Friday, November 14, 2014

Mayor Hodges, gang wannabe on "list"?

Since last week when KSTP reported about her Honor doing gang signs she may be already listed as a "wannabe" in the Minneapolis gang file or Bureau of Criminal Apprehension data system.

Mayor Hodges met one of the nine criteria which the Minnesota's Violent Crime Coordinating Council (VCCC) has adopted as gang criteria.  The nine-point guidelines are used throughout  Minnesota to keep track of "wannabes", associates, and gang members.

Number 5 of the nine point criteria is the following:

"#5 Appears in a Photograph or Image with a Gang Member Engaging in Gang-Related Activity or Displaying Gang Signs or Symbols:

• Photographs or images should depict evidence of gang-related criminal activity, such as a person holding a gun and wearing or displaying gang-related signs, symbols, clothing or graffiti.

• A single photograph or image with a gang member, absent any depiction of criminal gang-related activity or displaying gang-related signs, symbols, clothing or graffiti, may count only as one of three documented occasions of association in the previous 12-month period under criterion #8."

"Wannabe" Hodges makes the grade by "or displaying gang-related signs"......or if the Minneapolis Police Department or other entity has listed Mr. Gordon as a gang member.

Mayor Hodges being "listed" in a gang database, more than likely not.  But I make the point in this post how easy it is to be labeled by cops, as they gather information on people and then share it.  In many instances it's shared within the cop community, not "leaked" to the news media.  That is the still the outstanding question of #pointergate who confirmed within law enforcement the gang-related nature of the gang sign by the mayor, who download the image, and then leaked it.

Important to remember history in our community, about 5 years ago, Minnesota law enforcement community had thousands of people listed in a system called GangNet which was later disbanded for a number of negative reasons.  Are Minnesota cops going to their old behavior?

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Mayor Hodges, #pointergate, and social media spying

The KSTP story with Mayor Hodges doing stylish finger pointing has created a real buzz.  But for me the underlying issues of this episode that the public or media are not asking about or may not understand need to be explored. Where did the picture come from?  Was it a part of a law enforcement agency or agencies social media monitoring and surveillance activities that the picture was discovered? Or more of a direct question: Is it relevant to and interest of the public to know if an agency is engaging in cyber stalking of people, data collected for unknown purposes and then share with others?

As I have stated in posts before, law enforcement and investigative agencies of government are like vacuum cleaners, if they had their druthers they would suck up everything on everyone.  As we know with the use of license plate readers and cell phone surveillance, cops are looking for data which may be helpful immediately or maybe sometime in the future. (collect multitude bits of data on innocent people)
In doing data requests of several law enforcement agencies on their role of using social media for monitoring and surveillance purpose.  I have learned about some of their activities and thinking. The requests I did were like the following:

"Pursuant to the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act I want to inspect and review all policies, procedure, protocols, or government data that are used to apply and use social media in law enforcement purposes.  Many law enforcement agencies are now in the social media environment using it for marketing, branding, and listening/monitoring to collect and gather information for investigative and intelligence purposes." (West St Paul Police Department example)

The response I got from the agencies was basically, yes we do this kind of behavior, but we have no polices/protocols or we are working on them.  That was 18 months ago. 

But now with interest is piqued again and which was the motivator of this post

What is the trigger that creates interest of an investigative agency in a post, or picture on such social media site to where it is copied and distributed? When I discuss with others about government's behavior of monitoring/surveillance of social sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and other similar venues.  The first response is: "It's public.  You post it, you wrote it, take the consequences."  True, so true, it's "out there" but we do have a right to know if the government is monitoring, keeping an eye on, and overseeing us.

One possibility of how her honor's (Mayor Hodges) picture came to public light is that an investigator was doing social media trolling of "persons of interest."  Saw the picture and said, WOW! The Mayor's prominent "finger pointing" may just reveal the method and mode of how enforcement agencies obtain and use information from the Internet.  But what’s not evident and straightforward, is how social media data has been and are being collected, created, received, maintained or disseminated by Minnesota local and state governmentt enforcement agencies.

If one asks the media spokesperson for a government agency such as Minnesota Department of Public Safety, or Mayor Hodges press person, if they monitor social media they will say yes.  The purpose for is to get an idea of what the community may be saying about them.  But it is much different when an enforcement agency such as Minneapolis Police, Minnesota Department of Revenue, and others monitor and surveil individuals.

I do not know if Minnesota state or local agencies have sophisticated systems monitoring social media, but keeping the Stingray device secret for 8 years, who knew they had a cool and svelte spy device.  This is why there needs to be questions and direct answers by local and state agencies that do this kind of behavior.

Government enforcement agencies more than likely have a process of social media surveillance as simple as looking on the Internet to see if Rich Neumeister has a Facebook or Twitter account.  Or they can buy into services or get software to do social media surveillance.

Here is another example of private parties doing "big data" surveillance on Facebook and Twitter for law enforcement purposes.

Based on my discussions with law enforcement officials and data requests, many local and state agencies are trawling and spreading the data it collects and retains, but do they have the appropriate procedures, protocols, and policies with public and legislative review, more than likely not.

Friday, November 7, 2014

No right to privacy in home w body cams?

Some heads of law enforcement agencies throughout Minnesota want body cameras. Based on public testimony at the Minnesota Legislature one head law enforcement official does not believe people have a right to privacy in one's own home.  It was very clear in testimony by Chief Ramsey, Duluth Police Department, in reaction to a question by Representative Mary Liz Holberg.

Rep Holberg outlined a situation if there was a call for service with the following question.

" want to enter my home in Duluth with body cams running.  Do I have a right as a citizen in your city, have a right to have you turn off the camera before you enter my home?"

Chief Ramsey's response:  "Madame Chair, right now, no you do not."

( at 3hr 12 minutes)

Do you have a right to say no in a non-emergency situation to body cam recording by police in your own home?  Is it a violation of the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure?

The Minnesota Legislature will be deciding these issues in 2015.  Start contacting your legislators.