Sunday, October 10, 2010

Not much of an update on web-cam-gate. (Sounds like they have picked a scapegoat.)

LMSD officials address residents' concerns at community meeting in Ardmore church

In an Ardmore meeting Tuesday referred to as a community conversation with Lower Merion School District Supt. Chris McGinley, the subject of the district’s webcam controversy came up but McGinley did not go into specifics.

There are some actions that have been taken that amount to personnel actions,” McGinley told a number of residents attending the meeting. His comments answered one of them, who asked if anyone has been held accountable for wrongly using the webcams.

Humor: Facebook, by Mom for Moms...

Today Now!: Facebook, Twitter Revolutionizing How Parents Stalk Their College-Aged Kids

How can you discriminate against an ethnic group if you don't know who they are?

French cops claimed to hold secret, illegal gypsy database

October 9, 2010 by Dissent

Last month, I blogged about concerns raised by EDRI that France was compiling a biometric database of Roma that could lead to significant humanitarian concerns. Now more evidence has emerged that is raising concerns. Jane Fae Ozimek reports in The Register:

The French national police force – la Gendarmerie – yesterday stood accused of operating a secret and illegal database of Roma and other travelling minorities.

The existence of this database was reported in great detail in yesterday’s Le Monde. It came to light by chance, when a 48-page powerpoint presentation, prepared by a Commandant in the Central Bureau for prevention of Traveller Crime (OCLDI), and presented to a meeting of Transport Businesses in November 2004, turned up on the internet.

Read more in The Register.

An exercise for my Ethical Hackers: Embed a program on your target's laptop and have it report the laptop's location via Twitter and e-mail.

How sites can pinpoint you without the need for a GPS

October 10, 2010 by Dissent

Ben Grubb reports:

If you thought websites planting tracking “cookies” on your computer was a cause for privacy concerns, what’s known as “location-aware browsing” is able to pinpoint your physical location – and fairly accurately.

Electronic Frontiers Australia chairman Colin Jacobs said this could mean that various websites would have in their databases a history of “where you have been and when”.

If you’re on a computer with Wi-Fi – which most have these days (especially laptops) – then it’s likely you can be pinpointed using the Google Location Service.

Read more in The Age and follow the link to try the Firefox demo. When I tried it, Google was able to pinpoint my location exactly.

[From the article:

Using Firefox? Try out a demo of location-aware browsing

I would have thought this was obvious. But then, I'm not a lawyer.

Meta-data subject to public records law

October 9, 2010 by Dissent

Gene Johnson of The Associated Press reports:

Metadata associated with electronic documents — such as the “to” and “from” fields in e-mails — is a public record subject to disclosure, Washington’s Supreme Court ruled yesterday.

The 5-4 ruling concerned a Shoreline resident’s request under the Public Records Act for an e-mail that had been sent to the city’s deputy mayor. The resident received a copy of the e-mail without the metadata and subsequently filed a request for the information.

“Metadata may contain information that relates to the conduct of government and is important for the public to know,” Justice Susan Owens wrote in O’Neill v. City Of Shoreline.

Read more on The Olympian. Although this is not the first time a court has ruled this way, I think we all need to remain cognizant than when we e-mail public officials, if anyone requests their email under public records, our email address, name, etc. would be revealed.

An interesting if flawed argument. Poverty is not the issue. Political power is. The fact that the two are often linked causes confusion.

Article: A Fourth Amendment for the Poor Alone: Subconstitutional Status and the Myth of the Inviolate Home

October 9, 2010 by Dissent

Jordan C. Budd of the University of New Hampshire School of Law has an article in the Indiana Law Journal (Vol. 85, No. 2, 2010). Here’s the abstract:

For much of our nation’s history, the poor have faced pervasive discrimination in the exercise of fundamental rights. Nowhere has the impairment been more severe than in the area of privacy. This Article considers the enduring legacy of this tradition with respect to the Fourth Amendment right to domestic privacy. Far from a matter of receding historical interest, the diminution of the poor’s right to privacy has accelerated in recent years and now represents a powerful theme within the jurisprudence of poverty. Triggering this development has been a series of challenges to aggressive administrative practices adopted by localities in the wake of federal welfare-reform legislation. As a precondition to public assistance, some jurisdictions now require that all applicants submit to a suspicionless home search by law-enforcement investigators seeking evidence of welfare fraud. In turning back challenges to these intrusions, contemporary courts have significantly curtailed the protections of the Fourth Amendment as applied to the poor.

While the courts that sanction these practices disclaim any sort of poverty-based classification underlying their analysis, no other rationale withstands scrutiny. Neither precedent nor the principled extension of existing doctrine justifies recent outcomes or explains why the holdings should not be applied to authorize a vast – and, thus, unacceptable – expansion of suspicionless search practices directed at the homes of the less destitute. The developing jurisprudence accordingly represents an implicit concession that the poor constitute a subconstitutional class for purposes of the Fourth Amendment. Framed most charitably, the decisions understand poverty as a condition of moral culpability and thus accept it as a surrogate for the individualized suspicion that otherwise would be required to justify the intrusions at issue. The premise of the dissolute poor, tracing back centuries, remains alive and well in American law, and we have a bifurcated Fourth Amendment to prove its enduring vitality.

You can download the working paper from SSRN. (Hat-tip, Legal Theory Blog via @normative).

Although not specifically cited in the working paper, Budd’s article articulates nicely with a point made by Chief Judge Alex Kozinski in his dissent from the panel’s decision not to rehear the Pineda-Moreno ruling en banc:

There’s been much talk about diversity on the bench, but there’s one kind of diversity that doesn’t exist: No truly poor people are appointed as federal judges, or as state judges for that matter. Judges, regardless of race, ethnicity or sex, are selected from the class of people who don’t live in trailers or urban ghettos. The everyday problems of people who live in poverty are not close to our hearts and minds because that’s not how we and our friends live. Yet poor people are entitled to privacy, even if they can’t afford all the gadgets of the wealthy for ensuring it. Whatever else one may say about Pineda-Moreno, it’s perfectly clear that he did not expect– and certainly did not consent–to have strangers prowl his property in the middle of the night and attach electronic tracking devices to the underside of his car. [*10] No one does.

When you glide your BMW into your underground garage or behind an electric gate, you don’t need to worry that somebody might attach a tracking device to it while you sleep. But the Constitution doesn’t prefer the rich over the poor; the man who parks his car next to his trailer is entitled to the same privacy and peace of mind as the man whose urban fortress is guarded by the Bel Air Patrol. The panel’s breezy opinion is troubling on a number of grounds, not least among them its unselfconscious cultural elitism.

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