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posted by martyb on Tuesday May 06 2014, @03:55PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the you-can-access-the-emails-we-want-you-to-see dept.

In 2008, two of Sarah Palin's personal Yahoo email accounts were hacked, revealing the existence of correspondence with other government officials like Alaska's Lieutenant Governor and even California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger outside any sunshine record-keeping requirements of the state government. Palin was eventually cleared of any wrong-doing with the account, despite the account being deleted before the investigation even started.

In what feels like the discovery of another tip of the same iceberg, ProPublica has a report about the Cuomo administration's adoption of similar tactics in New York.

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  • (Score: 5, Informative) by SuddenOutbreak on Tuesday May 06 2014, @03:59PM

    by SuddenOutbreak (3961) on Tuesday May 06 2014, @03:59PM (#40201)

    Police also routinely communicate with each other over personal cell phone rather than with their radios. Even though many of the police radio systems are now encrypted, these sidebar conversations are also not recorded by the police station.

    The only way we usually find out how thoroughly these outside channels are used is when someone references them INSIDE the regular/FOIA-able channels. Witness the NJ Bridge Closing debacle.

    • (Score: 3) by davester666 on Tuesday May 06 2014, @04:37PM

      by davester666 (155) on Tuesday May 06 2014, @04:37PM (#40215)

      Easy solution. Subpoena the logs from the NSA.

      • (Score: 3, Funny) by bob_super on Tuesday May 06 2014, @04:52PM

        by bob_super (1357) on Tuesday May 06 2014, @04:52PM (#40223)

        "We would, but it's only metadata, there is no valuable information"

      • (Score: 2) by etherscythe on Tuesday May 06 2014, @07:15PM

        by etherscythe (937) on Tuesday May 06 2014, @07:15PM (#40283) Journal

        Easy? Hah! One could as well simply say "only hire people to the police force that will never do anything untoward or unethical". Sure, it's easy to say, but the odds of success are rather lower than you suggest.

        --
        "Fake News: anything reported outside of my own personally chosen echo chamber"
    • (Score: 1) by tftp on Tuesday May 06 2014, @06:06PM

      by tftp (806) on Tuesday May 06 2014, @06:06PM (#40250) Homepage

      Police also routinely communicate with each other in person. Should they be fitted with personal audio and video recorders? Otherwise banning cell phones won't be effective.

      Police officers use phones in several situations. First, their radios may not work well within buildings, but the cellular signal may be strong enough because towers are everywhere. Second, the radio channel is simplex, and there are only few of those channels. Direct conversations on a shared channel are not welcome; they have to be approved by the dispatcher (the control.) Also, lengthy discussions of specifics of a certain case are of no interest to other officers.

      As pretty much every tool in existence, cell phones can be used for good and for bad. A technological measure will not solve a social problem. If you want the LEOs to not plot an illegal act outside of the range of monitoring systems, you have to find better LEOs. Nothing less will do.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Angry Jesus on Tuesday May 06 2014, @06:27PM

        by Angry Jesus (182) on Tuesday May 06 2014, @06:27PM (#40264)

        > Police also routinely communicate with each other in person. Should they be fitted with
        > personal audio and video recorders? Otherwise banning cell phones won't be effective.

        The perfect is the enemy of the good.

      • (Score: 2) by frojack on Tuesday May 06 2014, @06:43PM

        by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday May 06 2014, @06:43PM (#40270) Journal

        Second, the radio channel is simplex, and there are only few of those channels.

        Its not 1958 any more.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trunked_radio_system [wikipedia.org]
        http://wiki.radioreference.com/index.php/Trunking [radioreference.com]

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      • (Score: 4, Interesting) by HiThere on Tuesday May 06 2014, @07:22PM

        by HiThere (866) on Tuesday May 06 2014, @07:22PM (#40289) Journal

        Not a bad idea. The police have so often proved liars and corrupt, that I feel all their time while on the job should be recorded with recorders that they have no access to or control over...but which can be subpoenaed for court records. So, yes, they can use cell phones...but what they say will be recorded by official records.

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      • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Tuesday May 06 2014, @10:01PM

        by Thexalon (636) on Tuesday May 06 2014, @10:01PM (#40358)

        Should they be fitted with personal audio and video recorders?

        Absolutely, and some departments have done exactly that: Among other things, brutality complaints drop dramatically among the officers who were fitted with personal cameras, and those complaints that do come up are much easier to resolve.

        --
        Alcohol makes the world go round ... and round and round.
      • (Score: 1) by gman003 on Tuesday May 06 2014, @10:27PM

        by gman003 (4155) on Tuesday May 06 2014, @10:27PM (#40367)

        Yeah, sounds good to me. Stick a camera and microphone on every cop - if it goes off while they are on duty, and they do not immediately remedy it, they're fired. And if they performed any "police work" with it off, they're charged with malfeasance. To make sure records are not "misplaced", the recordings should be broadcast online as soon as their duty shift ends (I'm sure the ACLU, among numerous others, will make their own copies based on that).

        And hey, don't they tell us that more security cameras makes us safer?

        • (Score: 2, Insightful) by tftp on Tuesday May 06 2014, @10:50PM

          by tftp (806) on Tuesday May 06 2014, @10:50PM (#40372) Homepage

          On one hand, this is a good application for Google Glass. On the other hand, LEO are dealing with personal information all the time - license plates, addresses, names, restraining orders, convictions, court dates... and some of that information belongs to 3rd parties who are not involved. A Reporting Party could be a neighbor, for example; and that neighbor doesn't want to broadcast to the whole world that it was she who called police. This information should be protected.

          This means that if each LEO is monitored, those records cannot be streamed over the Internet in real time. They can be only available as evidence, or in a similar legal way. They will be available to lawyers, victims, and courts, but not to a bored stranger who wants to watch an IRL crime drama.

          This personal information is transmitted over the air these days. Some channels are mere NBFM, other are P.25 (not encrypted around here.) They require a certain hardware to intercept, and that hardware costs some significant money. A bored stranger has to do some reading, and then some spending, before he has a working scanner. It's not a high barrier, but it helps protect against many unprepared observers. Though these days some scanners are streaming over the Internet, so all you need to have is a smartphone.

      • (Score: 2) by sjames on Wednesday May 07 2014, @01:28AM

        by sjames (2882) on Wednesday May 07 2014, @01:28AM (#40394) Journal

        Upgrade the radios or issue cellphones for police business. Nothing about the job should be off the record, especially not with the amount of reasonable suspicion that's floating out there.

        • (Score: 1) by tftp on Wednesday May 07 2014, @01:40AM

          by tftp (806) on Wednesday May 07 2014, @01:40AM (#40396) Homepage

          The police (in this area, at least) are using department-issued cell phones. About every other officer has it. They need them to call people - many 911 calls are resolved over the phone; in other cases the officer needs to know where to meet with the victim, etc. Some cases are purely about filing a paperwork, such as if one loses their passport.

          However cell phones do not provide recording of conversations. Recording that is suitable as evidence should be done properly and reliably, not with a Walkman that is duct-taped to the phone. Perhaps NSA can do it, since they record everything else already...

          • (Score: 2) by sjames on Wednesday May 07 2014, @02:39AM

            by sjames (2882) on Wednesday May 07 2014, @02:39AM (#40404) Journal

            Treat it as a wiretap order. Easy enough since there isn't a 4th amendment issue involved in a govt issued phone for official use only.

    • (Score: 2) by frojack on Tuesday May 06 2014, @06:37PM

      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday May 06 2014, @06:37PM (#40269) Journal

      Police also routinely communicate with each other over personal cell phone rather than with their radios.

      So what?

      Police communications are specifically exempted [rcfp.org] from public records laws in most states.

      Official actions, such as arrests, citations, detentions, etc. are open, but communications between officers and even between departments are always exempted via disclosure would endanger the successful
      completion of an investigation, or endanger witnesses or endanger officers
      exceptions. Check the link for state by state details.

      Investigation documents are almost always exempt, even after the case is closed. Just revealing the names of someone who talked to the police could get that person killed.

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      • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Tuesday May 06 2014, @07:25PM

        by HiThere (866) on Tuesday May 06 2014, @07:25PM (#40291) Journal

        While your point is valid, it doesn't mean that those records should not be made, and that they should not be possible to be subpoenaed for court records. Redaction should be at the discretion of the judge. The fact that the laws are as you state is one reason there's so much corruption...and they were probably written that way to facilitate corruption already in place.

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        • (Score: 2) by frojack on Tuesday May 06 2014, @08:47PM

          by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday May 06 2014, @08:47PM (#40332) Journal

          You assume that the conversation was about official business, rather than the weekend fishing trip, and therefore you expect every police officer's phone calls to be recorded and available for any sympathetic judge to release.

          Would YOU work under such conditions?

          --
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          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 07 2014, @07:09AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 07 2014, @07:09AM (#40437)

            Nobody is forcing them to be policemen. Just saying.

  • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 06 2014, @04:39PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 06 2014, @04:39PM (#40218)

    Wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiilllllllmmmmmmmmmmmaaaaaaaaaa!

  • (Score: 1) by grumpyman on Tuesday May 06 2014, @05:17PM

    by grumpyman (4297) on Tuesday May 06 2014, @05:17PM (#40234)

    ...you want big brother (traceability on government), you'll get it, and so will everybody.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Covalent on Tuesday May 06 2014, @06:18PM

      by Covalent (43) on Tuesday May 06 2014, @06:18PM (#40257) Journal

      Government officials SHOULD be tracked and recorded and scrutinized. They work for us, remember?

      Our priorities in this country are completely backwards. With the technology so cheap and easy, it should be criminal for cops to talk on their cell phones unless they are state issued, monitored, and recorded like the police radio is. This is a trivial imposition on the police (they have money for SWAT teams...they can afford phone / radio recording devices).

      But for the rest of us?

      "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

      Yes, I know, the 4th amendment is probably the most eroded of them all, but it's still the law of the land. We should be furious (up in those 2nd-amendment-protected arms) about the erosion of this amendment and the abuse of power currently taking place at all levels of government.

      But Kim Kardashian has a huge booty...oooh pictures of cats....CandyCrush...what were we talking about again?

      --
      You can't rationally argue somebody out of a position they didn't rationally get into.
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by FatPhil on Tuesday May 06 2014, @05:40PM

    by FatPhil (863) <{pc-soylent} {at} {asdf.fi}> on Tuesday May 06 2014, @05:40PM (#40240) Homepage
    > Palin was eventually cleared of any wrong-doing with the account, despite the account being deleted before the investigation even started.

    So Palin was cleared of wrong-doing *despite* all the evidence being deleted.

    Surely that should be more like:

    Palin was cleared of wrong-doing *because* all the evidence had been deleted.
    --
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    • (Score: 1) by darkfeline on Tuesday May 06 2014, @06:44PM

      by darkfeline (1030) on Tuesday May 06 2014, @06:44PM (#40271) Homepage

      I'm fairly sure normally, that would constitute destruction of evidence and/or obstructing the court/investigation, so yes, *despite* all the evidence being deleted.

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      • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 06 2014, @06:55PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 06 2014, @06:55PM (#40274)

        That only applies to criminal investigations and not ethics complaints. You end up with a catch-22 where the lack of evidence means there is no progression to a criminal investigation.

    • (Score: 2) by frojack on Tuesday May 06 2014, @07:13PM

      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday May 06 2014, @07:13PM (#40281) Journal

      Probably the evidence wouldn't hold up in court anyway once the account was hacked. (You know that you would use the same defense in court if it happened to your account.)

      Also, much is made of the fact that Palin communicated with others, but the TFA says (and Angry Jesus chose to omit): While in fairness to the governor, many of the e-mails appear harmless and of a personal nature, a few are addressed to state officials.

      It is not a public matter when you get wished a happy birthday by a governor.

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      • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Tuesday May 06 2014, @07:29PM

        by HiThere (866) on Tuesday May 06 2014, @07:29PM (#40294) Journal

        It is not a public matter when you get wished a happy birthday by a governor.

        It should be. All official actions (i.e. actions by officials) should be public unless there is a valid reason to secure them...and in that case they should still be recorded on something that is not under the control of the individual being recorded...including under their control through transitivity or association.

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        • (Score: 2) by frojack on Tuesday May 06 2014, @08:57PM

          by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday May 06 2014, @08:57PM (#40336) Journal

          Why should it be?

          I knew the Governor of Alaska (not Palin). Fished with him.
          When he called me on his private cell, to talk fishing or wish me a happy happy, WHY should that be anyone's business?

          It was not an official action. It didn't happen on state Letterhead. It didn't happen on a State phone. It did happen on several occasions during state work hours, but the governor is allowed the same break periods as any other state employee.

          There is no law on the books in Alaska or an other state that makes the Governor or any other elected official open to 24 hour surveillance in what little private life they have. The Governor works FOR the people, but since the passage of the Thirteenth amendment slavery and indentured servitude are forbidden in the US.

          --
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          • (Score: 2) by Angry Jesus on Tuesday May 06 2014, @11:11PM

            by Angry Jesus (182) on Tuesday May 06 2014, @11:11PM (#40377)

            > I knew the Governor of Alaska (not Palin). Fished with him.

            That's too bad. The guy was in the pocket of big oil. Palin was a fantastic governor while she still had a goal of cutting back that cronyism. Her problems only started after she succeeded and was left with idle hands.

            > When he called me on his private cell, to talk fishing or wish me a happy happy,
            > WHY should that be anyone's business?

            If you aren't politically connected, like working for the state or a major political donor, then no need because as a regular person you are extremely unlikely to be part of any corrupt acts simply because you don't have resources to participate. That should be obvious.

            • (Score: 2) by frojack on Tuesday May 06 2014, @11:35PM

              by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday May 06 2014, @11:35PM (#40380) Journal

              He was not in the pocket of big oil, in fact opposition from big oil was the reason he only served one term.

              At the time, I was working as a lowly programmer for the State, and the only interest the two of us had in common was Dolly Varden and old airplane.

              --
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              • (Score: 2) by Angry Jesus on Tuesday May 06 2014, @11:48PM

                by Angry Jesus (182) on Tuesday May 06 2014, @11:48PM (#40383)

                > At the time, I was working as a lowly programmer for the State, and the only interest
                > the two of us had in common was Dolly Varden and old airplane.

                You seem to be implying that because as an employee of the state you were personally not involved in any corrupt dealings with the governor that keeping a paper trail of all communications between the governor and employees of the state is not an important check on the power of the governor.

                • (Score: 2) by frojack on Wednesday May 07 2014, @12:30AM

                  by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday May 07 2014, @12:30AM (#40388) Journal

                  It was not official business. We went fishing. Neither of us was acting in any official capacity. Therefore, no records were kept. The law does not require any records of such events, nor should it. No state in the union requires records of such events.

                  Most states would require a security detail following a governor around. There might be expense account records of that, But this was Alaska, and there was never such a detail on our fishing trips, and it was not uncommon to meet the governor on the street without his Trooper. (Palin almost always had a Trooper or two, but then she was pretty good looking and there would have been stalkers).

                  (This was a long time ago, I don't live there any more. In Washington state where I now live, getting close to the Governor is almost impossible without an invitation or formal appointment).

                  --
                  No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
                  • (Score: 2) by Angry Jesus on Wednesday May 07 2014, @01:15AM

                    by Angry Jesus (182) on Wednesday May 07 2014, @01:15AM (#40393)

                    You seem to really want to make this about your personal experience without regard for how corruption in politics works, or for that matter, how modern communication works.

                    You went fishing, your communications didn't pass through a naturally recorded medium. While it is certainly possible for corruption to occur in face-to-face meetings, that is waaay less efficient than email. Recording emails means people engaged in corruption don't get the benefit of modern conveniences with no practical detriment to the normal course of state business, or for that matter personal business with people who do not have the means to corrupt the office.

      • (Score: 1, Redundant) by Angry Jesus on Tuesday May 06 2014, @07:39PM

        by Angry Jesus (182) on Tuesday May 06 2014, @07:39PM (#40301)

        > the TFA says (and Angry Jesus chose to omit): While in fairness to the governor, many of
        > the e-mails appear harmless and of a personal nature, a few are addressed to state officials.

        I chose to omit it because the important part was redundant. Nobody needs to do a draft of a happy birthday message, even if the recipient is the governor of california.

  • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 07 2014, @03:31AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 07 2014, @03:31AM (#40415)

    What, have we quickly forgotten how this was de rigueur for the whole Bush White House [wikipedia.org] (with the same "oops, I seemed to have deleted those" ending)?