Sheriff's Department Responds to Sonic Weapon Outrage
- 10News.com San Diego -
The San Diego County Sheriff's Department Tuesday responded to 10News' report about a new sonic weapon known as a Long Range Acoustic Device, or LRAD.
The technology has been used in Iraq to control insurgents, and now it is in the sheriff's department's possession.
With some people concerned over whether the LRAD would be dangerous and if it would be used the way it is in war zones, 10News contacted the sheriff's department for their take.
The device was originally made to be used for war, and it emits high-pitched sounds as a form crowd control.
On Monday, members of the American Civil Liberties Union spoke with 10News, and they expressed outrage that local law enforcement had the device and that they had brought it to recent town hall meetings in case things got out of hand.
Kevin Keenan, of the ACLU, said, "We think that local law enforcement shouldn't be using military style weaponry like that."
On Tuesday, Ed Musgrove of the sheriff's department told 10News the device was only being used for good, like helping search-and-rescue teams and warning residents during fires or floods."
So, it will never be used in San Diego as a weapon?" asked 10News' Ariana Duarte.
"No, not by the Sheriff's Department, no," said Musgrove."
And that's a guarantee?"
San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore was recently quoted saying the LRAD was purchased for events "should there be any problems." He also added, "We could use the LRAD in place of pepper spray."
Duarte asked the sheriff's department about the comment and they said it was probably a poor choice of words and insisted that the device was only here to help."
If the issue was getting the message out to people that need to hear it, then this is the device to do it," said Musgrove."
So, is it used to startle them?" asked Duarte.
"Then how is it comparable to pepper spray?"
"I don't know that I would make that comparison."
The LRAD cost the sheriff's department $27,000, and it was paid for with money from a 2007 Homeland Security grant.
License plate-reading technology used to profile traffic entering Washington town
- Seattle Times -
City signs have a unique way of greeting people. In Issaquah, for instance, motorists are told they're entering "a special place where people care." For years, Bothell invited people to stay "for a day or a lifetime."
In Medina, a new sign bears this warning: "You Are Entering a 24 Hour Video Surveillance Area."
Cameras have recently been installed at intersections to monitor every vehicle coming into the city.
Under the "automatic license plate recognition" project, once a car enters Medina, a camera captures its license-plate number. Within seconds, the number is run through a database.
If a hit comes up for a felony — say, the vehicle was reported stolen or is being driven by a homicide suspect — the information is transmitted instantaneously to police, who can "leap into action," said Police Chief Jeffrey Chen.
"These cameras provide us with intelligence," Chen said. "It gets us in front of criminals. I don't like to be on a level playing field with criminals."
He declined to give the number and location of all the cameras.
Medina — a city of 3,100 with an average household income of $222,000 — had discussed the idea for years as a way to discourage crime, city officials said.
Last year, there were 11 burglaries, Chen said.
"Some people think [that number of burglaries] is tolerable," he said. "But even one crime is intolerable."
All captured information is stored for 60 days — even if nothing negative turns up, he said. That allows police to mine data if a crime occurs later, Chen said.
Doug Honig, spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, said such a system smacks of privacy violations.
"Government shouldn't be keeping records of people's comings and goings when they haven't done anything wrong," he said. "By actions like this, we're moving closer and closer to a surveillance society."
Medina City Councilmember Lucius Biglow said crime prevention "outweighs concern over privacy."
"Privacy is considerably less nowadays than it was, say, 50 years ago," he said. "I think most of us are pretty well-documented by the federal government ... simply because of the Internet and credit cards."
Don't you just love how casually he mentions that we have no privacy rights in this country anymore?
White House collects Web users' data without notice
Social-media messages go into archives
- Washington Times -
The White House is collecting and storing comments and videos placed on its social-networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube without notifying or asking the consent of the site users, a failure that appears to run counter to President Obama's promise of a transparent government and his pledge to protect privacy on the Internet.
Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said the White House signaled that it would insist on open dealings with Internet users and, in fact, should feel obliged to disclose that it is collecting such information.
"The White House has not been adequately transparent, particularly on how it makes use of new social media techniques, such as this example," he said.
Defenders of the White House actions said the Presidential Records Act requires that the administration gather the information and that it was justified in taking the additional step of asking a private contractor to "crawl and archive" all such material. Nicholas Shapiro, a White House spokesman, declined to say when the practice began or how much the new contract would cost.
Susan Cooper, a spokeswoman for National Archives and Records Administration, said the presidential records law applies to "social media" and to public comments "received by the president or immediate staff."
Mr. Obama signed a memo in January stating that his efforts to maintain an open government would be "unprecedented" and "ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation and collaboration."
An Obama campaign document on technology pledged that, as president, Mr. Obama "will strengthen privacy protections for the digital age and will harness the power of technology to hold government and business accountable for violations of personal privacy."
In a June 5, 2008, article in PC Magazine, Mr. Obama said, "The open information platforms of the 21st century can also tempt institutions to violate the privacy of citizens. We need sensible safeguards that protect privacy in this dynamic new world."
The National Legal and Policy Center, a government ethics watchdog, said archiving the sites would have a "chilling effect" on Web site users who might wish to leave comments critical of the administration.
Ken Boehm, a lawyer and chairman of the center, also disputed that the presidential records law applies, because the comments are pasted onto a third-party Web page and not official correspondence with the president.
"If the White House has nothing to hide, why is this cloaked in secrecy? Why won't they make the dollar amount this is going to cost public?" Mr. Boehm asked. "I don't think there is an expectation that this is being captured by the government and saved."