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DC Inauguration Protestors Are Being Hit With Facebook Data Searches (citylab.com) 341

During the protests over the inauguration of Donald Trump, more than 230 protestors were arrested -- many of which were charged with rioting and had their phones seized by Washington, D.C., police. One of the individuals who was arrested received an email from Facebook's "Law Enforcement Response Team," which raises the question: Did D.C. police ask Facebook to reveal information about this arrestee? CityLab reports: In an emailed response to CityLab's request for more information, Rachel Reid, a spokesperson for the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, responded that "MPD does not comment on investigative tactics." The District of Columbia United States Attorney's Office -- the agency leading the prosecution of Inauguration protesters -- has not yet responded to CityLab's inquiry. CityLab also asked Facebook about the email. "We don't comment on individual requests," company spokesperson Jay Nancarrow said. He referred CityLab to the site's law enforcement guidelines page and to its Government Requests Report database, where the public can see how many legal processes it receives from countries worldwide. According to this database, U.S. law enforcement requested information on the accounts of 38,951 users over January to June of 2016, and they received some type of data in 80 percent of cases. Which "legal process" authorities sent to Facebook for information on the protester matters considerably in terms of how much data they can seize for investigation. According to Facebook's legal guidelines, a search warrant, for example, could allow Facebook to give away content data including "messages, photos, videos, timeline posts, and location information." A subpoena or a court order would give authorities less information, but would still include the individual's "name, length of service, credit card information, email address(es), and a recent login/logout IP address(es)."
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DC Inauguration Protestors Are Being Hit With Facebook Data Searches

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  • by turkeydance ( 1266624 ) on Monday February 06, 2017 @08:52PM (#53815963)
    it raises the question but does not beg.
    • by zlives ( 2009072 )

      questioning is now begging... i think you are just supposed to take it.

    • by Skidge ( 316075 )

      Wow, two "begs the question" summaries in two days. We did better this time [slashdot.org], though.

    • by tsotha ( 720379 )
      Unfortunately dictionaries and style manuals have thrown in the towel on this one. "Begging the question" just doesn't mean what it used to mean any more. Not even officially.
      • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Monday February 06, 2017 @09:23PM (#53816127)

        "Begging the question" just doesn't mean what it used to mean any more.

        "Begging the question" is almost always used incorrectly, and most people don't even know the correct meaning. But enough people get annoyed by incorrect usage, that it is best to just avoid the phrase entirely in your own speaking or writing.

        Use "raise the question" if that is what you mean.
        Use "circular reasoning" if that is what you mean.
        Or, if you really want to look pretentious, use "assuming the antecedent".

        • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Monday February 06, 2017 @10:20PM (#53816397) Journal

          "Begging the question" is almost always used incorrectly...

          Unlike, for instance, French (a "dead language spoken by millions"), which has a rule-making body with the force of law that can fine you (in some jurisdictions) for saying "hamburger" in an otherwise French sentence, American English is a living language.

          That means what is "correct" is what the bulk of the speakers actually say. It changes from time to time. This is one of those times and one of those changes.

          It is also a Germanic language, not a Romance language.

          It's similar to the prohibition on ending a sentence with a preposition (which is a rule from Latin which academics keep trying to impose on English speakers, though the grammatical form always was legitimate in English and other Germanic languages). "Begging the Question" began as a mistranslation of a Latin phrase (attributed to Aristotle) that was incorporated as a technical term (for a particular logical fallacy) into a specialized academic vocabulary. But the phrase has ALSO come to be used for other things (which actually match the string of words more closely).

          Some academics claim their subculture's first use makes it the only "correct" meaning of the phrase. But like other words and phrases in English, the common usage defines the (set of) "correct" meaning(s).

          • by Orgasmatron ( 8103 ) on Monday February 06, 2017 @10:34PM (#53816465)

            No matter how many people use literally to mean figuratively, no matter how many dictionaries take note of the inverse usage, it is still wrong, and anyone trying to avoid looking like a moron would be wise to steer clear of incorrect uses. Ditto "begging the question".

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              No matter how many people use literally to mean figuratively, no matter how many dictionaries take note of the inverse usage, it is still wrong, and anyone trying to avoid looking like a moron would be wise to steer clear of incorrect uses. Ditto "begging the question".

              While I absolutely agree with you that educated speakers/writers need to simply avoid "begging the question," I also absolutely disagree with you about your use of the word "wrong" here.

              Language is about communication of meaning. It's not a "game" where you get to "win" if you check off enough of the "rules." I'm not sure there is ANY English speaker out there familiar with the phrase "begging the question" who is unfamiliar with its meaning to "raise the question," and generally it's clear from context

              • I stand by my assessment. This usage is wrong.

                Like it or not, right or wrong, people judge you by how you write and speak (and look). If you have good ideas and want them to be heard, the very last thing you should do is hinder that effort by allowing yourself to sound (or look) like an uneducated moron.

              • You, and others, are attempting to equate the incorrect use of "begs the question" with "raises the question". In common use "that begs the question" usually is intended to mean "that fails to raise the question."
          • by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Monday February 06, 2017 @11:13PM (#53816633) Homepage Journal

            .That means what is "correct" is what the bulk of the speakers actually say. It changes from time to time. This is one of those times and one of those changes.

            Yes, and it's also dumbing down the language to the level of the ignorant. And it causes confusion when the listener assumes original usage. I do not believe either a good thing.

            Other examples of words and idioms often used to mean something different from the original:

            - Literally. Factually. An antonym of figuratively, and not a synonym.
            - Evacuate. A synonym for empty. You empty/evacuate buildings and areas of people; you seldom empty the people.
            - Push the envelope: Stretch the limits, not pass the buck.
            - Peruse: Going over something in detail, not skim over it lightly.
            - Nauseous: Noxious. His socks were nauseous, and she became nauseated.
            - Noisome. Related to nauseous; it means smelly, not noisy.
            - Proscribe: Forbid, not recommend.
            - Ultimate: Last, not greatest. Ultimate position is the opposite of pole position.
            - Nonplussed: Dumbstruck and fazed, not unimpressed and unfazed. Only Americans seem to use this one contrary to original usage.
            - Comprise: A synonym for contain and not consist. "Comprised of" is almost always wrong. USA comprises 50 states; it is not comprised of 50 states.

            If there can be any doubt whether all your readers have switched over to the "new meaning", don't use it.

            • Nauseous has 2 meanings, queasy and nauseating. For clarity's sake, use nauseating in preference to nauseous when appropriate.

              Ultimate: final, farthest, extreme, fundamental, essential, beyond which there is no other. In the context of progress, ultimate may not only be greatest, but the greatest possible

              Comprise: To consist of or take in; contain; include; embrace. [Funk & Wagnalls]. I'm still a bit confused on proper usage.

              Thanks for peruse and nonplussed; you've enhanced my knowledge.

          • That means what is "correct" is what the bulk of the speakers actually say.

            Does this apply to everything? Like if the bulk of people think the moon is made of cheese?

        • by tsotha ( 720379 )

          Yeah, I agree. I avoid "begging the question" in my writing, along with similar phrases like "could care less".

          • begging the question, at least, HAS correct usages. 'could care less' as it is commonly used by Americans, and intended to mean 'I couldn't care any less than I do, because I don't care' means absolutely the opposite of what is intended.
  • by mi ( 197448 ) <slashdot-2016q1@virtual-estates.net> on Monday February 06, 2017 @08:57PM (#53815993) Homepage Journal

    A number of crimes (including violent [reuters.com] ones) have been committed, which the relevant law-enforcement agency(ies) are duly investigating. They have detained some suspects and are collecting evidence. What's so outrageous or even particularly newsworthy about this?

    • They have detained some suspects and are collecting evidence. What's so outrageous or even particularly newsworthy about this?

      They are using social media to connect these people to others. If you are "friends" with one of these people, you are likely okay. If you are connected to two or more, you are likely going onto a watchlist. I suggest getting a Trump/Pence bumper sticker just to be safe.

    • What's so outrageous or even particularly newsworthy about this?

      People are committing preplanned crimes while logged into Facebook. It's not newsworthy, but it is pretty outrageous.

    • A number of crimes (including violent [reuters.com] ones) have been committed, which the relevant law-enforcement agency(ies) are duly investigating. They have detained some suspects and are collecting evidence. What's so outrageous or even particularly newsworthy about this?

      Why hundreds of people were protesting isn't some kind of unsolved mystery that demands or even justifies law enforcement digging through the last decade of electronic personal data in order to "crack" the case. How would you feel after getting arrested for DUI if law enforcement searched through you entire house, your office, your vacation cabin, and your parents house, just because you happen to have a set of keys on you? If private data is irrelevant to the crime, then it's fucking irrelevant, and pri

      • by mi ( 197448 )

        Why hundreds of people were protesting

        Bzzz, wrong. Tens (perhaps even hundreds) of thousands were protesting. Two hundred were arrested.

        How would you feel after getting arrested for DUI if law enforcement searched through you entire house

        I'd feel crappy about DUI...

        If private data is irrelevant to the crime

        Ah, but it is relevant! For example, did these people start to riot spontaneously, or were some of them part of conspiracy? And, in the latter case, who else was part of the same conspiracy — even i

      • Why hundreds of people were protesting isn't some kind of unsolved mystery that demands or even justifies law enforcement digging through the last decade of electronic personal data in order to "crack" the case. ... The root of the issue is the bullshit justification that a search warrant of this kind was even authorized.

        What's that got to do with finding evidence for intent and/or conspiracy? Both are legitimate pieces of evidence to search for, in a place that is legitimate to search with a warrant, and

      • On the other hand, Soros doesn't fund organizations that organize and encourage people to drink and drive, so your DUI isn't feeding a RICO case.

    • Not too long ago Apple defied an order to unlock a known terrorists' phone. Today, Facebook is rolling over on ordinary protesters. Times are changing.
      • by mi ( 197448 )

        Not too long ago Apple defied an order to unlock a known terrorists' phone.

        A disgusting stand...

        Today, Facebook is rolling over on ordinary protesters.

        False. Hundreds of thousands of ordinary protesters did not riot. A tiny minority did, of whom an even tinier minority got arrested and are being investigated — for the rioting. Again, they aren't being investigated for being protesters — ordinary or otherwise — they are accused (credibly) of rioting. So, you posted an untruth, which you kne

  • If if was a fifth (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wbr1 ( 2538558 ) on Monday February 06, 2017 @09:02PM (#53816021)
    If these were legitimately violent protesters being arrested..for violence..then by all means search. If this was random jo standing and shouting without violence, then no. Context is important here and TFS and the first linked TFA are not clear on if all who were arrested were violent, nor who had devices/accounts searched.

    Part of the reason of that is the opacity with which government treats these things. That makes it hard as hell to be an informed populace and fight overreach. It is also something Obama promised and never delivered, he in fact often did the opposite. This is not a partisan statement, as I have nothing but disdain for or current administration and tend to lean pretty damn liberal. I mention it as a point of fact that few, if any of those in power have your or my interest at heart, regardless of the populist messages they spew.

    • by tsotha ( 720379 )
      So far there's no indication peaceful protestors are being charged with anything. What would the government charge them with?
      • Depends on what they find in those Facebook postings. Want to bet that I could easily find something to make your life very interesting and busy for the foreseeable future given your social media contents?

    • If these were legitimately violent protesters being arrested..for violence..then by all means search.

      Wrong.

      You should be authorized to search data if and only if it is deemed relevant to the crime. Why people were protesting isn't some kind of fucking mystery to solve, so spare me the lame excuses of justifying a search warrant to dissect the last decade of personal data for someone who was pissed about who got sworn in two weeks ago.

      If you got arrested for DUI (cause and effect is rather obvious), the police don't have an automatic right to search your house, your office, your garage, and your vacation h

      • by Entrope ( 68843 )

        The legal standard to get a search warrant is called probable cause. In particular, the officer requesting the search warrant must demonstrate (to the judge or magistrate who signs the warrant) that facts and circumstances known to the officer give a reasonable person a basis to believe that a crime was committed there or that evidence of a crime exists at the location.

        In this case, the police probably made the (no-brainer) argument that mobs of Black Bloc rioters do not spontaneously condense out of the a

    • At this point in time, until proven otherwise, I wouldn't put it past this Administration to harass protestors, peaceful or otherwise, just because they exist.
  • by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Monday February 06, 2017 @09:05PM (#53816037)

    Stop using "begs the question" incorrectly, you clowns.

    Further:

    According to Facebook's legal guidelines, a search warrant, for example, could allow Facebook to give away content data including "messages, photos, videos, timeline posts, and location information." A subpoena or a court order would give authorities less information, but would still include the individual's "name, length of service, credit card information, email address(es), and a recent login/logout IP address(es).

    What's the problem, exactly? One arrested individual is making this claim. Facebook says they do so with a court order, subpoena, or actual warrant. You need an actual warrant to get most info.

    Now if you had evidence that Facebook was turning over tons of data on anyone who was simply at the protests without a warrant/subpoena/order, then we'd have a story.

    • Stop using "begs the question" incorrectly, you clowns.

      Further:

      According to Facebook's legal guidelines, a search warrant, for example, could allow Facebook to give away content data including "messages, photos, videos, timeline posts, and location information." A subpoena or a court order would give authorities less information, but would still include the individual's "name, length of service, credit card information, email address(es), and a recent login/logout IP address(es).

      What's the problem, exactly? One arrested individual is making this claim. Facebook says they do so with a court order, subpoena, or actual warrant. You need an actual warrant to get most info.

      The issue is not Facebook responding to a search warrant, because you don't just need a warrant. You need an valid fucking reason to justify one, and I'm not seeing how rioting one night somehow justifies digging through the last decade of someone's online personal life.

      THAT is the "problem" here. And before you argue this, imagine this kind of bullshit overreach if you were arrested for shoplifting with a set of house keys on you. Think that automatically gives law enforcement the right to search your e

      • You don't see how violent rioting in response to an election is cause for the government to look into someone's background?
        Somehow, I bet you support mandatory background checks for buying firearms even for people with no history of violence or crime.

  • This is good news (Score:4, Informative)

    by anthony_greer ( 2623521 ) on Monday February 06, 2017 @10:17PM (#53816395)

    If every single marketing drone in corporate America with the right subscription can mine all this data to sell us useless plastic trinkets that we don't need, then why not let the police mine it to solve crimes that were committed during a large public gathering?

    No one is saying they are going after the innocent granny holding a "i would have rather had Hillary" placard but if she happened to share a photo of some anarchists destroying property that can help the police identify them, then hell yes the police should be searching it so long as they had probable cause and got a warrant.

    • My chief concern here is if the rioters were really arrested based on what they uploaded to social media. No, I don't mean the privacy or police state angles, but the very idea that rioting has somehow become socially acceptable, something to show off to friends, like a trophy or new-born baby. I hope it's something more sophisticated than that, because this could very well evolve into something more ominous, when real life death and destruction become mainstream entertainment, a modern day sacking of Ro
  • by AHuxley ( 892839 ) on Monday February 06, 2017 @10:22PM (#53816405) Homepage Journal
    If you are protesting and have your phone on you with a social media app working..
    Expect all that networking to be collected by some agency and later passed to law enforcement.
    A US social media brand offering services in the USA has to respond when asked by courts in the USA.
    If you want to protest having a device that broadcasts unique data about yourself is not going to go unnoticed by a long list of agencies given the day and event.
    Know that all and any public comments on social media are been tracked. Friends of friends joining or showing support for local events and will be connected back by 2 or 3 hops of friends.
    In the USA you have freedom of speech, freedom after speech. People can peaceably to assemble and petition the Government.
    The protection of been compelled to be a witness is well understood. Any device found may not always enjoy the classic unreasonable searches and seizures protection.
    Older cell phone would have unique International Mobile Equipment Identity as part of the device and would often be opened and noted by police as part of a battery protection offer. The request to avoid battery leakage would then allow that IMEI number to be matched over vast US wide call logs.
    Modern devices might just work when police turn them on and show apps used.
    Any account mentioned or found on the "net" to be public facing can be found or a court request made for more information.
    Given the long history of tracking protests online in other nations e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] "1986, French university students coordinated a national strike using Minitel, demonstrating an early use of digital communication devices for participatory technopolitical ends" expect the same tracking in 2016/17 globally. Police around the world have been tracking people online for decades. Once something is public on line, expect all connections to that account to be tracked back for many hops.
    • by meta-monkey ( 321000 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2017 @10:59AM (#53818685) Journal

      I agree with everything you said. But understand in this case we're talking about warrants issued for people who were arrested for rioting, not protesting. There were hundreds of thousands or even millions if you count the nationwide pussy march thing who peaceful protested, chanted, waved signs, etc. There were about 200 rioters who assaulted people, smashed property, torched cars, beat the hell out of a trash bin (???). These are crimes, and you don't have a right to do these things. And since it seems these people were identically dressed and coordinated their actions. An investigation into organized violence is completely reasonable.

  • It's not right, but you still have to expect this crap.

    That's why the masks are a good idea.

    You can do face paint instead, with patterns designed to fool face recognition systems, and that's less suspicious-looking than a mask — if only slightly. But it's a hell of a lot harder to take off, and go back to looking normal.

  • I continue to be outraged at how MPD treats protesters. The phrase "no comment on investigative tactics" says a lot: Our government is using "tactics" against citizens. This is all leading somewhere tragic and dark.

"The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who, in times of moral crisis, preserved their neutrality." -- Dante

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