Posts Tagged ‘surveillance’

Constitutional law roundup

  • Does the Constitution allow Arizona to frame a new tax in such a way that de facto, though not de jure, nearly all of it falls on out-of-state residents? [Ilya Shapiro, Cato]
  • Writer and star of one-act play “isn’t a fan of America’s founding charter — which may be why her audiences are such big fans of hers.” [Andrew Ferguson, The Atlantic]
  • Pentagon has lately developed aerial surveillance technology with near-panopticon capabilities. OK to deploy over home territory? [Cato video with Patrick G. Eddington, Arthur Holland Michel, and Jenna McLaughlin on Michel’s book Eyes in the Sky: The Secret Rise of Gorgon Stare and How It Will Watch Us All]
  • Ilya Shapiro discusses New York Rifle and Pistol Association v. the City of New York [National Constitution Center We the People podcast; earlier here, here, and here] “Maryland’s gun permit system is challenged — and it’s probably unconstitutional” [my post at Free State Notes] “3-D Printed Guns & the First Amendment” [Federalist Society Policy Brief video with John Stossel and Josh Blackman]
  • Tradcons are kidding themselves if they imagine they can get a better constitutional deal outside the current legal conservative movement with its commitment to a broadly fusionist originalism, argues John McGinnis [Liberty and Law] “Originalism as ideology” [Michael Greve]
  • “Guam officials seek to hold referendum allowing voters to express their opinion about the future of the relationship between Guam and the United States but will only permit ‘Native Inhabitants of Guam’ to vote. Ninth Circuit: Which means restricting voting based upon race, which is explicitly prohibited by the Fifteenth Amendment.” [Institute for Justice “Short Circuit” on Davis v. Guam]

Crime and punishment roundup

  • “Authorities noted in the complaint he lived ‘9 houses’ away from the site of a residence where drug transactions were occurring…” [Tim Cushing, TechDirt on $626,000 Missouri civil asset forfeiture seizure]
  • As Loyola lawprof Dane Ciolino points out, Louisiana “victims’ rights” bill seems meant to hobble public defenders’ witness investigations without holding law enforcement and D.A.s to same standards [Kira Lerner, The Appeal, earlier here, here, here, and here]
  • A “truly disgraceful chapter in the history of British policing” culminates in conviction of fantasist who made up child abuse charges against prominent figures [Dan Rivers, ITV]
  • The May 19 story on Dallas’s nonprosecution policy for lower-level offenses (“shoplifters’ holiday”) resulted in a discussion in comments of the similar policy of Suffolk County, Mass. (Boston) district attorney Rachael Rollins. Rollins’s policy has since come in for considerable controversy: “A Globe review of Rollins’s record reveals that, not only is the Suffolk DA dropping more cases than before, but some of the cases don’t seem “low-level” at all, involving serious bodily injury, major thefts, and career criminals.” [Andrea Estes and Shelley Murphy, Boston Globe, July 6]. [h/t reader Hugo C., who writes: “Two cases stood out to me: (a) an assailant who put an attorney in the hospital with long-term brain damage got no prison time, and (b) a criminal caught breaking into a warehouse with a crowbar (and found to be in possession of 39 stolen credit cars) was turned loose.”]
  • Electronic ankle monitors that not only report location, but also capture and report back audio of the wearer’s surroundings, raise difficult privacy issues [Kira Lerner, The Appeal via Chaz Arnett]
  • Alexandra Natapoff discusses her recent book Punishment without Crime: How Our Massive Misdemeanor System Traps the Innocent and Makes America More Unequal [Cato event video with Jonathan Blanks; related Cato podcast]

Police roundup

  • Review of 70 studies shows police body cameras to be popular with both officers and public, though tangible benefits fall short of what some proponents had hoped [Ronald Bailey, Reason]
  • If law enforcement is allowed to use facial recognition technologies at all, here are some important safeguards for its use [Matthew Feeney, Cato]
  • Do you think of intensive police stops of minority teens on the street as a way to reduce crime rates? Think again [Jonathan Blanks, Cato]
  • When political influentials are in the vehicle, police collision reports can be works of art [Eric Turkewitz]
  • Why juries acquit cops charged with brutality [Phil Fairbanks, Buffalo News]
  • Investigation finds police officers found to have committed serious misconduct not only remain active as police, usually at different departments, but in 32 instances have become police chiefs or sheriffs [James Pilcher, Aaron Hegarty, Eric Litke and Mark Nichols, USA Today]

Watching you for your own good

Under a sweeping surveillance program, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration “secretly spied on Americans who bought money counters, ‘the vast majority’ of whom “were never shown to be connected to illicit drug-related activities.” The “administrative” subpoenas the DEA routinely issued to companies that sold money counters not only were “conducted without any court oversight, they were ‘unrelated to a specific drug trafficking investigation or target.'” [Nick Sibilla, Forbes via IJ]

The NYPD’s DNA dragnet

New York City police have employed the equivalent of DNA dragnets, combining voluntary with covert (e.g., grabbing a discarded cup) collection methods. Thus, before identifying a suspect in the Howard Beach jogger case, “the NYPD collected well over 500 DNA profiles from men in the East New York area….But things get worse from there. For those people excluded from the jogger case, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, the city’s crime lab, permanently keeps those profiles in their databank [with more than 64,000 others] and routinely compares profiles to all city crimes.”

In other words, cooperate with police by giving a DNA sample in order to help solve (or clear yourself in) some dreadful crime, and you’re in the database to nail for anything and everything else in future. “In this respect, [you] will be treated just like someone convicted of a crime.” And did you guess this? “Under their labor contract with the city, rank-and-file officers don’t give the lab their DNA, which means the lab can’t easily rule out possible crime-scene contamination.” [Allison Lewis, New York Daily News]

OSHA drones flying over your workplace

“‘That buzzing noise over a construction site could be an OSHA drone searching for safety violations,’ Bloomberg Law reports, linking to a May 18, 2018 DOL memorandum obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. Yes, your friendly neighborhood OSHA inspector is now authorized by the Labor Department ‘to use camera-carrying drones as part of their inspections of outdoor workplaces.'” And while current procedures call for obtaining employer consent before sending the spycams aloft, thus avoiding Fourth Amendment challenge, employers who refuse such consent “risk the ire of the DOL, with serious consequences. Nothing is more likely to put a target on an employer’s back for multiple and frequent future investigations than sending a DOL investigator away from your doors. Refusing consent will label you at the DOL as a bad faith employer that deserves closer scrutiny. This I know through experience practicing before DOL and as a former Administrator of DOL’s Wage & Hour Division.” [Tammy McCutchen, Federalist Society]

And speaking of the Fourth Amendment (if not of OSHA), here is a Cato Daily Podcast with Caleb Brown, Julian Sanchez, and Matthew Feeney on how courts think about rights against unreasonable search and seizure in the digital age, and what could be done to improve protections.

December 19 roundup

The Fourth Amendment and food trucks

Chicago has enacted a law requiring food trucks to install GPS trackers reporting their location at all times, and the Fourth Amendment might have something to say about that [Ilya Shapiro and Aaron Barnes on Cato brief in Illinois Supreme Court case of LMP Services v. Chicago; Timothy Snowball, Pacific Legal Foundation; Foodservice Equipment Reports]

Plus: “The Fourth Amendment in the Digital Age,” conversation with Julian Sanchez, Matthew Feeney, and Caleb Brown for the Cato Daily Podcast.

September 19 roundup

  • Paradox of Jones Act: by jacking up shipping costs from mainland, it can give goods made overseas artificial price advantage [Cato Daily Podcast with Colin Grabow] Trade wars are immensely destructive, hurting producers and consumers alike, and the latest is no exception [Reuters on China retaliation]
  • Joel Kotkin-Michael Greve exchange on localism at Liberty and Law [Kotkin, Greve]
  • Government demands for encrypted data pose threat to digital privacy [Erin Dunne, D.C. Examiner]
  • “New York’s transportation establishment will not reduce prices to world standards as long as it can demand quintuple the world standard and get away with it” [Connor Harris, City Journal]
  • “The Fair Housing Act prohibits ‘making, printing, or publishing’ any ‘notice, statement, or advertisement’ with respect to ‘the sale or rental of a dwelling’ that indicates any racial preference or discrimination. Does this mean that Ohio county recorders violate the law when they maintain property records that contain unenforceable, decades-old racially restrictive covenants? Sixth Circuit: No need to answer that question, because the plaintiff doesn’t have standing.” [John Kenneth Ross, IJ “Short Circuit”, on Mason v. Adams County Recorder]
  • Trademark-go-round: “Monster Energy Loses Trademark Opposition With Monsta Pizza In The UK” [Timothy Geigner, TechDirt] “Disney Gets Early Loss In Trademark, Copyright Suit Against Unlicensed Birthday Party Characters” [same] “Two Georgia Sausage Companies Battle Over Trademarked Logos That Aren’t Particularly Similar” [same]

“Illinois 13-year-old charged with eavesdropping felony for recording meeting with principal”

“For years, [Illinois] cops used the state’s eavesdropping laws to arrest citizens who attempted to record them. This practice finally stopped when three consecutive courts — including a federal appeals court — ruled the law was unconstitutional when applied to target citizens recording public servants.” But the law is “still being used by government officials to punish people they don’t like. Illinois Policy reports a 13-year-old student is facing felony charges for recording a meeting between him and two school administrators.” [Tim Cushing, TechDirt; Austin Berg, Illinois Policy, related]