A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Law and Disorder’ tag

Your Privilege to Privacy Has a Lot of Exception

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I remember hearing a rumor that the Bill of Rights included an amendment regarding privacy. You wouldn’t know it living in our society though. Between the National Security Agency’s (NSA) massive surveillance apparatus, law enforcement’s tendency to deploy cell phone interceptors without so much as a warrant, and the recent trend of municipal governments deploying license plate scanners throughout their realm of influence it’s pretty obvious that if we had a right to privacy it’s effectively dead now. But every so often the courts find a shred of privacy remaining. When they do they work efficiently to destroy it:

It’s a case I first wrote about a year ago when the Minnesota Court of Appeals reinstated charges against a Meeker County resident after a district court threw out the case against Leona Rose deLottinville because sheriff’s deputies captured her while she was visiting a boyfriend. The lower court had also ruled that evidence seized in the arrest could not be used against her because the warrant for her arrest did not authorize police to search her boyfriend’s apartment.

In upholding that decision Wednesday, the Minnesota Supreme Court said the woman, who was suspected of possessing meth, had no greater expectation of privacy when visiting another home than in her own home. [Updated]

[…]

“We understand that a homeowner might well be surprised and distressed to learn that police may enter at any time to arrest a guest,” he said. “But there is no indication in this case of any such abuse; deLottinville was visible to the officer before he entered the home. And the question of what rights the homeowner may have in such a situation is not before us.”

In a dissent, however, Justice Margaret Chutich said Lillehaug the majority opinion “fails to protect the right of a host from unreasonable governmental intrusion into the sanctity of her home, a right at the ‘very core’ of the Fourth Amendment.”

Of course the majority ruled based on the rights of the kidnapped individual, which completely ignored the rights of the homeowner. At least Justice Margaret Chutich understood this fact. Unfortunately, she was part of the minority and as we all know in a democracy the majority rules.

I believe the potential for abuse of this ruling is obvious. Home owners in Minnesota can now lose their privacy privileges if they invite the wrong person over. How can a homeowner decided whether or not they’re inviting the wrong person over? I guess they have to call their local police department and ask if a warrant has been issued for any guests they have over.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 17th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Unintended Consequences

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Whenever the State involves itself in an issue there are unintended consequences (okay, the consequences could be intended but I’ll give the politicians the benefit of the doubt in this case). When the State involved itself in the alcohol market by prohibiting its manufacture, sale, and consumption criminal organizations arose to provide the prohibited good. Today we’re seeing the same thing happen again as the State has involved itself in the markets of several other substances. When the State further involved itself in the healthcare market health insurance premiums skyrocketed.

What happens when the State involves itself in immigration? Unintended consequences:

For four months every year he employs almost exclusively Hispanic male workers to pick the harvest. This year he had 64 men out in the fields.

Then HB56 came into effect, the new law that makes it a crime not to carry valid immigration documents and forces the police to check on anyone they suspect may be in the country illegally.

The provisions – the toughest of any state in America – were enforced on 28 September. By the next day Cash’s workforce had dwindled to 11.

Today there is no-one left. The fields around his colonial-style farmhouse on top of a mountain are empty of pickers and the tomato plants are withering on the vine as far as the eye can see. The sweet, slightly acrid smell of rotting tomato flesh hangs in the air.

On Friday, the 11th circuit appeals court in Atlanta blocked the first of those measures, but allowed the state to continue detaining suspected illegal migrants. So it is unlikely that Cash’s workers will dare to reappear.

The blow to Cash can be measured in those $100,000 – money he says he had wanted to put aside as insurance against a poor crop in future years. But it can also be measured in other ways.

A great deal of manual labor in this country is performed by “illegal” immigrants. Why? Because they’re willing to do the work for the pay being offered, unlike most Americans. When those immigrants aren’t available to do the work the work often ends up not being done, which costs producers money and consumers available goods.

Immigration is a hotly debated topic amongst libertarians. One camp believes that the State has the authority to decide who can and cannot cross the arbitrary lines it has created. The other camp, i.e. the correct libertarians, don’t recognize the State has a legitimate entity and believe that the only person who can decide who can and cannot enter a property is the owner. If a farmer wants to allowed laborers from Mexico to enter their property then those Mexicans can enter the property. Property rights cease to exist the second the State is allowed to dictate who can and cannot enter the farmer’s property.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 14th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Streamlining Subjugation

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The United Kingdom is planning to streamline its subjugation of its subjects. As things currently stand, pleading guilty to a crime requires at least signing a piece of paper and mailing it in. But soon subjects of the crown will be able to plead guilty by logging into a website:

A government report has confirmed it plans to roll out a scheme that allows petty criminals to plead guilty online and then have their sentence handed out over a computer.

“Under this proposal, defendants who opt in to the online procedure and plead guilty will be offered the option to accept a pre-determined penalty (including the payment of any appropriate compensation and costs), be convicted and pay the amount immediately.” said the report.

Progress!

This really isn’t as big of a story as some might think. Right now it’s aimed at petty “crimes” that usually don’t require a court hearing. But like those petty “crimes”, this is yet another example of a so-called justice system morphing into a pure revenue generation system.

If a “crime” doesn’t even require a court hearing then it’s not really a crime because there generally isn’t a victim. Consider the “crimes” that this system will be initially used for:

Initially the system will be tested with petty crimes that are non-imprisonable such as: Railway fare evasion, tram fare evasion, and possession of unlicensed rod and line.

If the railways and trams are privately owned then somebody who uses them without paying the required fare is guilty of trespassing. Justice in that case is the trespasser paying the owed fair and any expenses the railway and tram owners faced in collecting the owed fee. If the railways and trams are owned by the State then no crime has been committed because the State cannot legitimately own property. I shouldn’t say that no crime has been committed. The State committed the crime of theft to acquire the resources to build the railways and trams. Conveniently, the State’s courts, which have monopolized justice, won’t prosecute that crime though.

What about possession of an unlicensed rod and line? That’s not a crime no matter how you look at it.

So the real story here is that the United Kingdom’s court system is continuing its evolution into a revenue generation system. Creating a website for people to log into to plead guilty to non-crimes is just streamlining the process of subjugation that already exists.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 10th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Increasing Government Opaqueness

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Barack Obama promised to create the most transparent government in history. After eight years his administration managed to create one of the most opaque governments in history. His predecessor’s administration, which at least saved us the lying about creating a transparent government, is continuing in his footsteps:

But on March 1st, the FBI is intentionally rolling back the technological clock, and will only allow requests via fax or snail mail, plus a limited amount through their online portal.

This will undoubtedly hinder the public’s ability to get information from the agency. On top of eliminating a far less burdensome method of communication, submitting through the FBI’s portal requires including personal information, including phone number and address, and agree to the site’s terms of service. Nested in the TOS is the requirement that users only make one FOIA request per submission per day.

At least the current administration won’t get a free pass from the political left like the last one did.

This change in policy is an example of the low level nonsense the State pulls to make the lives of its detractors more difficult. On the surface it doesn’t seem like much. After all, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) hasn’t been changed. Below the surface the difficulty of filing a FOIA request has been increased slightly, which will likely discourage some people from filing such requests. In time the difficulty will be raised slightly again and again and again. Eventually filing a FOIA request will be such a pain in the ass that almost nobody will do it. Then the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) will have achieved its goal of making FOIA a toothless law without having to actually violate it.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 10th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Without Government Who Would Attack the Homeless

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According to statists, the State is necessary to provide a social safety net for those with nothing. Like all statist beliefs it exploits that unease people feel when they are uncertain about their ability to provide for their needs. Why do statist beliefs have to exploit our unease? Because they’re entirely fictitious.

What demographic has less than the homeless? Homeless individuals generally have about as close to nothing as one can get without actually having nothing. Since the State provides a social safety net that means it is providing the homeless with clean water, food, clothing, and shelter, right? Wrong. The State doesn’t give a shit about people who have nothing to steal so instead of providing the homeless with a social safety net it is waging war against them:

Enforcement of new regulations targeting homeless people who live in their vehicles will start today, reports KPCC. The new rules dictate where people living in RVs and cars can park. For example, parking “for habitation purposes” on residential streets from 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. is now banned.

And, living in a vehicle is prohibited at all times within one block, or 500 feet, of schools, pre-schools, daycare facilities, and parks.

Results from the 2016 homeless count found more than 7,000 people live in their cars in Los Angeles, says KPCC.

Politicians create regulations like this in the hopes that they will make the lives of homeless individuals so miserable that they’ll go somewhere else and thus become somebody else’s problem. They aren’t even particularly coy about it. Yet people continue to buy into the statists’ bullshit claims.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 9th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Freedom of the Press

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Ever since the various governments within the United States declared that it was okay for them to keep secrets the freedom of the press has been eroding. In recent years that steady erosion has turned into a complete collapse. Now we live in a world where journalists face felony charges for covering events:

Four more journalists have been charged with felonies after being arrested while covering the unrest around Donald Trump’s inauguration, meaning that at least six media workers are facing up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine if convicted.

A documentary producer, a photojournalist, a live-streamer and a freelance reporter were each charged with the most serious level of offense under Washington DC’s law against rioting, after being caught up in the police action against demonstrators.

Notice how the journalists are being charged under the rioting laws? If they were being charged for covering the event that would be an overt suppression of the press. As anybody who has lived in this country long enough will tell you, the politicians here prefer covert suppression over overt suppression. Charging the journalists with covering the wrong event would raise a bunch of questions about the First Amendment. But charging them for participating in a riot avoids those questions and gives a reason for the tough on crime crowd to support the suppression.

The New York Civil Liberties Union Hates Cops

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Our brave boys and girls in blue are out there everyday putting their lives on the line! They are they only thing that stands between us and anarchy! Knowing this, how can we stand idly by while organizations like the New York Civil Liberties Union spew their hatred of our glorious officers by demanding they abide by the Fourth Amendment:

The New York Civil Liberties Union is pushing a new state bill that would require law enforcement to obtain a warrant prior to deploying a cell-site simulator, or stingray. The bill also includes other new restrictions.

[…]

The bill, which was first reported by ZDNET, doesn’t mention stingrays specifically. However, it specifically forbids law enforcement from accessing “electronic device information by means of physical interaction or electronic communication with the device” unless they have a warrant. There are a few narrow exceptions, such as exigent circumstances.

Requiring a warrant before a search can be performed or a wiretap put into place? What is this world coming to?

I’m sure there are cop apologists out there who believe this restriction is a terrible affront to law enforcers. But cell-site simulators are both searches and wiretaps wrapped up into one convenient package. Historically warrants have been required before law enforcers could perform a search or install a wiretap. For some reason that requirement was seen as unnecessary when the searches and wiretaps could be done wirelessly. I’m not sure what the logic there was other than it was slightly different therefore the rules must not apply.

Written by Christopher Burg

January 26th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Heroes Out Doing Hero Things

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I know many of you are probably tired of reading stories about cops killing somebody needlessly. I’m certainly getting sick of writing posts about them! But issues aren’t fixed by sweeping them under the rug. With that out of the way, we have yet another incident where officers gunned down somebody needlessly and then apparently lied about it:

The video shows multiple police officers cornering James Hall, 47, in the back of a Chevron gas station mini-mart, where police and the man engage in a brief standoff.

Hall appears to shift his weight between two counters near a soda fountain just before an officer shoots and he collapses to the tiled floor.

The grainy surveillance images appear to partly contradict the initial account of the Fontana Police Department, which described Hall as armed with a knife and advancing on officers before police shot him dead.

Shifting his weight? Armed with a knife and advancing? Who could tell the difference?!

Police officers should be judged on the same use of force rules as anybody else. Had I shot a gun at somebody who wasn’t advancing on me I’d probably spend a few years in a cage. But a lot of people are willing to give officers are pass because they “have a hard job” and “just want to go home to their families at night”. Both excuses, of course, apply to almost everybody but for some unknown reason only seem to hold weight when applied to those with magic badges.

Written by Christopher Burg

January 24th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Snitches Get Dents

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Is your vehicle a snitch? If you have a modern vehicle, especially one with Internet connectivity, the answer is almost certainly yes:

One of the more recent examples can be found in a 2014 warrant that allowed New York police to trace a vehicle by demanding the satellite radio and telematics provider SiriusXM provide location information. The warrant, originally filed in 2014 but only recently unsealed (and published below in full), asked SiriusXM “to activate and monitor as a tracking device the SIRIUS XM Satellite Radio installed on the Target Vehicle for a period of 10 days.” The target was a Toyota 4-Runner wrapped up in an alleged illegal gambling enterprise.

[…]

So it was that in December 2009 police asked GM to cough up OnStar data from a Chevrolet Tahoe rented by a suspected crack cocaine dealer Riley Dantzler. The cops who were after Dantzler had no idea what the car looked like or where it was, but with OnStar tracking they could follow him from Houston, Texas, to Ouchita Parish, Louisiana. OnStar’s tracking was accurate too, a court document revealing it was able to “identify that vehicle among the many that were on Interstate 20 that evening.” They stopped Dantzler and found cocaine, ecstasy and a gun inside.

[…]

In at least two cases, individuals unwittingly had their conversations listened in on by law enforcement. In 2001, OnStar competitor ATX Technologies (which later became part of Agero) was ordered to provide “roving interceptions” of a Mercedes Benz S430V. It initially complied with the order in November of that year to spy on audible communications for 30 days, but when the FBI asked for an extension in December, ATX declined, claiming it was overly burdensome. (The filing on the FBI’s attempt to find ATX in contempt of court is also published below).

As a quick aside, it should also be noted that the cell phone you carry around contains the hardware necessary to perform these same forms of surveillance. So don’t start bragging about the old vehicle you drive if you’re carrying around a cell phone.

There are two major problems here. The first problem is technological and the second is statism. There’s nothing wrong with adding more technological capabilities to a vehicle. However, much like the Internet of Things, automobile manufacturers have a terrible track record when it comes to computer security. For example, having a builtin communication system like OnStar isn’t bad in of itself but when it can be remotely activated a lot of security questions come into play.

The second problem is statism. Monitoring technologies that can be remotely activated are dangerous in general but become even more dangerous in the hands of the State. As this story demonstrated, the combination of remotely activated microphones and statism leads to men with guns kidnapping people (or possibly worse).

Everything in this story is just the tip of the iceberg though. As more technology is integrated into automobiles the State will also integrate itself more. I have no doubt that at some point a law will be passed that will require all automobiles to have a remotely activated kill switch. It’ll likely be proposed shortly after a high speed chase that ends in an officer getting killed and will be sold to the public as necessary for protecting the lives of our heroes in blue. As self-driving cars become more popular there will likely be a law passed that requires self-driving cars to have a remotely accessible autopilot mode so police can command a car to pull over for a stop or drive to the courthouse if somebody is missing their court date.

Everything that could be amazing will end up being shit because the State will decided to meddle. The State is why we can’t have nice things.

United States Postal Service Increasing its Surveillance

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The United States Postal Service (USPS) has announced that photographing every piece of mail is no longer enough surveillance for its taste so it will be expanding its efforts:

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is expanding its presence online, targeting dark net drug dealers and their use of snail mail in distributing their goods across the country.

New job listings indicate that the USPIS, the law enforcement element of the national postal service, is seeking Investigative Analysts and Intelligence Specialists to lead operations to tackle cybercrime and black market websites, reports Motherboard.

“Candidates shall have demonstrated experience in using cyber intelligence tools and software tools to actively search and mine the publicly available Internet and the dark net/deep web,” the job duty section on one listing reads.

The analyst or intelligence researcher will aim to seek out “pattern of life” data “in an effort to determine physical attribution of an internet identity.” In other words, they’ll be in charge of digging through information that can be used to uncover the individuals behind online drug dealing networks.

Always be wary of a package delivery service that also has its own police force.

The government loves redundancy. What the USPS is working to accomplish is the same thing that the National Security Agency (NSA), Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and probably a dozen other federal agencies are already doing. Why is the USPS investing resources into a job that’s already being done by many other agencies? Why not hand the job of finding drug dealers over to the Drug Enforcement Agency? Because the State loves redundancy, especially when it comes to surveillance.

While this is a privacy concern it’s also an efficiency concern. Reproducing effort requires more resources. So even if you are one of those people who believes that paying taxes is righteous and good, you might want to ask why your tax dollars are being wasted on funding the exact same program a dozen times over.