Surveillance

Silent sting

To find criminal suspects, federal agents use a device that tracks everyone else too

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rebecca@sfbg.com

If the FBI is trying to track down a suspect in your neighborhood, investigators could sweep up information from your mobile device just because you happen to be nearby.

It's been going on for years with little public notice or attention.Read more »

Sneaky surveillance

SFPD has been quietly seeking video footage of new bars since losing a public fight over the issue

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steve@sfbg.com

After public outrage stopped the San Francisco Police Department from instituting controversial — and unconstitutional, say civil libertarians — new video surveillance requirements in bars and clubs more than two years ago, the department quietly began inserting that same requirement into new liquor licenses, a move met with concern at City Hall last week.Read more »

The Guardian drone

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The Bay Guardian today unveiled a plan to take Bay Area journalism “to the next level,” by offering readers an up-close look at local politics through the use of disruptive, innovative, crowd-sourced, cutting-edge technology that was inspired by the sharing economy. Read more »

Are your friends criminals?

Things get weird at the Zero Graffiti International Conference

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STREET SEEN Nearing the climax of her presentation at last week's Zero Graffiti International Conference, Vancouver PD's graffiti-fighting specialist Valerie Spicer despaired over graffiti's affects on its perpetrators.

"He didn't die because of graffiti," she said sadly, a deceased Canadian graffiti artist's childhood photo on the PowerPoint screen behind her. "But I'm quite sure that the behaviors he learned in the subculture didn't help him confront the man who stabbed and killed him."Read more »

Spies on the corner

San Franciscans are in the dark about the city's plans for surveillance streetlights

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rebecca@sfbg.com

In the Netherlands city of Eindhoven, the streetlights lining a central commercial strip will glow red if a storm is coming. It's a subtle cue that harkens back to an old phrase about a red sky warning mariners that bad weather is on the way. The automated color change is possible because satellite weather data flows over a network to tiny processors installed inside the lampposts, which are linked by an integrated wireless system.Read more »

Caught in the FBI's net

A nationwide hunt for sexually exploited children wound up catching a few youth — and a lot more adult sex workers

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yael@sfbg.com

The mission: Rescuing sexually exploited children. Who can argue with that?

From June 20 through June 23, the FBI and local police departments and district attorney's offices throughout the United States were engaged in Operation Cross Country, three days of stings targeting pimps for arrest.

According to the FBI, the mission was successful. "Nationwide, 79 children were rescued and 104 pimps were arrested for various state and local charges," a press statement released the following week reads.Read more »

The Feds are watching -- badly

The FBI's modern snoop program is racist, xenophobic, misdirected, dangerous -- and really, really stupid

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yael@sfbg.com

So, you're a law enforcement officer in training for participation on a local Joint Terrorism Task Force. Or a student at the United States Military Academy at West Point, involved in the counterterrorism training program developed in partnership with the FBI. Or you're an FBI agent training up to deal with terrorist threats.

Get ready for FBI training in dealing with Arab and Muslim populations.Read more »

Big (Robot) Brother is watching you on Muni

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So I'm not usually the paranoid type (I said usually), but this one is a little creepy: According to Fast Company, Muni is going to deploy a camera system that can detect criminal or potential terrorist behavior -- without a human being.Read more »

The FBI spies on mosques

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The FBI has been sending agents to mosques in California and filing intelligence reports without any suspicion of criminal activity, records obtained by the ACLU, the Asian Law Caucus and the Bay Guardian show.

The records, obtained under the federal Freedom of Information Act, show agents engaged in what the FBI calls its "mosque outreach" program gathering intelligence on the content of sermons, mosque finances and such mundane things as the sale of date fruit.Read more »