Predictive Policing: The Future in Solving Crimes or the Arrival of Minority Report

By Michael Hugginsminority-report-11-3.jpg

The film Minority Report tells the story of a future society that uses technology to predict who will commit crimes. When the crime starts to occur, the Pre-Crime police department uses those predications to capture the individual before they commit the offense. Specifically, the Pre-Crime police department uses knowledge acquired from three pre-cognitive beings to predict the time and the place of the crimes. This 2002 film continues to spark intellectual and ethical curiosity in the minds of many science-fiction fans. But Minority Report is just that: science-fiction. Or is it?

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Digital Whispers: Encrypted Communications and Law Enforcement

By Sam Hamptonlock

Much of the media attention addressing encryption for smartphones has been primarily centered on Apple and Google. Both Android and iOS operating systems offer whole device encryption, where a user’s phone data cannot be accessed without a code. Apple was the target of a lawsuit brought by the FBI who was requesting Apple unlock the cellphone of San Bernadino shooter, Syed Farook (see previous WJLTA Blog posts here and here). This case typifies an ongoing public debate about the balance the law should strike between privacy and security. But whole device encryption is just the tip of the iceberg.

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If At First You Don’t Succeed (at passing a cybersecurity intelligence sharing law), Try, Try Again.

UntitledBy Brennen Johnson

Lawmakers in the U.S. Senate just passed CISA (the “Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act”) on Tuesday, October 27. If the White House does not veto it, CISA will allow tech companies to share internet traffic information with the government without fear of liability for the disclosure of private or sensitive data. Not only would the law potentially allow companies to violate their own privacy statements with users, but also it would allow them to hide the fact that they are sharing information with the government.

So what is CISA, where did it come from, and why does it matter? This is not the first time that lawmakers have brought this type of information-sharing scheme before Congress. Back in 2011, lawmakers introduced CISPA (the “Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act”) in an attempt to help prevent cyber attacks. The basic premise behind the bill was that quickly sharing information about threats and vulnerabilities could help prevent attacks. The House of Representatives passed CISPA, but it failed in the Senate, due to a lack of confidentiality and civil liberties safeguards. The White House even proclaimed that it would veto the bill should it be passed. CISPA was reintroduced by the House in 2013, where it again failed to pass the Senate. Continue reading

“Back Doors” in Encrypted Technology for the Government Will Harm National Security and Privacy

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 8.32.43 AMBy Michael Huggins

In the wake of an international controversy over government surveillance, U.S. technology companies have developed end-to-end encryption for users who want to send information. End-to-end encryption gives the sender and the recipient decryption keys for a piece of data or a message. Without these decryption keys, law enforcement officials cannot access the data or the message. Even with lawfully authorized access to the information, end-to-end encryption may allow criminals to keep their communications secret from the government. Additionally, the United States and other nations have expressed concerns that encryption will provide secure communications to terrorist organizations.  Continue reading

Will Congress Allow Consumers More Privacy?

NSABy Naazaneen Hodjat

The courts are redefining the hot topic of privacy law in today’s digital age. The most recent ruling, American Civil Liberties Union v. Clapper, came in the wake of a series of disclosures by Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor. The Guardian revealed that the NSA had asked the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to order Verizon to produce the telephone metadata for many of its subscribers. This order covered three months of information and included the numbers of both parties on a call, along with the location, time, and duration of the call. The Patriot Act classifies the contents as metadata, and the NSA can obtain the metadata without a warrant. The NSA network secured the telephone metadata indefinitely for its investigations.

The NSA Bulk Metadata Collection Program began shortly after the September 11th terrorist attacks. Section 215 of the Patriot Act permits the government “to make an application for an order requiring the production of any tangible things…for an investigation to obtain foreign intelligence information not concerning a US person or to protect against international terrorism….” The ACLU sought a preliminary injunction against the Government claiming that the bulk metadata collection program violates consumers’ First and Fourth Amendment rights. In response, the Government argued that bulk collection qualifies as business records and therefore falls within the ambit of Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Continue reading