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Tag: Justice Department

Justice Department Resumes Controversial Program That Lets Cops Seize Cash, Property

cash2By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department’s controversial program that allows police to seize and keep cash and property from people who have never been convicted or even charged is resuming.

The Justice Department suspended the “equitable sharing” program last year because of budget cuts.

“In the months since we made the difficult decision to defer equitable sharing payments because of the $1.2 billion rescinded from the Asset Forfeiture Fund, the financial solvency of the fund has improved to the point where it is no longer necessary to continue deferring Equitable Sharing payments,” spokesman Peter J. Carr told the Washington Post. 

The program has a lot of critics who contend police become motivated “more by profit ad less by justice,” the Post wrote.

Asset forfeiture has exploded over the past several years, climbing from less than $1 bill in 2004 to more than $5 billion in 2014.

Other Stories of Interest

Justice Department Charges 7 Iranians with Launching Cyber Attacks Against 40+ U.S. Banks

hacking By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department charged seven Iranians who are accused of cyber attacks targeting more than 40 U.S. banks.

One of the suspects also is accused of breaking into the computer network of a small New York dam, the Christian Science Monitor reports. 

The Iranians are accused of launching a campaign of distributed denial of service, or DDoS, attacks against 46 American companies between 2011 and 2013.

“The attacks were relentless, systematic, and widespread,” U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a press conference Thursday. “We believe that they were conducted with the sole purpose of undermining the targeted companies and damaging the online operation of America’s free market.”

Other Stories of Interest

Justice Department Defends Legally Questionable Eavesdropping Program

courtroomBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department is defending the DEA’s legally questionable, disbanded eavesdropping program that often was used by drug officials in the Los Angeles suburbs.

The USA Today reports that the Justice Department implored a judge not to toss out the wiretaps that were used in a marijuana trafficking case, despite earlier objections from government lawyers who believed the practice may have been illegal.

The Justice Department aid the wiretaps were “authorized in accordance with state and federal law.”

The surveillance was used so often that it once counted for nearly a fifth of all U.S. wiretaps.

The surveillance allowed federal authorities to intercept millions of calls and text messages with a single state court’s approval.

Defense lawyers in the marijuana case said the prosecutors approved “illegal wiretaps with astounding frequency” and urged a judge to dismiss the surveillance.

Justice Department Files Charges Against Syrian Electronic Army Hackers

Syria mapBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The so-called Syrian Electronic Army has launched a series of cyber attacks targeting U.S. companies and government systems since 2011.

Now the Justice Department has filed charges against three of the group’s members, CNN reports.

The cyber-attackers targeted companies that they believe are oppose to Syria’s Assad regime, defacing websites, seizing social media accounts and penetrating computer systems from 2011 to 2014.

Among the targets were CNN, The Washington Post, NASA, the White House, Microsoft and Harvard University.

Charges filed in federal court in Alexandria, Va., allege the hackers are based in Germany and Syria.

Justice Department Says It May Have Found Way to Unlock iPhone Without Apple’s Help

Apple logo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department on Monday asked for a delay of a court hearing in its battle with Apple over the encryption of an iPhone from San Bernardino shooting, saying it may have found a way to unlock the phone without Apple’s help.

In a motion filed Monday in federal court in Central California, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles wrote:

Since the attacks in San Bernardino on December 2, 2015, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) has continued to pursue all avenues available to discover all relevant evidence related to the attacks.

Specifically, since recovering Farook’s iPhone on December 3, 2015, the FBI has
continued to research methods to gain access to the data stored on it. The FBI did not cease its efforts after this litigation began. As the FBI continued to conduct its own research, and as a result of the worldwide publicity and attention on this case, others outside the U.S. government have continued to contact the U.S. government offering avenues of possible research.

On Sunday, March 20, 2016, an outside party demonstrated to the FBI a possible
method for unlocking Farook’s iPhone. Testing is required to determine whether it is a viable method that will not compromise data on Farook’s iPhone. If the method is
viable, it should eliminate the need for the assistance from Apple Inc. (“Apple”) set forth in the All Writs Act Order in this case.

Read Justice Motion

How Apple Set Off a Behind-the-Scenes Battle with FBI Over Encryption

Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Apple CEO Tim Cook.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Soon after Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook unveiled the iPhone’s latest mobile-operating system, iOS 8, in Jun 2014, the company gave the FBI early access to the technology.

The new system involved encryption that would make it impossible for the FBI and even Apple to gather information from a phone without a password.

The new encryption “set off a behind-the-scenes battle that ultimately spilled into the open last month” after a judge approved a Justice Department order to force Apple to help the FBI open a phone by one of the San Bernardino shooters, Bloomberg wrote in a lengthy piece about the long-simmering battle between law enforcement and the tech giant.

 “The reason the relationship went south is the government was expecting some degree of accommodation on the part of the technology companies,” said Timothy Edgar, the former director of privacy and civil liberties for the White House National Security Staff from 2009 to 2010. “They were expecting the companies to essentially back down and not go forward with new security measures that would make it impossible for you to access devices or communications. They were caught off guard by basically being told to get lost.”

Privacy advocates are worried that the Supreme Court or Congress could set a legal precedent that would require tech companies to unlock security features.

“The stakes couldn’t be higher,” said Alex Abdo, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union’s speech privacy and technology project, which has filed a brief supporting Apple. “This is an unprecedented legal question with extremely significant policy and technological implications.”

American Captured by Kurdish Forces Says He Regrets Joining ISIS

Mohamad Jamal Khewis, via Kurdistan24.

Mohamad Jamal Khewis, via Kurdistan24.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The American who joined ISIS and was later captured by Kurdish forces said he “made a bad decision” and no longer supports the terrorist group.

U.S. law enforcement officials plan to interview Mohamad Jamal Khewis, 26, in hopes of getting information about how ISIS operates, The Daily Mail reports.

Khewis didn’t say why he joined ISIS, but indicated that he traveled to Syria from Turkey after meeting an Iraqi girl.

“At the time I made the decision, I was not thinking straight,” Khewis told Kurdistan24. “On the way there I regretted, and I wanted to go back home after things didn’t work out and saw myself living in such an environment.”

Khewis said ISIS “does not represent a religion.”

“I don’t seem that as good Muslims.”

The Justice Department is planning on charging Khewis.

Apple Engineers May Refuse to Unlock iPhone Even If Judge Delivers the Order

Apple logoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Even if a court orders Apple to comply with the FBI’s request to unlock an iPhone, engineers may refuse to develop the technology that would make it possible.

The New York Times interviewed current and former Apple employees and discovered that they may quit their jobs or balk at the work.

Apple has argued that demands to open an iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters curbs free speech.

“Such conscription is fundamentally offensive to Apple’s core principles and would pose a severe threat to the autonomy of Apple and its engineers,” Apple’s lawyers wrote in the company’s final brief to the Federal District Court for the Central District of California.

The concerns also shed light on a company culture that embraces anti-establishment principles.

“It’s an independent culture and a rebellious one,” said Jean-Louis Gassée, a venture capitalist who was once an engineering manager at Apple. “If the government tries to compel testimony or action from these engineers, good luck with that.”