Category Archives: Law

Ma Bell sells spooky data; Internet attack probed

Two major stories on the cybersecurity front to report.

AT&T sells your data, for a fortune

The first item comes from Ma Bell, who’s been helping folks spy on you and pocketing a fortune for doing.

From the Guardian:

Telecommunications giant AT&T is selling access to customer data to local law enforcement in secret, new documents released on Monday reveal.

The program, called Hemisphere, was previously known only as a “partnership” between the company and the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) for the purposes of counter-narcotics operations.

It accesses the trove of telephone metadata available to AT&T, who control a large proportion of America’s landline and cellphone infrastructure. Unlike other providers, who delete their stored metadata after a certain time, AT&T keeps information like call time, duration, and even location data on file for years, with records dating back to 2008.

But according to internal company documents revealed Monday by the Daily Beast, Hemisphere is being sold to local police departments and used to investigate everything from murder to Medicaid fraud, costing US taxpayers millions of dollars every year even while riding roughshod over privacy concerns.

Internet of things becomes a federal priority

After last week’s massive attackj on online services, carried out through baby monitors, security cameras, and other devices connected to the Internet of Things, Uncle Sam is getting busy.

From Reuters:

Obama administration officials sought on Monday to reassure the public that it was taking steps to counter new types of cyber attacks such as the one Friday that rendered Twitter, Spotify, Netflix and dozens of other major websites unavailable.

The Department of Homeland Security said it had held a conference call with 18 major communication service providers shortly after the attack began and was working to develop a new set of “strategic principles” for securing internet-connected devices.

DHS said its National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center was working with companies, law enforcement and researchers to cope with attacks made possible by the rapidly expanding number of smart gadgets that make up the “internet of Things.”

Such devices, including web-connected cameras, appliances and toys, have little in the way of security. More than a million of them have been commandeered by hackers, who can direct them to take down a target site by flooding it with junk traffic.

You have to wonder if another federal agency, the NSA, is busy exploiting these same devices to pry into our lives.

Just a thought. . .

Bloody indigenous protest over another pipeline

While indigenous people in the U.S. are battling one pipeline project, two indigenous groups are battling each other and the government over another pipeline, this one in Mexico.

And the conflict has suddenly turned violent.

From  Mexico News Daily:

Yaqui indigenous communities in disagreement over a proposed natural gas pipeline clashed yesterday, leaving at least one person dead.

The confrontation involved close to 300 people from the neighboring Yaqui communities of Loma de Bácum and Loma de Guámuchil in the state of Sonora. The former community is opposed to the pipeline project, while the latter is in favor.

The Yaqui from Bácum filed and won an amparo against the construction, which resulted in the temporary suspension of all activity in the area, but the construction company started work again last Saturday, allegedly with the support of government officials and the Yaqui of Guamúchil.

Those from Bácum have accused Guámuchil leader César Cota Tortola of being “close to the state government” and receiving “millions of pesos” for his support for the project.

The refusal of those from Guámuchil to abide by the amparo was what sparked the violence between the two communities, which reportedly started late Thursday night and climaxed about noon yesterday.

Mexican police chief arrested in Aytozinapa kidnaps

It’s been more than two years since the 26 September 2014 abduction and disappearance of 43 students of the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, Mexico [previously], and finally a major suspect has en arrested.

He’s the man who served as police chief in the town of Iguala where the abductions took place, and he’s the brother-in-law of the Iguala mayor, the man suspected of ordering the mass kidnapping of the still missing students.

From the Associated Press:

The former police chief of Iguala, Mexico, where 43 students went missing in 2014, was arrested Friday after two years at large in a development that Mexican authorities and relatives of the disappeared hope could shed new light on the case.

The National Security Commission announced that federal agents apprehended 58-year-old Felipe Flores in Iguala, in the southern state of Guerrero, in a raid in which no shots were fired.

Flores was arrested at 6:30 a.m. leaving a house where he had visited his wife, Commissioner Renato Sales said. He said Flores had not always been in Iguala, but did not elaborate on the former police chief’s movements. He said Flores was unarmed.

Flores is accused of offenses including organized crime and kidnapping the students. He is alleged to have followed the then-mayor’s order to attack the students and then tried to cover up the role of Iguala police in the disappearances.

More from Milenio, translated by Mexico News Daily:

The ex-chief is a cousin of the ex-mayor, José Luis Abarca, believed to have been the mastermind behind the affair. He and his wife, María de los Ángeles Pineda Villa, are now in jail awaiting trial.

Two city transit officials have declared that Flores ordered the arrest of students who had traveled to the city by bus from the Ayotzinapa teachers’ college and that they be turned over to the Guerreros Unidos drug gang.

The gang’s former leader, Sidronio Casarrubias Salgado has given evidence that Flores was involved in criminal activities with the ex-mayor and his wife.

The official theory has been that Abarca ordered that police “contain” the busloads of students. They did so by opening fire on them, killing six people, some of whom were innocent bystanders.

Headline of the day II: To Protect and Serve?

From the London Daily Mail:

‘I’m the boss:’ Cop who sparked protests in Milwaukee after he fatally shot black man ‘raped fellow male drinker the next night after watching rioting on TV in a bar while bragging he could do what he wanted’

  • Dominique Heaggan-Brown was arrested Wednesday in Milwaukee
  • Accused of sexually assaulting unidentified man while off-duty August 15
  • Sex complaint was made two days after Heaggan-Brown fatally shot Sylville Smith, 23
  • Police say Smith was holding a gun but his death sparked mass protests
  • Victim told investigators that Heaggan-Brown bragged he was the boss while drinking at a bar while they watched TV coverage of the protests
  • He said he drank too much, passed out and woke up feeling drugged to find Heaggan-Brown sexually assaulting him
  • Heaggan-Brown later texted a mentor that he had messed up ‘big time’ and claimed the sex was consensual
  • Using phone data investigators since determined that Heaggan-Brown offered two other people money for sex several times last year
  • Also sexually assaulted and photographed an unconscious, naked person

Brits posthumously pardon gay sex ‘criminals’

About damn time, though for those dead men who were criminalized and shamed it’s too little and too late.

From the Independent:

Thousands of gay and bisexual men convicted under outdated gross indecency laws are to be posthumously pardoned, the Government has announced, in a “momentous” victory for campaigners.

Announcing what has been dubbed as the ‘Alan Turing law’ justice minister Sam Gyimah said the Government would seek to implement the change through an amendment to the Policing and Crime Bill. It will effectively act as an apology to those convicted for consensual same-sex relationships before homosexuality was decriminalised in England and Wales in 1967.

Last month sources close to Theresa May confirmed to The Independent that the Prime Minister was “committed” to introducing the legislation. The Ministry of Justice believes this amendment is the quickest possible way to deliver on the commitment.

It comes after decades of campaigning from the LGBT community and after the family of the enigma codebreaker Alan Turing delivered a petition to Downing Street before the 2015 general election. Public pressure led to the major political parties pledging to introduce the ‘Alan Turing law’ – in memory to the man Winston Churchill described as making “the single biggest contribution to the allied victory” in World War II.

Brazil’s coup leader hoisted by his own petard

Sometimes irony is delicious.

From the Guardian:

Eduardo Cunha, the Brazilian politician who orchestrated the impeachment of the country’s first female president, Dilma Rousseff, has been arrested on corruption charges.

Federal police detained the former speaker of the lower house in Brasilia on Wednesday and executed a search warrant at his home in Rio de Janeiro.

Compared by some to Frank Underwood from House of Cards, Cunha also has been accused of taking up to 116.5m reais ($37m) in bribes as part of the Operation Car Wash investigation into mammoth corruption at state oil giant Petrobras.

The arrest was ordered by federal judge Sergio Moro, who has gained celebrity in Brazil by leading that probe, which has ensnared dozens of leading politicians.

Chart of the day II: Legal pot support record high

From Gallup, support for legalized pot hits the highest level in the 47 years the pollsters have been tracking the trend: