I think one aspect of this is the surprise that an engineer would get swept up in this, but this isn't really something that can be solved by tech.
Tech is IMPROVING our lives. Software is an enabler, it solves our problems. If the software is making our problems worse, then there is something wrong with the software, we fix the software.
From the story “I didn’t realize that by having location services on that Google was also keeping a log of where I was going, I’m sure it’s in their terms of service but I never read through those walls of text, and I don’t think most people do either.” McCoy said.
Steve Jobs had a solution for this:
"Privacy means that people know what they’re signing up for. In plain English, and repeatedly. I believe that people are smart.
Some people want to share more than others.
Ask them...Make them tell you to stop asking them.
Let them know what you’re going to do with their data"
Even in systems with less human intervention (e.g automated loan approval systems) bias is still being built in.
If anything this could provide people with the excuse of "see! it was the algorithm!".
Just because there is bias in the system does not mean it is OK to open the floodgates and introduce more
>> If anything this could provide people with the excuse of "see! it was the algorithm!".
It doesn't work that way. First the person has to come up with tens of thousands of dollars to defend themselves and hire lawyers and expert witnesses. What you are stating is just a luxury of the rich. If the new system is that rich people get extra avenues of defense, you are right.
How does the geofence-based system to determine whether you were in the area of a crime when it was committed know what race you are? I'm suggesting that in the absence of a tool like this, cops will use their eyeballs and knock on doors, and we already know that process is racially biased.
I have a problem with general cynicism toward technology. I believe the core problem we have with tech is all about privacy.
We are on the fringe of a golden era, and we should resolve these issues about privacy and dark UX that deceive users.
We don't need to "argue" whether tech improved our lives. It already did!! When did we ever in the history of mankind had the chance to communicate, and access information in real-time?!
It has its faults, but I really loved Adam Curtis’s documentary ‘ All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace’. Full of anecdotes, but it is a fun watch!
Sometimes, that's what we were doing before. Sometimes it isn't.
I occasionally miss the quality of landline phone calls, for one example.
Openness is the key, as the Steve Jobs quote in a parent comment is saying. Users need to know what's going on, and our clickwrap culture hasn't been cutting it these past two decades.
I'm sure plenty would disagree, myself included. Tech is not blanket good. It can be good, it can be bad. It depends on the tech, and even then it's not always one or the other.
Oh good. Glad to see we have that sorted out.
Yes. But not without also creating significant dangers, frictions, and negatives.
Either way, it is safe to say Tech is a magnifier. It all depends on whose hands it's in and how they're using it.
Sadly, it’s also improving the police state
The main issue is the nature and cost of the legal system if you are accused, which is less privacy and more protection.
So not, it's not normal by any measure. It's just America.
At the end of the day, the hope is that the evidence is taken in the right context and proper investigation will catch the right person. Unfortunately, especially in this era of True Crime documentaries, we've seen it go awry one too many time, and people are rightly scared that they may be next.
Off topic, but remember when Bob Dylan was picked up by cops, mistaken for a homeless man in Long Beach, NJ when he walked up to a house for sale?
Not to trivialize the subject, this is literally the only funny story I've heard about this kind of thing
You do not see the difference between being actively observed, vs having your movements recorded 24/7 to then be gone over in retrospect weeks, months, or years later?
Really, there is no difference in your mind here?
They'll hire private council and think that because they're paying for it, it's better. But it's often not. For a typical defendant with an aggravated assault charge, a public defender has handled dozens of similar cases before. Moreover, they'll have done it with your judge and your prosecutor. A private lawyer probably won't have that. Granted, this probably holds a lot less for the HN comments section.
I'll add that there is no right to defense council for civil cases. These can have consequences just as dire as a criminal case, as in immigration or eviction proceedings. An indigent defendant with no lawyer has a very poor chance. There's a movement to create this right . The current Supreme Court, however, seems more likely to weaken Gideon v. Wainwright than expand it.
Background research done I created a list of lawyers I wanted to talk to and called them one by one and discussed the case over the phone. The crime I was accused of was somewhat rare and none of the five lawyers I called were familiar with it. I could tell fairly quickly that several of the lawyers were, for lack of a better term, bullshitting me about their familiarity with crime because I had first done the basic research so I had some understanding of what was reasonable to say about it. One lawyer was obviously reading passages from wikipedia verbatim to me, which I recognized having recently read the same wikipedia article myself. Another lawyer didn't seem to listen to me - after hearing my story he confidently assured me he could get the charge reduced... to what I was already charged with. Others just didn't seem that competent.
The lawyer I ultimately went with was a former prosecutor, which I liked because I figured it meant he would know the other prosecutors, and he was the only one who, when I called him, said "I don't know much about this. Let me do some reading and call you back." I immensely respected that more than the people who tried to pretend like they knew what they were talking about.
Ultimately, we had an extremely successful result and now if anyone I know ever needs a lawyer, I have one to recommend. It may be a bit harder if you don't have connections, but there is no reason why the average person retaining a lawyer can't go through the effort of finding one they are comfortable with.
You are vastly overestimating the ability of an "average" person to be able to understand and analyze legal complications for themselves. The average person, for example, does not have a college degree , let alone a degree in a technical subject that has trained them in analytic reasoning.
 Only 37% of people age 25-30 in the US have a bachelors: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Educational_attainment_in_the_...
I'm sorry, but this is laughably out of touch with reality for the "average person".
It used to be people would talk about the hellish conditions doing hourly document review, but that got offshored years ago, so I'm not sure what the situation is now.
A public defender might not be _bad_, but in many jurisdictions they are egregiously overworked. Their case load is so over burdened they don’t have the time to do a thorough job. I’d much rather take my chances with a paid lawyer.
Although I suppose the court could hold you in contempt if it found you had the means and said you didn't. But I've never seen or heard of anyone being means checked.
All the search results (Findlaw, Avvo lawyer answers, etc) seem to be saying that you have to qualify financially, you have to submit your income and assets of your household under penalty of perjury (signed statement, not oath) and you may also be asked to get quotes from lawyers to compare against your means. I think the most you could say is that courts are so overloaded you might get away with perjury.
A few sample links:
So I think you're right, it is perjury that doesn't really get anything done about it - I think based on the idea that if you had the money to get an attorney you would do it so anyone saying they can't get an attorney doesn't have the money.
- Felony defendants were represented by publicly-financed attorneys over 80%(!) of the time.
- Defendants with public and private attorneys had similar conviction rates. They pled out at similar rates, too.
- Defendants with public attorneys were more likely to get prison sentences, but got shorter sentences on average.
- Defendants with private attorneys who were already in prison (i.e., convicted) talked to their lawyers earlier and more often. The part about prison just seems to be because that's where they collected the data.
- Defendants with public attorneys got pretrial release a lot less often (50% vs 80%) than those with private attorneys. This looks to me like it's mostly about not being able to afford bail.
- Workloads for Federal appointed attorneys rose faster than spending on them. I would guess the same to be true of state courts and for the trend to have continued to today.
 http://civilrighttocounsel.org/, the civil right to counsel I forgot in my post.
2000 appears to be the most recent report on this subject. It's possible they've collected more recent data elsewhere and I didn't turn it up.
I'm not related to the company, but this is exactly what avvo.com is solving. I have known others to use it for traffic infractions all the way to criminal defence. In general they speak positively about the experience.
I don't know any particular lawyer's connections, but I can see the reviews/self-reported-track records.
But, this creates a new problem - gamification of reviews. But now that it's in the "reviews" space, I know how to at least manage that problem as opposed to something I know zero about such as judging a lawyer's relationships and effectiveness.
>You have the right to have a lawyer with you during questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you before any questioning if you wish.
Is that not the case for public defenders too?
Policing in the US is entirely out of control.
That shapes the culture. It's kind of anti-Spiderman. With great powers comes no responsibility at all.
It apparently holds in every western democracy except for the United States of America.
The loser must pay up to the amount they themselves spent on prosecuting the case, but no more.
So General Motors would have to pay the full cost of the plaintiff's litigation if they lost, while the plaintiff would have to pay their costs, plus an equivalent amount to GM.
This is of course independent of compensation and damages awarded.
And if that is a million dollars, in that case: Should someone be able to cause a million dollars' worth of damage with a frivolous lawsuit without being liable for it?
Patent trolls are one of the things that would work significantly less well in a loser-pays scenario.
Or to turn your example around: If the car hasn't killed me and I just want my money back, should I be forced to just eat the loss because even if I win, the legal costs will be higher?
I'm not sure how that would matter. The patent troll sues 100 companies. Has to pay the legal fees for the 100 processes because all of them have been initiated by the patent troll. The patent troll wins 30 cases.
In the American system the patent troll already included the legal fees in his calculations and optimized them for profit but the victims are always stuck with legal fees even if they win. The patent troll basically causes a minimum amount of damage regardless of the outcome. The legal fees are often close to $0 for the patent troll because merely the act of receiving a letter from a lawyer scares startups into paying the settlement fees. Losing a month or two can be devastating for a young company but they can easily recover from losing $20k if it means that they can run their business with no distractions.
In the loser pays scenario the patent troll's legal fees would be completely unpredictable in the 70 cases. Losing 70 times might result in bankruptcy of the patent troll and the majority of victims would not be burdened by legal fees.
This sub thread is making the assumption that the innocent legal entities (= person or company) are on the losing end but if patent trolls had to be 100% sure that their patents are valid then there would be significantly fewer of them. For the few patent trolls that remain you can't argue that they shouldn't have the right to protect their patents. The patent system might be broken but if you can't enforce patents in valid situations then why even bother with the system?
Your first question ("Should someone be able to...") is a false dichotomy. The real question is whether we show a preference for being able to sue easily, versus adding more downside.
In America, consumer protection is done through lawsuits, especially since the current leadership is underfunding these groups. In general, companies have less approvals before launching a product under the assumption that negligence will cost them a ton of money in class action. That is why class action amounts can be so high - it's the dis-incentive for cutting corners.
Yes, patent trolls are an issue. I think there are better ways to reduce that impact (such as a sensible patent system) without harming consumers.
American Rule protects the rich (and those in power, such as police, public prosecutor, etc), as it allows them to bully the poor who can't afford a lawyer, or lose so much money that their interests are harmed. A clear example of that is patent trolls.
The rich can afford in either system, but the poor can only afford in English Rule. It should not be about poor vs rich but about truth (ie. guilty vs innocent).
In the US system, a poor person can bring suit, using a lawyer working on contingency, and not fear for being stuck should they lose.
Your argument seems to hinge on the "correct" party always winning, but that's far from the case.
With the US system, there is no way to get justice in many cases, even when you're obviously right, because the (non-recoverable) legal costs exceed the amount by which you have been wronged (and the opponent knows that).
In continental law, judges role is more like an investigator; his/hers role is to establish the facts of the case and to apply the provisions of the code. They are the ones questioning witnesses.
See also: https://onlinelaw.wustl.edu/blog/common-law-vs-civil-law/
> Your argument seems to hinge on the "correct" party always winning, but that's far from the case.
Of course it does.
If the correct party does not usually win (with a few exceptions, being rounding errors) then your legal system, and democracy, is indeed very much broken.
If the police bust someone for murder, and this person gets sued, gets a fair trial, and gets incarcerated in jail for murder we, civilians/voters, must be able to assume that the system worked correctly. If this is not the case, if it is "normal" (too high percentage) innocent people get behind bars, that is a high priority problem. There's always going to be false positives, sure, but in general we must be able to assume one is a true positive.
Now, in English law the poor could sue, and win, if they're in the right. In American law, they can't afford a lawsuit. If they get sued for whatever, they'll be more likely to settle, without being on the good end of the stick. I can only define that as class justice.
There are limits to the claims, btw  . Also, the amounts have to be reasonable.
Also, I believe @xyzal is correct in describing the difference between civil and common law. The problem you described is much less of a problem in civil law.
In the US, that only applies to indigent defendants in criminal cases. It does not apply to anybody with any semblance of financial stability and does not apply to anybody in civil cases.
Is it different abroad?
This focus on small people suing big corporations is absolutely insane.
I always think of that when someone is sneering at the American legal system or blaming Americans for everything they interact with globally.
You'd think the people who came up with it had never played Scrabble, where you lose a turn for a false dictionary challenge.
It really isn't. Look towards Scandinavian countries for that.
which has nothing to do with democracy.
In civil cases this is used as leverage by wealthy people. The wealthy can sustain a legal battle for as long as they want. They know that if their opponent isn't as wealthy, they'll be forced to settle, even for an unreasonable amount, just because they won't be able to afford defending themselves properly.
For reference, a decent civil attorney in a major city in California will charge $250-500/hour, which ends up being around $5k/month to defend pretty much any civil lawsuit. A lawsuit that goes to trial will take 18-24 months, so you'll end up paying $90-120k just in legal fees. There will also be $10-20k in additional court fees and other expenses, not to mention your time.
At the end of the day, if you defend a civil lawsuit and you flawlessly "win" the case, after about 2 years of manufactured stress, you'll be down $100-150k.
That's what it costs to prove you are innocent and walk away "free" (free to be sued again).
Btw, in civil cases, if you cannot afford a lawyer, the system won't appoint one for you, you will have to defend yourself (which judges and lawyers hate, and will very much play against you in court).
Also, even if you can represent yourself, the court fees won't necessarily be waived ($2-3k), and you'll have to fund your own discovery (which can be insanely expensive, depending on the case).
Then if you are defending as a corporation (llc, c corp, etc), you must have a lawyer. So basically if someone knows that your company cannot afford to hire a lawyer, they can sue you and force you to pay up or go bankrupt - then during bankruptcy they can keep going after you personally, and even after bankruptcy they can sue you again.
Hmm. Every civil case I've been involved with was decided not by relative wealth, but by the strength of the case. In every case, the less wealthy party won, and the wealthy party got stuck with legal fees. In many cases, the less wealthy person was represented by a lawyer who was paid mostly on contingency.
But if one of the parties cannot afford to litigate, they are screwed.
Considering that 40% of Americans can't even afford a $400 unexpected expense, it means most people are extremely vulnerable to legal liability, as they would barely be able to afford maybe 1 hour of consulting with a lawyer.
My guess is that you've mostly dealt with people and companies that had the money to go through the legal system. Most people don't.
Also, in my experience, it is very (extremely?) rare to find a lawyer that will work on a contingency basis, especially on short notice. So unless you know it's coming, and you've already spent the time to interview a bunch of lawyers (most of which are not even going to give you the time of day without having an open case) ahead of time, then you'll most likely be out of luck when you get served and have 30 days to respond (and if you don't respond they get a default judgement against you).
You just can't deny that the (American) legal system is, in practice, based on money and resources, rather than on justice and fairness.
That's based on the idea that people who put a random $400 expense on a credit card that they pay off next month "can't afford" it.
I've been dealing with a vindictive plaintiff for a few years now.
No lawyer will take a case on a contingency basis, especially against a plaintiff with "deep pockets", if there's no money to be made (which is usually the case when you are on the defending side).
Let me illustrate, let's say a company gets a loan from a creditor, then the company fails to pay, the creditor sues, the company doesn't have the money to pay.
At this point lawyers see that there's no money to be made and will rarely touch the case. The defendant is out of luck and will most likely have to file for bankruptcy (which at the minimum will cost $10-15k in legal fees, so it might not even be an option).
As long as the creditor wants to keep spending money, they can keep going after the company, its founders and directors. Most lawyers will say that it doesn't make sense because the creditor is very unlikely to recover anything. But if the creditor still wants to spend the money, the defendants will be forced to keep paying to defend themselves for as long as the creditor attacks them, even if they didn't do anything wrong or ilegal and they prevail in the end.
So most lawyers will recommend to settle and pay the creditor, because you'll have to spend about $100k defending yourself anyway, hence you might as well pay that in a settlement and not go through trial. Lawyers will also note that 90%+ of cases settle. In the end the company officials/founders might unfairly pay a bunch of money to someone, just so they can get rid of them.
Then, even after the defendants pay, everyone might have lost a bunch of money and not found any justice whatsoever.
Now, regardless of the example above. It costs about $5k to file a lawsuit and about $50-150k to go through with it. How many people have the means to pay for that? I'd say very few.
However, from 40,000 feet, one might listen to your story and think, ok, you took money from someone and didn't give it back, and now you're being inconvenienced and harassed, and this is supposed to be a major societal problem? What about people that get sent to prison for stealing the same or less money? Or a candy bar?
To be sure, I can imagine being in the same place, and I can imagine dealing with a crazy/obsessive litigant and being very unhappy about it. But if it were me, I wouldn't expect people to sympathize or agree that it's a problem with society.
The problem with the legal system is that if you get sued, for pretty much anything, you'll need to spend several thousands of dollars, regardless if you are actually liable or not.
And if you want to sue someone, it will cost you several thousand too.
40% of people in the US cannot afford a $400 unexpected expense. That means that a huge portion of the population, is extremely susceptible to any legal issues, as they won't be able to properly use the legal system to fairly represent them and seek proper justice/relief. Ie. If those people get sued, they'll most likely not be able to afford defending the lawsuit - or if someone did something to them, they won't have the money to sue them.
A proper legal system should not discriminate by level of wealth and should represent everyone equally.
It's my understanding that is a bullshit statistic as I said in another comment. I can't afford an unexpected expense of $400 right now, in the sense that if I really have to pay that bill immediately, I'm going to put it on a credit card. That doesn't make me financially strained.
The strength of the parties cases matters 10000x more than the amount of money they had. In fact, excessive spending was usually associated with worsened outcomes for the spending party.
But what happens when the defendant just simply doesn't have the money to defend themselves in court?
Have you represented a client in court for free for 2 years and paid for their court fees and discovery?
You've also probably dealt mostly with relatively rational people in good faith. But when you have someone who's very vindictive or irrational, acting in bad faith and with a lot of money, it can be terrifying to be on the receiving end, and you can feel absolutely hopeless if you don't have the knowledge or money to defend.
There are studies out there confirming my experience but as I don't currently have access to a law library you'll have to look them up on your own.
Over time, as more tools become available to find people with precise overlaps with a crime, the stronger the narrative is for innocent people (as well as the guilty). IMO a more inquisitorial approach which tests the counterfactual of each evidentiary point rather than relying solely on defense ought to hold up better in the future.
Police and prosecutors in the US are notorious for leaving out evidence that exonerates the accused, even though they are supposedly required to provide the defense with all evidence relevant to the case.
Also, well-connected victims’ cases are investigated much more carefully than normal victims.
For instance, some SFO luggage handlers were stealing stuff from bags. People repeatedly reported them to the police, but nothing happened until they stole from a retired cop. An investigation was launched and they were arrested the next week.
Similarly (based on personal experience with multiple incidents in multiple cities with multiple victims), they normally won’t bother to pull location database records for successful burglaries, even if they have exact timestamps of the incident (up to and including video), even in remote areas in the middle of the night involving literal truckloads of loot (where the location records would be a slam dunk, and the evidence would take a while to dispose of).
Tax agencies target people and companies that don't have the means to defend themselves, because then they can collect on them. Whereas they usually stay away from wealthy/legally savvy individuals/companies, because the cost/benefit of going after them is not worth it.
A few years ago there was a big push in California to go after food trucks. They were the perfect target, small businesses run by individuals or families with few resources or legal sophistication. At some point the media got involved, as well as some advocacy groups. The issue ended with the BOE (California's tax agency), changing the way food trucks had to calculate, report and collect their sales tax. However, many non-wealthy food truck owners ended up with very unfair personal tax liabilities in the thousands of dollars, which they might still be paying today.
I was involved in defending one of these food trucks and putting together their case. They were being assed $60k in taxes and being proposed a payment plan that would have meant them paying a total of around $100k over the course of 10 years. In the end the liability was reassessed to $0. At the beginning of the dispute, every accountant and tax lawyer consulted said the tax liability was unavoidable. Tax agencies are scary.
They will do that from time to time, if you are wealthy and well-connected enough. We had a case like that at my institution, an attempted rape. Don't rely on the government for protection, arm up.
It's worse than that.
Litigation is literally what puts bread on their tables.
They are rewarded financially for inconveniencing the layperson and making them jump through the hoops they have built.
it will not eliminate the inequality, for sure, but it would be a step in the right direction and in some area's the public defenders get less than a dime for ever dollar the Prosecutors office receives in public funding
No, they spend taxpayers funds!
In practice it doesn't always hold up very well.
Do you have an alternative suggestion? Would the government always pay for the entire defense? Or reimburse if the accused is acquitted?
This is also why gun violence restraining orders are bad. Large costs to the defendent with no standards or hearing or even an accusation of a crime.
"Reasonable fees". If You sue me, I win and my lawyer sends me a bill for a billion euros that I pass on to you, no judge will consider that valid.
As for damages and reimbursements: hardly. If you arrest a highly paid consultant and keep him in jail during his trial, he's not getting paid his hourly fee * 24 * days in jail.
I understand he doesn’t have the resources to fight the constitutionality of the whole process. This quote is why ACLU, EFF, and others need to work together to take it up further. Stop the police from continuing the habit of just sweeping people’s data and worry about the details later.
Here in Canada several of our wireless providers banded together to fight an incredibly broad request for information about everyone hitting particular cell towers during a robbery. The crown tried to simply drop the request when challenged, but thankfully the judge didn't let them off so easily. The court issued some rather strict requirements for similar requests.
This isn't covert mass surveillance. We already allow law enforcement to search more private spaces with a warrant, so this doesn't seem like a stretch.
>...Gainesville police, looking for leads, went to an Alachua County judge with the warrant for Google.
How does this exonerate him if he has no lawyer to go thru the procedural efforts? You are right that hiring a lawyer is a choice, in as much as going to prison is a choice.
Because police would likely not even contact him in the first place once they see that there's nothing extraordinary about his movements.
This is plainly a type of General Warrant, something that was banned under the US Constitution
Why it's not the case that Google has too much power in this, by collecting data from their users without asking their permission?
It is my understanding that Google Location services asks before storing this data. My fear is that by writing blanket untrue statements like this, people that don't know better just read it as fact, and spread it.
Disclaimer: Work at Google (in a different space), but everything I write here is my own opinions/views.
You are right! "people that don't know better" should do their own research on whether Google Location services ask for their permission.
Here are few links:
"Google records your location even when you tell it not to"
"Google Collected Data on Schoolchildren Without Permission"
"More than 1,000 Android apps harvest data even after you deny permissions"
"Thousands of Android apps can track your phone — even if you deny permissions"
"The study also singles out photo app Shutterfly for sending actual GPS coordinates back to its servers without getting permission to track locations — by harvesting that data from your photos’ EXIF metadata — though the company denied that it gathers that data without permission in a statement to CNET."
Which is much more nuanced. Some would even consider it as a bug since it is coming from a side-channel. Also the article mentions that a lot of these things are being fixed with newer versions of Android (Q in this case).
However, by just quoting click-baity headlines, it gives the false impression that these products are purposely built to intrude on privacy.
“Normals” in no way understand they are consenting to this, and further, your employer continues to tighten the noose on users who did understand and turned it off, that products will no longer work without this data.
To be clear, Google has the right to demand location data as payment for services rendered.
Sure, just let them be clear about it.
By clear, I don't mean they mention it in the last line of the 29th page.
I like the GDPR approach where you cannot force someone to pay with their privacy. If you want to demand payment, you can demand money.
It certainly does not. In fact, the general prompts are just along the lines of "Maps won't work unless Location Services is on. Turn it on? [Y/N]"
They do, but they do it in a way that seem innocuous.
Google is heavily vertically integrated, if you want to take advantage of many features in Android, you need to "allow" location tracking and collection. Most people want to use Waze, or Maps, or Reviews of Place, etc etc etc. If you do you agree to have your location tracked
Would we be ok if the police just randomly fined people $2000 bucks for no reason? That is basically what happened here.
The further we broaden police powers to dragnets the more innocent people will be within their crosshairs and have to be “filtered” out, often at the accused expense.
Next watch some “first day in jail” videos on Netflix and see the ridiculous stuff that gets people in scary overfilled jails, even for small even legitimate reasons and it’s enough to make it obvious there’s a serious problem with justice and law enforcement in the US.
One of the worst that affected me was an older middle class guy who ended up spending months in jail because he lost his job and at some point in the last 5yrs had a kid with some woman he met on a christian dating site who refused to have an abortion. The courts eventually ruled and said he owed $4k+ in child support in a short time span (a month?) otherwise you’re going to jail, when he was already struggling to live having lost his job. He was one of the few white guys, the stories of the black kids (most looked straight out of highschool) were often even smaller and even dumber reasons which immediately exposes them to living with other real criminals for extended periods of times which they then become friends with... etc.
The US is extremely punitive and the use of jails/prisons and stupid bail schemes is beyond excessive. That makes wrongful convictions all that much worse. Which all happens well before the trials even start.
I'm not going to debate whether American jails need serious improvement. They obviously do. That's orthogonal to investigative techniques IMO.
Geofence warrants seem too broad to me, providing them with access to people (and therefore probable cause for heavier warrants) merely for passing through an area of a crime.
Where it went wrong is a completely orthogonal matter. He was kept in jail for days after it was crystal clear he's not the murderer, and his name was dragged through the mud also after that point. He's completely legitimately suing for that, and hopefully wins. But what does that have to do with a legitimate and effective use of his geolocation data? Again, a murderer is caught because of it. And then the same police department fucked up and ruined a legitimate and justified but innocent suspect's life.
There is something fundamentally wrong with believing that the ends justify the means in these cases. As has been said, "[i]t is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer." 
But the overall rate of shoplifting and murder isn't going to change substantially even if the police ruin a residence and refuse to pay for damages or arrest and jail the wrong person for a substantial period of time.
So it appears that there a negligible increase in overall risk to society and property if criminals sometimes get away, but there doesn't appear to be any substantial decrease in overall risk to them if they're caught at great cost to certain innocent individuals.
In other words, there's really no difference on a societal level whether or not these individual cases result in the arrest and conviction of these criminals, but there's a substantial difference in personal cost for the innocent individuals who were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The former seems possibly okay to me, but the latter is definitely not.
Calling that "wanting privacy on your daily bikeride" is a little silly, and I don't think the 2000$ is really giving you said privacy. Similarly, police overreach is a real issue, but the 2000$ is hardly going to solve that, and as mentioned above, you could've gotten entangled dozens of other way.
- hiring this lawyer to fight the warrant, or
- the risk of being arrested and dealing with criminal charges
That's no choice at all.
You can restrict data to three months which would have been helpful here.
As far as I know, sensorvault is originally sourced from "improve location accuracy" events sent by the phone (hence the original name: sensorvault and not userlocation-vault), and kept "anonymized" until request for de-anonymization by law enforcement.
Based on TFA, this statement is untrue.
He's lucky an overzealous prosecutor didn't go after him anyway.
> So he went to his parents’ home in St. Augustine, where, over dinner, he told them what was happening. They agreed to dip into their savings to pay for a lawyer.
> Important: If you have other settings like Web & App Activity turned on and you pause Location History or delete location data from Location History, you may still have location data saved in your Google Account as part of your use of other Google sites, apps, and services.
Here is a posting from a month ago that didn't get any traction. It links to a Washington Post article that says that the US government is buying location data from apps. It conveniently means they don't need a warrant: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22285638
Here is a posting from 2018 that got 253 comments: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17938548
This is masterful re-framing of Google's deplorable attitude towards user privacy. Apparently the real incursion on privacy is not when Google collects and tracks this information, but when government officials subpoena the information from Google. Amazing.
Don't do anything out of the ordinary. Do exactly what everyone does, and you won't get hurt. If you enjoy exploring and experimenting, discovering and inventing, creating and wondering, you'll need to train yourself out of that, because thoughts lead to actions.
When it became obvious to me that the scenario described in the article was going to be increasingly common, I started to carry my phone in airplane mode, in an electromagnetically shielded pouch (most of which only work marginally), when in transit from place to place. I only turn GPS on when I need it. This also has a nice side-effect of prolonging battery life.
As far as bike fitness tracking, I have and highly recommend the Sigma BC 14.16 bike computer - it runs for over a year on a single coin cell battery, comes with a barometric altimeter, and even does altitude plotting. And it does not and cannot report you to the police!
If law makers/enforcement continue down this dystopian path, having your phone off or not with you at all may become enough to make you a suspect.
That looks extremely suspicious. If they don't have a match, looking for "who turned their phone off somewhere in the vicinity and turned it back on 30 minutes later somewhere else" makes sense.
If you don't want to get tracked, leave your phone at home, and carry a switched-off burner for emergencies.
This is once your case makes it to court. Police/Prosecutors are looking to find/prosecute the culprit, and will assume guilt where they think it makes sense - the court then confirms/denies if this assumed guilt was correct in a trial.
Passing the house momentarily (three times within an hour, according to the article) could mean he was checking out the house as a potential target. That's probably more than enough to mark him as a suspect. Were he the culprit, he could have then turned off the phone, or hid it within some distant bushes making it look like he stopped to rest, while actually doing the burglary.
Innocent people who happened to be in the vicinity should not have to explain their every moment on some day months in the past because the police don't want to spend time doing more detailed investigations and interviewing potential eyewitnesses.
EDIT: maybe not. This one had a warrant rather than a subpoena. I'd still be interested in the interaction though.
And it's why I think a lot of the ire here is misdirected. I mean, sure, the police were wrong for asking for this data, but it's easy to see why they wanted it -- it makes their job easier in an obvious way. The real problem here is the judge that granted the warrant.
oh oh... time to switch to Firefox.
To be noted: real bad actors will start shutting their phones off before their actions.
Which would be a signal as well. They'd rather just leave their phones at home.
The best thing you can do is cut off Google completely. Install AOSP, LineageOS or a similar ROM and don't install Play Services. Get apps from FDroid or where necessary something like Aurora Store (an open-source Play Store implementation). Don't use apps that depend on Google. There are alternative apps for maps that are pretty great, mostly OSM based (e.g. OSMAnd and the Maps.me-based "Maps" app in FDroid).
However that's not always something you can do. Some apps just won't work without some kind of connection to Google. For those, there's MicroG, an open-source implementation of Play Services that gives you a whole lot more control and even allows you to use different location backends like those provided by Mozilla or Apple.
Is there a term for a word that's the result of inefficient application of modifiers?
I would guess that "burglarized" is formed by this evolutionary chain:
A2) buglar : someone who burgles
A3) burglarized : an object which has been acted upon by a burglar
But I would think a more canonical chain is:
B2) burgled : an object of burgling
A3 and B2 seem to mean the same thing, so I would think B2 is preferable because both the word itself, and the chain of applied modifications, are shorter.
It’s similar to “orientate“ instead of “orient”. An object or person has an “orientation” produced by someone or something that “orientates”. This in contrast to someone or something that “orients”.
It’s ugly English, for sure, but I believe it’s perfectly cromulent in grammatical terms.
No money, no justice.
What about legitimate uses of geofence warrants? Does that not exist?
What if your mobile device gets stolen? Why should you not have the right to get its location easily? Happened to me in Northern California, and both AT&T and the police were useless. Part of the reason why I'm not very interested in returning to Cali.
But, no, I'm not allowed to do that, because privacy; and, no, the police in California won't do that, either, because courts are overcrowded, and they don't feel like asking the judge for a warrant that AT&T requires.
I don't think the criminals who steal my device are supposed to have any privacy rights. Just sayin'.
It is not directly Google's fault, they are required by laws to provide the data. Laws are democratically voted, yet are people okay with police able to open their private lives with just a button?
It's Google's fault for collecting the data in the first place.
They could have collected it anonymously rather than tie it to a user but they chose not to do so.
“I would think the majority of citizens in the world would love the fact that we are putting violent offenders in jail,” Armbruster said.
Remind me to bust that one out the next time anyone disagrees with me. "I would think the majority of citizens in the world would want us to watch another UFC fight, honey, instead of Stranger Things."
I didn't know police had such free access to Google data btw. This is super concerning to me.
Here's a US-based criminal defense attorney saying that not only is that good advice, it's also practicable (in the US):
Do not talk to the police. Under any circumstances at all. (But especially if you're innocent!)
Most cars these days also have GSM modems in them, letting the manufacturer, the cell tower, and by extension the entire military intelligence community and federal investigators know exactly where they are at all times (they receive all GSM HLR data in realtime from the carriers). It really is that bad. We know for a fact that domestic federal law enforcement is using parallel construction to conceal the fact that they are receiving tips from the military's mass surveillance systems:
Furthermore, millions of Americans that don't own or drive cars stand in direct evidence contrary to your claim that giving up driving is impractical. Driving is actively harmful to our society, our safety, our cities, and our future well-being. Everyone should be avoiding it as much as possible, including but not limited to moving to places where it's not necessary, or only very rarely necessary.
For the license plate, 3D printing + a 30-second paint job would work just fine. Make it an out-of-state plate. Don’t make up a number; read a plate off of one of those public surveillance-cam live feeds of highway traffic from a different state.
If you’re going to do something really bad, it’d be better to steal a car and put the fake license plate on it; commit your crime; drive this stolen car to, and leave it in, the airport long-term parking lot, and then strip off your disguise in the airport bathroom and take a cab home. (That way, they’ll think “the suspect” fled the city/country.) You could also bring a hand-vacuum with you, use it to detail the car, and then pour bleach all over the car’s interior once it’s clean, to erase both your epithelials, any other epithelials, and to contaminate any blood evidence. Bring the vacuum home with you; empty the filter into a garbage can at least a few streets away; then wash and bleach inside it, too. (It’d be better if you could get a bagged hand-vacuum, but I don’t know of any.)
For the face, skip the silly Halloween masks and go with Hollywood-makeup-dept facial prosthetics, e.g. put on a beard; put on a skin cap to make yourself partially balding, or on top of it, add a short real-hair wig, such that your regular longer hair would have been impossible to grow out in the intervening time; wear fashion glasses if you don’t need glasses, or wear contacts if you always wear glasses; and any other things you can think to do that will change your BOLO description in ways that they don’t expect to be easily changeable (e.g. increase your height by a few inches with subtle platform flats!) Then, use some silicone pads + foundation to add some volume to your cheekbones/forehead/whatever, such that facial metrics computed from imagery of your crime won’t return a match to photos of your normal face. Buy all of these things in different cities than the one you live in, paying cash, using a lesser disguise, at least six months before you intend to commit the crime. (In fact, buy them as an “in case of emergency, new identity” kit for yourself long before you ever decide to commit a specific crime.)
Oh, and of course, whatever you do, wear gloves and shoes. Specifically, new gloves and new shoes of a different make and size to your regular ones, both purchased at least six months in advance. Afterward, burn/melt down your whole disguise kit (gloves+shoes+prosthetics) and throw the remains of it away away in a different city. If you plan to use a gun, use tough gloves, such that slide-bite won’t pull your DNA. (Of course, discard the gun. Disassemble and melt the components first in a DIY sand-box crucible using a blowtorch; then throw the slag in a body of water. The most important thing to melt is the inside of the barrel, to destroy rifling characteristics.)
And never touch any part of your skin to anything during the crime. For example, don’t bite anybody. What are you, crazy?
Finally, maybe consider committing the crime in a different city/state/country than the one you live in, if you can: commute in, do it, commute out. That’s rarely an option for most crimes, given that your “target” is probably someone or something you know, that lives in your city. But, if you’re sufficiently dedicated to doing this, you could move out of your city months in advance as part of the plan, just to return on that one day, commuting in under disguise while you have an alibi back at home. (I’d suggest a remote-work job, and a script to realistically automate the doing of a day’s worth of that remote work, including driving a headless-browser for goofing-off time.)
Source: mostly a lot of studying forensic case-files and asking myself what I’d do differently. It’s a fun way to pass the time when you have to read this stuff anyway for work.
I don’t really feel unethical giving any of this “advice”, because real criminals will never follow it, as criminality is strongly linked to a lack of impulse control. Nobody ever really plans [non-white-collar] crimes months in advance; or if they do, they don’t seek out resources to help them plan, thinking their own naive plan is bulletproof. (Or, on the other side of the spectrum, they feel in need of “authoritative” advice, so they buy books about the crimes they’re going to commit and keep them in their house; rather than, say, finding a text on LibGen through Tor and keeping it on an encrypted USB-key that they look at only through TAILS.) People with high-enough IQs, detail-oriented-ness, and problem-solving abilities to get away with crime, have better things to do with their lives than committing crime†.
(Consider, by analogy: nobody would ever catch you running a meth lab, if you actually followed proper chemistry safety and disposal procedures, something any YouTube chemistry-video creator can manage in their own home just fine. But what criminal chemist does this, even with a strong monetary incentive to do so?)
† Or they become mob bosses.
The article says: "drawn from users’ GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and cellular connection"
and cellular connection.