Carpenter, who argues that law enforcement needs a warrant before it can obtain cellphone data from a third party carrier.

Supreme Court justices from across the spectrum voiced concern on Wednesday about personal privacy and government snooping in a case that tests whether police can obtain cellphone location data of suspects without a warrant, the National Law Journal reports. In Carpenter v. United States, the Justice Department asserts that acquiring cellphone data from a third party carrier does not constitute a search under the Fourth Amendment, and does not require a warrant. The American Civil Liberties Union, representing defendant Timothy Carpenter, says he had an expectation of privacy in that data, especially when it tracked 127 days of Carpenter’s movements.

Justices seemed to lean in favor of Carpenter, with some displaying a libertarian streak and others sounding the alarm about personal privacy. “A cellphone can be pinged in your bedroom,” said Justice Sonia Sotomayor. “It can be pinged at your doctor’s office. It can ping you in the most intimate details of your life. Presumably at some point even in a dressing room as you’re undressing.” Addressing ACLU lawyer Nathan Wessler, Justice Samuel Alito Jr. said, “I agree with you, that this new technology is raising very serious privacy concerns, but I need to know how much of existing precedent you want us to overrule or declare obsolete.” Justice Anthony Kennedy said most consumers probably know that companies keep cellphone data about customers. He added, “I don’t think there’s an expectation that people are following you for 127 days.” Justice Neil Gorsuch offered another criticism of the government argument, suggesting that Carpenter may have had a property right in the cellphone location data compiled for the police.

from https://thecrimereport.org

NIBRS Pre-Certification Tool

The National Crime Statistics Exchange (NCS-X) Team is pleased to announce the arrival of the NIBRS Pre-Certification Tool.  The tool will allow law enforcement agencies to conduct a “trial run” of its NIBRS data to locate errors and inconsistencies prior … Continue reading

The National Crime Statistics Exchange (NCS-X) Team is pleased to announce the arrival of the NIBRS Pre-Certification Tool.  The tool will allow law enforcement agencies to conduct a “trial run” of its NIBRS data to locate errors and inconsistencies prior to officially submitting its data to a State UCR program and/or to FBI CJIS.  Agencies simply drag-and-drop their data to the site in a single NIBRS text file or a zip file containing single NIBRS text file to generate an easy-to-understand list of errors with descriptions.

Instructions on how to use the tool are available on the website:  http://bit.ly/NIBRS-PCTool

Please note:

  • The tool complies with all the rules and edit checks of the national FBI NIBRS standard (version 3.1).  It is not specific to any particular state, so will not include data elements or response categories that may have been added by the state.
  • The tool is not a substitute for FBI NIBRS Certification, nor is it a substitute for State UCR Certification.  It will simply help agencies to identify where to concentrate its efforts in automating changes to its RMS and/or rules validations.
  • Additional formats of the tool (e.g., xml file submission) and other user-friendly updates to improve ease of understanding of error reports are expected to be available in the first quarter of 2018.

On the website, you may share your thoughts about its functionality and suggestions on how to improve it.

The NCS-X Team is comprised of the Bureau of Justice Statistics, RTI International, SEARCH, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, IJIS Institute, Police Executive Research Forum, and the Association of State UCR Programs.

from https://theiacpblog.org

New FBI Fingerprint Technology Solves Many Cold Cases

An FBI unit ran fingerprints from 1,500 bodies through a new computer algorithm that could make matches from low-quality prints or even a single finger or thumb. The effort so far has identified 204 bodies bound between 1975 and the late 1990s across the U.S.

Just after Thanksgiving in 1983, James Downey dropped off his brother, John, at a Houston bus station, then turned away so neither the police nor a motorcycle gang affiliated with his brother could demand details about where the bus was headed. Thirty-four years later, Downey got a call similar to those that more than 200 families across the U.S. gotten in the last few months since the FBI began using new fingerprint technology to resolve identity cases dating back to the 1970s, the Associated Press reports. The remains of a man found beaten to death decades ago along a brushy path in Des Moines, 800 miles away, had been identified as his brother.

Since launching the effort in February, the FBI and local medical examiner offices have identified 204 bodies found between 1975 and the late 1990s. The cases stretch across the country, with the largest number in Arizona, California, New York, Florida and Texas. “We didn’t know the actual potential success. We were hoping to identify a few cases, maybe five or 10,” said Bryan Johnson of the FBI’s Latent Fingerprint Support Unit who proposed the effort. “We’re really proud that we found another way of doing this.” Johnson and eight others in the FBI unit ran fingerprints from about 1,500 bodies through a new computer algorithm that could make matches from low-quality prints or even a single finger or thumb. Previously, the standard algorithm typically needed quality prints from all 10 fingers to make a match. The unit is now urging local authorities to search through other old case files and send in smudged or partial prints that couldn’t previously be matched.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Robots Are Security Guards of the Future

Dozens of all-seeing robots, endowed with laser scanning, thermal imaging, 360-degree video and sensors for all kinds of signals, already are on patrol around the U.S.

The security guard of the future is an all-seeing robot, endowed with laser scanning, thermal imaging, 360-degree video and sensors for all kinds of signals, McClatchy Newspapers reports. Dozens of the self-propelled, wheeled robots are already on patrol in places like the Golden 1 Center arena in Sacramento, a residential development near Tampa, and at venues in Boston, Atlanta and Dallas. They are cheaper than human beings, require no health insurance, never clamor for a raise and work 24 hours a day. They also sometimes fall into fountains.

A Mountain View, Ca., start-up, Knightscope, contracts out four types of indoor and outdoor robotic sentinels. So far, it has put 47 in service in 10 states. Stacy Dean Stephens, a cofounder of Knightscope, said, “It’s very reasonable to believe that by the end of next year, we’d have a couple of hundred of these out.” The robots are both friendly, with calming blue lights, and imposing in size. “They get attention,” Stephens said. “There’s a reason they’re five-and-a-half feet tall. There’s a reason they are three feet wide, weigh over 400 pounds, because you want it to be very conspicuous.” The advent of self-propelled autonomous robots has trod on a few feet, literally and figuratively. Knightscope’s security robots are largely aimed for use on private property, giving them greater latitude.  “There are a lot of issues of how to stop it from hurting people, accidentally running over their toes, pushing over children and dogs, that kind of thing,” said A. Michael Froomkin, a University of Miami Law School professor who specializes in policy issues around robots.

 

from https://thecrimereport.org

Microsoft Lawsuit Prompts Feds to Limit Data Gag Orders

The Justice Department has agreed to limit its use of a secrecy order frequently used by prosecutors to prevent tech companies from informing their customers when investigators seek access to their emails and other personal data stored in the cloud.

Microsoft says it is dropping a lawsuit against the U.S. Justice Department that targeted a tactic commonly used by prosecutors to prevent tech companies from informing their customers when investigators seek access to their emails and other personal data stored in the cloud, reports GeekWire. The move follows the Justice Department’s announcement of a new binding policy that requires prosecutors to “conduct an individualized and meaningful assessment regarding the need for protection from disclosure” prior to seeking a gag order and to “only seek an order when circumstances require.”

The new policy limits what Brad Smith, Microsoft president and chief legal officer, called an “overused practice.” He wrote, “It is an unequivocal win for our customers, and we’re pleased the DOJ has taken these steps to protect the constitutional rights of all Americans.” Microsoft originally filed the suit over U.S. gag orders in April 2016 in U.S. District Court in Seattle, asking a federal judge to declare unconstitutional the provision of federal law allowing the practice.

from https://thecrimereport.org

High Court Takes Case on Email from Ireland

The Supreme Court will decide whether U.S. courts can issue warrants for data stored overseas under federal law, adding another major case on digital privacy and the Fourth Amendment to its docket this term. 

The Supreme Court will decide whether U.S. courts can issue warrants for data stored overseas under current federal law, adding another major case on digital privacy and the Fourth Amendment to its docket this term, The Atlantic reports. The justices agreed to hear U.S. v. Microsoft on Monday at the request of the federal government. A three-judge appellate panel sided with Microsoft last year to quash a warrant issued for emails stored on the tech giant’s servers in Ireland. At stake is whether federal prosecutors can compel Silicon Valley to hand over data from anywhere in the world under existing law, or whether that immense power is bounded by U.S. borders.

Monday’s addition joins major criminal-justice cases on the justices’ plate. Foremost among them is Carpenter v. U.S., in which the court will study whether the government needs a warrant to obtain the location history of a suspect’s cellphone. Because existing precedents are four decades old, whatever decision the justices reach will likely be a landmark ruling on the Fourth Amendment’s application to modern technology. At issue in Microsoft is another ubiquity of the digital age: email. Federal prosecutors asked a judge to issue a warrant allowing them to search a Microsoft-provided email account, believing it was being used “to conduct criminal drug activity.,” The judge granted their request, and Microsoft complied with part of it by providing  records on the account stored within its U.S.-based systems. The company declined to hand over data stored on servers in Dublin, which included the contents of the email account itself. Though Microsoft can access the account from the U.S., that data is physically located in the Irish capital. Microsoft’s lawyers argued this placed it beyond the law’s intended reach. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with Microsoft.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Devices Like Fitbit Provide Evidence to Police

“Americans are just waking up to the fact that their smart devices are going to snitch on them,” says University of the District of Columbia law Prof. Andrew Ferguson .There are 8.4 billion “smart devices” connected to the Internet.

Richard Dabate of Connecticut told police that a masked intruder killed his wife, Connie. Police found no suspect but they did find a Fitbit tracking Connie’s movements, which they say showed that Richard’s story was an elaborately staged fiction. the Washington Post reports that the case, which is in pretrial motions, is an example “of how Internet-connected, data-collecting smart devices such as fitness trackers, digital home assistants, thermostats, TVs and even pill bottles are beginning to transform criminal justice.” The ubiquitous devices can serve as witnesses, capturing people’s every move, biometrics and what they have ingested. The devices sometimes listen in or watch people in the privacy of our homes. Police are increasingly looking to them for clues.

The prospect has alarmed privacy advocates, who say too many consumers are unaware of the revealing information these devices are harvesting. Few laws regulate how law enforcement officials collect smart-device data. Andrew Ferguson, a University of the District of Columbia law professor, says we are entering an era of “sensorveillance” when we can expect one device or another to be monitoring us much of the time. “Technology is Killing Our Opportunity to Lie” is the title of a legal paper on the subject. The business research company Gartner estimates 8.4 billion devices were connected to the Internet in 2017, a 31 percent increase over the previous year. By 2020, the company estimates there will be roughly three smart devices for every person on the planet. “Americans are just waking up to the fact that their smart devices are going to snitch on them,” Ferguson said. “And that they are going to reveal intimate details about their lives they did not intend law enforcement to have.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

Mexico Accused of Buying Cutting-Edge Spy Gadgetry

Forbes reports that Mexico has taken an unprecedented step in becoming the first-known buyer of surveillance technology that silently spies on calls, text messages and locations of any mobile phone user, via a shady telecom networks known as Signalling System No. 7.

Mexico is one of the biggest buyers of next-generation surveillance technology. And now data leaked to Forbes indicates it’s taken an unprecedented step in becoming the first-known buyer of surveillance technology that silently spies on calls, text messages and locations of any mobile phone user, via a long-vulnerable portion of global telecoms networks known as Signalling System No. 7 (SS7). The revelation was contained in what an anonymous source close claimed was internal sales information from Israeli provider Ability Inc., which appeared to have sold its Unlimited Interception System (ULIN) to Mexico. With prices ranging between $5 and $20 million, ULIN enables silent, almost-undetectable snooping on cellphones, and all that’s required is a telephone number, according to a leaked manual detailed by Forbes last year.

It comes as Mexico is wrapped up in a spyware scandal. Researchers found this year that activists, journalists, murder victims’ attorneys, and investigators into a mass student disappearance have been targeted by the Pegasus spyware, a creation of $1 billion-valued Israeli firm NSO Group. So far no Mexican agency has been accused of running the software. But news reports about the spying were swiftly followed by public protests in June. President Enrique Peña Nieto called for an inquiry–while at the same time denying his government was responsible. In August, an NSO Group spokesperson said the company was “deeply disturbed by any alleged misuse of our product,” but didn’t address any of the specific allegations.

from https://thecrimereport.org