Category Archives: society

Court decision on TSA searches

I just saw Bruce Schneier’s blog post on a ruling I’m glad to see- a US District Court, in a ruling last month, that TSA is authorized to search for weapons and explosives, and nothing more. Fake passports taken from a passenger in the case were tossed out as evidence.

“The extent of the search went beyond the permissible purpose of detecting weapons and explosives and was instead motivated by a desire to uncover contraband evidencing ordinary criminal wrongdoing,” Judge Marbley wrote.

It will be interesting to see if there are moves to better train the TSA screeners in the future, or a legislative reaction expanding the powers granted. (um, how far away is that mid-term election again…? :-)

Little robots restore my faith in humanity

intrepid

Tweenbots are human-dependent robots that navigate the city with the help of pedestrians they encounter. Rolling at a constant speed, in a straight line, Tweenbots have a destination displayed on a flag, and rely on people they meet to read this flag and to aim them in the right direction to reach their goal.

Kacie Kinzer makes little robots, and sets them off on little adventures, crossing the street by themselves, and relying on the kindness of strangers. Interestingly, this works out: strangers help the little robots, and try to protect them from danger. This warms my usually cold, cynical heart.

Via Bruce Schneier (who notes that the little bots might have fared less well in Boston…)

UK police surveillance of political demonstrations

From The Guardian:

Photographs, names and video footage of people attending protests are routinely obtained by surveillance units and stored on an “intelligence system”. The Metropolitan police, which has pioneered surveillance at demonstrations and advises other forces on the tactic, stores details of protesters on Crimint, the general database used daily by all police staff to catalogue criminal intelligence. It lists campaigners by name, allowing police to search which demonstrations or political meetings individuals have attended.

Great.

Big Brother gets Big Shoulders

Mayor Daley has argued that security and terrorism won’t be an issue if his Olympic dreams come true because, by 2016, there will be a surveillance camera on every street corner in Chicago.

Wow.

During a December test, live video was used to catch a petty thief in the act of sticking his hand in a Salvation Army kettle outside Macy’s on State Street.

I would respectfully suggest that Chicago would do better to install monitoring cameras in the offices of politicians.

Mayor Daley needs to think beyond his next law-and-order bumper sticker. The experience in London is nothing we should seek to imitate. As Timothy Garton Ash writes in The Guardian, Liberty in Britain is facing death by a thousand cuts.

The East Germans are now more free than we are, at least in terms of law and administrative practice in such areas as surveillance and data collection. Thirty years ago, they had the Stasi. Today, Britain has such broadly drawn and elastic surveillance laws that Poole borough council could exploit them to spend two weeks spying on a family wrongly accused of lying on a school application form.