Monday, April 25, 2011

CO - Panel passes measure to clarify sex-offender registry

Original Article

04/25/2011

By Kyle Glazier

A Senate committee today gave unanimous approval to a bill aimed at streamlining and clarifying sex offender registration.

House Bill 1278 (PDF), sponsored by Sen. John Morse D-Colorado Springs, would make several changes to the law about who must register as a sex offender in Colorado, as well as clarifying the responsibilities of law enforcement and the court system in processing sex offenders.

Under current law, the state may classify a person as a "sexually violent predator" based on his or her classification outside Colorado. HB 1278 defines what classifications meet this requirement, and also gives such people the right to appeal the classification.

The bill makes second-degree kidnapping a crime requiring registration as a sex offender if the victim is sexually assaulted, and also mandates that those registered as sex offenders on Native American tribal lands register as sex offenders in Colorado as well.

"It attempts to make the law clearer," Morse said.

The bill also addresses concerns surrounding re-registration of sex offenders. Maureen Cain, an attorney testifying on behalf of the Sex Offender Task Force of the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, told the committee the task force supports the bill because it would help overcome certain obstacles to the re-registration process.

Cain said some sex offenders fail to re-register by the required date because they are in jail for other crimes, and the law enforcement agency they need to report to does not know they are jailed. HB 1278 would require the sheriff of a county jail to submit the re-registration information of any sex offenders booked into jail.

The bill would also give sex offenders a 10 day leeway for re-registration as a sex offender. Instead of re-registering on his or her birthday, the bill would allow a sex offender to re-register from five days before that date until five days after.

The bill previously earned House approval under the sponsorship of Rep. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs. It must now win initial approval from the full Senate.


KY - Police Investigating Overnight Slaying

Original Article

View the video at the site above, and another related video below.

04/25/2011

LOUISVILLE - Louisville Metro Police detectives spent Monday morning in a Pleasure Ridge Park neighborhood after a call of a man down turned into a homicide investigation.

Police said the victim was 64-year-old registered sex-offender [name withheld].

The coroner said he died of "sharp force injuries."

[name withheld] was on Kentucky's sex offender registry. Police haven't said if that had anything to do with his death.

Now investigators are working to find the person responsible.

Police got the call just before 3:30 a.m. Monday. When they arrived at the home in the 9500 block of Cochise Way, they said they found [name withheld] dead inside.

Investigators said it was obviously foul play.

"There were outwards signs of trauma," said Louisville Metro Police Department spokeswoman Alicia Smiley.

Neighbors said [name withheld] lived at the home with his wife and mother-in-law.

"We're still trying to determine whether other people were inside the residence, whether it was one or more people. Right now, we just don't have those details," Smiley said.

Police said detectives went door to door in the early morning hours to try to get answers.

David Blevins lives next door to [name withheld]. He said he didn't hear anything until his dog woke him up when police arrived.

"My dog paces the gates when something is going on. She was back there whining, wondering what all this activity is going on for," Blevins said.

As soon as the sun came up, neighbors peeked their heads outside their homes to watch police work. The overwhelming sentiment was fear and disbelief something like this could happen in their neighborhood.

"I don't think the neighborhood will ever get over this," said Catherine Brooks, who lives across from the crime scene.

Brooks said [name withheld] treated her well and always said hello.

Brooks learned of his death when police knocked on her door around 5:30 a.m. Monday.

A couple of hours later, she still hadn't moved from the same spot on her couch.

"I've been sitting right here almost numb thinking about him, and I sure would like to know the whole story of what happened," Brooks said.

[name withheld] is listed as being compliant on Kentucky's sex offender registry. He was sentenced to prison on a first-degree sex abuse charge in 1990 and served his complete sentence from December 1990 to November 1992.

In 1995, he sentenced to prison on incest and second-degree persistent felony offender charges and served a complete sentence from October 1995 to May 2002.

Police have not released a motive in his slaying.

Anyone with information about the crime is asked to call the anonymous police tip line at 502-574-LMPD.


MI - Federal investigators in Detroit mine Facebook for crime info

Original Article

04/25/2011

By Robert Snell

Search warrants let them access photographs, cell phone numbers, possible accomplices

Detroit - Federal investigators in Detroit have taken the rare step of obtaining search warrants that give them access to Facebook accounts of suspected criminals.

The warrants let investigators view photographs, email addresses, cellphone numbers, lists of friends who might double as partners in crime, and see GPS locations that could help disprove alibis.

There have been a few dozen search warrants for Facebook accounts nationwide since May 2009, including three approved recently by a federal magistrate judge in Detroit, according to a Detroit News analysis of publicly available federal court records.

The trend raises privacy and evidentiary concerns in a rapidly evolving digital age and illustrates the potential law-enforcement value of social media, experts said.

Locally, Facebook accounts have been seized by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and FBI to investigate more than a dozen gang members and accused bank robber [name withheld] of Detroit.

"To be honest with you, it bothers me," said [name withheld], 25, who was indicted Tuesday on bank robbery charges after the FBI compared Facebook photos with images taken from a bank surveillance video. "Facebook could have let me know what was going on. Instead, I got my door kicked down, and all of a sudden I'm in handcuffs."

Federal investigators defend the practice. "With technology today, we would be crazy not to look at every avenue," said Special Agent Donald Dawkins, spokesman with the ATF in Detroit.

The FBI suspected [name withheld] was behind a string of bank robberies across Metro Detroit that netted more than $6,300. Special Agent Juan Herrera said an informant told the FBI about [name withheld]'s Facebook account. It was registered under the name "[name withheld]."

In several photos on Facebook, [name withheld] was wearing a blue baseball hat and blue hooded sweatshirt, both featuring a Polo emblem. That's the same outfit the FBI said the suspect wore when he stole $390 from a Bank of America Branch in Grosse Pointe Woods on Nov. 26, according to federal court records.

His Facebook photos also included one in which [name withheld] wore a red Philadelphia Phillies baseball hat, which the FBI said [name withheld] donned while robbing $1,363 from a PNC Bank branch in St. Clair Shores on Dec. 21, according to court records.

On Jan. 26, U.S. Magistrate Judge Virginia Morgan gave approval for the FBI to seize information from [name withheld]'s Facebook account. The warrant was executed within four hours.

Facebook gave the FBI [name withheld]'s contact information, including birth date, cell phone number, friends, incoming and outgoing messages, and photos.

[name withheld] was charged in a criminal complaint Feb. 7 and indicted Tuesday on five bank robbery charges. He is free on a $10,000 unsecured bond.

"I'm innocent until proven guilty," [name withheld] told The Detroit News. "They're basically going off my clothes. Ralph Lauren is a popular clothing line."
- I agree.  What would stop a "friend" from noticing that, getting the same clothes, and making it appear as if he did it?  I'm not saying that is what occurred here, but it's possible.

He's since updated his Facebook photo. [name withheld] swapped the blue Polo hat and blue Polo sweatshirt for white ones featuring the iconic Polo horse.

Despite the search warrants, his Facebook information page was still public Thursday.

Morgan, the federal magistrate judge, also approved two search warrant requests from the ATF late last year and in February to search the accounts of at least 16 people suspected of belonging to a Detroit area gang. The affidavit justifying the search remains sealed in federal court.

Even with the access, investigators are having a hard time keeping up with high-tech crooks. In February, an FBI official testified before a House subcommittee about the difficulty accessing electronic communications on social media sites and email even with court approval.

"The FBI and other government agencies are facing a potentially widening gap between our legal authority to intercept electronic communications pursuant to court order and our practical ability to actually intercept those communications," FBI General Counsel Valerie Caproni testified.
- That's how it should be.  When the government starts to be able to do whatever they wish, whenever they wish, then we are living in a communist country.

Monitoring real-time Web-based conversations is particularly difficult, she said.

The FBI uses the term "Going Dark" to label the gap between having the authority to access electronic communications and the Internet service providers' capability to gather the information. "This gap poses a growing threat to public safety," Caproni testified.

Concerns over privacy

Information gleaned from the Internet raises constitutional and evidentiary issues that must be considered, including privacy and the right against unreasonable searches and seizures, said Chief U.S. District Judge Gerald E. Rosen, who also is an evidence professor at Wayne State University. Evidence obtained from the Internet and social media sites also raises issues about whether the information can be authenticated, he said.

"The Internet is the next frontier for the development of Fourth Amendment law," Rosen said, referring to the amendment protecting against unreasonable searches and seizures.

A Facebook spokesman said the company receives a "significant volume of third-party data requests" that are reviewed individually for "legal sufficiency."

"We do not comment publicly on data requests, even when we disclose the request to the user. We have this policy to respect privacy and avoid the risk that even acknowledging the existence of a request could wrongly harm the reputation of an individual,"said Andrew Noyes, Facebook manager of public policy communications. "We never turn over 'content' records in response to U.S. legal process unless that process is a search warrant reviewed by a judge.We are required to regularly push back against overbroad requests for user records, but in most cases we are able to convince the party issuing legal process to withdraw the overbroad request, but if they do not, we fight the matter in court (and have a history of success in those cases.)"

Spokeswomen for the U.S. Attorney's Office and FBI declined to discuss techniques used by investigators.

It is unclear exactly how many search warrants have been executed for Facebook accounts. But requests — in Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Virginia, California, Pennsylvania, Montana and Alabama — come amid a backlash from users who complained too much of their personal information was being disclosed.

The San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital civil liberties organization based in San Francisco, launched a campaign recently to encourage Facebook and others to disclose when and how often law-enforcement agencies request user account information.


NY - Child Pornography Case Underscores Wi-Fi Privacy Dangers

Original Article

Below is a couple videos on Wi-Fi security issues, unrelated to this story. If you do have wireless, then I recommend you download NetStumbler which you can install and run, and it will show you all the Wireless networks (secure or unsecured) around you, even your own. Install it only on machines with wireless adapters, like laptops.

04/24/2011

By Carolyn Thompson

BUFFALO - Lying on his family room floor with assault weapons trained on him, shouts of "pedophile!" and "pornographer!" stinging like his fresh cuts and bruises, the Buffalo homeowner didn't need long to figure out the reason for the early morning wake-up call from a swarm of federal agents.
- Question, why were federal agents screaming "pedophile" and "pornographer" at this man?  I don't think that is in their job description!

That new wireless router. He'd gotten fed up trying to set a password. Someone must have used his Internet connection, he thought.

"We know who you are! You downloaded thousands of images at 11:30 last night," the man's lawyer, Barry Covert, recounted the agents saying. They referred to a screen name, "Doldrum."

"No, I didn't," he insisted. "Somebody else could have but I didn't do anything like that."

"You're a creep ... just admit it," they said.
- If these agents really said all this, they should be punished for this, IMO.

Law enforcement officials say the case is a cautionary tale. Their advice: Password-protect your wireless router.
- Here is a couple links on how to secure your wireless network: here, here and here.

Plenty of others would agree. The Sarasota, Fla. man, for example, who got a similar visit from the FBI last year after someone on a boat docked in a marina outside his building used a potato chip can as an antenna to boost his wireless signal and download an astounding 10 million images of child porn (see first video below), or the North Syracuse, N.Y., man who in December 2009 opened his door to police who'd been following an electronic trail of illegal videos and images. The man's neighbor pleaded guilty April 12.

For two hours that March morning in Buffalo, agents tapped away at the homeowner's desktop computer, eventually taking it with them, along with his and his wife's iPads and iPhones.

Within three days, investigators determined the homeowner had been telling the truth: If someone was downloading child pornography through his wireless signal, it wasn't him. About a week later, agents arrested a 25-year-old neighbor and charged him with distribution of child pornography. The case is pending in federal court.

It's unknown how often unsecured routers have brought legal trouble for subscribers. Besides the criminal investigations, the Internet is full of anecdotal accounts of people who've had to fight accusations of illegally downloading music or movies.

Whether you're guilty or not, "you look like the suspect," said Orin Kerr, a professor at George Washington University Law School, who said that's just one of many reasons to secure home routers.

Experts say the more savvy hackers can go beyond just connecting to the Internet on the host's dime and monitor Internet activity and steal passwords or other sensitive information.

A study released in February provides a sense of how often computer users rely on the generosity - or technological shortcomings - of their neighbors to gain Internet access.

The poll conducted for the Wi-Fi Alliance, the industry group that promotes wireless technology standards, found that among 1,054 Americans age 18 and older, 32 percent acknowledged trying to access a Wi-Fi network that wasn't theirs. An estimated 201 million households worldwide use Wi-Fi networks, according to the alliance.

The same study, conducted by Wakefield Research, found that 40 percent said they would be more likely to trust someone with their house key than with their Wi-Fi network password.

For some, though, leaving their wireless router open to outside use is a philosophical decision, a way of returning the favor for the times they've hopped on to someone else's network to check e-mail or download directions while away from home .

"I think it's convenient and polite to have an open Wi-Fi network," said Rebecca Jeschke, whose home signal is accessible to anyone within range.

"Public Wi-Fi is for the common good and I'm happy to participate in that - and lots of people are," said Jeschke, a spokeswoman for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that takes on cyberspace civil liberties issues.

Experts say wireless routers come with encryption software, but setting it up means a trip to the manual.

The government's Computer Emergency Readiness Team recommends home users make their networks invisible to others by disabling the identifier broadcasting function that allows wireless access points to announce their presence. It also advises users to replace any default network names or passwords, since those are widely known, and to keep an eye on the manufacturer's website for security patches or updates.

People who keep an open wireless router won't necessarily know when someone else is piggybacking on the signal, which usually reaches 300-400 feet, though a slower connection may be a clue.

For the Buffalo homeowner, who didn't want to be identified, the tip-off wasn't nearly as subtle.

It was 6:20 a.m. March 7 when he and his wife were awakened by the sound of someone breaking down their rear door. He threw a robe on and walked to the top of the stairs, looking down to see seven armed people with jackets bearing the initials I-C-E, which he didn't immediately know stood for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"They are screaming at him, 'Get down! Get down on the ground!' He's saying, 'Who are you? Who are you?'" Covert said.

"One of the agents runs up and basically throws him down the stairs, and he's got the cuts and bruises to show for it," said Covert, who said the homeowner plans no lawsuit. When he was allowed to get up, agents escorted him and watched as he used the bathroom and dressed.

The homeowner later got an apology from U.S. Attorney William Hochul and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Agent in Charge Lev Kubiak.

But this wasn't a case of officers rushing into the wrong house. Court filings show exactly what led them there and why.

On Feb. 11, an investigator with the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees cybersecurity enforcement, signed in to a peer-to-peer file sharing program from his office. After connecting with someone by the name of "Doldrum," the agent browsed through his shared files for videos and images and found images and videos depicting children engaged in sexual acts.

The agent identified the IP address, or unique identification number, of the router, then got the service provider to identify the subscriber.

Investigators could have taken an extra step before going inside the house and used a laptop or other device outside the home to see whether there was an unsecured signal. That alone wouldn't have exonerated the homeowner, but it would have raised the possibility that someone else was responsible for the downloads.

After a search of his devices proved the homeowner's innocence, investigators went back to the peer-to-peer software and looked at logs that showed what other IP addresses Doldrum had connected from. Two were associated with the State University of New York at Buffalo and accessed using a secure token that UB said was assigned to a student living in an apartment adjacent to the homeowner. Agents arrested [name withheld] March 17. He has pleaded not guilty to distribution of child pornography.

[name withheld] is not charged with using his neighbor's Wi-Fi without permission. Whether it was illegal is up for debate.

"The question," said Kerr, "is whether it's unauthorized access and so you have to say, 'Is an open wireless point implicitly authorizing users or not?'

"We don't know," Kerr said. "The law prohibits unauthorized access and it's just not clear what's authorized with an open unsecured wireless."

In Germany, the country's top criminal court ruled last year that Internet users must secure their wireless connections to prevent others from illegally downloading data. The court said Internet users could be fined up to $126 if a third party takes advantage of their unprotected line, though it stopped short of holding the users responsible for illegal content downloaded by the third party.

The ruling came after a musician sued an Internet user whose wireless connection was used to download a song, which was then offered on an online file sharing network. The user was on vacation when the song was downloaded.