Google Helps Police With Child Porn WebCrawler

The San Jose Mercury News is reporting that the Internet Watch Foundation, “an organization that works with police worldwide to remove images of child sexual abuse from the Internet, has credited Google with helping it develop a ‘Web crawler’ that finds child pornography.” The pilot project makes it easier to identify and remove every copy of specific images online, and the group says “We look forward to the next phase of the Googler in Residence project in 2016.” Last year Google also had an engineer working directly with the foundation, and the group’s annual report says “This was just one part of the engineering support Google gave us in 2015.” [PDF] Their report adds that the new technology “should block thousands of their illegal images from being viewed on the Internet.”

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Belgian police arrest six in bombing probe, French foil Paris plot

Masked Belgian police secure the entrance to a building in SchaerbeekBy Alastair Macdonald, Ingrid Melander and Foo Yun Chee BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Belgian police arrested six people in their probe of Tuesday's Islamic State suicide bombings in Brussels, while authorities in France said they thwarted a militant plot there "that was at an advanced stage." The federal prosecutor's office in Belgium said on Thursday that the arrests came during police searches in the Brussels neighborhoods of Schaerbeek in the north and Jette in the west, as well as in the center of the Belgian capital. The arrests came days after suicide bombers hit the Brussels airport and a metro train, killing at least 31 people and wounding some 270 in the worst such attack in Belgian history. The attack in Brussels, which is home to the European Union and NATO, has heightened security concerns around the world and raised questions about European countries' response to the threat from Islamist extremists.



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ACLU Sues Anaheim Police For Public Records On Cell Phone Surveillance

New submitter Lacey Waymire writes: The ACLU of Northern California is suing for a release of public records regarding Anaheim police’s use of cell phone surveillance devices. “We don’t think any surveillance devices, particularly these sorts of invasive cell phone surveillance devices, should ever be acquired or used without intense public debate and the adoption of safeguards to ensure they are only used in ways that follow our Constitution and laws,” attorney Matt Cagle said. (See this Boing Boing posting with a bit more on “the happiest surveillance state on earth.”)

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Chicago Police: Woman accidentally killed by officer fire

A Chicago police sergeant speaks with a relative of a man who was killed by a police officer in the West Garfield Park neighborhood in Chicago, early Saturday, Dec. 26, 2015. A Chicago police officer shot and killed two people while responding to a domestic disturbance call in the neighborhood on the city's West Side, police said. (Megan Crepeau/Chicago Tribune via AP)CHICAGO (AP) — A Chicago police officer responding to a domestic disturbance call accidentally shot and killed a 55-year-old woman, who was among two people fatally wounded by police gunfire, the department said late Saturday.



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14-Year-Old Boy Placed On Police Register After Sending Naked Picture To Classmate

Ewan Palmer reports: A teenage boy in the UK has had a crime of making and distributing indecent images recorded against him after he sent a naked picture of himself to one of his female classmates. The 14-year-old was not formally arrested after he sent the explicit image to a girl of the same age via Snapchat. The police file against the boy will now remain active for 10 years, meaning any future employer conducting an advanced Criminal Records Bureau check will be aware of the incident. However, it is not clear whether a police file was recorded for the girl who saved and shared the image. Under new legislation, if she had been over 18, the girl could have been convicted under the so called ‘revenge porn’ law in the UK.

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Assange Says Harrods Assisting Metro Police in ‘Round-the-Clock Vigil

The Daily Mail reports that Julian Assange seems to have yet another foe (or at least friend of a foe) watching persistently while he stays put in the Ecuadorean embassy in London: Harrod’s Department Store. The Metro Police, according to Assange, have developed a relationship with the store, and are using that relationship to facilitate their full-time observation of his roosting place in the embassy. When the founder of Wikileaks says “‘We have obtained documents from Harrods [saying that] police have people stationed 24 hours a day in some of the opposing buildings Harrods controls,” it seems likely that those documents actually exist.

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North Dakota Legalizes “Less Than Lethal” Weapon-Equipped Police Drones

According to the Daily Beast, writes reader schwit1, North Dakota police will be free to fire ‘less than lethal’ weapons from the air thanks to the influence of a pro-police lobbyist. That means beanbags, tear-gas, and Tasers, at the very least, can be brought to bear by remote. It’s worth noting that “non-lethal” isn’t purely true, even if that’s the intent behind such technologies. From the article, based partly on FOIA requests made by MuckRock into drone use by government agencies: The bill’s stated intent was to require police to obtain a search warrant from a judge in order to use a drone to search for criminal evidence. In fact, the original draft of Representative Rick Becker’s bill would have banned all weapons on police drones.

Then Bruce Burkett of the North Dakota Peace Officer’s Association was allowed by the state house committee to amend HB 1328 and limit the prohibition only to lethal weapons. “Less than lethal” weapons like rubber bullets, pepper spray, tear gas, sound cannons, and Tasers are therefore permitted on police drones.

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In Baltimore and Elsewhere, Police Use Stingrays For Petty Crimes

USA Today reports on the widespread use of stingray technology by police to track down even petty criminals and witnesses, as well as their equally widespread reluctance to disclose that use. The article focuses mostly on the city of Baltimore; by cross-checking court records against a surveillance log from the city’s Advanced Technical Team, the USA Today reporters were able to determine at least several hundred cases in which phony (“simulated”) cell phone towers were used to snoop traffic. In court, though, and even in the information that the police department provides to the city’s prosecutors, the use of these devices is rarely disclosed, thanks to a non-disclosure agreement with the FBI and probably a general reluctance to make public how much the department is using them, especially without bothering to obtain search warrants. From the article:

In at least one case, police and prosecutors appear to have gone further to hide the use of a stingray. After Kerron Andrews was charged with attempted murder last year, Baltimore’s State’s Attorney’s Office said it had no information about whether a phone tracker had been used in the case, according to court filings. In May, prosecutors reversed course and said the police had used one to locate him. “It seems clear that misrepresentations and omissions pertaining to the government’s use of stingrays are intentional,” Andrews’ attorney, Assistant Public Defender Deborah Levi, charged in a court filing.

Judge Kendra Ausby ruled last week that the police should not have used a stingray to track Andrews without a search warrant, and she said prosecutors could not use any of the evidence found at the time of his arrest.

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