Category Archives: Law

This is weird and scary

Private industry eavesdropping

The Chicago Police Department is warning officers their cell phone records are available to anyone — for a price. Dozens of online services are selling lists of cell phone calls, raising security concerns among law enforcement and privacy experts.

Criminals can use such records to expose a government informant who regularly calls a law enforcement official.

Suspicious spouses can see if their husband or wife is calling a certain someone a bit too often.

And employers can check whether a worker is regularly calling a psychologist — or a competing company.

I’ve been wondering about this. I wonder how much the media does this as well. There has been very little coverage about cell phone privacy since Gingrich was recorded illegally several years ago. PGP encryption coverage has been curiously non-existent as well.

Thoughts on torture

According to this Instapundit post, large majorities in many modern countries support the legal use of torture in extraordinary circumstances. There is even the line that it should be “legal, safe and rare”.

I’m still not quite sure how I feel about it. I am willing to say that it is a trade-off. While we gain information we lose some degree of moral high-ground and reputation (which has other long run costs), and there will inevitably be lots and lots of mistakes as with any government endeavor.

But what does one do in the ticking time-bomb situation, or what you reasonably think is one? You’ve got bloody hands either through action or inaction.

Wednesday round up

  1. Torture Warrants – it deals with everything honestly I suppose.
  2. Google founders buy a private jet – and yet “We’ve worked very hard to make sure our [net] impact on the environment is positive”
  3. The gutlessness of the Republican party is amazing.
  4. Kinky!
  5. Topless protesters – though after a certain age one’s cause doesn’t really break even in effectiveness. The organization is called “Breasts not bombs” though I see no reason why we can’t have both.
  6. Ayn Rand’s cover illustrator is still alive and has some wonderful art on his site. I highly recommend it. His prints are exhorbitantly expensive sadly.
  7. Wonderful pulp art (the Shadow) from Micah Wright, who it would seem is a fraud in his other endeavors.
  8. Twinsparc has released

Saturday morning rapid fire

  1. A good short history of the Davis Bacon act
  2. A longer piece about Edward R Morrow (real name Egbert Roscoe Murrow I found out) and his dealing with Joe McCarthy. Short version – McCarthy bad, but Communist threat real, and the new Clooney movie inaccurately gives credit to Morrow for a lot of other people’s work. The article is well worth reading in it’s entirety.
  3. A fairly brutal piece on Harriet Miers in National Review Online who correctly see that Supreme Court picks are not a zero sum game.

    So, we have reason to fear, will be the case with Miers. And even if she does not become a Blackmun, her record strongly suggests she will be an O’Connor — a split-the-difference judge. As one of her former colleagues has said of her, Miers’s office was the “place where the action stopped and the hand-wringing began.” If she follows that course, we will be left with a Court that retains immense and inappropriate lawmaking power but refuses to make clear laws. The rule of law is based on the making of arguments and the giving of reasons, not on sentiment or group loyalty — which is the basis on which Miers’s defenders want us to support her.

  4. We live in strange times when Ann Coultier is correct in direction and degree. In her column “Does this Law Degree Make my Resume Look Fat?” she makes a strong case that against Miers.

Two unrelated things

Via Instapundit, some thoughts on profiling and lawsuits

As I recall, though, the detainees were charged with various crimes — such as immigration law violations, etc. — not simply with “being Muslim.” And, in fact, these guys were apparently guilty: “Elmaghraby and Iqbal were deported to their home countries after serving time for charges unrelated to terrorism — Elmaghraby for a counterfeiting charge and Iqbal for fraud.”

Prosecutors enjoy nearly unlimited discretion on whom to prosecute, and if federal prosecutors chose to prosecute people they feared might have terror connections for unrelated crimes I don’t see how that can make out a constitutional violation. Perhaps, though, I misunderstand the claim, as the story isn’t very clear.

And my favorite Irish band from Wisconsin, the Kissers have an interesting tour blog.

Social Decline

From the article Police: Witnesses mum in rap mogul’s shooting

“It’s disturbing that someone can let off six shots in a packed club and can escape without being arrested,” said Elliott Wilson, editor in chief of the rap magazine XXL. “The hip-hop community doesn’t trust the police to confide info to them, and in turn the police have done little to make us feel like they give a damn about our safety. It’s a vicious cycle.”

He said this out loud. As if giving information on someone who had shot a member of the “hip-hop community” was some sort of deep favor to the police. Sigh.

Nighttime thinking

It’s probably meaningful that I come across this article on Urban surveillance networks and this article on profiling on the same day. Both of them are worth reading.

Consider the following statement.

An overwhelming majority of Americans think that racial profiling is wrong. A lesser number think that racial profiling is not worth doing under ordinary circumstances, a smaller number think it’s not worth doing under any circumstance.

The above is an accurate description of public sentiment when 100% of the factor is race. Gender and age are usually thrown in as well. The above still holds true.

But what happens when race is one factor of 50 and the profiling is being done by a computer? Assume a surveillance server can determine, height, weight, approximate age, race, gender, posture, gait, clothes, et al. Does it become acceptable at that point?

This line of thought reminds of the last Supreme Court affirmative action decision where it was said that it was wrong for people to discriminate, but fine for computers to do so.