Posts Tagged ‘surveillance’

“DEA mines Americans’ travel records to seize millions”

“Federal drug agents regularly mine Americans’ travel information to profile people who might be ferrying money for narcotics traffickers — though they almost never use what they learn to make arrests or build criminal cases. Instead, that targeting has helped the Drug Enforcement Administration seize a small fortune in cash.” [Brad Heath, USA Today/KUSA]

Police and prosecution roundup

  • Mississippi AG Jim Hood, a longtime Overlawyered fave, finds way to snipe at opposing death penalty counsel [Radley Balko]
  • Police use forced catheterization to obtain urine samples from unwilling suspects. A constitutional issue? [Argus-Leader, South Dakota]
  • “Why Gary Johnson Opposes Hate-Crime Laws (and You Should Too)” [Elizabeth Nolan Brown]
  • Yes, the Baltimore aerial surveillance program should raise concerns [Matthew Feeney, Cato]
  • “The Citizen as ATM: A small Missouri city has become a legal testing ground for ticketing practices and court reform” [Carla Main, City Journal]
  • New Mexico, a leader on asset forfeiture reform, should now tackle mens rea reform [Paul Gessing]

“A Century of Surveillance”

Arbitrary and intrusive executive power, with the threat it can pose to individual rights and the rule of law, is not some novel development of the past Presidency or two (or three or four). It goes back to the earliest days of the Republic. “American Big Brother: A Century of Political Surveillance and Repression,” a recent Cato project, ties together episodes from the Palmer Raids through surveillance of pacifists to LBJ’s bugging of opponent Barry Goldwater’s campaign plane to the debates over the USA Patriot Act and the crypto wars. And this tidbit from 1962:

JFK Wiretaps Steel Company Executives

Angered at steel price hikes and suspecting price fixing among steel companies, President Kennedy ordered the wiretapping of several steel company executives, and his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, ordered FBI raids on the homes of the executives and journalists who had covered recent steel company shareholder meetings. While the raids produced an outcry from the business community, covert surveillance did not become public until long after JFK’s death.

NSA to share more data with domestic law enforcement

“The Obama administration is on the verge of permitting the National Security Agency to share more of the private communications it intercepts with other American intelligence agencies without first applying any privacy protections to them, according to officials familiar with the deliberations.” [New York Times] Currently, NSA analysts in possession of information about Americans gathered “incidentally” during foreign intelligence gathering apply rules to remove or mask information relating to innocent Americans’ activities. Under the revised rules, downstream agencies would instead be responsible for screening out information they are not supposed to use. Notwithstanding earlier assurances, the step makes it more likely that data from global telecom surveillance will wind up in the hands of the FBI and other domestic agencies for purposes of domestic law enforcement policing having nothing to do with terrorism. [Radley Balko]

Supreme Court and constitutional law roundup

  • Constitutional right to teach children in a foreign language: the story of Meyer v. Nebraska, 1922 [Dave Kopel]
  • Court to address Indian law issues in three cases this term: right of counsel in tribal courts, conditions of removal from tribal to federal courts, tax authority on former tribal land [Daniel Fisher]
  • As constitutional conservatives go, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz are at odds on Lochner. Why that’s important [Roger Pilon]
  • 2013 Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Shell decision hasn’t killed off Alien Tort cases, especially not in Ninth Circuit [Julian Ku/Opinio Juris on rejection of certiorari in Doe v. Nestle, background John Bellinger/Lawfare]
  • Textbook-resale case from 2013 term, Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, is coming back for a ruling on fee award standards in copyright cases [ArsTechnica]
  • High court will review federal court’s jurisdiction to resuscitate denied class certification [Microsoft v. Baker, Ninth Circuit ruling; Fisher]
  • “Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh: If You Don’t Want To Be Tracked, Turn Off Your Phone” [Motherboard/Vice on stingray surveillance]

Law enforcement for profit roundup

December 2 roundup

  • Nice work: how one lawyer cleans up filing piggyback class actions after the Federal Trade Commission and other enforcement agencies cite marketers for violations [Daniel Fisher, Forbes]
  • Cites inmate’s 18-year history of frivolous complaints: “Prisoner can’t sue USA Today for not printing gambling odds, Pennsylvania court says” [PennLive]
  • Canada’s pioneering cap on regulation could be a model for U.S. [Laura Jones, Mercatus via Tyler Cowen]
  • “He had a right to shoot at this drone, and I’m going to dismiss this charge” [Eugene Volokh on Kentucky case noted in July]
  • Dear John: Los Angeles may use license-plate readers to go after drivers who enter “wrong” neighborhoods [Brian Doherty]
  • Asylum law (which differs in numerous ways from refugee law, among them that it typically addresses claims of persons already here) hasn’t quite solved its own vetting problem [flashback from last year, more]
  • Georgia lawyer “sanctioned for ‘deploying boilerplate claims’ and ‘utterly frivolous’ arguments” [ABA Journal]

Encryption and the Paris attacks

Almost at once after the Paris attacks, speculation began to circulate that the murderers had used encrypted communications to plan their operation and that legislation giving government backdoor tools to break encryption was therefore needed more urgently than ever. Later reports have suggested, however, that the plotters employed a combination of plain vanilla unencrypted messaging with in-person communication. [Karl Bode/TechDirt, The Verge, Vice “Motherboard” (“How the Baseless ‘Terrorists Communicating Over Playstation 4’ Rumor Got Started”)] Related: Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg View. A contrary view: Alex Spence and Duncan Gardham, Politico Europe.

Federal law enforcement roundup

  • Manufacturing while foreign: Holman Jenkins compares Department of Justice’s handling of General Motors case with those of Toyota and Takata [WSJ, paywall]
  • “Electronic surveillance by the Drug Enforcement Administration has tripled over the past 20 years, and much of that increase has involved bypassing the federal courts.” [Brad Heath, USA Today via Balko]
  • Sen. Hatch: criminal justice reform needs to include reform on issue of mens rea/criminal intent [John Malcolm, Daily Signal]
  • Clinton administration tended to embed its anti-gun gestures in its then-popular carceral-state enactments [Jesse Walker on the 12-year lull in anti-gun legislation and whether it’s ending]
  • New DoJ policy on corporate criminal prosecutions risks scapegoating [Thaya Knight, Cato] Despite transient surge early in Obama years, federal white-collar crime prosecutions have now fallen to 20-year low [TRAC Reports]
  • A legal remedy should federal law enforcers falsely malign you in a press release? Dream on [Scott Greenfield]
  • If you oppose high U.S. incarceration rate, but wish more corporate executives went to prison, check your premises [Matt Kaiser, Above the Law]

September 9 roundup

  • Mess surrounding ex-Willkie partner could drag down giant credit card settlement after exposure of “burn this” emails to adverse lawyer [Alison Frankel, WSJ Moneybeat, New York Post]
  • “The war against homeschooling is…not a fight to make sure children are safer/better educated” [Bethany Mandel, Acculturated, reacting to ProPublica/Slate piece raising alarms about how, e.g., 48 states don’t make parents go through background checks before being allowed to homeschool their kids] ProPublica also complains that parents with criminal records are allowed to homeschool; did they run this by the “Ban the Box” advocacy groups?
  • President Jimmy Carter’s deregulatory record looks even better in retrospect [Cato podcast with Peter Van Doren, Caleb Brown]
  • Ugly tactic: protesters rally at home of Judge Bunning in Kim Davis case [River City News, Kentucky; links to some other instances]
  • “Obama celebrates Labor Day by making it more expensive to hire employees”; executive order requires federal contractors to provide paid sick leave [W$J, Sean Higgins/Washington Examiner (“offering paid leave is already the norm among the vast majority of federal contractors”)]
  • “FBI, DEA and others will now have to get a warrant to use stingrays” [ArsTechnica]
  • After the prosecutorial abuses: “John Doe Reform Bill Moves to Assembly” [Right Wisconsin]