Justice Articles from 2018
Cops Around the Country Can Now Unlock iPhones, Records Show
by Joseph Cox
Posted May 26, 2018
A Motherboard investigation has found that law enforcement agencies across the country have purchased GrayKey, a relatively cheap tool for bypassing the encryption on iPhones, while the FBI pushes again for encryption backdoors.
FBI Director Christopher Wray recently said that law enforcement agencies are “increasingly unable to access” evidence stored on encrypted devices.
Wray is not telling the whole truth.
Police forces and federal agencies around the country have bought relatively cheap tools to unlock up-to-date iPhones and bypass their encryption, according to a Motherboard investigation based on several caches of internal agency documents, online records, and conversations with law enforcement officials. Many of the documents were obtained by Motherboard using public records requests. More…
When Zionism Rubs Up Against Reality
by Stanley L. Cohen
Posted May 25, 2018
Israel is good at what it does. Damn good. No, not its slaughter, torture and endless detention and land theft; these are givens. A dark, very public, almost proud record of “achievement” that stands essentially unparalleled when it comes to recent contempt for international norm and law.
Like those before, what it really excels at is the grand lie… the convenient historical rewrite; the excuse; the ability to recast yesterday, today and surely tomorrow as so much a duty-bound journey in which no outrage is beyond the pale, no crime too extreme, no offense too offensive. Always, of course, cast in the talisman of survival. It’s a skill… a dodgy political art-form that converts inconvenient truth into self serving dogma with all too predictable deadly consequence. More…
Three Key Reforms for Facial Recognition and Body Cameras
by Project on Government Oversight
Posted May 23, 2018
In recent years, we at The Constitution Project have warned that adding facial recognition scanning to police body cameras poses serious risks that could undermine basic privacy and due process rights. Unfortunately, the time to prepare for these risks is running out. This week, the Wall Street Journal reported that body camera vendors are preparing body cameras with real-time facial recognition capabilities, and law enforcement agencies could potentially deploy them as soon as this fall.
Real-time facial recognition is especially concerning because it means that body cameras will continuously scan the face of everyone passing police officers on the street, and immediately log and relay data. Before adding real-time facial recognition to body cameras, it’s critical that departments and lawmakers implement necessary measures to avert the unprecedented mass collection of the identity and location of individuals in public: More…
I Am Julian Assange
Raúl Ilargi Meijer
Posted May 22, 2018
Julian Assange appears to be painfully close to being unceremoniously thrown out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London. If that happens, the consequences for journalism, for freedom of speech, and for press freedom, will resound around the world for a very long time. It is very unwise for anyone who values truth and freedom to underestimate the repercussions of this.
In essence, Assange is not different from any journalist working for a major paper or news channel. The difference is he published what they will not because they want to stay in power. The Washington Post today would never do an investigation such as Watergate, and that’s where WikiLeaks came in.
Julian is not wanted because he’s a spy, or even because he published a number of documents whose publication was inconvenient for certain people. He is wanted because he is so damn smart, which makes him very good and terribly effective at what he does. He’s on a most wanted list not for what he’s already published, but for what he might yet publish in the future. More…
Appalachian Forest Blockades Disrupt Mountain Valley Pipeline
by Chris Schiano and Sammy DiDonato
Posted May 20, 2018
On the border between Virginia and West Virginia, a fight has begun regarding the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), a joint venture of several companies led by EQT Midstream Partners. While the pipeline is advertised as on track to be completed in 2018, it faces several dramatic delays; as of this writing, at least eight different tree-sits or other blockades currently obstruct the pipeline’s route on both public and private land.
Landowners along the route have repeatedly told off surveyors and land agents appearing on their property without their consent, only to have them show up again. A Virginia law allows natural gas companies unrestricted access to private property, granting pipeline contractors virtual immunity to steamroll over objections from residents along the route. MVP has forced over 300 landowners into court proceedings so that it can seize portions of their land under eminent domain.
County officials along the route have also expressed dismay at MVP’s tactic of using federal condemnation orders to gain rights to access property, and then beginning work without seeking permission from affected residents, or even notifying them. More…
How a “location API” allows cops to figure out where we all are in real time
by Cyrus Farivar
Posted May 20, 2018
The digital privacy world was rocked late Thursday evening when The New York Times reported on Securus, a prison telecom company that has a service enabling law enforcement officers to locate most American cell phones within seconds. The company does this via a basic Web interface leveraging a location API—creating a way to effectively access a massive real-time database of cell-site records.
Securus’ location ability relies on other data brokers and location aggregators that obtain that information directly from mobile providers, usually for the purposes of providing some commercial service like an opt-in product discount triggered by being near a certain location. (“You’re near a Carl’s Jr.! Stop in now for a free order of fries with purchase!”) More…
The Prison Industry in the United States: Big Business or a New Form of Slavery?
By Vicky Peláez
Posted May 20, 2018
Human rights organizations, as well as political and social ones, are condemning what they are calling a new form of inhumane exploitation in the United States, where they say a prison population of up to 2 million – mostly Black and Hispanic – are working for various industries for a pittance. For the tycoons who have invested in the prison industry, it has been like finding a pot of gold. They don’t have to worry about strikes or paying unemployment insurance, vacations or comp time. All of their workers are full-time, and never arrive late or are absent because of family problems; moreover, if they don’t like the pay of 25 cents an hour and refuse to work, they are locked up in isolation cells.
There are approximately 2 million inmates in state, federal and private prisons throughout the country. According to California Prison Focus, “no other society in human history has imprisoned so many of its own citizens.” More…
The Massacre in Gaza: A Deliberate and Calculated Policy
By Steven Chovanec
Posted May 20, 2018
Israeli soldiers wounded more than 2,700 Palestinian protesters and killed dozens more with rifle fire on Monday. At least five children were killed, including an 8-month-old baby girl who died after inhaling tear gas fired by Israeli soldiers. Today, a few hundred Palestinians have defiantly returned to protest near the Gaza fence after yesterday’s carnage. Early reports indicate that there has already been one death and dozens of injuries from live ammunition and gas inhalation, while casualties have been reported during separate protests in the West Bank.
No evidence has been presented showing that Palestinians have posed a threat to the Israeli snipers pulling the triggers. The Israeli soldiers are positioned hundreds of yards away, perched behind a hill, wearing full battle gear. They are comfortably shooting at the Palestinians through sniper scopes, from a safe distance from which they are in no danger. More…
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