Police are using facial recognition software to identify suspects, but the rules on how they should be using the technology are not transparent.

Some San Diego citizens say their pictures had been taken even though they had not been arrested, and without permission. Spokesman Lt. Scott Wahl, when asked about department policy for this practice, said it doesn’t exist. Officers are not required to document the use of facial recognition technology and do not receive training on its use.

Eric Hanson, a retired firefighter with a non existent criminal record, says his picture was taken after being stopped by police due to a dispute with a prowler.

Article via ABA Journal, 13 August 2015

Photo: [59- 365] Behind the camera via Gemma Bou [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]

The ability to connect attorneys with potential clients in drunken driving cases, potentially before they are ticketed, is now possible due to the new smartphone app, the Duey Dialer. According to developer Daniel Delgado, the application allows a driver to trigger a traffic stop audio recording with the touch of a button and even contacts a lawyer with expertise in drunken driving cases automatically if not turned off within 45 minutes. The information sent includes the audio recording, location, identity, home address and contact information of the client. The attorneys pay for the app, which is available for Android use only and is currently used in six states.

Article via ABA Journal, 26 May 2015

Photo: Police Lights via J J  [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Investigator admits guilt in hiring of a hacker (NYT, 6 March 2015) – A private investigator who has done work for small New York City law firms that specialize in personal injury and medical malpractice litigation pleaded guilty on Friday in federal court in Manhattan to one charge of conspiracy in hiring a hacker to help with his investigation. The guilty plea, by Eric Saldarriaga, an investigator from Queens, stems from an inquiry by federal prosecutors and the Federal Bureau of Investigation into the so-called hacker-for-hire business. Mr. Saldarriaga entered his plea before Judge Richard J. Sullivan of Federal District Court in Manhattan. In the court proceeding and a five-page “criminal information” charge, the clients of Mr. Saldarriaga were not identified. The charge said Mr. Saldarriaga, 41, operated under the alias “Emmanuela Gelpi” in seeking out the services of hackers to help him gain “unauthorized access” to at least 60 email accounts. The investigation of Mr. Saldarriaga and his company, Iona Research and Security Services, could now turn attention onto some of his clients, assuming they were aware he was hiring hackers to break into email accounts. In a posting on an older Yahoo message board used by private investigators, Mr. Saldarriaga said his company did work for about 20 law firms. Last month, federal prosecutors in San Francisco, in an unrelated case, announced the indictment of two private investigators and two computer hackers on charges that they had illegally entered email and Skype accounts to gather information for matters they were working on for clients. Some of the illegally gathered information was intended to support a lawsuit, authorities said. In that case, there has been no indication that the private investigators were working on behalf of a particular law firm.


Provided by MIRLN.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/jesadaphorn

Would a new crime of “willful refusal to comply with a decryption order” be the best answer to the device decryption puzzle? (Orin Kerr, 17 Oct 2014) – FBI Director James Comey spoke Thursday at Brookings about the FBI’s concerns with how encryption can frustrate search warrants in lawful investigations. The scope of Comey’s remarks goes beyond Apple’s new iOS8 operating system design, but much of it focused on the question of device encryption raised by Apple’s new policy. I wanted to focus on one aspect of Comey’s remarks, the question of whether the government can get access to the contents of encrypted devices directly from a suspect in a criminal case. Here’s Comey : “Finally, a reasonable person might also ask, “Can’t you just compel the owner of the phone to produce the password?” Likely, no. And even if we could compel them as a legal matter, if we had a child predator in custody, and he could choose to sit quietly through a 30-day contempt sentence for refusing to comply with a court order to produce his password, or he could risk a 30-year sentence for production and distribution of child pornography, which do you think he would choose?” I think Comey is wrong that the Fifth Amendment is a “likely” barrier in the cell phone context, because in most of the typical cases, when the government knows who is the owner of the phone, the Fifth Amendment shouldn’t be a problem. But let me put that issue aside for now and focus instead on the rest of Comey’s comment, and specifically his concern that the punishment for refusing to comply with a court order to produce a password would be so low that the bad guys will just make a rational decision to take the lesser contempt punishment. * * *


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Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/basketman

Cloud computing stymies digital forensics investigations (Nextgov, 24 July 2014) – In recent years, cloud computing has made the leap from an emerging technology to government mainstay, allowing agencies an IT avenue to share services, save money and increase efficiency. However, cloud computing still presents some major technical challenges in government, as illustrated by a recent draft report issued by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Prepared by the NIST Cloud Computing Forensic Science Working Group, the report summarizes a staggering 65 challenges cloud computing presents to forensics investigators who sift through bits and bytes of digital evidence to solve crimes. The challenges are technical, legal and organizational, according to NIST’s Martin Herman, co-chair of the working group. They can be further classified among nine categories, including architecture, data collection, analysis, standards, training and “anti-forensics” such as data hiding and malware. With cloud computing becoming more popular – many agencies, for example, now use cloud computing for email – scenarios in which the cloud might muck up an investigation are plentiful. For example, in a typical computer system, when a user deletes a file, the user isn’t actually deleting the information—only the digital “pointers” to the file, according to Herman. Data isn’t really deleted until the physical hard drive or storage disk is overwritten with other data. Traditional forensics teams routinely recover files – including deleted files – using fairly well-known tools. Because the cloud can be a shared, multitenant environment, servers and storage devices can be shared among many different customers. That means, Herman said, there is a higher likelihood deleted data will be overwritten.

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Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Stuart Miles

Federal prosecutors, in a policy shift, cite warrantless wiretaps as evidence (NYT, 26 Oct 2013) – The Justice Department for the first time has notified a criminal defendant that evidence being used against him came from a warrantless wiretap, a move that is expected to set up a Supreme Court test of whether such eavesdropping is constitutional. Prosecutors filed such a notice late Friday in the case of Jamshid Muhtorov, who was charged in Colorado in January 2012 with providing material support to the Islamic Jihad Union, a designated terrorist organization based in Uzbekistan. Mr. Muhtorov is accused of planning to travel abroad to join the militants and has pleaded not guilty. A criminal complaint against him showed that much of the government’s case was based on intercepted e-mails and phone calls. The government’s notice allows Mr. Muhtorov’s lawyer to ask a court to suppress the evidence by arguing that it derived from unconstitutional surveillance, setting in motion judicial review of the eavesdropping. The New York Times reported on Oct. 17 that the decision by prosecutors to notify a defendant about the wiretapping followed a legal policy debate inside the Justice Department. The debate began in June when Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. discovered that the department’s National Security Division did not notify criminal defendants when eavesdropping without a warrant was an early link in an investigative chain that led to evidence used in court. As a result, none of the defendants knew that they had the right to challenge the warrantless wiretapping law. The practice contradicted what Mr. Verrilli had told the Supreme Court last year in a case challenging the law, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008.

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Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/winnond.