Monday, October 06, 2014

The cop racket

As detailed in a recent post, police work has become a racket. Don't believe me? Ask John Oliver.

But there's an aspect of the problem I didn't know about until just now. For years, cops have been "helping" parents monitor their kids' internet use with free copies of a program called ComputerCOP. The EFF has found that this program is pure spyware -- a keylogger.

We're talking about a complete word-searchable recording of every online chat, every website, every picture, every video, every torrent -- on every computer in the household. The data -- including financial information and passwords -- will be sent without encryption to third parties.
That means many versions of ComputerCOP leave children (and their parents, guests, friends, and anyone using the affected computer) exposed to the same predators, identity thieves, and bullies that police claim the software protects against.
What's more, this keylogger/spyware tool escapes the notice of all anti-virus apps (at least as of right now).
One sheriff’s department even bought a copy for every family in its county.
The marketing material falsely claimed that the app has the endorsement of the ACLU.

Now that he has been caught distributing malware in the guise of protecting children, ComputerCOP head honcho Stephen DelGiorno says that the new license agreement will assure users "that no personal information is obtained nor stored by ComputerCOP." Hilarious. Just because that company won't store the information doesn't mean that others can't do so.

By the way, there's a new video of cops beating and tasering a black man here in Baltimore. This sort of thing is distressingly common. Judgments against the Baltimore police have cost the taxpayers $11.5 million dollars in recent times.
Victims include a pregnant accountant, a woman selling church raffle tickets, a deacon, an 87-year-old grandmother and another grandmother, Barbara Floyd. The city paid her $30,000. She said she was trying to get her grandson into her house when officers claimed she was interfering with his arrest.
One man, who asked WJZ not to use his name, claimed officers arrested him without cause, then attacked him while he was handcuffed, upset he fidgeted in the back of a patrol car.

“I thought I was not going to make it that day,” he said.

For what happened, he got $170,000—all paid for by Baltimore City taxpayers.

The Sun found troubling patterns: many of the same officers were involved in case after case of excessive force. In almost every case, prosecutors and judges dropped charges officers brought against citizens. And even after big payouts, the cops routinely kept their jobs.
Baltimore is a tough city, and the cops have unenviable jobs. I understand that. But some of the stories we've been hearing are simply unacceptable. For more details, go here.
"And just by him placing that gun, pointing that gun, I had so much fear in me I begged him don’t shoot me, don’t shoot me. And I went to take my backpack to drop it and before I knew it, he had hit me and I fell." -- JACQUELINE ALLEN, Deposition from Oct. 26, 2010.

The city paid Allen $200,000 after an officer shot her in the stomach at a bus stop. She was unarmed.
I used to despise the ubiquity of video cameras, both here and in the UK. As long-time readers know, I'm passionate about privacy. But maybe the cameras have a purpose: They help serve us and protect us -- from the cops.

Never thought I'd say this, but...more surveillance cameras, please!
I'm driving to Baltimore next week. You make me want to invest in kevlar...but then they'd probably just aim for the head.
Seth, you are safe nowhere from the police. This is a national problem. You really want to look up militarization of our police. Literally, military equipment is being offered and even forced on police, who, even if they want to get rid of these deadly toys, are then forced to keep them.

Indeed, the surveillance cameras are a boon. One recently caught police beating a woman pulled over for using a cell phone while driving. While I may feel like bopping someone yammering on a phone while driving, there is zero excuse for police to actually do so. Luckily, she'd pulled into a fast food parking lot and it was caught on surveillance camera. Made me decide to look for same if flagged by police.

John Oliver on Civil Forfeiture
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