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Monday, April 26, 2010

It's official: American government reduced to corporate goons

I hope this story is a joke, but I doubt it.

Police agencies now have "steering committees" with corporate weasels on it? Un-farookin'-believable.

Comments (19)

so scary that we are all too terrified to respond

See here: http://bit.ly/b20oDk

"Microsoft and Adobe are members of REACT’s steering committee, a group of 25 companies that includes Apple Inc., Symantec Corp., KLA-Tencor Inc., Applied Materials Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc., and acts as a liaison between industry and law enforcement."

(Sshhhh. Don't tell Sam or Dan! It might give 'em more bad ideas!)

Their motto is "To Suspect and Serve (a warrant)."

If you think stories like this are a joke, you're living in a dream world. And if you think REACT is scary, which it is, you ought to take a look at Oregon Intragard:


Who are these people and how come none of us know anything about this highly sophisticated surveillance program to turn in neighbors and make us all paranoid?

Who's behind all this?

What are these warrants you mention here? Some quaint document like the Geneva Conventions?
Remember back when President Bush initiated a surveillance sweeping operation of the American People? The reason was that 9/11 changed everything which made it awkward later when we found out he started it well before 9/11.
Of course, the right wing cheerleaders raced to the cameras to proclaim their undying allegiance to Bush and Cheney saying, "If Osama bin Ladin is calling someone from a cave, we want to know about it."
Later it turned out the Bush administration was also screening communications between Pentagon workers and reporters.
Reporters homes were tapped and their emails read.
Without a warrant. Without their knowledge.
So reading a story with a warrant in it at all is kind of a nostalgic experience.
The authorities here should just say the new Iphone could be used by terrorists to set off IEDs so therefore this is a national security issue.
Not only wouldn't you need a warrant, but the homeowner doesn't even need to know who just ransacked his house.
It's all part of keeping us safe.

Supposing there was a rash of burglaries in a particular location which the police could not break. The people get together build a kitty and offer a reward for the arrest and conviction of the perps. Someone comes forward with info, a warrant is sworn out, the cops raid a house, find the goodies and make an arrest.

Now substitute intellectual property rights for the above mentioned goodies and you have REACT.

I don't see them any more as goons than the people robbed of their possessions.

Heavy handed approach to implementing the law does not make the victims themselves goons, even corporations.

This is a little different.

For one thing, intellectual property claims are at least 50% bullsh*t. Civil laws are adequate to protect IP rights, particularly in a case like this one.

Moreover, try to get the cops in Mountain View to go after home burglary suspects with this kind of fervor -- they'd laugh you out of the precinct.

There used to be a name for police "steering committees" -- I believe the term was "vigilantes."

Corporate goons.

This is in regards to InfraGard mentioned above. I don't remember the exact time. I think it was 1998 when there was a hacking war between hackers in U.S. and China. My company's internet service was one of the first that was attacked by hackers based in China. We were able to ID the attack and made appropriate defense to prevent similar attacks. I reported the attack to the FBI and was invited to attend a local meeting to share our experience with other professionals in the area that managed internet servers and services. It was just before the group was formalized and called InfraGard.

I had kept in touch with it now and then. It is more of a meeting of nerds than anything sinister. The discussions can get pretty technical and would bore most people. But it can be quite useful in getting informed on internet security. I believe anyone who manages an internet service for a company or organization can freely participate.

I don't know if it makes a difference, but supposedly the genesis of this story is that someone left an next gen Apple iPhone proto in a bar. It was found and then sold to this guy's WEBsite, Gizmodo, for $5,000.

Supposedly Apple is doing all this to get their phone back. I guess they have a point, but who knows whether its a publicity stunt, true or if Apple should have just let it go.

I can't see how it is too out of character for Apple to be heavy-handed with the way they insist everything for their eppt must go thru iTunes/AppleStore, ubt who knows.

As far as IP in the high-tech biz, it does make a diff when you can have a few month jump on the competition, so I wouldn't say all IP claims are BS. Unfortunately, most IP theft seems to be coming from off-shore wher stuff gets reverse-engineering in a heartbeat (eg, Intel chipsets have their Chinese equivs almost the next day after Intel releases.)

I'm glad Lawrence brought up "intellectual property rights." When I saw this original Bojack piece, it occurred immediately that this story is related to the storm trooping going on in the heartland under the direction of Monsanto and their servants in state and federal legislatures and judiciary. Bad, bad, bad.

See http://www.pbs.org/pov/foodinc/film_description.php

Btw, U.S. Patent laws were one of the primary shielded fonts of the funding for the rise and rampage of industrialized fascism in Germany in the early 20th c. -- and Wall Street played a big role (like G.W. Bush's Geronimo's-grave-desecrating grandpa, Prescott Bush @ Harriman Bros.) in that despite laws against that. Don't believe it? It's a fact.

See, e.g., "The Crime and Punishment of I.G. Farben" by Joseph Borkin. And, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IG_Farben And, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IG_Farben_Trial

Aside from the handful of culprits and scapegoats from the I.G. Farben conglomerate (BASF, Bayer, Hoechst, Agfa, et al.) tried at Nuremburg, many of the actual corporate perpetrators and their in-the-know financiers, inside & outside Germany, skated away with all their money intact.

Different players, though the song remains the same....But, "Everything that's small has to grow. And it has to grow!" So here's to Jason Chen, Gizmo, and Jason's lawyers -- HUZZAH!

You all might want to read up on Gawker Media and Gizmodo's history and intentions before assuming this is some sort of corporate cabal wielding secret power.

One recent example:

A quote from the company's founder in that article:
""We don't seek to do good," says Denton, wearing a purplish shirt, jeans and a beard that resembles a three-day growth. "We may inadvertently do good. We may inadvertently commit journalism. That is not the institutional intention." "

And here's a quote that's interesting from daringfireball.net:

"Journalist shield laws are about journalists being able to protect sources who may have committed crimes. They’re not a license for journalists to commit crimes themselves. Gawker is making an argument that is beside the point. They’re arguing, “Hey, bloggers are journalists.” The state of California is arguing “Hey, you committed a felony.”"

Gawker Media (and Gizmodo) have a history of offering cash for things like this iPhone. Publicly. They also have a history of claiming that things like this are fair game, and that they can do what they like with them if somebody brings it to them.

Now imagine, if you will, that instead of an iPhone, this was about your credit card information.

If it was my credit card information, the police in the Bay Area would not be busting down anybody's doors over it. They'd tell me to call the bank and change my number.

They ought to be telling Steve Jobs to get over it. But no. When the victim is an arrogant corporation with a lot of money, suddenly the cops get out the battering ram and start breaking and entering over a stupid cell phone. If that doesn't bother you, it should.

Guess poor little Stevie's kidz didn't have *mobileme* on their precious proto-hype

*Fahrenheit 113* (the inoperative temperature of an iPhone) -- the heat is on!

If the cell phone was "stupid", or intellectual property is BS, why did Gawker pay $5,000 (or more) to get their hands on it?

And, why did the person finding it not just leave it there or throw it away?


Okay, yes, the police screwed up here. They seem to have tried to treat this as some sort of computer crime and forgotten about federal journalist-shield laws, which is a pretty big deal. But keep in mind, what was really going on was straight-up sale of stolen property.

The story as we know it goes like this. An apple employee had a device to field test. Said hapless fellow went out for some beer and left his sample behind, leading to the best t-shirt ever:

(Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder)

Anyway, some guy picked it up and played with it enough to get the facebook name of the device's last user, Gray Powell. Apple remote-killed it pretty promptly, and the finder seems to have held on to it a while, showing his friends, before hitting on the bright idea of selling access to it to a tech media outlet. He seems to have shopped it around a bit; Wired claims to have gotten an offer, Endgadget showed the teaser pictures, but Gizmodo laid down five big ones to get their hands on the device. They then disassembled it and published the results, including a rather poorly-planned photo of their staffer Jason Chen holding the hot potato. The crowd went wild, and Apple sent a fairly terse but polite letter asking for their property back; Gizmodo complied.

All this would be just a simple misadventure, except for a few key facts. One of them is that California has a pretty clear duty-to-return law that specifically prohibits using found property for personal gain. Another is that *any* GSM phone is identified six ways to Sunday via its SIM card, and only AT&T uses this particular physical SIM - a fact well-known among Apple fans such as Gizmodo.

People involved are apparently claiming that they made an effort to contact Apple to return it, but somehow it never occurred to anyone to ask the carrier, who (unlike a manufacturer) knows for damn sure who pays the bill for the cellphone service. Getting a cellphone back to its owner is easy through this approach; I have done it myself.

So the upshot of all this is that it's dead clear from just the article Gizmodo published that someone broke the law in a couple ways. First, by not making a serious effort at returning the phone. (No one sent a facebook message to Mr. Powell, no one went to their local AT&T store to have them contact the owner, and no one put it in a box and FedExed it to 1 Infinite Loop. Apparently someone fooled around with calling Apple HQ on the phone but were not believed. In absence of other options one might suppose that was adequate, but other unexplored options were abundant.) And second, by apparently exchanging $5,000 for obviously stolen property.

The notion that Apple somehow unleashed the police on these guys is remotely plausible, but the simpler explanation by far is that some cop or DA up for election reads Gizmodo and decided to join the media circus by bagging an easy high-profile target.

Were I Gizmodo's corporate counsel, I'd be thanking my lucky stars that the REACT team bungled the search so badly that they may have tainted all evidence beyond use. It seems to me no lesser screwup would have saved Gizmodo from a serious hammering over this - one that I happen to think they richly deserve.

someone broke the law in a couple ways

Yeah, but it's not a police matter. If this was your stolen property or mine, nobody would be knocking down anyone's door. Nowadays they could steal your $30,000 car, and you'd be told to mail in a postcard while the cops ate some more donuts.

The reason the police are so hot in this case is because that's the way Apple® wants it. Which is the entire point of this post. Which some people just apparently can't grasp.

This is a civil matter, plain and simple. And a lousy case for Apple, at that. I doubt Gizmodo will wind up paying much of anything.

Oh, I agree the police would not normally be doing this if it weren't such a high-profile case. I just see no evidence as yet that Apple is behind the search warrant. On the other hand, it appears both San Mateo and Santa Clara counties each have elections for both Sheriff and District Attorney in about six weeks. :-)

"I just see no evidence as yet that Apple is behind the search warrant."

Let's see, Apple's lawyer tell Gizmodo he wants the phone back and a couple of days later the police bust this guys door down. Are you sure you don't see a connection?

It seems selective enforcement to me - Then again, it may be all hype on Apple's part (not like Jobs ever engages in drama with their products.)

PS - I'm not an Apple fan, if it makes a diff.


Correct. Apple asked Gizmodo for it, and Gizmodo at that point gave it back. Then a couple days later the cops bust down the door.

There's an implication, sure, but nothing more definitive than that. I mean, it'd be shocking if Apple didn't ask the theft be prosecuted, wouldn't it? I doubt they needed a steering committee post to make that happen, though.

(And yes, absolutely selective enforcement. This is news? At least they took a break from busting random potheads.)

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