Archive for the ‘Technology & Crime’ Category

Disclaimer: The below article makes reference to federal laws related to gun purchases. Please note that state gun laws vary, and you are well advised to seek expert assistance from an attorney knowledgeable of your state’s statutes regarding the ownership, possession, and/or transfer of firearms if you have questions before buying or selling. The below is not legal advice.

Time Magazine ran a somewhat hyperbolic article this week about the ability of Facebook users to arrange firearm purchases through the site’s messaging features (gasp!). The article’s breathless hook was that it was easier to purchase a gun on Facebook than it was to understand the site’s privacy settings (oh, the horror!), which is  not only misleading, but a misstatement of fact to boot.

Facebook7

The implication was that nefarious individuals were using Facebook as a way to skirt gun laws, but the article provided scant evidence to support that assertion. And, as several commenters pointed out, it’s entirely legal to purchase guns from private citizens, as long as certain guidelines are followed.

None of those guidelines prohibit the use of online platforms to arrange a firearm sale.

According to the federal Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms web site:

A person may sell a firearm to an unlicensed resident of his State, if he does not know or have reasonable cause to believe the person is prohibited from receiving or possessing firearms under Federal law.

Federal law is silent regarding how the sale is arranged or whether those arrangements can be made online, and there is no requirement that a background check be completed by private sellers under federal law. According to the ATF, federal law only prohibits the sale or transfer of a firearm to an individual who:

  • Has been convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding 1 year;
  • Is a fugitive from justice;
  • Is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance;
  • Has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to a mental institution;
  • Is an alien illegally or unlawfully in the United States or an alien admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa;
  • Has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions;
  • Having been a citizen of the United States, has renounced his or her citizenship;
  • Is subject to a court order that restrains the person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or child of such intimate partner;or Has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence Cannot lawfully receive, possess, ship, or transport a firearm.

There’s no restriction — that I could find, at least — barring the use of online platforms to discuss or arrange a gun purchase. To suggest otherwise, or to imply that people are somehow buying guns directly through Facebook (which the article noted doesn’t offer an e-commerce capability anyway) would be factually inaccurate and, frankly, a little dumb.

Photo courtesy of nesoiam

Photo courtesy of nesoiam

The reality is that people all over the country frequently use the internet to search for and purchase firearms. A Google search for online gun stores returns millions of hits, including Armslist.com, which alone had 1.3 million unique visitors per month, as of August, 2012.

So, a more relevant and interesting point for debate might be the issue of universal background checks for all gun buyers, including those making a purchase from a private seller they met on a site like Facebook.

Gun control advocates argue that the lack of universal background checks allows unqualified or dangerous buyers to purchase firearms from private sellers. They argue that all purchases, whether through a licensed gun dealer or not, should be required to complete the same background process. They also note that:

…because federal law does not require universal background checks, “individuals prohibited by law from possessing guns can easily obtain them from private sellers and do so without any federal records of the transactions.”

The NRA, on the other hand, opposes such measures as an unnecessary restriction on the rights of law-abiding individuals to purchase weapons. They argue that most legal gun purchases are made through licensed dealers, who do background checks as a matter of course, or from family, friends, and acquaintances who should already know whether or not the buyer has some disqualifying characteristic.

In terms of how criminal offenders obtain guns, the NRA points to the problem of straw purchasers:

In 1985, the Department of Justice reported that only about one in five convicted felons obtained guns through legal channels such as retail stores. In 1991, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms reported that 37% of armed career criminals obtained firearms from street sales, 34% from criminal acts and associates, 8% from relatives, and only 7% from dealers and 6% from flea markets and gun shows.  More recently, a Bureau of Justice Statistics survey of state prison inmates convicted of firearm crimes found that 79 percent acquired their firearms from “street/illegal sources” or “friends or family.” This includes theft of firearms, black market purchases of stolen firearms, and straw purchases. The survey also found that 12 percent obtained their firearms from firearm dealers (gun stores, pawn shops), while only 1.7 percent obtained firearms from anyone (dealer or non-dealer) at a gun show or flea market.  The FBI’s National Crime Information Center stolen firearm file contained over 2 million reports as of March 1995, and an annual average of 232,400 firearms were stolen between 2005 and 2010.  46.3% of firearms traced by the BATFE in relation to firearm trafficking investigations originate with straw purchasers.

Requiring private sellers, therefore, to conduct a background check would be needlessly burdensome and a waste of resources. The people least likely to comply with background checks are those who aren’t law-abiding in the first place. So, nothing is really gained by requiring such checks by private individuals conducting private sales.

Whether buyers and sellers connect on a social media site, through a web site designed specifically around firearms sales, or via some other online platform, hardly matters at all. If people are abiding by local, state, and federal laws, I can’t see why there’s concern about this happening on Facebook.

What are your thoughts?

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Another week, and yet another social media app has parents, school officials, and others concerned about its potential to facilitate cyber-bullying. Yik Yak is an app that lets people broadcast information to other users in their geographic area based on the GPS settings of the device being used. According to the Yik Yak site, users can:

screen568x568

In other words, it’s like an amplifier that anonymously broadcasts your text messages to hundreds of people within a 5 mile radius around you in real time. Sounds like the perfect cyber-bullying tool to me.

But, never fear, the app’s creators forbid transmission of “any pornographic, obscene, offensive, threatening, harassing, libelous, hate-oriented, harmful, defamatory, racist, illegal, or otherwise objectionable material or content.” And, I’m certain everyone will abide by those terms.

The creators are also careful to point out that they are not responsible for material transmitted via their service:

Yik Yak, LLC is in no way responsible for user-generated content. Content posted on this app is subject to:

  • 1st Amendment: Freedom/Anonymity of speech is protected under the 1st Amendment
  • Communications Decency Act: “Operators of Internet services are not to be construed as publishers and thus not legally liable for the words of third parties who use their services”

I’m all for free speech, of course, but I’m also concerned that this particular app creates yet another vector for people to transmit harmful information about others in a way that completely skirts personal responsibility. One school in Missouri is already contending with the fallout from this particular app.

App creates cyber bullying concerns in Johnson County

What are your thoughts? Does this app go too far? What are parents doing to address this and prevent Yik Yak from being used as yet another tool to bully children?

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You’re being watched and recorded. Not necessarily by Big Brother or a store security camera either, but by your fellow citizens, armed with cell phones and an insatiable desire to capture something interesting on film.

The ubiquity of cell phones in modern society has put the power to record anything and everything into the hands of the masses. Assaults, shootings, police misconduct, and just about any other crime under the sun has likely been captured by the ever-present digital eye of the general public.

Some police departments have begun to harness the power of this social surveillance through programs, such as Eyewatch in Australia, that encourage citizens to upload crime videos to one of their 80 regional Facebook pages.

And it’s paying off. One suspect who saw his face on the Eyewatch page turned himself into police, rather than wait to be captured.

So, this week’s videos feature a roundup of cell phone vigilantes capturing all kinds of bad behavior on their cameras.

Click, kick back, and enjoy!

(more…)

Well, the 2014 Winter Olympics are in full swing, and — as I write this on Monday — they thankfully haven’t been marred by violence or terrorism as was feared might happen. Security is tight, of course, and there’s really little chance of any type of crime going undetected there, with the apparently notable exception of cyber-crime.

image description

Not only are the Sochi games the most technologically advanced ever, athletes and other visitors to the region are more likely than ever before to use their own personal technology during their stay, and to be targeted by both the Russian government and cyber-gangs as a result.

Even reporters aren’t immune to attack. Although some security researchers deny the report’s accuracy, Richard Engel, a correspondent for NBC news reported being hacked immediately upon logging into his devices in Russia:

Engel had American computer security expert, Kyle Wilhoit, set up two computers with fake identities and phony contact lists to see how long it would take to be hacked. Almost immediately, Engel received a suspicious email, which allowed the hacker access to his laptop.

Other security experts have warned that Russian cyber-criminals are indeed actively targeting visitors to the games, and that they even have access to cell towers in and around Sochi. According to one expert, though, the digital security concerns at these Olympics aren’t really that much different than past games:

“It’s the same as during the Beijing Games — the host government, private enterprise and individuals pose a big threat to people traveling to the Sochi Games, in respect to monitoring conversations on cell phones and intercepting texts and emails,” said one Olympic security contractor.

And, as other research companies point out, your digital security isn’t really safe from threats anywhere these days. Just as with pickpockets in the past, when large crowds gather and begin using their devices on unsecured public networks, the criminal element is going to take advantage of the opportunity.

So, whether you’re enjoying the games in person or are watching them on a public network here in the states, make sure to pay attention to your basic cybersecurity.

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Search for “car accidents” on any video sharing site, and you’ll quickly find thousands upon thousands of videos of vehicles large and small smashing into each other on highways and byways around the world. For whatever reason, Russia seems to have some of the craziest crashes, but the U.S. has its share of wild accident vids as well.

Image courtesy of Bill Longshaw / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Bill Longshaw / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Department of Transportation is trying to do something about all this vehicular carnage by mandating newly made vehicles contain communication technology that allows them to talk with other cars on the road – something they call V2V.

According to a report by NPR:

“V2V crash avoidance technology has game-changing potential to significantly reduce the number of crashes, injuries and deaths on our nation’s roads,” National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Acting Administrator David Friedman said in a statement. “Decades from now, it’s likely we’ll look back at this time period as one in which the historical arc of transportation safety considerably changed for the better, similar to the introduction of standards for seat belts, airbags, and electronic stability control technology.”

Essentially, the system works by tracking your speed and location, and then transmitting that data anonymously to surrounding vehicles. If the system detects an imminent collision, it warns the driver to take evasive action.

So far, so good. I think we could all use a little less smashiness in our lives.

Associated Press

There is a downside here, though. Just like other attempts to make ourselves safer through the miracles of modern technology, collision avoidance systems create yet another vector for intrusions upon citizen privacy.

It’s one thing for car insurance companies to offer incentives to customers willing to use tracking systems to voluntarily monitor and report their driving activity on a time-limited basis. It’s quite another for the government to mandate such data sharing on an involuntary and continuing basis.

Yes, driving is a privilege and, of course, minimizing injuries and deaths is an important public safety concern – but what about privacy? You can bet that once the technology is in place, individuals and organizations, both good and evil, will be lining up to collect, store, analyze, and exploit the data from V2V systems.

The DOT claims that the data being transmitted is anonymous, but doesn’t define the term. Do the police have access to it? Is the data stored somewhere? We don’t know.

The police, in particular, could easily harness this technology to track vehicle movements and issue tickets for violations with little investment of investigative or patrol resources. On the surface, that might sound like a benefit. But, as with so-called red-light cameras, the potential for technology failure and other abuses is quite real.

Also, when we look at V2V in the context of all the other technology currently being used to track drivers, the privacy issues become even more prevalent. As one Youtuber put it in his comments about this technology:

Feds want put a tracking device in your car. So you don’t crash. It’s for safety. There will be a chip that sends a signal to every police-car’s computer that gives them your VIN, Name/State/Address of registry and license plate. For your safety. I mean, you might have a Joint outside Colorado and that would be dangerous to the public.

He’s overstating things just a bit, as internet commenters everywhere tend to do, but he is identifying the central tension that arises time and again between safety and privacy.

Is it reasonable – even in the interest of safety – for my driving behavior to be constantly monitored and possibly recorded by strangers or government officials , and to also have my license plate read and recorded anytime I enter and exit a city, and to also have my car photographed when going through intersections, such that anyone with the motivation and resources can scrutinize my every move?

If you say yes, then what are the limits to privacy in the US? Do we want the minutiae of our lives to be tracked in ways that compromise basic ideas of free movement and freedom from government interference without just cause, even if doing so results in an increase in safety?

As we head down the road of improving driver safety, we also need to keep privacy firmly in mind. It’s all too easy to be lured by the promise that technology will make our lives better without fully considering all of the ramifications.

What are your thoughts?  

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In his short story, The Minority Report, Philip K. Dick predicted a future in which crime was non-existent, everyone lived in complete safety, and the government had established an all-encompassing social order. In this imagined future, society had devised a way to prevent all crime before it ever occurred by identifying, arresting, and prosecuting “perpetrators” before they could do any harm.

While we’re not there yet, we’re edging ever closer to that reality all the time.

Image courtesy of hyena reality / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of hyena reality / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

On a national scale, you don’t have to look much further than the current NSA controversy to see this idea of safety-through-divination playing itself out in everyday life. The federal government, with its own cryptically named precogs, – PRISM, DISHFIRE, PINWALE, etc. – is earnestly striving to identify and predict the next terrorist attack. And, when they make a prediction, people will be detained, killed, or otherwise stopped before they can commit any crime.

That’s what society demands of its security-industrial complex at the moment.

And, why not? The idea of an entirely safe, crime-free society is a compelling one. In our safety-saturated culture, stopping crime completely – especially terrorism – is a goal that most people would heartily support. In fact, it would sound insane to argue somehow that a certain amount of terrorism is good or necessary. It’s definitely neither.

Terrorism aside, though, the idea of predicting criminality raises troubling questions about the relationship between a government and its citizens in a free democracy.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When is the government justified to intervene in the lives of people who have not been charged or convicted of any wrongdoing? I’m not talking here about would-be terrorists conspiring to kill or maim the masses. I’m talking about people being profiled and labelled “high risk” and then subjected to government intervention and heightened surveillance in an effort to prevent them from engaging in criminal behavior.

Chicago, for example, has developed a “heat list” of people it predicts will commit a crime at some point in the near future:

With the help of mathematical analysis, Chicago police hope to home in on people it believes are most at risk of shooting someone or being shot themselves. The strategy calls for warning those on the heat list individually that further criminal activity, even for the most petty offenses, will result in the full force of the law being brought down on them. At the same time, police extend them an olive branch of sorts, an offer of help obtaining a job or of social services.

In a free society, is a mathematical algorithm – no matter how well crafted or intended – just grounds for “warning” people about their future behavior? Is it enough to single them out and subject them to the “full force of the law,” even for minor infractions? If so, what’s to stop the government from applying this same approach to the full spectrum of deviance? Should we send IRS agents out to warn those who match a certain “tax cheater profile” to report all their income, or FBI agents out to do pre-emptive audits of companies that are predicted to engage in fraud?

Image courtesy of MR LIGHTMAN/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of MR LIGHTMAN/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Would you want a police officer knocking on your door and telling you that a mathematical process had identified you, or someone in your family, as a potential criminal?

Some would argue that if Chicago’s approach saves even one person’s life, it’s entirely worth it. In the abstract, I would definitely agree. I don’t want to see anyone needlessly harmed in any way. But, as we carry that argument out to its potential endpoint, it becomes less and less palatable and more nonsensical.

To create perfect safety, we could establish government assessment units that evaluate every citizen on a regular basis, from childhood on, to determine their statistical probability of engaging in crime, and then provide customized interventions to prevent deviant behavior. Perhaps we could even develop a High Risk Person (HRP) registry that would map out where these future offenders live, work, and play, so that we could all keep an eye out for them. And, of course, if any of these HRPs balked and didn’t follow through with their prescribed interventions, we could arrest and incarcerate them for non-compliance. All in the name of safety.

Sounds like something out of a PKD novel, doesn’t it?

Chicago’s individualized approach to prediction is taking us in this direction. As a  society, we need to decide if that’s where we want our system to go. I would argue that we don’t want to tip the balance of power away from individual freedoms and toward more government intervention in our lives, even if doing so might give us an increased margin of actual or perceived safety.

What are your thoughts? Leave and comment and share your opinions!

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Statistics about crime are nothing new, but maps display that data in ways that are more helpful than the usual mind-numbing columns of figures and numbers.

Maps communicate a lot of information at a glance, including data about particular crimes in specific geographic areas of interest. Want to know how many crimes occurred last week in the Minneapolis police precinct where you live? There’s a map for that (PDF). Thinking about buying a home in an unfamiliar neighborhood in California? There’s a crime map for that, too.

Police departments around the country have long provided statistical crime data, but The New York City Police Department recently began offering an interactive map of crime in parts of the city that uses an overlay to Google Maps. There’s some controversy over the map’s accuracy, but it does allow users to explore different parts of the city and at least get a sense of crime rates there.

New York Police Department

New York Police Department’s interactive crime map.

But, it’s not only police departments that offer this service. Real estate web sites, such as trulia.com, offer it as well.

Interested in buying a house in Atlanta? Click on the area you’d like to live, choose what crime types you’d like to see displayed, and the system automatically generates what’s known as a “heat map” of criminal activity. You can correlate this with school locations, median property values, and other data to help make your home buying decision.

Crime Map Atlanta

Buying a home in Atlanta? Scout out crime hot spots first.

Just interested in checking out crime info for your own region, city, or neighborhood? There are also stand alone web sites, such as crimemapping.com, that do nothing but provide crime data, down to descriptions of specific offenses they’ve mapped.

Planning a Vegas vacation? Check out a crime map before booking your hotel.

Planning a Vegas vacation? Check out a crime map before booking your hotel.

One major challenge with all this, of course, is the “garbage in-garbage out” phenomenon. The maps are only as good as the crime data used to build them, and there’s currently no simple way to verify the completeness or accuracy of any given crime map.

So, use at your own risk.

What crime mapping applications have you used? Leave a comment below and share your experiences.

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I always try to take a balanced approach when examining police conduct on this blog. I feel I owe it to my students, and to readers in general, to contribute to reasoned discussion and debate about the role of police in modern society by sharing both the good and the bad about police behavior.

Image courtesy of adamr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of adamr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My personal position is that most officers do a fine job – despite making mistakes at times – but we rarely hear about the positives.

I’ve written previously, though, about cops who’ve bought Christmas gifts for burglary victims or even literally given someone the shirt off their back, as well as about those who go out of their way to protect the constitutional rights of citizens to peacefully protest or record police activities.

So, I was troubled to see a recent post on PINAC (Photography is Not a Crime) about an officer in Florida who was found to have violated his department’s policies in response to the lawful, constitutionally protected videotaping of public police behavior.

Watch for yourself.

BCSO Task Force Arrest of PINAC Editor

The officers in the video not only do an incredibly poor job of managing the situation overall, in my opinion, but more troubling (to me at least) is that they appear to be engaging in a form of pseudospeciation, which is the idea that one group views members of another group as dangerous and/or unworthy of fair treatment.

The term is normally applied to differences between ethnic or racial groups, but in this case it appears related to subcultural differences. The police view the photographer as “one of those guys,” which is apparently code for someone from an “out group” who should be treated with suspicion and taught a lesson.

Regardless of the underlying causes, the officers’ superiors obviously agreed that misconduct occurred, having issued at least one of the officers a letter of reprimand for his behavior in this case.

And, that officer, identified by PINAC as Agent Brian Stoll in a follow-up post about the above incident, is no stranger to allegations of misconduct.

A public records request by PINAC to the officer’s agency, the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO), resulted in the release of 28 documents, some of which describe specific misconduct allegations against “Agent S,” as he’s referred to in the released forms (although one of the forms, dated 2/3/11, does list “Brian Stoll” by name). Fourteen of the documents reference various use of force incidents (the released form is titled “Response to Resistance”), but do not appear to have been generated by a specific complaint of misconduct.

Instead, those forms seem to be documenting incidents in which an injury occurred during an arrest or other encounter, and the matter is being reviewed by the agency’s administrators to make sure the officers’ behavior was in compliance with department policy. Of the fourteen, thirteen of the forms indicate that the department’s internal review found the officers’ behavior to be “in compliance.”

One of those, though, indicates that Agent S was not in compliance when a Taser was used improperly during an arrest.

2013-U-110 - 2013-U-110.pdf 2014-01-01 05-49-01Excerpt from 10/29/13 BCSO memo regarding misuse of force by Agent S

In three of the 28 documents, Agent S is listed only as a witness or as an indirect participant.

The eleven remaining documents (see the table below) describe specific allegations of misconduct against Agent S, referencing incidents that occurred over an eight year period between June of 2005 and October of 2013. The outcome of nine of them was either unknown or the allegation was determined by an internal BCSO investigation to be unfounded.

Only two, including the above incident involving PINAC, were substantiated and resulted in some type of consequence for Agent S.

It’s very interesting that the two incidents that did result in substantiated misconduct involved either video evidence (in the PINAC case) or the combined reporting of multiple police witnesses at the scene (misuse of the Taser).

Incident Date Reported on Date Allegation Outcome Outcome Date
6/1/05 7/15/05 Rudeness and improper citation Unknown  8/14/05?
9/3/08 9/4/08 Rudeness, unlawlful search/seizure, and damage to personal property Unfounded 10/1/08
10/2/08 10/03/08 Lying in police report and planting drugs Unfounded 10/15/08
Unknown 12/17/08 Improper arrest/detention and search of vehicle Unfounded 1/9/09
8/9/07 4/9/09 False arrest Unfounded 5/12/09
2005 9/1/10 Unspecified violations of law and department policy Unfounded 2/3/11 – According to time stamp on the document, employee involved was “Brian Stoll”
10/30/12 10/31/12 Use of force Unfounded 11/2/12
12/21/12 12/25/12 False arrest and use of force Unfounded 1 /4/13
7/16/13 7/16/13 Use of force Unfounded 8/1/13
10/17/13 10/17/13 Use of force (Taser) Not in compliance – Letter of counseling 10/29/13
10/23/13 10/23/13 Failure to investigate, failure to document evidence, and failure to provide information Letter of reprimand 10/29/13

Summary of allegations of misconduct against Agent S, 2005 – 2013, as obtained by PINAC

In the end, I’m not sure exactly what hard and fast conclusions we can confidently draw from all this, though. Zealous, proactive police officers are going to generate complaints from suspects, arrestees and others who, rightly or wrongly, feel their rights were violated. Allegations against police aren’t always made with the most honorable of intentions, and they’re not always accurate.

On the other hand, the video evidence above does appear to show that, in this case at least, this officer misinterpreted the law, acted out of personal anger or animosity toward a person perceived to be from an “out group,” and misused the authority granted to his role by society.

Video evidence like this is quite powerful, as it turns out, and perhaps that’s why some officers continue to insist that photography is a crime when it actually isn’t.

What are your thoughts?

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Although overall crime rates have continued their steady decline in the U.S., the rates of violent victimization increased last year, from 22.6 victimizations per 1,000 persons in 2011 to 26.1 victimizations per 1,000 in 2012.

Not surprisingly, some people, especially women, rightly continue to be concerned about their personal safety in public.

One North Carolina woman, CJ Scarlet, is trying to do something about that by creating a wearable device that gives potential victims a fighting chance if accosted.

The device, dubbed the Tiger Eye Security Sensor (TESS), alerts authorities, records video and audio, and transmits a victim’s location in an emergency situation. It’s something like On-Star – the vehicle safety and information system – but for your body.

A. Manual Activation, B. LED Light, C. Video Camera, D. Built-In Microphone, E. Cellular Chip, F. Eco-Drive Technology

A. Manual Activation, B. LED Light, C. Video Camera, D. Built-In Microphone, E. Cellular Chip, F. Eco-Drive Technology

Image used with permission

According to a description about TESS ™ provided on the fund-raising site, Indiegogo:

The Tiger Eye Security Sensor™ (TESS™) is a hands-free, voice-activated, wearable sensor designed to help deter crime and violence. With this ingenious, inconspicuous sensor, help is just one word away. If you cry out, saying words like “help,” “stop,” or “no” during a situation where you feel threatened, TESS™ actually detects the stress in your voice and activates itself. If you say “help” again when prompted, or manually activate the device, TESS™ will immediately call police to your GPS location. At the same time, the device will begin video recording events and will loudly announce to the criminal that the police are on the way and to LEAVE NOW! This alone might scare the criminal into fleeing without completing his crime. The video feed, stored in the cloud, can be used later to identify and prosecute criminals.

Sounds like an interesting concept. Below is a promotional video that provides more detail, and shows how the device might work in actual practice.

TESS ™ video for Indiegogo campaign

Keep in mind, though, that this is yet undeveloped technology at this point, and the final product that emerges from the Indiegogo campaign (if it’s fully funded) may be different than depicted here.

It’s also important to remember that the vast majority of assaults against women are not perpetrated by strangers, but by family members, partners, friends, acquaintances, and others known to the victim. So, never let any technology lull you into a false sense of security.

As a general rule, I’m skeptical of technologies that oversell their abilities to reduce crime and protect victims, but with the right approach – including education, training, and hands-on practice – a device like TESS ™ might be a good addition to your personal safety plan.

Leave a comment below about this, or other crime-fighting technologies you’ve used or wanted to use.

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It’s been a great first year, and I want to thank all of you for taking the time to read, post, comment, share, and otherwise support this blog. I especially want to thank Brittius.com for all the reblogs of our content and the comments they’ve shared over the past months. Much appreciated, friends. You can read their blog here.

Image courtesy of jannoon028 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of jannoon028 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Our blog began simply as an information project, primarily to help my students. I referred them here for more info on topics that commonly came up in our discussions and the other work we were doing together. Not only was it helpful to them, and a springboard for further discussion and learning, but I soon found that other people were interested in these topics as well.

That lead to additional topics, some guest posts, experiments with different approaches, and even a shot at a podcast (I plan to revive that in the new year). We also upped the game with a new and improved research blog, also supported by the company that sponsors this blog – Æquitas Educational Services – and a new weekly news site for parents: Social Web Safety.

Our Blog — Æquitas Educational Services 2013-12-14 08-28-44

So, to wrap things up, I’ve pulled together the top ten posts from Crime & Justice in terms of views, comments, and reblogs for 2013. I look forward to another year of growth and experimentation in 2014, and we’ll continue striving to provide you with the types of content you’re seeking.

If you have suggestions, story ideas, or just some feedback you’d like to share, let me know. And, as always, please spread the word about our blog and what we’re up to.

Top Ten Posts of 2013
  1. How Many Innocent People are in Prison?
  2. Why do Non-violent Felons Lose the Right to Bear Arms?
  3. Female Sex Offenders – Hidden in Plain Sight?
  4. Compliance with Authority and The Strip Search Prank Call Scam
  5. What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
  6. The Legal System’s Non-Response to “Revenge Porn” (Updated 11/7/13)
  7. Friday Crime Vids – The Failed War on Drugs
  8. Why Therapeutic Jurisprudence?
  9. Does Privacy Still Matter?
  10. Kratom – Wonder Drug or Potential Health Threat?

Thanks again, and have a happy and safe holiday season!

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