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Cops Walking the MySpace Beat 278

Posted by Zonk
from the hard-to-walk-that-particular-neighborhood dept.
theodp writes "Meet the point-and-click police. Newsweek reports that a growing number of ordinary officers are working a new beat, turning to MySpace to collect clues and crack offline cases. Most of the nabbed wrongdoers have been victims of their own hubris, like the two boys who uploaded video of themselves firebombing an abandoned airplane hangar earlier this month."
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Cops Walking the MySpace Beat

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  • Most of the nabbed wrongdoers have been victims of their own hubris, like the two boys who uploaded video of themselves firebombing an abandoned airplane hangar earlier this month.

    Seems like MySpace will not only help cops, but give fodder to Jay Leno's idiot criminals skit or people producing books like The World's Dumbest Criminals [amazon.com] .

  • YRO? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RyoShin (610051) <[tukaro] [at] [gmail.com]> on Sunday April 16, 2006 @07:13PM (#15139854) Homepage Journal
    I'm not quite sure why this is under YRO; it's certainly news worth, in my opinion, but why YRO? Are we saying that the police are crossing a legal boundry by looking at MySpace pages? Maybe it's this line:
    By conducting such surveillance, says Electronic Privacy Information Center senior counsel Chris Hoofnagle, an officer risks crossing "the line between crimes that have been committed and crimes that haven't. Next he'll be sucking down information just in case he needs it--and that's the type of action that upsets a user's rights."
    If they were installing hidden cameras, taping phones, or installing keyloggers without cause, I really don't see the problems. If you can get a heads up about someone robbing a house tomorrow night because they were stupid enough to post it on MySpace, why should that be considered protected?

    If someone painted a sign saying "I've stolen three cars from this street!" and wore it on said street, is there any reason the cops can't at least stop and question him (even if he denies anything vocally) and check up on him later?

    As far as legal requirements for police goes, there's a "Plain View" clause (I'm sure there's a Latin term for it.) For the few who may not understand, it basically says that if the item is in plain view, it can be used. If the cops respond to a noise complaint at your house, look past you into the home, and see a meth lab, they can use that. They may not be able to bust in right away to arrest you (varies by state and circumstance), but they can call up a warrant PDQ. If they pushed their way into the house without cause, or just shoved you to the side to see it, it would most likely be inadmissable.

    In the case of the meth lab and the robbery, both are due to horrible stupidity on the perpetrator's part, and there really is no reason they should be protected because of it. If the cop is stalking someone on their MySpace page because s/he doesn't like their choice in music, and wants to make sure they don't decide to steal a CD of it or something, then we might have cause for worry, but this is more likely something done by the common public than by the police, who hopefully are out catching badies and don't have enough time to track every movement on MySpace.

    Now, as far as some smaller things go, like stealing CDs or smoking MJ, they can't just take the MySpace page and present that as conclusive evidence; they'd have to get other evidence (like the CD or MJ itself) to prosecute. Could it be enough for a warrant for the other evidence? Maybe. I think that's a legal battle that will come up, because you can't be sure if they actually did it or they're (erronously) trying to look cool for their interweb friends by posting it.

    As with much of the internet (which has brought on a lot of problems really fast,) the law is still trying to catch up, and things like MySpace, LiveJournal, and perhaps even sites like Slashdot and Fark could play a role in some big trials in the next 5 or 10 years, especially how global information is received and used in criminal cases.
  • by Rooked_One (591287) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @07:13PM (#15139856) Journal
    if you wanted to profile a group of people (ie people around the age of 15-30) it would be very easy to set up a free service, where you can post all kinds of neat stuff about yourself. You know - the pictures of your underage friends drinking, hitting a bowl, and who knows what else.

    I guess it does fall under the free information clause, but IMVHO I don't think anything found on there should be admissable. After all, how hard is it to falsify a myspace account?

  • by E8086 (698978) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @07:16PM (#15139862)
    If you're dumb enough to post incriminating material on the internets you deserve to get caught.

    Next time in the land of the SIMs...I mean MySpace.
    yes, there should be and probably will be more than enough investigation into tips/leads found there BUT you know there will be enough bored teenagers and even some others trying to "frame" the more/less popular kids and school yard rivals, that whole libel/slander/romour mill thing.

    Sure there's a chance of a good hit once in a while, just watch out for the false positive. Especially all those energetic prosecutors wanting to make a name for themselves even at the cost of a questionable guilty verdict and an innocent kid's freedom.

    Near worst case, but possible
  • by RunFatBoy.net (960072) * on Sunday April 16, 2006 @07:16PM (#15139863)
    If you're sad enough to not realize the implications of making the wrong that you caused publicly viewable, you deserve whatever punishment received.

    Jim http://www.runfatboy.net/ [runfatboy.net] -- A workout plan that doesn't feel like homework.
  • by Shivetya (243324) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @07:23PM (#15139885) Homepage Journal
    It should not amaze us how stupid a great many people are. Yet at the same time we should be careful what we assign to the category of "stupid". There are many valid reasons to put what you think and do on the internet. The understanding is that there may be reprecussions and for that you must be willing to be subject to them.

    While this deals with criminal activity or intent never forget that laws change and are abused and what may be alright one day may not be the next. Never forget what laws exist in countries you travel because it isn't far off that you may find yourself in trouble while traveling all because your name showed up in some database because of what you put on the net.

    We always bemoan the government and even businesses getting into our personal existance and yet many will go out of their way to make it available on the internet and never once think about what they have done. Its no different than wandering the shady side of town at night but not as obvious to most.
  • I don't think anything found on there should be admissable. After all, how hard is it to falsify a myspace account?
    It's trivial to falsify a myspace account, but it's not like you can't find reasonable proof that an account is authentic if need be (friends' testimonials, logs of which IPs are used to sign into the account, etc).

    Furthermore, in the case of video or photographic evidence (particularly video evidence) it would be difficult to frame somebody. Sure, photos can be altered, but it's not foolproof, i.e. what if the background of the picture is the bedroom of the suspect, editing mistakes (it's not hard to photoshop somebody into a picture so that it looks believable at a glance, but it's more difficult to make it stand up under intense scrutiny), etc. The case is similar for video, but it's even harder to forge it -- photoshopping an image is one thing, but seamlessly photoshopping somebody into a video can be quite another.
  • by vistic (556838) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @07:29PM (#15139907)
    "Parents should be more diligent not with monitoring every single thing their kids do on the computer, but educating them what's ok and not ok to do on the Internet."


    The problem here, is that you assume that parents possess that sort of common sense any more than their kids do.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 16, 2006 @07:32PM (#15139914)
    Teaching kids what not to do on the internet is not what I am concerned about here. Teaching kids not to go out firebombing old buildings is concern.
  • Re:Idiots suck. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DeadChobi (740395) <DeadChobi AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday April 16, 2006 @07:50PM (#15139975)
    I dont have a MySpace account because it's frequented by scenesters and goths who have no real other method of networking. The real nerds use IRC and multiplayer games to network, and do it quite successfully. A lot of my friends from college have Myspace accounts because they're trendy and you can get hooked up with people really easily on there. One of my friends solicits hook-ups on there. There's nothing wrong with it, but I'm not enough of a scenester to want to use that place. If I'm really hard-up for a date or some companionship, I could always join a social club like my dad did. I just dont belong to the same cultural set that produced the Myspace movement. I hang out with them though.
  • by buvic2 (539634) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @07:53PM (#15139989)
    "Next he'll be sucking down information just in case he needs it--and that's the type of action that upsets a user's rights."

    Maybe forgotten, but that's part of what police work is about. You walk the beat, get to know the population, learn the patterns, and when something happens you probably have some idea already of where to look or who to talk to. It's the whole idea behind having regular community / school / campus officers rather than having patrols by whatever unit happens to be around.

    Having been on the inside of digital police work, we should be damn happy that people leak information and hubris, and are generally clueless as far as digital security is concerned. People get caught through their own sloppyness and boasting, and hours of hard work from officers, rather than from the police being particularly technologically advanced. The referenced article is another example of this: regular officers spending time going through lots of potential evidence rather than advanced technoly.

  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @07:59PM (#15140017)
    If you can get a heads up about someone robbing a house tomorrow night because they were stupid enough to post it on MySpace, why should that be considered protected?

    Back in 1999 or 2000, Audi brought back the S-series of cars in the USA with a performance version of the A4 sedan- the S4. It was a twin-turbocharged V6, and it was faster than the BMW M3- the yardstick at the time. As with many turbocharged cars, manufacturers don't push the limits of these engines for a lot of different reasons; insurance categories, "gentleman's agreements" on speeds or horsepower levels, reliability, stepping on other model lines, room for "improvement" in next year's model, etc. There's plenty of room for a "tuner" to release revised "chips" (tables used for fuel, timing, and boost pressure levels stored in [E/EE/P]ROM memory) that increase horsepower levels. The S4 biturbo reliably makes slightly over 300HP with a chip (from 250); my '91 Audi makes almost 280 (from 217. And it has done so for about 100,000 miles with no problems. It was chipped at 110,000 miles, so yes, some chips are perfectly fine.)

    Chip makers pushed the limits to offer the "best" chips- or did shoddy testing, rushing development, to be first-to-market. A few of the chips could overspin the turbos, and a couple people grenaded them.

    Dealers were wise to "chips" and would look for them if a car with damaged turbos came in (and Audi implemented various controls to make ECU-swapping much more difficult, but they've all been circumvented.) US warranty law prohibits them from blaming a failure on an aftermarket component unless they can prove reasonably that the changed component caused the failure; a chip is a pretty damn clear-cut case. So these kids (and many of them were in fact kids- rich off internet dot-coms, or mummy and daddy) would borrow a friend's stock ECU, put it in the car, and have it towed to the dealer and say "gee, I dunno what happened."

    Then the geniuses would go on Audiworld and brag about how they "tricked the dealer", complete with thumbs-up and grinning smiley icons, people congradulating them, etc. Someone at Audi Client Relations noticed (or was tipped off by people pissed at the scam), and ACR started surfing the forum regularly looking for fraud, and -completely- voiding the warranties of those they could find and in some cases going after owners for the cost of repairs, and postings in forums were cited as evidence. I don't remember if anyone was sued or not- I believe a few were.

    That wasn't shocking; what was shocking was the reaction from the Audiworld users. They were absolutely livid that Audi Client Relations DARED to "snoop" on "their" forum.

    It's not just the Internet- it has been my personal experience that few people take responsibility for their actions and many are infuriated when someone catches them doing something wrong, instead of being ashamed.

  • by RyoShin (610051) <[tukaro] [at] [gmail.com]> on Sunday April 16, 2006 @08:16PM (#15140072) Homepage Journal
    Now, how would you feel if every square inch of this public space was being constantly monitored by closed-circuit cameras whose feeds are reviewed by police officers?

    If it were the government setting up the cameras or website, I'd say that you'd have a dead-spot analogy.

    However, this is more like someone else setting up the cameras, and the police just using them. Say, a mall installs cameras to satisfy those worried about safety. The cops think that someone is in the mall that they are looking for, or that someone might attempt to steal something, so they ask the mall guys "Hey, can we use your cameras?"

    Well, the mall guys sure wouldn't hate the idea of having two cruisers parked in front of their mall; it would give regular citizens a more secure feeling because of the (apparent) police prescense. Plus, if the mall needs help, they could say "Hey, cops, we helped you here, mind giving us a minute?" It's the mall's property, so the only way that the customers could have any say is if they were able to succesfully picket or boycott to have the cameras removed (which is probably unlikely).

    In any case, the cameras are already installed. The people at the mall are told the cameras are installed. Anyone that doesn't want to be on a camera doesn't have to go to the mall. And with the cruisers outside, a regular person could figure out that they might be looking at tapes or live camera feed.

    In the same way, MySpace is a private company, it's already set up, and it's already there for the taking. Anyone who posts to MySpace (or LiveJournal, or Facebook) knows that millions of anonymous people on the internet can see their entries (unless they choose the privacy options). If they don't want people looking, they'll not make a public account.

    And, in the same way, making this kind of thing public is helpful to MySpace- less parents will be worried about their child using it, and most regular users will have a better feeling that someone is trying to keep them safe.

    Now, if the mall (or MySpace) was the only location in a given range to get a component necessary for life, then we could worry about the private/public fiasco.

    Working the private/public part of this discussion, think about someone hanging a sign in the window of their (private) apartment saying that they murdered someone. Again, this is plain sight stuff, open to the public. Anyone can see it. There cannot be a reasonable expectation of privacy.
  • by MikeFM (12491) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @08:45PM (#15140148) Homepage Journal
    If the police are notified that this information is online at such and such place I'm okay with them using it but I don't like them spending time just searching random sites like Facebook and MySpace. To me that smacks of tax payer money being spent so that cops can look at porn and blogs all day just so that now and then they can catch some petty criminals. Let the cops spend their time doing real police work instead of hanging out and just watching for America's dumbest criminals.

    From a privacy point of view I'm not sure what to think. On the one hand public forums are obviously in the public. On the other hand this is like sending someone undercover into a bar and having them sit there and wait for random people to brag about stupid things they've done. That's just a little bit underhanded (and still seems a waste of taxpayer dollars).

    I've used the Internet to discuss mistakes I made in my earlier life with like minded people. I'd hate to think that all of that was going to be used against me. Usually I don't use my real name but a clever person, especially with the right legal force, could track down my real identity easily enough - especially as I've gotten older and started doing business online. I don't think that's a good reason for people to feel they can't talk about things on their blogs or in discussion forums.

    So what, I can't run for President because on a blog when I was a kid I did usual teenage things and admitted to it. I guess smart kids have to plan ahead and keep all their skeletons well hidden.
  • by fosterNutrition (953798) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @08:50PM (#15140166) Journal
    The way I see it, people are missing the real point here. It's not whether it is okay/wrong/justifiable/the greatest thing ever to have cops and bosses looking up your info online, it's about facing up to the consequences of your own actions.

    It has always bothered me how people distinguish between the act of doing something, and the event of having a boss/cop/whatever find out about it. If you don't want people to know you've been doing drugs, then the answer isn't to make sure no photos are posted online; the answer is to not do it. Maybe I'm a little too hung up on the existentialist books I've been reading, but it seems to me that you should only do things you are willing to admit to doing. If you think it's okay to do drugs, then do them, and be frank about it. It is a strong form of hypocrisy to do them and then hope nobody finds out.

    If you are a drug user, don't hide it. If you think it's the right way to be, don't lie about it. If you think it's wrong, if you're embarrassed and unwilling to put it out in the open... don't do it. You are the sum of your actions - don't become something to be ashamed of.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 16, 2006 @09:22PM (#15140280)
    Parents should be more diligent not with monitoring every single thing their kids do on the computer, but educating them what's ok and not ok to do on the Internet.

    Well, duh. What does that have to do with the article? Should parents teach their kids to hide their pictures of drug use, weapons and petty vandalism better?

    We're talking about kids who commit physical crimes and brag about it online. I don't see where internet education has anything to do with it-- in fact, it's kind of a good thing they were stupid enough to post to Myspace. Twenty years ago those kids who burnt down the hanger would have gotten away with it and probably done it again, possibly to a supposedly empty building with an innocent bystander inside.

  • by grasshoppa (657393) <skennedy@tpno-c[ ]rg ['o.o' in gap]> on Sunday April 16, 2006 @09:31PM (#15140302) Homepage
    If you confess to a crime in a public place, then yes, the cops have every right to open a case against you.

    This isn't rocket science, nor an infringment of your rights. It's simply common sense.

    Myspace is like walmart ( only I'd rather visit a walmart than myspace ). If you walk into walmart, and say in a loud voice over and over again how you had sex with an underage child, you can bet your ass you will be investigated. To do anything otherwise would be incomptence on the part of the cops.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 16, 2006 @09:35PM (#15140315)
    This is becoming increasingly the case, especially for kids. Crime for many kids is beyond testing limits, it is a feeling of invunerability. I am underage, I am a athelete, I am too smart, they can't arrest us all, the cops can't run fast enough to catch us. So these posting are not merely stupidity, they are a symptom of the narcisistic reckless kid that does not care a whit about anyone else.

    Now, schools who care will monitor the underground chat and try to apply consequences for the small things, in hopes of redirected a student to more constructive behavior. But what happnes more often, especially in the work place, is that they young person will be given enough rope until he or she hangs himself. For instance, the young person will be allowed to steal $20 a week, as the employer knows that at some point $20 will be $500, and the employee can be made an example of.

    So I think that many kids are creating an online dossier of their criminal activity, and for the most part it is not worthwhile prosecuting. But at some point, when they are trying to get a job, or brought in for questioning, these activities could be used against them. What scares me as far as the kdis I work with is they put every fight, every deal, every negative activity online. The kids I grew up with, some of them were frequently questioned with circumstantial evidence, such as walking to school in the area that yound black man was seen stealing a car, but all them kept out trouble, so it was mostly just a nuscience. I can only imagine what the cops, desperate to attach blame to some, anyone, for a crime, might do with they petty things these kids put online. The parents don;t seem to have the sophistication to stop the kids, and we don't have the power.

  • This is good stuff (Score:4, Insightful)

    by frostoftheblack (955294) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @09:36PM (#15140317) Homepage
    I do not feel the least bit threatened by this at all.

    This is just yet another reason why I refuse to get a MySpace account. People need to learn their lesson that whatever they post on the Internet is public. Even if it's labelled "private", it's still public. MySpacers have the "look at my page now" attitude whenever it comes to their friends, but when it's someone they don't like, it's a "get away from me, you're trespassing on my privacy" attitude.

    As for police investigations, I'm all for it. Personally I'm sick of people posting illegal material on their MySpace, glorifying it, and getting the respect of every other junkie who is lucky enough to see it. Illegal things should be investigated and prosecuted.

    As for the legality of searching on MySpace, I pull up this quote from my government textbook (Government By The People, by Burns). I hope it's relevant: "Police may make warrantless searches in public places if the offers have probable cause, or at least a reasonable suspicion, that the persons in question have committed or are about to committ crimes. No later than two days after making such an arrest the police must take the arrested person to a magistrate so that the magistrate, not just the police, can decide whether probable cause existed to justify the warrantless arrest. Probable cause however does not except in extreme emergencies justify a warrantless arrest of people in their own homes...Not every time the police stop a person to ask questions or to seek that person's consent to search is there seizure or detention requiring probable cause or warrant. If the police just ask questions or even seek consent to search an individuals person or possessions in a noncoercive atmoshpere, there is no detention".

    Once the average person realizes that everyone watches everything on the Internet, then we won't have problems like this. The amount of information one can glean on someone or about a certain event through MySpace and through various search engines is astounding. But most people don't have the common sense to know that.
  • by Xemu (50595) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @09:39PM (#15140326) Homepage
    So you're suggesting that my recent investment in the social networking sites BankHeistSpace.com and WillTradeKiddiePornVids.net is a bad move?

    Actually, the ad revenue you'll get from ads if you target them at law enforcment should be enough to feed a family of four and the dogs.
  • by MooUK (905450) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @09:45PM (#15140341)
    Maybe it should just be "Don't do the crime"?

    Solves all these problems.
  • by stubear (130454) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @09:58PM (#15140381)
    This is no different than any other cop going undercover to bust a car theft ring or the mob. As long as they do not encourage others to act in a criminal manner or partake in criminal behavior themselves then I see nothing wring with this.
  • Re:Why I post AC (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 16, 2006 @10:40PM (#15140516)
    So there I was in the internet cafe 3 towns over, wearing a Darth Vader mask... better hope the surveillance cameras aren't very good, I guess.

    IP address only gets you to the router, anyway, not inside the LAN.
  • by DerekLyons (302214) <`fairwater' `at' `gmail.com'> on Sunday April 16, 2006 @10:46PM (#15140527) Homepage
    I have no problems with police patrolling a beat. If they see someone doing something illegal, they should intervene. However, I don't thing cops should be allowed to troll for crimes in a public space.
    MySpace, (or Slashdot), is (in the virtual world) a 'beat'. No different than your physical street, or the parking lot of the local mall.

    You can't have it both ways - either the cops can follow up on evidence found on the 'beat' (public space, [MySpace|street]), or they can't.

    If you are lawfully walking down the street, should a cop be able to come up to you and give you a "white glove" inspection? Take your ID, call in to check for any warrants, call your ISP to check for bittorrent traffic, ask your boss if any equipment has come up missing, call the DMV to make sure your car is properly licensed, and check with the IRS to ensure you don't owe taxes?
    If that was what they were doing - you'd have a point. But it's not. In the case of the TFA, they merely did in virtual space what they'd do in meatspace - examine the evidence and look for clues and/or holes in people's stories. In the instance of scanning MySpace for pedophiles (or idiots who firebomb buildings and brag of it), that's the internet equivalent of pulling over the driver who is weaving all over the road.
    When they pull up your blog, how many bad things will they find?
    In my case, absolutely none. Not because I haven't posted anything - but because I haven't done anything.
    Also, what seperates truth from fiction? How do they know that I didn't read about a recent arson attack and decide to write some fiction placing myself at the scene?
    It's called investigation and evidence - something the cops and educated people are aware of, and fearmongering slashdot posters seem not to be.
    If you threaten to investigate everything that everyone says that *might* be illegal, then how is that different from placing restrictions on my First Amendment rights?
    It only fails to be different to the fearmongers.
  • Dude... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DarkNemesis618 (908703) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @11:09PM (#15140583) Homepage
    I'll keep this short & simple.

    If you're going to do something illegal, don't tape it, don't take pictures of it, don't write about it, and most of all...don't post it on the internet. Does common sense even exist anymore?

  • by MoneyT (548795) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @11:15PM (#15140594) Journal
    I have talked publicly about doing unususal things. My friends and I used to talk about the best way to dispose of a body while looking around the sporting goods section of Wally World. Does that mean a cop can begin an investigation?


    If he has reason to think you are actualy looking to dispose of a body, yes.

    What if he finds a body nearby that was disposed of in a creative manner with no other evidence? What would the trial be like? Just because they heard me talking about body disposal and they found a body, does that mean I'm guilty?


    That's what investigations and trials are all about. Why is it that any time there is discussion about anything law enforcement does people assume they're going to be convicted and sentenced to life on one piece of circumstancial evidence.

    BTW, if you do ever get convicted on one piece of circumstancial evidence, sue your lawyer.

    Here's another example: Lets say I'm unpopular in school. To boost my reputation, I decide to blog about how I burned down a house. I got most of the details from $local_news and just made the rest up.

    Now, they always leave out details. Let'say I fill in $accelerant from last month's CSI. Just so happens that the real criminal got the idea from the same place.

    They have your claim, they have you knowing an unpublished detail. Will I be convicted?


    Again, please see investigation and trial by jury for more information as to how the criminal justice system works.

    What if I have a pic of me testing a gravity bong with tobacco. Should my school (assuming I'm at least 18) be able to suspend me?


    Again see investigation and trial by jury.

    What about if I post a chat log of me talking about BSDM with a 14yo girl? Just because there is text containing the claim that she is 14 does not, in fact, mean that she is 14...or even a girl. Should that open the door for a child-sex investigation?


    Um yes.

    Who is to say that my blog is not a work of fiction?

    If it is, that would be revealed in the investigation.

    Do cops troll Hollywood movies looking for people discharging firearms within city limits?

    Then why should they troll MySpace looking for, and opening investigations on, stuff that may or may not be true?


    I'm not entirely sure what you're trying to say here but if you're saying what I think you're saying, you realize that movies have to get permits for that right? As for the investiations thing, it's because it may be true. Isn't that the job of cops, to investigate?
  • by Lehk228 (705449) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @11:53PM (#15140677) Journal
    if a police officer uses mace on a college kid for rushing the field he/she is not a real police officer just a common pig and deserves to get shot by a bunch of gangbangers, sadly it's often the real police officers who are out investigating violent gangs and such who are the ones placed in real danger while the pigs sit around chowing on donuts and fucking with college and highschool kids for the power trip.
  • by geminidomino (614729) * on Monday April 17, 2006 @01:10AM (#15140842) Journal
    Erm. no. that won't happen in the US. We have very strongly worded anti "ex post facto law" in the constitution. I sincerely doubt that an ammendment to repeal that provision would ever pass.

    We also supposedly have very strong "trial by jury" laws, warrant laws, etc... We can see how well those are currently working out for us now that the OMG TERRISTS have 90% of our population shitting themselves whenever a truck backfires.
  • by yndrd1984 (730475) on Monday April 17, 2006 @02:03AM (#15140940)
    MySpace cannot be used as evidence.

    What? There's a constitutional right to MySpace privacy? This ought to be good.

    I have talked publicly about doing unususal things. My friends and I used to talk about the best way to dispose of a body while looking around the sporting goods section of Wally World. Does that mean a cop can begin an investigation?

    Duh, yes! Are you really saying that a cop can't talk to you or ask to look in your car under those circumstances? And I did say "ask".

    What if he finds a body nearby that was disposed of in a creative manner with no other evidence? What would the trial be like? Just because they heard me talking about body disposal and they found a body, does that mean I'm guilty?

    Duh, no! You can be investigated based on circumstantial evidence, but not convicted based on it. If they needed proof before they could investigate, what's the point of having investigations? - You already have proof! Cops investigate lots of people, and the cops know that most of them will be innocent, but in your freaky world, the cops couldn't even ask you if you have a alibi.

    Lets say I'm unpopular in school. To boost my reputation, I decide to blog about how I burned down a house. I got most of the details from $local_news and just made the rest up. Now, they always leave out details. Let'say I fill in $accelerant from last month's CSI. Just so happens that the real criminal got the idea from the same place. They have your claim, they have you knowing an unpublished detail. Will I be convicted?

    Whether or not you're convicted will depend on what other evidence they find and how fast you stop being an idiot. Bragging about committing crimes will attract cops - duh! And if you do get convicted, you have only yourself to blame.

    What if I have a pic of me testing a gravity bong with tobacco. Should my school (assuming I'm at least 18) be able to suspend me?

    In my opinion, no. If it isn't school related, the most they should be able to do is inform your parents, and sometimes not even that.

    What about if I post a chat log of me talking about BSDM with a 14yo girl? Just because there is text containing the claim that she is 14 does not, in fact, mean that she is 14...or even a girl. Should that open the door for a child-sex investigation?

    Duh, yes, again! Are you really saying that talking about commiting a crime in public isn't a reason to look at whether you've commited a crime or not? Not convict, not arrest, not even probable cause for a warrent, but just investigate?

    Who is to say that my blog is not a work of fiction?

    You are! If it's fiction, state that clearly (like most sites, TV shows, and movies), and don't be suprised if the cops ask you a few questions when a real crime happens that mimics one of your stories. You don't have to answer, and they can't do anything but watch you (while you're in public) and ask other people questions until they have some sort of solid evidence.

    Then why should they troll MySpace looking for, and opening investigations on, stuff that may or may not be true?

    So they can find out if it's true or not! DUH!!!

  • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Monday April 17, 2006 @04:42AM (#15141144) Homepage

    It's sick and disgusting that practices like these are still allowed in the US. Nobody should have to hide who they are.

    It's sick and disgusting that the government should be allowed to determine who can and can't be a member of a private organization. Do you think it would be fair for the government to force a church to admit someone who likes sacrificing chickens to Satan during his free time?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 17, 2006 @07:54AM (#15141324)
    Excellent post, man.

    It was a no brainer for audi to surf the enthusiast boards. The money saved vs time invested is excellent. Let alone the fact that it IS dishonest to blatently rip off the dealer in that instance... To give equal time, dealers regularly screw car owners by denying warranty when all the owner has is an aftermarket exhaust and the failure is legitimately unrelated to that mod.

    Just like the cops in the "myspace" thing - the crimes solved vs time invested is very efficient. Yeah it seems like a waste for a highly trained cop to spend the day surfing - but if he/she can, say, solve 5 crimes in a week, vs the normal 3 - without getting shot at - then fine. Welcome to the 21st century.
  • by TheCarp (96830) * <sjc&carpanet,net> on Monday April 17, 2006 @08:22AM (#15141372) Homepage
    And what makes you think laws and even constitutions can't be changed.

    What makes you think that all actors within the government, even today, act through above ground legal channels?

    The simple fact is, once the information is out there, it is out there. Come revolutions, come secret police, come criminal organizations.

    I came to the realisation the other day that just no good could come from posting my social networks online and cancelled my myspace and friendster accounts.

    Its a danger to me from connection with everyone that I know, and should I be affiliated with anything someone dislikes, a danger to all of my friends through me.

    Not cool, and not worth the only marginal fun that comes from using myspace.

    Not to mention that all the extended network bullshit is just that...bullshit. Because every account starts with that "tom" dude as a friend... and so everybody is in your extended network because some dickhead in every network hasn't dropped him.

    Or maybe everybody really is connected that well... but I doubt it.

    -Steve
  • by MikeBabcock (65886) <mtb-slashdot@mikebabcock.ca> on Monday April 17, 2006 @10:42AM (#15142064) Homepage Journal
    Its a private hyper-conservative college.

    Duh.

    If you don't belong, and you want to weasel your way in, then get caught, don't be surprised they aren't happy about it.

    Go to one of those colleges that actually fits your standards instead.

I cannot conceive that anybody will require multiplications at the rate of 40,000 or even 4,000 per hour ... -- F. H. Wales (1936)

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