A Geek With Guns

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Archive for the ‘Law and Disorder’ tag

You’re Not the Customer, You’re the Product

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There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch (TANSTAAFL). Whenever somebody appears to be giving you something for free it likely means you’re the product, not the customer. Social media is a prime example of this. A lot of people claim that social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram are Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) products meant to surveil the populace. I personally don’t believe any government agency is clever enough to come up with a successful product like Facebook. But I also know they don’t care because they understand that Facebook exists to mine and sell information so they can forego the expenses of starting a service and just buy the data.

Geofeedia was recently caught selling social media data to law enforcement departments. The company managed to get its hands on this data by simply becoming a paying customer for sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Once the company was a paying customer it could grab user data, which is the real product, and package it up to sell to law enforcement departments.

But United States law enforcers aren’t the only buyers of social media data. Government agencies across the blog pay top dollar for surveillance data. The British Transport Police were also buying social media data:

The BTP, meanwhile, has purchased software called RepKnight. According to the company’s website, RepKnight can help identify, investigate or prevent political unrest, criminal activity, and activists. It can also be used to investigate DDoS attacks.

As well as searching Facebook, Reddit, Twitter and other social networks, RepKnight can be used for “sentiment analysis,” which presents users with “an instant summary of the mood across your search results, letting you quickly spot if something’s going wrong,” RepKnight’s site reads. Customers can use the service through a normal web browser, as well as on tablets and mobile phones.

In all, the BTP has spent £41,400 ($50,500) on purchasing the software and annual licenses for its use since July 2014, according to figures published by the Department for Transport.

A lot of people mistakenly believe their personal information isn’t worth anything. These are the people that usually say “Nobody cares what I do, I’m boring.” or “If they spy on me they’ll be bored.” or something else along those lines. But BTP forked out $50,000 just to surveil the seemingly mundane lives of everyday people. In other words, even the most boring person’s data is valuable.

What’s interesting is RepKnight seems to have some interesting capabilities. Geofeedia seems to be tailored towards surveillance but RepKnight seems to be tailored towards crushing political dissidence by allowing customers to go so far as launch a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack.

As more of our lives move online the public-private surveillance partnership will continue to grow. Don’t be surprised if you’re pulled over in the near future and the law enforcer drags you out of your vehicle and beats the shit out of you because the surveillance software on his car’s laptop pulled up a negative commend you made about the police (the software, of course, will be loaded to enhance officer safety).

Written by Christopher Burg

October 18th, 2016 at 10:30 am

Too Much Comedy Too Quickly

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I’m starting to think that God approached me one night when I was blackout drunk and asked me if I wanted one wish what would be it and I told him that I wanted the 2016 election to be the biggest shitshow in the history of shitshows and he granted it.

Between Hillary and Trump’s behavior, the willingness of the media to act as a propaganda arm for Hillary, and the collapse of the Republican Party this election has already been a tremendous shitshow. But now I’m kind of wishing that God would slow his roll because so much comedy is happening so quickly. The mess that is the presidential election is starting to spill over into other governmental bodies. A criminal summons has just been issued for Chris Christie:

A judge has signed a criminal summons accusing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie of misconduct for his alleged role in the 2013 closure of a bridge.

The case will move to the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office to determine whether an indictment will follow.

The news comes as two former Christie aides are on trial for allegedly closing part of the bridge after a mayor refused to endorse the governor.

Being a member of the elite will ensure that even if Christie is found guilty he won’t suffer a severe punishment. But it’s still amusing to see his sorry ass being hit with a criminal summons. Being a man who has made a career out of thievery he is certainly deserving of such a summons but so is every other politician.

With how crazy this election season is going I can’t wait to see what happens next. Although at this rate I may just die of laughter.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 14th, 2016 at 10:00 am

Posted in Politics

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Law Enforcement Priorities

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Law enforcers are heroes! They protect us against the scourges plaguing society! Murders, muggers, and rapists will be offered no quarter… because they probably won’t encounter a law enforcers. As it turns out, our supposed heroes in blue have different priorities than we’re often told. They’re not spending a majority of their time dealing with crimes involving victims. They’re spending a majority of their time enforcing profitable laws:

Federal figures on drug arrests and drug use over the past three decades tell the story. Drug possession arrests skyrocketed, from fewer than 200 arrests for every 100,000 people in 1979 to more than 500 in the mid-2000s. The drug possession rate has since fallen slightly, according to the FBI, hovering now around 400 arrests per 100,000 people.


“Around the country, police make more arrests for drug possession than for any other crime,” the report finds, citing FBI data. “More than one of every nine arrests by state law enforcement is for drug possession, amounting to more than 1.25 million arrests each year.”

In fact, police make more arrests for marijuana possession alone than for all violent crimes combined.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody. Law enforcers are humans and humans are self-interested. In fact everybody in the chain is a human (or a reasonable facsimile for a human).

The laws are written and passed by politicians. Politicians are self-intersted individuals who use their position within the State for personal profit. That profit doesn’t come from providing goods or services that people want but through expropriation. When they pass a law it gives law enforcers permission to start enforcing that law.

Law enforcers are self-intersted individuals who use their position within the State for personal profit (are you noticing a trend). That profit also doesn’t come from providing goods or services that people want. A law enforcer’s profit comes from a paycheck, which is issued by the State. The State issues paychecks to law enforcers so long as they do a good job. A good job in this case involves raking in cash for the politicians. And like a salesman, law enforcers are often paid commission. Their department will often receive a cut of the wealth expropriated from drug manufacturers, sellers, and users. If the department is flush with cash it can afford to issue raises.

What does enforcing laws against murder, theft, and rape net the State? Not much. Sure, they get additional laborers for their slave labor camps prisons but it doesn’t get a nice chunk of cash, which is far more liquid than slaves. That being the case, priority is given to enforcing drug laws instead of laws against actions that create victims.

There is no reform that can fix this other than abolishing the State. So long as it exists it will attract self-interested people who lack any meaningful morals and they will use the State for personal profit.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 13th, 2016 at 10:30 am

You’re the Product, Not the Customer

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In his novel The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Robert Heinlein coined the phrase there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch (usually abbreviated as TANSTAAFL). The phrase is used by the main characters of the book to remind themselves and others that there’s no such thing as free. This is a lesson too many people fail to learn in real life. People are obsessed with the fantasy of free. They want free food, free money, free healthcare, and free online services.

People commonly make the mistake that online services such as Facebook and Twitter are free. On the surface they appear to be free since you don’t pay to use them. But TANSTAAFL. When you’re using a service for free you’re not the customer, you’re the product:

The American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday outed Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for feeding a Chicago-based company their user streams—a feed that was then sold to police agencies for surveillance purposes.


Geofeedia, which did not respond for comment, says it has more than 500 customers, including the Denver Police Department. That agency recently signed a $30,000 annual deal with the company. The money came from the agency’s “confiscation” fund. The department’s intelligence agency’s top brass wrote that it would allow cops to analyze and respond in real time to “social media content from anywhere in the world.”

Geofeedia, the actual customer, has been paying for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram’s product, your personal information. It has then been turning around and selling it to various police departments, which use the information to more effectively expropriate wealth from the people they victimize. The only person not making any money on this deal is you. In fact, you’re losing money if any of the sold information about you is used by the police to take some of your wealth.

Because this revelation could turn into a loss of product for these sites they have apparently announced that they’ve cut off Geofeedia’s access. That shouldn’t make you feel better though. That access can be regranted at any time and there are likely many other companies doing the same thing as Geofeedia who just haven’t been caught yet. So long as you continue to be the product you shouldn’t believe any of your information is safe.

We’re All Terrorists Now

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In many governmental circles I’m considered a terrorist sympathizer. Why? It’s not because I’ve sold arms to terrorists or provided them logistical support. It’s because I teach people how to use secure communication tools, which can get you arrested in certain parts of the world:

Samata Ullah, 33, was charged with six terrorism offences after being arrested in a street in Cardiff on September 22 by officers from Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism squad.

The charge sheet includes one count of preparation of terrorism “by researching an encryption programme, developing an encrypted version of his blog site, and publishing the instructions around the use of [the] programme on his blog site.”

Ullah is also accused of knowingly providing “instruction or training in the use of encryption programmes” in relation to “the commission or preparation of acts of terrorism or for assisting the commission or preparation by others of such acts.”

He has additionally been charged with being in possession of a “Universal Serial Bus (USB) cufflink that had an operating system loaded on to it for a purpose connected with the commission, preparation, or instigation of terrorism.”

This is the nightmare Orwell alluded to in Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four. The State has become so controlling that merely providing an encrypted version of your blog, which I am currently doing since my blog is served exclusively over HTTPS, can be considered noteworthy enough to mention on a list of charges. The same goes for USB cufflinks. We are at a point that even mundane activities can be labeled criminal offenses if the State decides thrust the word terrorism upon you.

I have no doubts that this will come to the United States. The United Kingdom seems to be where new tyrannies are birthday and the United States seems to be where tyrannies go to grow up. And anybody who watched the hearings surrounding Farook’s iPhone, which the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) wanted to force Apple to break into, knows that the United States government is already at war with cryptography. If it passes a law mandating all domestic encryption include a government accessible back door I’ll be a criminal for teaching people how to use secure foreign encryption.

This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

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The status of Internet provision in the United States is pitiful. Speeds here are dwarfed by countries such as South Korea. Most people, because they’re a bunch of statists, blame this state of affairs on the Internet Service Providers (ISP). But the real culprit is the entity they use to maintain their near monopolies: the State.

Whenever an ISP’s near monopoly status is about to be threatened by a new competitor they run to the State for protection:

Charter Communications has sued the local government in Louisville and Jefferson County, Kentucky, in order to stop a new ordinance that gives Google Fiber easier access to utility poles.

Charter’s complaint in US District Court in Louisville on Friday (full text) is similar to one filed earlier by AT&T. Like AT&T before it, Charter wants to stop Louisville Metro’s One Touch Make Ready ordinance that lets new entrants like Google Fiber make all of the necessary wire adjustments on utility poles instead of having to wait for incumbent providers to send work crews to move their own wires. Charter alleges that the ordinance violates its Fifth Amendment property rights and could cause service outages for its customers if Google Fiber’s installers make mistakes.


Charter’s challenge to the One Touch Make Ready ordinance alleges a violation of Fifth Amendment property rights and state utility laws. The Louisville ordinance gives Google Fiber “a government-sanctioned license physically to invade, take possession of, move, and interfere with [Charter’s] property,” the complaint said. While Charter owns its wires, the poles are owned by AT&T and the Louisville Gas & Electric Company, and wires are placed in public rights-of-way.

These lawsuits are always amusing. It’s always entertaining to see what kind of excuse established ISPs can come up with to keep new ISPs out of their territory. In this case Charter is arguing on the grounds of property rights. What makes this argument laughable is that Charter doesn’t own the poles in question. If anybody has grounds to complain about how the poles can by use it’s AT&T and the Louisville Gas and Electric Company. And even they wouldn’t get mush sympathy from me because they fall under the live by the State, die by the State clause.

The live by the State, die by the State clause is what I use to describe companies that have thrived due to government protections suddenly finding themselves the target of government regulations. AT&T, for example, enjoyed a long period of having a literal monopoly on telecommunications granted to it by the State. It begrudgingly surrendered that monopoly as part of a deal with Congress to allow it to enter the computer market. Today AT&T likes to complain whenever a regulation doesn’t go its way.

Charter, like most ISPs, is where it is today due to government protections. Namely state and municipal protections against competition. Through zoning and utility laws state and municipal governments have artificially restricted the number of ISPs that can operate in their territory. With few competitors Charter was able to rake in more cash without having to provide increasingly better service. Now those protections are being taken away and its crying foul. Meanwhile I can’t help but laugh. I’m not above admitting to enjoying when karma comes around and bites these politically connected companies in the ass.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 6th, 2016 at 10:00 am

At Least He Apologized

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Usually officers who use excessive force refuse to take responsibility for their actions. But once in a while an officer will attempt to make amends. Take this shining beacon of conscious. After unnecessarily deploying his Taser into a woman he baked a cake and wrote “Sorry I Tased You.” on it in frosting:

A local woman has filed a civil lawsuit against a former Escambia County deputy who allegedly discharged a stun gun into her chest and neck without provocation, tried to cover up the incident, then apologized by sending her a photo of an off-color cake.

The suit, filed in federal court by Stephanie Byron in May, also names Sheriff David Morgan in his official capacity as sheriff. The suit alleges Michael Wohlers used excessive force against Byron, violated her civil rights, committed battery against her and caused her hardships, including physical injuries, monetary loss, medical expenses, humiliation and mental anguish.


According to court documents, Wohlers later attempted to apologize to Byron by baking her a cake. Byron’s attorney, Alistair McKenzie, clarified Friday that Wohlers sent Byron a text message stating that he baked her a cake and wanted to give it to her. The text message included a photo of a cake with the phrase, “Sorry I Tased You” written on it.

I can’t see why Mrs. Byron is so upset. The officer apologized!

You really have to wonder what runs through some people’s heads. The officer must feel at least a little bit guilty for firing his Taser, which means he probably realized it was entirely unnecessary. But thinking that baking a cake was suitable compensation for battery. Physical assault causes real harm and therefore real compensation (as in monetary). A simple “Sorry, brah.” generally doesn’t cut it in those situations. Still, I’ll give points to the officer for at least acknowledging his fuck up and making some kind of apology. He did more than most of his ilk.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 5th, 2016 at 10:00 am

People are Wising Up

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What you’re in trouble who are you going to call? More and more people are saying, “Not the police.”

After news broke that a group of Milwaukee police officers savagely beat an unarmed black man named Frank Jude in 2004, the city saw crime-related 911 calls drop by about 20 percent for more than a year—totaling about 22,200 lost reports of crimes—according to a new study by a group of sociologists at Harvard, Yale, and Oxford universities.

The outcome wasn’t unique to Jude’s beating, the researchers found. Looking at the city’s 911 call-records from 2004 to 2010, they noted similar drops after other highly publicized local and national cases of police violence against unarmed black men.

The findings square with earlier research showing that communities—specifically black communities given recent events—become more cynical of law enforcement after brutality cases. But the new study, published in the October issue of the American Sociological Review, is the first to show that people actually change their behavior based on that elevated distrust. Namely, community members become less likely to report crimes to law enforcement, likely out of fear of interacting with police or skepticism that police will take them seriously and help.

This is the inevitable result of having unaccountable law enforcers. Instead of seeing law enforcers as protectors of the community people are beginning to see them as risks. And they’re right. Unaccountable law enforcers are risks because any profession that lacks accountability tends to attract unsavory individuals. People who want to enjoy having power over others are attracted to careers that allow them to indulge their desire. Law enforcement today is the product of a vicious cycle where a lack of accountability has attracted unsavory individuals and a glut of unsavory individuals in law enforcement agencies has discouraged increasing accountability.

We see this distrust every day in little ways. Companies hiring private security personnel instead of relying on the police. People being afraid to call 911 when somebody breaks into their home. Widespread protests whenever a police officer uses deadly force. All of these are signs that public trust in law enforcement has degraded.

What’s especially ironic is that the cop apologists, who claim to be aligned with law enforcers, are just making this divide worse. By automatically siding with police officers in every use of force situation the tough on crime crowd has been feeding the populace’s fear that law enforcers are generally unaccountable, which further erodes their trust in the police. If the tough on crime crowd really wanted to help the police that too would be demanding more accountability because that is the only way to rebuild trust between the people and law enforcers. But they’re too stupid to realize that their devout worship is actually detrimental to police so they are actually unwitting wrenches in the great law enforcement machinery.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 4th, 2016 at 10:30 am

To Better Protect and Serve You

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The police exist to protect and serve you, which is why police departments invest so much money into buying equipment that better enables them to protect and serve you. Take Ford’s new innovation that will surely help you feel safer:

Just when it seemed like undercover police cars couldn’t get any stealthier, along comes this.

After adding red-and-blue emergency lights inside the front visors of unmarked police cars, Ford said Monday that it is introducing rear emergency lights built into the spoiler.

The system means that in states where officers in unmarked cruisers are allowed to pull over speeders, it may be harder to recognize their vehicles — until those lights go on.

Here in Minnesota police cars are required to be marked. That requirement has lead to black police cars with black lettering on them that is difficult to distinguish unless you’re close to the vehicle. I won’t be surprised if I see these innovative spoilers even on “marked” cars.

So how will these innovative spoilers help police better protect and serve you? The same way International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) catchers, surplus Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Trucks (BearCat), drug sniffing dogs, laser speed detectors, and most of the other fancy shit law enforcers buy: not at all. What it will do is help law enforcers expropriate even more wealth from the people they prey on.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 4th, 2016 at 10:00 am

Forensic Voodoo

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If you hang out with enough gunnies you’ll eventually run across Mr. Tough On Crime. Mr. Tough On Crime is remorseless. If somebody has been stopped by a police officer Mr. Tough On Crime more often than not has already judge them to be a criminal. In his eyes the police only stop people who are perpetrating crimes. And if you’ve been convicted of a crime Mr. Tough On Crime will forever disparage your name because you were proven to be filthy criminal scum. Judge Dredd has nothing on Mr. Tough On Crime.

But how guilty are the people sitting in prison right now? Last year it was revealed that microscopic hair forensics was basically voodoo. As it turns out, microscopic hair forensics cannot reliably tell one person from another. This has raised the question about what other supposedly scientific forensic techniques are bullshit and therefore what individuals in prison are actually criminals:

The White House will release a report Tuesday that will fundamentally change the way many criminal trials are conducted. The new study from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) examines the scientific validity of forensic-evidence techniques—DNA, fingerprint, bitemark, firearm, footwear and hair analysis. It concludes that virtually all of these methods are flawed, some irredeemably so.

Americans have long had an abiding faith in science, including forensic science. Popular TV shows like “CSI” and “Forensic Files” stoke this confidence. Yet the PCAST report will likely upend many people’s beliefs, as it should. Why trust a justice system that imprisons and even executes people based on junk science?

Only the most basic form of DNA analysis is scientifically reliable, the study indicates. Some forensic methods have significant error rates and others are rank guesswork. “The prospects of developing bitemark analysis into a scientifically valid method” are low, according to the report. In plain terms: Bitemark analysis is about as reliable as astrology. Yet many unfortunates languish in prison based on such bad science.

Mr. Tough On Crime is a blithering idiot. Condemning anybody who has ended up in one of the State’s slave labor facilities is asinine because many crimes don’t even involve a victim (and therefore aren’t actually crimes) and even when there is a victim the guilt of the accused perpetrator is often not proven beyond a reasonable because so much forensic “science” is voodoo.

I blame a great deal of this on the State’s monopoly on the legal system. Since the State has declared a monopoly on the legal system it is the prosecuting party in almost all criminal cases. The State is necessarily biased against anybody charged with a crime because its job is to prosecute them, not discover the truth about the crime. Many forensic labs work for the prosecutor and are therefore also biased against the defendant because they want to make their paying client happy so they’ll purchase their services again. The judge, at best, is a neutral party but realistically, as en employee of the State, is likely going to be biased against the defendant as well, which is a major problem because they instruct the jury. Members of the jury are often clueless about forensic techniques so they often lap up what the forensic labs, which are usually on the side of the prosecutor, feed them. Jurors are also usually ignorant about their rights as jurors, which is exacerbated by the judge lying to them. Often the only person in a court room that isn’t gunning for the defendant is their lawyer.

With odds like that, it’s difficult to have much faith in a guilty verdict, especially when a great deal of the forensic “evidence” submitted against the defendant isn’t any more reliable than guesswork.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 30th, 2016 at 11:00 am