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Woman With Police-Monitoring Blog Arrested

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the there-are-better-hobbies dept.

Censorship 847

Kris Thalamus writes "The Washington Post reports that a Virginia woman is being held in custody by police who allege that information she posted on her blog puts members of the Jefferson area drug enforcement task force at risk. 'In a nearly year-long barrage of blog posts, she published snapshots she took in public of many or most of the task force's officers; detailed their comings and goings by following them in her car; mused about their habits and looks; hinted that she may have had a personal relationship with one of them; and, in one instance, reported that she had tipped off a local newspaper about their movements. Predictably, this annoyed law enforcement officials, who, it's fair to guess, comprised much of her readership before her arrest. But what seems to have sent them over the edge — and skewed their judgment — is Ms. Strom's decision to post the name and address of one of the officers with a street-view photo of his house. All this information was publicly available, including the photograph, which Ms. Strom gleaned from municipal records.'"

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They wouldn't have arrested her (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29082785)

If she hadn't done anything wrong.

"Okay, you just bought yourself a 317 (4, Funny)

ComputerGeek01 (1182793) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083013)

pointing out police stupidity" - Police Chief Clancey Wiggum, Springfield at least in regards to being able to not only spot and photograph supposed to be undercover policemen but also pointing out that his cover is so flimsey that she can find out where he lives! That's just diabolical!

Re:They wouldn't have arrested her (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29083285)

If she hadn't done anything wrong.

doing something wrong as nothing to do at all with being arrested, if you believe it does just where in hell have you been living?

FatCat

1st (0, Offtopic)

genjix (959457) | more than 5 years ago | (#29082813)

1st post!

Re:1st (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29082889)

epic fail

publicly available, but... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29082827)

Yeah, it's publicly available. But what she did sounds a lot like stalking to me, which unless I'm mistaken IS illegal.

Re:publicly available, but... (3, Insightful)

Entropius (188861) | more than 5 years ago | (#29082971)

So formally charge her and prove it in court, or release her.

Re:publicly available, but... (4, Insightful)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083219)

They did. They charged her with "identifying a police officer with intent to harass" which is a fancy way of saying "stalking a police officer."

Or are you complaining that stalking a starlet or ex-girlfriend is not -precisely- the same crime as stalking a police officer?

Re:publicly available, but... (3, Insightful)

Vu1turEMaN (1270774) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083241)

It's the same in my book. And in this case, stalking an officer can actually hinder investigations and can create dangerous situations for all of those involved.

Expose a problem and go to jail (5, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#29082833)

We have seen this many times in the past, and no doubt we will see it into the future.

The system is flawed, but the flaw is supposed to be secret because it is readily used by law enforcement and the like to violate the privacy of individuals. If it were public knowledge that we could access public records for such things, the laws might need to be changed and inadvertently protect the people from abuse by government and we just can't have that.

Re:Expose a problem and go to jail (5, Insightful)

peragrin (659227) | more than 5 years ago | (#29082997)

Yes and NO. The flaw isn't a flaw, it is just ignored. You never really had privacy in the regards that they are talking about. However Since the information hasn't been obvious then people didn't notice it.

This woman took public information gathered it together. However because took public information and posted in a public place, about public officials, who are supposed to do work in discretion, she put their lives, and the their family lives in jeopardy. I can make a threatening statement to you over the internet and you won't care. However if I use your ID, to track you down using google, google maps, and started posting pictures of your home, your wife and kids, on my blog and then threatened you would you believe me then?

There is a lot of general knowledge public information out there about nearly everyone. This isn't a flaw, it is our society. In general it is a good thing. However what can be used for good can also be used for bad. Such information is why we know things like a governor selling positions. or cheating on his wife. Or getting a BJ in the Oval Office.

The "Flaw" as you put it is the original wikileaks. It is gossip, and general knowledge shared by many. it is what put societal pressure on people to do the right thing. However it doesn't always work.

Re:Expose a problem and go to jail (5, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083169)

"Security through obscurity" is no security at all. The argument that "you never really had privacy" is simply a restatement of the problem. However, the way you state it, it implies that it's a problem, but one that we should all accept as normal and ignore.

I don't think it is fair to compare the exposure of information about the general public to the doings and goings on about public officials in a position of public trust. It has long been the expectation that there should be transparency in the affairs of government officials as a means by which public trust can be maintained. The standard should be different for private individuals which is precisely why we identify people as being either "public" or "private" individuals.

One of the flaws I speak of is that we DO have an expectation of privacy where in reality, that expectation is false as it has been pulled out from under us all. That expectation of privacy is built on our ideals as a society. If we are not in keeping with our ideals, then perhaps that should be corrected.

Re:Expose a problem and go to jail (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29083147)

I'm going to start following your posts and reply to each and every one with "nigsausage" from now on. That's your new name.

Since you're a dumbass, let me explain. Nigger + Sausage = nigsuasage.

Not so happy when the shoe is on the other foot? (5, Insightful)

mvdwege (243851) | more than 5 years ago | (#29082843)

I'd say: "If they have nothing to hide, they have nothing to fear".

Funny how law enforcement always trots out that line, but goes ballistic when the people apply it to them instead.

Mart

Re:Not so happy when the shoe is on the other foot (4, Insightful)

ff1324 (783953) | more than 5 years ago | (#29082945)

Using your logic, it should be OK for any ordinary citizen to be stalked in a similar manner both while on the job and off.

I'm sure you wouldn't mind a bit if she followed your every move at work, at home, while spending time with your family...and then posting this information online.

Why is it OK when its a police officer?

Re:Not so happy when the shoe is on the other foot (3, Insightful)

Entropius (188861) | more than 5 years ago | (#29082991)

It's certainly okay when it's, say, a Senator. Our legal system seems to think it's okay when it's Michael Jackson.

The police, as public servants who wield a great deal of power in a rather unique way (the sanctioned use of violence), probably fall somewhere in between senators and Joe Schmoe.

Re:Not so happy when the shoe is on the other foot (3, Insightful)

ff1324 (783953) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083041)

Most senators and Michael Jackson wouldn't pass the background check to be a cop, anyway.

Quite frankly, anyone who stalks Michael Jackson (before or after his demise) has enough issues already.

Re:Not so happy when the shoe is on the other foot (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29083237)

Most senators and Michael Jackson wouldn't pass the background check to be a cop, anyway.

Neither would Obama.

Re:Not so happy when the shoe is on the other foot (1, Insightful)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083321)

Most senators and Michael Jackson wouldn't pass the background check to be a cop, anyway.

There are senators who played football in college.

Re:Not so happy when the shoe is on the other foot (2, Insightful)

nschubach (922175) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083135)

The police, as public servants

That's all you need to say. They work for us. Period.

Re:Not so happy when the shoe is on the other foot (2, Interesting)

megrims (839585) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083081)

It should be okay for any citizen to stalk another, on or off the job, given that it is seems to be okay for the government to stalk any citizen.

Re:Not so happy when the shoe is on the other foot (5, Insightful)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083119)

Using your logic, it should be OK for any ordinary citizen to be stalked in a similar manner both while on the job and off.

Nope.

Police are the government. They retain their arrest powers even when off duty -- in truth, they are never off the job.

We have the absolute right to monitor and comment on how the government does its job. If such scrutiny makes it harder for the government to do some things, maybe that's because those are things it shouldn't be doing.

Re:Not so happy when the shoe is on the other foot (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083269)

"They retain their arrest powers even when off duty -- in truth, they are never off the job. "

Any reasonable citizen of this country has those same arrest powers - Citizen's Arrest.

Re:Not so happy when the shoe is on the other foot (2, Insightful)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083131)

"Why is it OK when its a police officer?"

Because the fascist dickhead gets paid by us? (Maybe you didn't know that taxes, which come from the people, fund the police ?)

Re:Not so happy when the shoe is on the other foot (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29083199)

Why is it OK when its a police officer?

The point is that it's NOT OK (which is what the GP was saying).

The police already have near-ubiquitous tracking of the plebs (license plates, cell phones, 'net access, crime/speed/toll/stoplight cameras, bank statements). All that information is being tracked all the time automatically (it's just a matter of filtering and storage which moore's law will fix)
It's just interesting to see the law enforcement reaction when the tables are turned.

So many of the police-state arguments that the purveyors of the same tactics don't like being at the receiving end of:
"If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear..."
"You don't have an inherent right to privacy..."
"There's no such thing as privacy in public areas..."

It seems when a private citizen tracks a small group of people it's "stalking", when large groups of government officials track the entire population it's just fine.

Re:Not so happy when the shoe is on the other foot (2, Interesting)

Khyber (864651) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083255)

"Why is it OK when its a police officer?"

Because our money pays for their work - we are their employer and as their employer we should have every right to monitor them to ensure they do the job we pay them to do, and to ensure they perform that job PROPERLY. Police are PUBLIC SERVANTS - they are not entitled to the level of privacy a normal citizen would expect, BECAUSE THEY ARE NOW A PUBLIC FIGURE. This means they are absolutely fair game for newspapers and independent published papers.

And when it's a matter of public record which is in the public domain - they have no reasonable expectation of privacy of that information, which includes court records available through a simple FOIA request.

Re:Not so happy when the shoe is on the other foot (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083087)

It's not about hiding something... As someone who has three family members in law enforcement, I can tell you, without a shred of doubt, that she has put these peoples families in danger.

Re:Not so happy when the shoe is on the other foot (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29083267)

The law enforcement officers KNEW they had a family when they signed up for this job.

This is why most civilian and military police action that involves heavy risk, is often done by people with no family, or SUFFICIENT barriers are put into place to conceal their identity. The poor decisions by the officers, as well as the department as a whole as it relates to assessment of risk, is the only thing that can put these officers, or their families at risk.

Re:Not so happy when the shoe is on the other foot (2, Insightful)

Khyber (864651) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083297)

As someone who has a relative working as a state trooper - BULLSHIT. You sign up for the job KNOWING THE RISKS TO YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY. The moment you make an arrest and the media puts your face on TV, you've just made yourself a potential target. Hell the moment you piss off the wrong person you've just made yourself a target, media exposure or not.

Re:Not so happy when the shoe is on the other foot (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083313)

It's not about hiding something... As someone who has three family members in law enforcement, I can tell you, without a shred of doubt, that she has put these peoples families in danger.

Wow. Those guys really should have been more careful about their cover then, unless they just don't give a damn about their families. Because it seems like their plan was to hope that no one would know how to use a computer, or a phonebook, or the library, or the county records. And their bosses should hang their heads in shame.

Now you seem to imply, when you write about the danger to the families, that there are actual people who might to actual physical harm to these folks. If true, that's pretty serious. Serious enough, that safeguards other than just relying on the ethics of a person with a lot of free time are needed. Because if there really are such people who would harm these guys' families, then you probably can't just rely on personal ethics or even laws against posting information to stop them.

Of course, this is probably just BS, I don't believe you about the danger.

Re:Not so happy when the shoe is on the other foot (1, Troll)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083109)

They have a lot to hide, and for legitimate reason. Undercover officers face the possibility of violent death on a daily basis, and avoiding that chance comes down to keeping their real identity and their assumed identity separate. This woman is clearly trying to put the police and, by posting address information, their families in danger. She can post what bullshit she wants about public information, free speech, etc., the point of her blog is simply and obviously the harassment and endangerment of cops. She should be forcibly moved to a high-crime area and forced to fend for herself.

Re:Not so happy when the shoe is on the other foot (2)

StormReaver (59959) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083259)

I'd say: "If they have nothing to hide, they have nothing to fear".

That's retarded by any standard. In this case, they do have something to hide. That's the very nature of narcotics enforcement, where being discovered can be fatal. If any of these cops are hurt or killed due to the information on her blog, she should be prosecuted as an accessory to whatever crime is committed.

Sorry, lady. Incitement to violence is a crime (3, Informative)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#29082845)

While it's quite possible that this lady has done nothing legally wrong, I'm afraid she's going to find herself in a similar legal boat as the guys from TPB. Her blog serves no purpose but to obstruct and foil the operations of police activity, not to mention puts the lives of these police officers in jeopardy. It's hard to think what her motive could be.

Another similar case was the website which listed the names and home and office addresses of abortionists. Just for informational purposes, of course... But some lunatics went out and killed several of those doctors. The website was held accountable for incitement.

This website is, in its own way, inciteful.

Re:Sorry, lady. Incitement to violence is a crime (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29082883)

This is pure manure. It is in the public interest to know what the police are doing.

Re:Sorry, lady. Incitement to violence is a crime (4, Informative)

Gandalf_Greyhame (44144) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083011)

Is it in the public's interest for individual officers to have their names, pictures, addresses and photographs of their houses published to the world?
Would you appreciate it if that were done to yourself?

Now imagine that you work out in public, and there are people with whom you come into contact (and reprimand) who may have violent tendencies. Can you imagine that? Good! Now ask yourself those first two questions again. Do you still think that that information is in the public interest?

Oh wait, you posted on Slashdot as an Anonymous Coward, so obviously you fear anyone finding out anything about yourself, yet you most likely don't do anything more dangerous than working at McDonalds.

Just for the icing on the cake, her blog is called "I HeArTE JADE" which to me (I may be reading into this the wrong way) comes across as "I HATE JADE" and even a quick perusal of the site leads me to believe that she is acting out of pure vindictiveness, while trying to pretend that it is out of awe and respect.

Re:Sorry, lady. Incitement to violence is a crime (2, Insightful)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083113)

even a quick perusal of the site leads me to believe that she is acting out of pure vindictiveness

It's still protected speech. The constitution doesn't say "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech... unless you're being a vindictive bitch."

Re:Sorry, lady. Incitement to violence is a crime (4, Interesting)

value_added (719364) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083103)

This is pure manure. It is in the public interest to know what the police are doing.

Despite what I'd characterise as the reasonableness of the OP's position, I'm afraid I agree with your first statement.

As for the public interest argument, there's no doubt merit in it, but that's not to say that there shouldn't be limitations to what the public needs to know. I've had look at the woman's blog. Amusing to the casual reader, but it does appear to come close to the line of what should be considered acceptable, or legal. If it isn't, then I'd expect some justification for why it isn't, rather than a simple assertion by police sargeant.

My own opinion is that laws concerning police officers are over-broad, and are easily abused. I'd also wager that they're regularly abused. The indicident that led to the recent Obama Beer Summit is a good example where we can see how being disrespectful to a cop gets elevated to the crime of interfering with the duties of a police officer. Physical training, automatic weapons and kevlar vests protects against sticks and stones, but the officer is unable to deal with being called a bad name?

Re:Sorry, lady. Incitement to violence is a crime (4, Insightful)

lordsid (629982) | more than 5 years ago | (#29082931)

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

The purpose it serves is to express her freedom of speech. She needs no other reason, other people can held liable for their own actions.

Something you are forgetting is police officers serve the public and are on public payroll, thus their jobs are public information and so is what they do.

Now doctors on the other hand are not on public payroll (for the time being), especially abortion doctors who are private practice.

You are trying to compare a civil servant to a civilian. Nice try at fuzzing the line there.

Ironically enough your name is very fitting.

Re:Sorry, lady. Incitement to violence is a crime (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#29082989)

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

I suppose this guy [guardian.co.uk] had every right to carry his loaded firearm within shooting distance of Obama without being removed from the premises. Secret Service would not agree with you.

Re:Sorry, lady. Incitement to violence is a crime (0)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083061)

I suppose this guy [guardian.co.uk] had every right to carry his loaded firearm within shooting distance of Obama without being removed from the premises. Secret Service would not agree with you.

He *does* have the right. Regardless of what some may believe (including the Secret Service) this is not the 17th Century and Obama is not Louis XIV.

Re:Sorry, lady. Incitement to violence is a crime (3, Insightful)

Alcoholist (160427) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083279)

Yeah, but just because you can do a thing, doesn't mean you should. People go on and on about the rights their society gives them without bothering to mention the responsibilities. It's not that far a stretch to say that you have a responsibility to not wander around the President with a loaded gun or put the lives of the families of peace officers in danger. Even if you knew for certain a cop was crooked, posting pictures of his house strikes me not only as obsessive, but also retributive without any court oversight, which is not what is supposed to happen in a society with the rule of law.

Re:Sorry, lady. Incitement to violence is a crime (1)

Alarash (746254) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083043)

You'd be right, in a "Freedom of speech overrules all" American kind of way, which is fine, but she went a little bit beyond than posting "posting public information about what they do".

Re:Sorry, lady. Incitement to violence is a crime (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083263)

First of all, in a democracy, the activities of the police should be public knowledge. The police are not a military force, nor are the police involved with national security or any other work that would require secrecy for the safety of the public.

That being said, the drug enforcement task force that she supposedly endangered needed to have its operations exposed anyway. Take a look at the link to information about the task force -- what was originally a joint effort on the part of three towns to investigate drug trafficking in the area has been expanded to conduct investigations into "terrorism," using the September 11 attacks as a pretext for those investigations. That alone would make me instantly suspicious of the task force, especially having seen what police departments have done in the name of "terrorist investigations" in the past.

Re:Sorry, lady. Incitement to violence is a crime (1)

Ronin Developer (67677) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083153)

"Freedom of speech" applies only to political action and only when such action is peaceful and doesn't constitute or promote violence.

Her actions hinder the police's ability to do their job (obstruction of justice) and puts the officers and their families at direct risk. Her behavior encourages the harassment of the officers by others. They do this in Iraq and Afghanistan and guess what? The police officers are hunted down and killed. Yes, people die. Of course, lest we forget the little boy who was abducted and tortured so that the terrorist could get at the boy's father - a local police officer.

And, just so you are aware, if you happen to pass a police officer laying in wait of speeders and signal on-coming cars to let them know the officer is there, you are obstructing justice. Most cops wouldn't charge you as you may have aided them in slowing down a speeder. But, think about the lunatic who has a cop-killing on his mind and now knows where the cop is. Cops are not allowed to publish information on who they have under surveillance - and if you are under surveillance, odds are YOU did something wrong or a person of interest. If you aren't, then they are guilty of harassment.

Civil servant or not, it crosses the line when you place them or their families at risk. And, I assume it's safe to say that their families are probably NOT civil servants. At the very least, her actions constitute stalking and should be treated as such. On the outer edge, is could be considered an act of domestic terrorism. What was her real purpose for doing this? Were the police corrupt or is she just a wack job?

Keep in mind, in a similar manner, Megan's Law sites often publish the address of sex offenders. News crews often go to the homes of those offenders. My best friend's husband is a convicted pedophile. The news crews parked right in front of HER house (where he no longer lived), published the name of the street and showed a picture of her home (including the mailbox that had her house number) and indicated he also had two young children. She did nothing wrong. Yet, SHE felt compelled to move out for a while because she started getting harassed and her home vandalized while things legislation was passed to guarantee he wouldn't be able to return to his home. I deplore pedophiles. But, what the public and the news media did to my friend and her family was simply wrong.

Re:Sorry, lady. Incitement to violence is a crime (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29083191)

You have the right to express yourself, and no law can be passed which abridges that right.

That doesn't mean you have the right to not be punished for it - everybody must be held accountable for their actions. If you are intentionally making public information which is designed to endanger another human being then it doesn't matter whether it's a cop or not; you ought to be held accountable for it. There are other orderly ways of carrying out protests against this "narcotics" task force (apparently also extended to investigating "possible terrorist activities"), and it's questionable whether it might actually need doing, but directly attacking the people in it is not the way to go about it.

Where's the irony? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29083243)

Ironically enough your name is very fitting.

His name is BadAnalogyGuy. Was it a particularly good analogy?

Re:Sorry, lady. Incitement to violence is a crime (1)

johannesg (664142) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083299)

She needs no other reason, other people can held liable for their own actions.

That principle went out when it was accepted that a single person uploading a file to one other person on the internet is liable for all subsequent damages.

Re:Sorry, lady. Incitement to violence is a crime (2, Insightful)

doctor_no (214917) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083005)

Being inciteful is not a crime. We may not agree with neo-nazis, anti-abortionists, etc, but public information is public. Free speech is a right.

How many times have we at Slashdot had sympathy for similar situations involving piracy and hacking. Where legal and litigious means are employed to silence "inciteful" uses of technology.

While we don't know the real details of this individuals arrest, the likelihood is that she was targeted by the police for her blog posts. Charging someone for something trivial or finding something ancillary to justify the arrest is usually easy enough for law enforcement, even if the charge gets dropped, its a massive inconvenience and expensive on the accused.

Re:Sorry, lady. Incitement to violence is a crime (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29083205)

Being inciteful is not a crime. We may not agree with neo-nazis, anti-abortionists, etc, but public information is public. Free speech is a right.

There is a difference. Neo-nazis have the right to say "We hate blacks, jews, gays, asians, etc. etc. etc.". They have the right to say "We think that the world would be better off without them." and even "I would be happy if someone killed them." It is expressing their opinions.

However, then there is the line. They don't need to be able to say "You should kill that faggot. *points a finger*". Because if you think that they need to be allowed to say such, you can also say "Well, it is their right to express their opinion by saying 'I would give 2000 dollars in cash to anyone bringing me a proof that they have killed a homosexual'".

And in a way, yeah... Of course, my previous paragraph was utterly bullshit. Why? Because theoretically the latter part should be legal. It is essentially exactly the same as it would be for me to donate money to the pirate bay folks after they were convicted.

So theoretically, you are right. In practice however, I am completely comfortable with saying "Not all crimes are equal and not all principles apply equally to different crimes." I am fine living in society where person can say "Oh, you were convicted of piracy? Here, have some money" but can't say "Oh, you were convicted of killing a fag? Here, have some money."

The world isn't perfect or perfectly logical. We can't always apply the same principles everywhere and expect a perfect result. Yeah it is a fine line to walk on and it is easy to fall towards either side. But taking the risk is a lot better than choosing to fall towards one side.

Re:Sorry, lady. Incitement to violence is a crime (0, Flamebait)

Smidge207 (1278042) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083009)

Sigh. Not you, again, Analogy Boy. Can't you play with a cobra or something? Anyway, as others have noted, your analysis isn't quite correct. For those who don't want to read through your droning FUD, here's a summary of what it says: Videotaping the Stazi - err police - demonstrates a security vulnerability. The vulnerability does not involve theft of data, because there's encryption built into the system. What it demonstrates is that - for instance - if you leave your passport open by half an inch, the built-in shielding doesn't work as well, with the result that from a range of 6 inches, it's possible to detect the fact that the passport is there, and that it's a US passport rather than some other country's. (Actually they didn't really demonstrate selectivity by nationality, but they claim it's possible.) They say this exposes US tourists in foreign countries to a risk of violence targeted specifically against Americans. They demonstrate the risk by hanging a dummy from a clothesline, with a passport attached to the dummy, open half an inch. They pull it along the clothesline past an explosive device with a detector, which explodes when the passport comes within 6 inches of the detector. They also demonstrate an improved shielding system they devised, which prevents detection even when the passport is open half an inch.

Your FUD is impressive and mine equally so. My analysis would be as follows:

1. I'm sure the Faraday-cage wallets work fine, because they're based on solid physical principles. However, $20 is kind of a lot of money to pay for what is essentially 10 cents worth of aluminum foil.

2. In the case of a US passport, the Faraday-cage wallet isn't necessary. You're better off just getting a binder clip to hold your passport shut, so that it won't accidentally open by half an inch while it's on your person.

3. The binder clip should be cheap and 100% effective protection against the farfetched threat in the video. But the threat in the video is farfetched, because there are much easier ways of finding American tourists. Like they speak English. And they dress like Americans. And they carry cameras. And some of them follow tour guides who explain, loudly, in English, the local sightseeing attractions.

4. There are other things you might be carrying around that could have RFID, e.g., credit cards, cafeteria debit cards, or employee ID cards. A Faraday cage of some type might be a useful thing to protect these, but I'd need a lot more analysis to know whether the effort was worth it. How do I know which items in my wallet do have RFID built in? Are they encrypted? What are the possible exploits for each item?

=Smidge=

Watching the watchers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29082847)

If Big Brother is watching us; and she's watching Big Brother; then who's watching her!

Oh. yeah... We are.

Nice little infinite loop ya got there.

i have so many pig jokes (1)

LordKaT (619540) | more than 5 years ago | (#29082851)

I have so many pig jokes that I want to post on every police story that rears its head on slashdot, but I'm afraid of being arrested because of the militaristic approach to law enforcement in this country.

On the other hand ... this lady sounds like she's got mental problems.

What was her point? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29082865)

Did she do it to annoy them or was there a point to her outing these people as members of the task force? What good does it do to single out a police officer by posting his private address with pictures of his home? I could understand publishing pictures or other records of actual transgressions, but just stalking the police doesn't seem right.

Re:What was her point? (3, Interesting)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083301)

I cannot speak for her motives, but this task force seems to be using the threat of terrorism as a pretext to expand its operations beyond the investigation of drug trafficking. The task force also works with the FBI, which has been known to secretly engage in questionable activities in past, as part of efforts to fight "terrorism" or "communism." That is enough to get me suspicious, although I am not sure that I would go as far as this lady did.

Age old debate (5, Insightful)

squoozer (730327) | more than 5 years ago | (#29082869)

This just another case of rights vs responsibilites. I don't think she has done anything wrong per se but she has acted in an irresponsible manner. These police officers deal, on a day to day basis, with people that range from mostly harmless to exceedingly dangerous. Posting their movements, home addresses and other information all on one place, I would argue, diminishes their safety. The information might have been publicly available but there was a certain amount of affort required to collect it. I would imagine a large number of the people these police officers interact with couldn't be bothered to put in that effort themselves but if it's as easy as just going to a blog maybe they would do something.

In an ideal world the police would have been allowed to just go round to her and ask her to act more responsibly. Let her have her blog just make the infromation a little less specific and perhaps throw in some dummy data for good measure.

Re:Age old debate (5, Interesting)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083027)

I think she did right. I agree that it is unfair for the targeted policemen, but she tested the invasive laws' safeguards. Policemen can exchange private data with impunity. She shows that we can't exchange public data without troubles. There is one theory that says that the privacy invasion that the police is authorized to do is balanced by the public scrutiny they are under. This event is a counter argument to this theory.

Re:Age old debate (5, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083111)

The information might have been publicly available but there was a certain amount of affort required to collect it.

I'm sorry, did you misunderstand what publicly available information means? You talk as if you're one of the people I deal with daily in local government. I am probably considered one of those "one-percenters", people who are doing their due diligence to request the information of government that is to be posted for the public to see but the government elects to make extremely difficult to retrieve. I spend hours every week trying to retrieve the information which local governments are hiding from public view (I don't bother with pictures of police officers because, well, that's not my thing) but constantly run into roadblocks because, while this information should just be posted for the public to read, city staff and councilmembers really don't want you to know what they're doing w/your money.

So for you, as a member of the general public, to say that it's completely ok to put up these roadblocks to protect the safety of officers, is exactly the reason that they use for everything else. This is something which you should be championing against and certainly not supporting. City governments need to realize that information must be free (god, where have we heard that before?) and they should preempt the public by posting it on their own sites instead of allowing third-parties become the central location for documents and information they really don't want disseminated.

Re:Age old debate (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083117)

I would say she has intruded on their privacy. Following public officials around on the job a bit and posting pictures of them while on-duty is fine; they are on public property on a public commission to serve the community, anything visible to the public they do while on duty may be newsworthy.

However, publishing their street addresses, maps, and pictures of their homes, or pictures of them, when they are off-duty and in private, is an invasion of privacy.

And seems like a form of harassment or (worse) stalking.

No newsworthy cause is given for the publication. They are simply exposing the officers personal business to the world, and publishing private but uninteresting facts, for no meaningful reason, and it does them significant harm (risk of loss of life).

I think this act (bloggers publishing your home address, maps, and streetview pictures of your house) for the world to see would be offensive to the average citizen.

The officers involved may be able to sue the blogger, although, it should be civil matter, not one in which the blogger gets arrested.

Intelligence Gathering (5, Insightful)

AB3A (192265) | more than 5 years ago | (#29082875)

One of the peculiar things about gathering intelligence on someone or a group is that most of the information you need is not secret. It's right there out in the open.

This is a classic example of what happens when someone gathers public data and then uses it. The Police are upset because they didn't take precautions and they never thought anyone would be so obsessive about their identities and behaviors. This is exactly the same reason that so many police are scared of trunk-tracking scanners. They would like to think their communications amongst their group is private.

If the police are truly interested in maintaining a deep cover, they should do it with full legal backing and not make any half assed efforts, hoping that nobody will bother to track them down.

My guess is that this woman will beat the charge and teach cops across the nation an important lesson: The public is watching.

Re:Intelligence Gathering (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29082905)

What? No they aren't. They are too busy watching American Idol and jerking off to Glen Beck et al. They will beg for more warrantless wiretaps and authoritarian brutality (especially if its against terrorists, pedophiles or liberals).

Re:Intelligence Gathering (0, Troll)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 5 years ago | (#29082957)

They are too busy watching American Idol and jerking off to Glen Beck et al.

And how is this different from watching the Daily Show and jerking off to Bill Maher et al?

Re:Intelligence Gathering (2, Funny)

jmac_the_man (1612215) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083021)

Unlike the Daily Show, American Idol is bipartisan. A bipartisan problem, but still bipartisan.

Re:Intelligence Gathering (1)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083067)

This is exactly the same reason that so many police are scared of trunk-tracking scanners.

And that is why APCO-25 specifies, in great detail, how encryption is to be used, and supports several very strong encryptions schemes that Law Enforcement can use, none of which are supported by the trunking scanners, and even were they supported, without the keys, the scanners would STILL be unable to listen in.

I agree with you, AB3A - if the cops want to be private, then let them learn to practice basic OPSEC and INFOSEC.

73 de N0YKG

Re:Intelligence Gathering (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29083091)

Unfortunately, the cops know that she's going to have to hire a lawyer and have large out of pocket expenses to beat the charges.

That's generally how they punish people they don't like who aren't guilty of anything.

Re:Intelligence Gathering (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083137)

Very true. She only got in trouble because she posted it on a blog. Who's to say criminals aren't collecting all the same information and keeping it to themselves. If some random woman can find out all the information about these undercover cops, I would be that many criminals already know their identities.

Sounds like she got what she asked for! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29082885)

It's one thing when people want to give away the last shreds of their own privacy by blogging and posting everything they do and everywhere they go on sites like Facebook and Twitter. However when you start screwing with other people's privacy - or worse yet with law enforcement who are trying to protect a community - you certainly deserve to be locked up. Our privacy is one of the fundamental rights this country is based on. We should be protecting that right, not screwing it up.

Re:Sounds like she got what she asked for! (4, Insightful)

gearloos (816828) | more than 5 years ago | (#29082981)

Whomever modded the parent post needs to read. First, she didn't violate ANYONES privacy. All the information she used was publicly available. Second, Why do you put police agencies on a pedestal "or worse yet with the law enforcement" worse yet? I think law enforcement can take care of themselves. The "worse yet" should be that they arrested her just because they didn't like what she was doing.

Re:Sounds like she got what she asked for! (1)

Entropius (188861) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083003)

I thought the Right was against a fundamental right to privacy, that being the grounds for the hated Roe v. Wade?

Re:Sounds like she got what she asked for! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29083037)

Also, if you go to the blog, the site is iheartejade, with JADE being the name of the task force. The way the images are arranged on the page, and the way she types it out is I HeArTE JADE, or "I Hate Jade." The image at the top of her page confirms that same interpretation.

I would say that's enough to say she acts with less than noble intentions.

Re:Sounds like she got what she asked for! (2, Insightful)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083145)

No, you deserve to be locked up only if you broke the law.

If what she did isn't illegal, then she is actually doing a just thing to draw attention to an unjust law, or an unjust situation that arises because a law doesn't exist.

She should not be locked up, unless they can immediately identify exactly what crime she committed, and what laws she broke in so committing it.

Public information - the cops use it too. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29082941)

Funny : not that long ago a judge allowed the putting of tracking-devices on a car without a warrant with as reasoning that such a tracking-device would not gather any more data than could be gotten by any member of the public by simply watching (and no doubt following) the car itself.

Now some member of the public is doing exactly that to the police, but suddenly it is something that should be disallowed ?

And before someone brings it up : Have those officers done anything to hide their identity while doing their (high-profile!) jobs (indicating their wish to remain secretive) ?

Big Brother doesn't like it (4, Insightful)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 5 years ago | (#29082949)

When the boot is on the other foot.

Re:Big Brother doesn't like it (1, Informative)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083001)

When the boot is on the other foot.

Good one, Jack!

Too much time... (2, Insightful)

AdetheRare (1538769) | more than 5 years ago | (#29082987)

People should really consider that this particular section of policing involves dealing with some of the most hard-ass nutters that there are, and that the people they are working to put away don't give a crap about *your* rights. Has she done anything illegal? Not really. Is it irresponsible? Yeah probably. Does she have *way* too much time on her hands? Definitely...

But do you have enough information.... (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 5 years ago | (#29082999)

... to make a public judgment on her?

Or is there more to the story?

What is it that motivated her to do this...... in her words, not the media or law enforcement, but her words.

What did they or some officer of the law really do to her that she would put forth such effort?

People don't do things without reason. Considering she has a teenage daughter..... and her focus was the drug task force?????

What kind of mother do you suppose she is?

What's the Charge? (1)

SwashbucklingCowboy (727629) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083023)

She's been arrested, but what has she done that is supposedly against the law?

Re:What's the Charge? (1)

ff1324 (783953) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083055)

Since it's easier to read a headline than an article, we'll help you out here...

FTA: she was indicted on a single count of identifying a police officer with intent to harass, a felony under state law

Re:What's the Charge? (1)

dwillden (521345) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083155)

Well if even one drug bust failed because the perps recognized the officers due to that site, then she has "Aided and abetted a criminal."

Yes she can rightfully claim free speech in what she's posting, but if the police and the prosecutors can dredge up a couple druggies who say her blog helped them avoid arrest, then she is facing some serious charges.

Remember freedom of speech is not an unlimited freedom, and use of speech comes with responsibilities. You cannot shout fire in a crowded theater. You cannot freely slander/libel someone without consequences, and if your information puts hardworking public servants at risk, or compromises ongoing investigations or drug-busts, you are also breaking the law. And you are liable for the results.

Who is Elisha Strom? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29083031)

Former wife of Kevin Strom [wikipedia.org] , once director of white nationalist group National Vanguard.

I believe this is her pro-nationalist writing [angrywhitefemale.net] .

Here's her SPLC profile [splcenter.org] .

I realize our society prejudges any person of nationalist (black power/white power) inclinations, but I think if we have "freedom" it includes the freedom to disagree with diversity.

Britian (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29083053)

In Soviet England, police stalk YOU.

another point, independent of right or wrong... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29083079)

It seems there are reasonable case to be made on both sides of that. But never mind the morality of it for a moment. Anything you do that might be contentious should be done through one (or ideally more) anonymizer proxies. Ideally not even done from your own network connection; use a public one that hundreds of people use, *and* go through anonymizers in multiple countries.

Doing something that's very foreseeable as pissing off powerful people in a way that's traceable back to you is, well, just stupid.

Re:another point, independent of right or wrong... (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083179)

It would be hard if not impossible for her to do this anonymously. She had to collect the information/pictures she was posting about police activities somehow....

She's obviously a stalker (3, Insightful)

davmoo (63521) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083083)

Folks, whether you like her blog or not, and whether you think the cops are over reacting or not, one thing is for sure. If she's following officers and photographing them, that sure sounds like stalking to me. I bet each and every one of you who is voicing support for her would feel differently if someone were following you around with a camera.

Re:She's obviously a stalker (1)

codepunk (167897) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083213)

I think that depends on how loosely the stalking and or harassment laws are written that apply to this instance. We are talking about a entire group
it may be hard or impossible to apply a stalking charge if it is a entire group of people vs a individual. In this case she is really doing noting different
than the reporters following movie stars.

Re:She's obviously a stalker (2, Insightful)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083305)

True. But that's not why I support what she does.

I support it because we're continuously tracked every day -- you can bet that if the police wants, they'll get a complete record of where you've been, by tracking the usage of your credit card, monthly tube pass, video surveillance and so on.

I'd like less of that crap. And what better way to make that point than to make the watched watch the watchers and let them see for themselves what getting tracked feels like.

She actually did do something wrong... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29083085)

FYI most police home addresses are NOT public record. So, she actually may actually have done something wrong. Also keep in mind what a drug task force does and why it may be important to keep their identities unknown.

The article says this woman has a young daughter, does she not feel any shame in the danger she may be putting these police officers children in by making their personal information so easily accessible?

Got it backwards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29083101)

The Washington Post reports that a Virginia woman is being held in custody by police who allege that information she posted on her blog puts members of the Jefferson area drug enforcement task force at risk.

Actually, it is the existence of a 'drug enforcement task force' that puts the members of the police department at risk...

No expectation of privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29083127)

Law Enforcement Officers acting under color of law have absolutely zero expectation of privacy, and there's nothing illegal about documenting the activities of the police and publishing them for public review.

If the police don't want to end up with their photographs on the web, then they shouldn't go outside.

They hate us for our freedom! (1)

cryophan (787735) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083129)

always remember that...

Oi... 'free speech, free speech' isn't reality.. (0, Flamebait)

Onyma (1018104) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083133)

I see a lot of the posts here as being the classic one sided view. End up with drug dealers on your street harassing your right to a safe community who will you call? You'll call the police. But of course most people want some magical force to come protect them but get upset when certain additional rights are required by that force to do its job properly. A police officer's family is just as vulnerable as yours and in my opinion that information should be protected. We unfortunately don't have laws in this country to affect irresponsible but legal activities so this situation provides a catch 22.

Yes, I know all the 'freedom of speech' people will outcry on this but in reality that is in some ways a imperfect idea. Yes freedom of speech is highly important in a free society, however there are limits to it if you wish to also have a stable community. These officers choose to do this job and deal daily with all the crap the rest of us like to pretend doesn't exist. They do this as a career choice, no one made them. In a case like this I have no problems cutting them some slack to protect their and their family's safety interests. If this means letting them find some law to use to stop a wack-job jeopardizing their safety and ability to do their job efficiently, so be it. It's an imperfect world. It would be FAR more imperfect if you didn't have someone to police the rules.

Re:Oi... 'free speech, free speech' isn't reality. (1)

Lost Penguin (636359) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083165)

"End up with drug dealers on your street harassing your right to a safe community"

How many times have drug dealers kicked in your door at 3AM and killed your pets?

Cops are now more destructive than the drug dealers they seek.

Re:Oi... 'free speech, free speech' isn't reality. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29083187)

but who watches the watchmen!

Re:Oi... 'free speech, free speech' isn't reality. (2, Interesting)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083201)

Yes, I know all the 'freedom of speech' people will outcry on this but in reality that is in some ways a imperfect idea.

In the USA it's not just an "idea" - it's the absolute black letter law of the land.

In a case like this I have no problems cutting them some slack to protect their and their family's safety interests. If this means letting them find some law to use to stop a wack-job jeopardizing their safety and ability to do their job efficiently, so be it. It's an imperfect world.

If you want to make changes then modify the constitution via the legally established method.

It would be FAR more imperfect if you didn't have someone to police the rules.

WRONG. "Every man for himself" is preferable to a group of armed thugs that can make up whatever rules they feel like to enforce upon the populace while at the same time ignoring any rules that apply to themselves.

Re:Oi... 'free speech, free speech' isn't reality. (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083209)

End up with drug dealers on your street harassing your right to a safe community who will you call?

If you really want the drug dealers off the street, put them in stores.

Re:Oi... 'free speech, free speech' isn't reality. (1)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083323)

End up with drug dealers on your street harassing your right to a safe community who will you call?

I would call the meat wagon to remove their bodies. My neighbors and I are all armed citizens. I would be harassed once and only once.

She is a NUT (1)

p51d007 (656414) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083171)

Story says she wants "an all white nation". That should be enough to tell you that her elevator is stuck in the basement. I'd put her in a 96 hour Psych hold and let the doctors even out her meds!

So is it possible? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29083181)

That maybe this particular individual happens to be an undercover drug agent? And maybe she could be putting his life in danger now... Oh and for those less informed obstruction of justice is a crime... My rant is done...

"Clue Hug!" (1)

lanky nibbs (719492) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083203)

-Marcie

Harassment is Harassment (3, Insightful)

TarrVetus (597895) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083217)

Regardless of the relationship between the involved parties (whether an officer investigating a woman without a warrant, or a woman investigating a policeman without a warrant), following someone, gathering information about them, then posting that information in a public place with the intent to complicate or endanger their life is harassment. It's usually just called "stalking."

She posted the location of that officer's home with the full knowledge that it could endanger his life. Also, she "detailed their comings and goings by following them in her car; mused about their habits and looks; [and] hinted that she may have had a personal relationship with one of them."

She was a stalker, simply put.

Yes, her speech is protected, but when she's actively attempting to endanger the lives of those officers, it crosses the line. And you can't tell me that posting the home address, photo of that home, and personal details of an officer isn't a move that will obviously endanger the policeman's life, and the lives of his family. If this were done to anyone, it would be dangerous.

Um, actually I'm with the cops on this one. (4, Insightful)

Fantastic Lad (198284) | more than 5 years ago | (#29083283)

After doing some looking around, it strikes me that the woman is an obsessive stalker with a personal grudge against (and past inter-personal involvement) with a police force.

This doesn't have any of the hallmarks of the typical corrupt police arrest story. It looks rather like a badge groupie generated some kind of love/sex related drama and when things got too hot for the object/s of her passion, found herself on the wrong side of some story. When she started to make noise and become embarrassing, all of her various 'friends' on the force probably rejected her, taking the side of their co-worker because of the strong code of brotherhood among police. So now she's feeling personally jilted, bitter and enraged and is trying to take revenge on an entire police division. It sounds like she is serving a selfish personal agenda rather than striving toward any kind of high-minded socio-political goal.

But that's just my take on the situation. It may be totally unfair, but until I see some information to the contrary, that's the theory I'm going with. When it comes to these things, the tiresome reality in hand is very often the result of predictable sex and self-preservation based emotional responses.

-FL

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