Friday, December 14, 2012

Beat me harder!

A drooling moron in Marko's comments section referred to the killing of Kathryn Johnston as a "botched police raid", which is like saying the guy at the Clackamas Town Center mall had a "botched range trip".

Meanwhile, the expectation of privacy apparently doesn't exist on public transportation. (But think of all the dopers we'll catch!) Also, now my state wants to make it harder to buy cold medicine than it is to score actual methamphetamine.

The buggering people are willing to take in the name of fighting the War on (Some) Drugs never fails to astound me. Just because you have dreams of being tied up, yelled at, and slapped around a bit by someone in a black leather trenchcoat and shiny boots doesn't mean you need to drag the rest of us into your little fantasies.

BONUS!: You're probably not paranoid enough.


bedlamite said...


Pakkinpoppa said...

"Just because you have dreams of being tied up, yelled at, and slapped around a bit by someone in a black leather trenchcoat and shiny boots doesn't mean you need to drag the rest of us into your little fantasies."

I see what you did there...the coffee hasn't even taken hold quite yet either.

I think the drugs are on their eleventieth victory lap 'round the track so far.

Joan of Argghh! said...

Like the microphones are going to pick up on the subtle sounds of thumbs on touchpads.

Anonymous said...

a rocket sled to 1984

Divemedic said...

@ Joan: Text messages are already being monitored.

@ Tam: No one abuses prescription drugs, so that should fix everything.

The astounding thing is that everyone is OK with 80% of people in prison being there for drug offenses. Why can't people understand that the war on drugs is a failure?

Stuart the Viking said...

Many in our generation grew up watching Star Trek. If you will remember, one of the quiet background "features" of the Star Trek setting was that EVERYTHING was recorded, both video and audio. You only saw it when someone was on trial for something, but it was there.

Looks like the gov is working on the infrastructure for that. Now if only they would get to work on the holo-deck.


Borepatch said...

It's a little know fact that if you did well in High School chemistry class, you can make your own Sudafed out of easily available meth.

Stuart the Viking said...

A while back I came across an article somewhere (I didn't keep the link) that described in detail the process of making hard-to-get cold medicine from easily obtained methamphetamine.

I'm sure a search could find that for you, but it's probably illegal.


perlhaqr said...

I see I gave ol' Rusty there too much credit. No circumlocutions, just blank denial. All the nuance of a five year old saying "Nuh-UNH!" to whatever it is he's denying so hard.

Joanna said...

There's a long, long precedent that if you're anywhere with "public" in the name, you have no reasonable expectation of privacy. Audio surveillance on public buses doesn't bother me any more than video cameras on those same buses.

Tam said...

"Audio surveillance on public buses doesn't bother me any more than video cameras on those same buses. "

They both bother me the same amount, too.

I was really hoping that the world wouldn't go full 1984 until after I was dead, but there you go.

Hey, within your lifetime, there will probably be implantable cell phones, which means that the government will have warrantless access to people's bodies! Whee!

Joanna said...

"I was really hoping that the world wouldn't go full 1984 until after I was dead, but there you go."

I'm holding the 1984 card for when they try to install government-run cameras in everyone's actual living quarters.

Tam said...

Why would they need to install them?

I've got an internet-enabled camera pointing at me right now in the lid of this laptop, and a microphone, GPS, and transmitter on the desk next to it. All I have is the government's good faith word that they're not listening to it right now.

The government doesn't need to install cameras; people will line up to get them on sale at Best Buy.

rickn8or said...

Public recording of activities is perfectly okay, unless you're recording the activities of a Public Servant acting in their official capacity. For some reason, this is (mostly) illegal.

Farm.Dad said...

Dammit now i have to go read that trainwreck lol

Anonymous said...

Being in public may negate your expectaion of privacy, but I don't think exepecting to be anonymous is out of line.

Art said...

Can you say Stellar Wind ???

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

"There's a long, long precedent that if you're anywhere with "public" in the name, you have no reasonable expectation of privacy. Audio surveillance on public buses doesn't bother me any more than video cameras on those same buses."

But try recording a cop - audio or video - on that same bus, and see what happens. If you're lucky, you're someplace that has firmly established that you're allowed to do that. Otherwise, have fun defending yourself against the felony charges.

Woodman said...

The youth of tomorrow (today) will wear personal jammers and distorting face shields when they loiter.

Which will be illegal, but so will loitering so who gives a carp?

More books than 1984 wrote about this. And even the ones that weren't dystopian seem soulless and bland. You'll end up with 90% of the population being tame, and Harlequins out of the rest of them.

Look at Japan, the press of people on every side removes any expectation of privacy and from teh outside at least that's what you end up with.

Old Windways said...

I have been riding public transit in Boston a lot more over the past 2 months, and I recently realized that some of the buses have as many as half a dozen security cameras on them. I was a little surprised, but not too worried by that. It had not occurred to me that they would be recording audio as well.

Apparently we are in a greater hurry to catch up with the UK than I thought.

How difficult would it be to build some sort of all purpose jammer for recording devices? And how many years would it take off my life if I carried one on my person all the time? It might be a worthwhile trade-off.

cj said...

Geez. Sudafed's already hard enough for those of us who need it to get. Heaven forbid an allergy attack hits at 7:01pm after the Designated Dolers of Drugs have closed the rolling windows.

Divemedic said...

Look at this software:

that allows a person to listen in on calls, and even activate "environmental listening" where the phone is used as a "bug" that allows a person to remotely activate your cell phone's microphone in order to listen in on whatever is happening in the room- all without the knowledge of the cell phone's owner.

You would be foolish indeed if you believed that the police have not been exploiting this capability. The government doesn't need to bug your house, you are doing it for them.

JustSomeGuy said...

There's a long, long precedent that if you're anywhere with "public" in the name, you have no reasonable expectation of privacy. Audio surveillance on public buses doesn't bother me any more than video cameras on those same buses.

I don't oppose it on right to privacy grounds, I oppose it on 4th amendment grounds. Until protections are put in place to prevent the various government agencies from accessing this information at will (HAH! Ha-ha-cough-choke...weep...) I'm opposed.

Maybe this is where anarchists are born? "I oppose everything, 'cause it saves time..."


Tam said...


"Maybe this is where anarchists are born? "I oppose everything, 'cause it saves time...""

*fistbump* ;)

Nylarthotep said...

JSG, Well said.

Kristophr said...

Divemedic: My cellphone lives in a signal proof pouch.

Woodman said...

I've heard the rumor that at high level board meetings the head honchos all check their phones at the door. OR put their batteries on the table.

Sounds crazy enough to be true.

rickn8or said...

Jake, those are exactly the Public Servants I was talking about. You know, the ones that are recording you.

Will said...

makes you wonder why lots of new phones have built-in batteries you can't remove.

JFP said...

Ooh, the stupid is spreading to Indiana over cold meds. We've had the prescription requirement here in Oregon for 6 years now. Its cheaper and likely quicker for me to drive 80 miles north to Washington and buy a pack of sudafed etc. across the river in Vancouver than go see a doc locally for permission. My co-pay is up to $35 now and I doubt an emergency care clinic would charge me less to see a doc for the 30 seconds it would take to diagnose my nose drips. A $5-10 item now costs close to $50 if I go to my local doc.

Local group published a study on the law this year:

Justthisguy said...

It really does get worse and worse. My most-pervy masochistic fantasies are now being enacted IRL

Jeffrey Deutsch said...

Megan McArdle gives us her perspective on prescription and prohibition proposals for Sudafed.

How can the Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches apply to anything that's already within public visual range and/or earshot?

Kristophr, where can I get a signal-proof pouch?

Woodman, yes it's true:

"Everyone entering the room was required to leave his or her cell phone, BlackBerry and other such devices on the table [outside the meeting room], a common practice when high-level meetings are held."

I had thought it was to remove possible distractions, given how much some people love their devices. Given your remark, I now see a much more interesting explanation.

(As this story illustrates, the practice does have its drawbacks.)

You too, Will. I'd interpreted non-removable batteries as a security feature. Criminals absconding with smartphones these days, knowing about security apps which can track devices and do a host of interesting things, may turn the phones off and/or remove their batteries to circumvent them.

(Also NB: At least one smartphone, the HTC Droid DNA [whose battery is non-removable], only allows itself to be turned off after login - provided of course that the owner has already set up a password, PIN, gesture or similar security lock.)

But now I'm seeing non-removable batteries in a new light as well.

Jeff Deutsch

Old Windways said...

The "confiscating" of phones before entering sensitive meetings or areas is nothing new.

I was working at a defense contractor during the last big evolution in cell phones before the advent of the smart phone. This was the time just before it became impossible to buy a phone without a camera on it. They were not so worried about recording devices in the classified work-space, but they didn't want you snapping photos of documents, so everyone had to either leave their camera enabled phones in the car, or drop them at security. Of course once the higher-ups started carrying their blackberries and iPhone everywhere, and camera-less cell phones became exceedingly rare, the policy was changed.

When you go into a classified meeting though, you still have to leave all electronic devices outside the door.

Kristophr said...


Google up "faraday bag".

JustSomeGuy said...

Tam, Nylarthotep:

Thanks. :)

Jeffrey Deutsch:

How can the Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches apply to anything that's already within public visual range and/or earshot?

I'm not sure to which comment this was aimed, or if it's just a general question, but I'm gonna hop on it and try to provide my answer.

The amendment starts off with "the right of the people to be secure in their persons...shall not be violated..." As with other rights enumerated in the BOR it's a right to be free from government intrusion in individual activity unless specific legal requirements are met. Hoovering up information and sifting through it in search of something that makes somebody tingly doesn't leave me feeling very secure in my person. And it doesn't meet the burden of "probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation."

In regards to "within public visual range and/or earshot," visual range is a wash, in general, I won't argue that here. Earshot, however, is a different story. I believe I can have a reasonable expectation of privacy, even in a public venue, if my compatriot and I are having a quiet conversation away from other listeners. We can moderate our voices to maintain that privacy and stop our conversation as necessary when someone approaches. Simple, straightforward, secure in our persons.

If we extend "earshot" to mean electronic data gathering and review...well, then almost no place is private.

More egregiously, the bus monitoring article mentions this: ’In Eugene, Oregon…officials requested microphones that would be capable of “distilling clear conversations from the background noise of other voices, wind, traffic, windshields wipers and engines” and also wanted at least five audio channels spread across each bus that would be “paired with one or more camera images and recorded synchronously with the video for simultaneous playback.”’ That moves beyond any public safety measure to espionage against the (notionally) free citizenry. Funded all or in part by DHS.

I guess I just prefer that if the .gov wants to plug its thuggish ear into my conversation it be required to use an actual meat-space thug.


perlhaqr said...

JSG: I'll add my fist to that bump. :D

Jeffrey Deutsch said...

Old Windways: When I taught in the public schools, during test^H^H^H^H exam^H^H^H^H assessment times nobody was allowed to even possess a cell phone in the room. We teachers had to leave ours in a basket in the office. I quickly learned to leave mine in my glove compartment!

Kristophr: Assuming you meant the Faraday bag suggestion for me, thank you!

JSG: You can make your public conversation as quiet as you please, but if anyone else overhears it - even if they go out of their way to overhear it - it's your problem IMHO. Why is it better from your perspective that a human being overhears it than that a bug does?

Once you voluntarily release something in public, sifting through it is no longer intrusion. IMHO, talk in public at your own risk.

That's my instinct about conversations in public spaces, including buses, subways, trains and the like.

On the other hand, email feels very different to me, even though I know email is inherently insecure and can easily be tapped.

Email has specific intended recipients...and so do conversations, including in public spaces.

Email might only be "tappable" by people going out of their way to do so...and so are many conversations
in public spaces.

One thing going for electronic tapping (as opposed to just overhearing) of public conversations is that tapping is not subject to the vagaries of memory (not to mention influencing of same - or even out-and-out perjury - on the part of an [alleged] overhearer who, say, hates someone involved in the conversation). Courts and others can just "go to the videotape".

But right now I'm at a loss as to the line to draw between tapping conversations and tapping email. Maybe the former seems more acceptable because you're just tapping the space and not targeting particular individuals?

Speaking only for myself, I've gotten used to the modern surveillance society. Heck, recently while having lunch in a Five Guys with an acquaintance I mentioned to her how cameras are everywhere these days...and she casually motioned to one on the ceiling just a couple of yards away!

I'm going to have to give this more thought. Thanks for activating my thinking cap!

PS: Speaking of tapping email, has anyone heard of Mailvelope? If so, what do you think? What email security measures do you favor - or do you think they're basically futile/not worth it and we should only email those things we'd be glad to have repeated on the front page of the New York Times?

Jeff Deutsch

JustSomeGuy said...

Jeffrey Deutsch:

That’s a healthy and reasonable approach to public conversations, and one I share, with one caveat: ‘anyone’ should not include the government.

To stick to the narrow subject for the moment, when the .gov places monitoring devices in public places with the clear purpose of distinguishing quiet conversations and matching those up with the faces of individuals that is reflective of an intent by the .gov to collect information on (notionally) free citizens. That intent violates the meaning of the 4th amendment. I feel the same way about .gov video feeds, by the way. If we tell them it is okay to use technology to exceed the capabilities of a human agent, that whatever information they can collect through whatever covert means in a public space is theirs to use as they will… That is surrender.

To move beyond the narrow subject for the moment, various LE agencies already use license plate scanning technology to monitor vehicles, and a database can be developed from this that can monitor the movements of vehicles, at the very least. (Let’s not talk about cell phones, that just roils the bowels). There have been recent court cases regarding the use of implanted GPS devices on individual’s vehicles. Look at the porno-scanners in airport kabuki. A public space, though restricted, and the .gov has decided that snooping under your clothes is of value to them. Following from that the NYPD is working on the development of a similar device that can scan passerby from the comfort of a police van. But they’re in public, so they’ve already volunteered that information…

My concern if both actual, with regard to this case, and incremental. Given this ground, what further ground will they take next?

As regards meat-space vs e-space: it’s harder to stick a human agent discreetly under my seat or in the overhead and therefore harder to monitor without my awareness. More importantly, agents of the .gov loitering around listening in on people’s conversations are visible to anyone passing by, their behavior is forced to be public (barring undercover, I know) and transparent to citizenry. It provides an obstacle to .gov surveillance, and I prefer to create as many of those as I can.

Thanks for your reply and for forcing me to work through my thoughts. I’ll certainly be spending some time on more thought, as well!


JustSomeGuy said...

My concern is both actual...

Sorry. That was a long s in the previous post, by the way. No possible way I mistyped...


JustSomeGuy said...

I realize this post is slipping into the past, but I just came across an article that addresses these ideas.


Stephanie Pell...and Christopher Soghoian...argue...that “the presence of modern surveillance mechanisms, visible and imperceptible, public and private, promotes the ‘Panoptic effect’—a general sense of being omnisciently observed.” Pell and Soghoian argue that awareness of the state’s Panoptic “gaze” becomes coercive: We act differently if we believe we are being watched. Individual freedom requires the ability to avoid the judging gaze of others, especially agents of the state. “As modern location surveillance techniques increase in precision and their pervasive distribution throughout society becomes known,” write Pell and Soghoian, “people become increasingly aware of, and potentially influenced by, a palpable sense of the omniscient gaze...

“Awareness that the Government may be watching chills associational and expressive freedoms,” wrote U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor...Sotomayor added that such unfettered tracking “may alter the relationship between citizen and government in a way that is inimical to democratic society.”

I know, "Dude, let it go, the blogosphere has moved on." But...(intellectual) masturbation is not always bad...


Old Windways said...


Thanks for the link/excerpt, even it this post is a few days old, the issues of the surveillance state are not going anywhere.

I'll have to admit, I'm a little surprised to see Sotomayor being responsible for that argument. She struck me as being quite the fan of the nanny state, but I'll admit my knowledge of her stance on the law is limited to a few narrow areas.