back to article Cops raid home of ousted data scientist who created her own Florida COVID-19 dashboard

Florida's state police on Monday morning raided the home of coronavirus tracker Rebekah Jones, seizing her electronics as part of a computer hacking investigation. Jones previously built a website displaying up-to-date COVID-19 virus infection stats for Florida’s Department of Health while working as a geographic information …

  1. EJ
    Terminator

    Welcome to Trumpistan.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      This isn't about Trump

      They did this sort of thing long before Trump - and it's a state by state problem - much like we can see with how different EU states treat their citizens.

      Come next January, who are you going to blame, for more of the same?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This isn't about Trump

        Bollocks.

        It's Trump that's made the GOP ignore everything it supposedly stood for. It's Trump who's normalised ignoring inconvenient truths. It's Trump who's proved that it you wail loud enough the facts don't matter.

        But the real problem here is his enablers. All the people who are supposed to be in positions of authority that don't know how to say "no" to a bully. Like the prick who ordered the pigs to shut down this troublesome priest, I mean scientist.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: This isn't about Trump

          The fact that COVID 19 has been so heavily politicised over there is the problem. I've said it before, Trump isn't running a pandemic response, he's been running a re-election campaign. He's criticised mask wearing, social distancing, lockdowns, his chief medical experts, all because he wanted/needed the economy to be going well to make him look good. Facts have been trampled in preference of money in the name of "freedom". Freedom to go to work. Freedom to go to the pub. Freedom to not wear a mask. Freedom to spread a deadly disease.

          1. iron Silver badge

            Re: This isn't about Trump

            You forgot freedom to die, gasping for breath and alone.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: This isn't about Trump

              You are so obedient. You will be rewarded. He's some power, go lock people up for not wanting to be good irons.

          2. Befe

            Re: This isn't about Trump

            You might sober up if you listen/look to this doctor:

            https://youtu.be/Tq8SXOBy-4w

        2. Warm Braw Silver badge

          Re: This isn't about Trump

          Unfortunately, the enablers are a sizable proportion of the electorate - Trump won last time basically because enough voters chose to reject fact in favour of fantasy.

          That applies in spades when it comes to Covid - a lot of people flatly reject the truth and there are votes in pandering to their beliefs.

          All Trump did was to demonstrate that if you remove even the pretence of integrity from politics it is an electoral asset.

          1. K

            Re: This isn't about Trump

            Its generally this way the world over at the moment, I sum it up in 3 words:

            Preach - About about how everybody is hard-done by, and its not their personal responsibility

            Point - The finger at somebody convenient, who can be target easily

            Promise - To make naughty and nasty targets pay

          2. FlamingDeath Silver badge

            Re: This isn't about Trump

            What fuckin planet are you on?

            Trump got the whitehouse because the alternative was an evil witch who happens to be in possession of an axe wound

            Stop watching MsM

            If this is what formulates your world view, you’re a dumb muppet, take my advice and try thinking for yourself

        3. Trigonoceps occipitalis Silver badge

          Re: This isn't about Trump

          "Turbulent priest" please.

      2. martinusher Silver badge

        Re: This isn't about Trump

        The 'Trump' bit is simply that she got sidelined when the figures trended the wrong way, ideologically speaking, and she refused to tweak them to match what was expected.

        She's obviously mishandled this -- or someone has done so in her name -- but if it turns out that she's shut down just because her hardware went AWOL then it indicates a lack of precaution. (If I had sensitive data like this I'd have backup copies all over the place...hardware's cheap....)

        >Come next January, who are you going to blame, for more of the same?

        Trump is both a person and a symptom. In this case the blame isn't with Trump but Florida's governor, Ron deSantis, who is very much in the Trump mold (but a much more savvy political operator).

        1. sabroni Silver badge

          Re: She's obviously mishandled this

          How so?

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: This isn't about Trump

          "but if it turns out that she's shut down just because her hardware went AWOL then it indicates a lack of precaution."

          Until it happens to you, you don't believ it actually happens.

          Been there, done that

      3. rmullen0

        Re: This isn't about Trump

        Trump does nothing by lie though his teeth. Soon he will be on skid row after he can't pay his debt and has his properties foreclosed on. He'll be out there lying to bums telling them how unfair the world is and how mistreated he is. Steaming pile of it.

    2. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      There are no absolutely correct Covid-19 death numbers worldwide. Part of it is defining the cause of death for someone who has a few nasty medical problems. Do you go with the underlying cause or the illness? How many late stage cancer patients are listed as dying of pneumonia not cancer? Also, how many messed up diagnoses are there for Covid-19? Honest people argue over these points and different organizations have differing answers for these questions.

      Dimbulb's problem was not realizing the numbers are not completely accurate (never will be) like the final score of a rugby match but have issues built into them. They are roughly accurate, my navel says about 5% error rate overall. Good enough to give an accurate sense of the problem and general trends and rates. She thought there was a crime when in fact it is more likely the difficulties in determining the actual numbers and trying to correct for reporting/recording problems and trying to get them reported in a standard way to make them comparable with others' numbers.

      1. Falmari Silver badge
        Devil

        Ruby

        “the numbers are not completely accurate (never will be) like the final score of a rugby match but have issues built into them. They are roughly accurate,”

        I know scoring can be a bit confusing to those not familiar with Rugby and the number of points awarded for certain scoring actions are different between the two codes. But the final score is accurate, it is just a tally of points scored by each of the two teams it is not subject to things like rounding errors etc. I have never heard of a team demanding a recount because a try, conversion, penalty or drop goal had not been added to the tally of their score. But outside of that happening Rugby scores are accurate.

        1. juice Silver badge

          Re: Ruby

          > I know scoring can be a bit confusing to those not familiar with Rugby [...] But the final score is accurate

          I think the original author's point was exactly that - a rugby score is easily quantifiable as a single fixed number, whereas gathering statistics for the impacts of a disease is not.

          I haven't looked into Florida's numbers, but even in the UK, there's a lot of shades of grey in the statistics.

          E.g. the daily "people with coronavirus" stats are fairly quantifiable. You take the test which you either pass or fail, and we can then apply a bit of a fudge factor to account for "false positives/negatives".

          Hey presto: 10,000 per day, +/- 5%.

          But deaths are trickier.

          We're currently measuring deaths based on whether they occurred within 28 days of being diagnosed with C19. As far as I'm aware, we don't then apply any further filtering based on whether C19 was the primary factor, or just a secondary one - or whether it wasn't actually a contributing factor.

          Alternatively, you can look at total excess deaths - we're currently about running at about 70,000 deaths more than we would have expected.

          But even then, this probably underplays the total deaths by a measurable margin. E.g. road deaths usually account for about 1% of all deaths, but have effectively dropped to zero during lockdown.

          Similar for things like the flu. On the other hand, it's sadly likely that there's been increases in fatalities from other causes, not least thanks to the impact of lockdown on mental health, support services and employment/poverty.

          So again, there has to be a fudge factor there, too.

          So whatever figures you pick, you can be pretty much certain that someone'll spend lots of time arguing over whether they're correct or not. And for better or worse, a lot of people - especially politicians - will tend to prefer statistics which are towards the lower end of the scale.

          Though looking at the way that the USA is likely this week to hit 3000 corona-related deaths a day (and rising), I don't think anyone can really argue that things are going well!

          1. Martin an gof Silver badge

            Re: Ruby

            the daily "people with coronavirus" stats are fairly quantifiable. You take the test which you either pass or fail, and we can then apply a bit of a fudge factor to account for "false positives/negatives".

            I don't think that's right. The number you get from that is "people who presented for a test and were found to be positive". The "people who have coronavirus" is a lot more nebulous and relies on randomised testing of large numbers of people and extrapolating those results to the population as a whole.

            We're currently measuring deaths based on whether they occurred within 28 days of being diagnosed with C19. As far as I'm aware, we don't then apply any further filtering based on whether C19 was the primary factor, or just a secondary one - or whether it wasn't actually a contributing factor.

            So, intuitively, you would think this would overestimate the actual deaths directly attributable to C19.

            Alternatively, you can look at total excess deaths - we're currently about running at about 70,000 deaths more than we would have expected.

            And this figure is always higher than the 28 days figure, so intuitively seems an even larger overestimate...

            But even then, this probably underplays the total deaths by a measurable margin.

            Hmmm... so the first two methods are underestimates after all?

            I think I agree with your general point - that we are never going to have completely accurate figures for deaths due directly or indirectly to this new virus. I'm not sure an error of 5% or even 10% will matter in a few years' time - it never seems to have in the past.

            The key points are probably "lots of people died" and "mistakes were made by all - governments, scientists and general public - which meant that more people died of CoViD 19 than should have done". After that it becomes a blame game and however much we despise <name a politician>'s policies, putting them on trial for crimes against humanity is likely a hiding to nothing, and would waste an awful lot of public money.

            M.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "There are no absolutely correct Covid-19 death numbers worldwide. "

        Perhaps not, but the best proxy is the number of deaths above the 5 year average (all causes)

        Everything else can be massaged, Deaths are hard to cover up - but you're always going to be running about 5 days behind "today"

    3. FlamingDeath Silver badge

      “Whaa whaa whaa, I hate trump”

      Ok kiddo thats fine and all, I’m sure you’ll join the #MeToo march and tell all about how you were touched prior to landing some overpaid acting job for services rendered, but we’ll still all know that silly cunts exist and no laws can protect silly cunts from themselves!

  2. HildyJ Silver badge
    FAIL

    Truth to Power

    It's certainly not new with Trump but the number of police actions, secret intelligence gathering and surveillance targets, and lawsuits against those who speak truth to power has radically increased over last four years. Ex officials, whistleblowers, reporters, scientists, and political opponents have all been targets.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Truth to Power

      I'd watch and see what happens with Jones. There's history - and she has been involved in some unhelpful activities before this matter. She's probably been goading the FL DoH for some time, hence the heavy handed response.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Truth to Power

        Because 'goading' deserves an armed response. I've been goading my local council over planning permits, I hope they don't have nukes

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Truth to Power

        Oh, good, we have the obligatory "she was asking for it" comment. I can see why you'd want to remain anonymous for that, coward.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Truth to Power

          Yup

          people should read https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Definitions_of_fascism#Umberto_Eco and see how many checkboxes their current government is ticking

          things that make you go "hmm"

          1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

            Re: Truth to Power

            > current government

            Throw in movements like BLM, the "Greens", "Anti"fa, Extinction Rebellion, etc, all of which not only tick 100% of the checkboxes, but _smash_ 100%.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Truth to Power

      This is El Reg, not Facebook, so.... [citation needed]

  3. jonfr

    Made up charges

    When this whole thing is over it is going to come to light that the whole thing is based on fabricated evidence and bad actors in Florida government. Those alert systems in the United States have also been proven to be widely insecure in the past based on news reports and I don't think that has changed in recent years because of Republican incompetence. The government and the police of Florida need to be sued over this case.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Worldometers next

      Florida was one of those states that didn't do the testing just before the election to make the numbers look they were falling. Now they're doing testing, that fake trough is clear on all datasets:

      See the "Active cases" trough around November 3rd for Florida?:

      https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/usa/florida/

      The dip is clear as day.

      What would Republicans do for power?

      Would they kill people? Even if those people are majority Republican voting elderly? Yes. This here. They intentionally allowed undiagnosed spreaders to spread this plague to others just to make the numbers look better. People caught the disease that didn't need to and died. Republicans knew that would happen, Republicans did it anyway.

      So, 2020 election and you're supposed to question the result in Georgia, but Georgia has a fully audited system with paper ballots that can be counted by hand. That system was mandated by the courts after some questionable election results to restore confidence in the system. It's hard for Republicans to rig those machines, so they fell back to voter suppression:

      https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/republican-vote-suppression-2020-scandal-georgia-s-primary-proved-it-ncna1231217

      But in other Republican strongholds they've been actively buying riggable, paperless, audit trail less voting machines:

      https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/a26856467/texas-voting-machines-paper-trail-states/

      "[Rokey] Suleman [an election official in South Carolina] expressed dismay at the idea of continuing to purchase paperless equipment. “Why? Why? Especially with heightened sense of paranoia about outside influence into our election systems. We need to have a way to independently validate voters’ intent away from tabulation equipment. I don’t understand how any election official could really consider a totally paperless system in this day and age.”

      "Shantiel Soeder, election and compliance administrator at Ohio’s Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, shared Suleman’s sentiment. “At the end of the day, we have that ballot that we can always go back to. We still find it important to print out receipts for other transactions in our lives. To have absolutely no paper, it’s almost irresponsible. These are people’s votes!”

      So you think Republicans got 74 million votes? All these people came out in greater numbers than ever to support Republicans despite the staggering incompetence, the treason, the self dealing and broken promises??? They did that only in the riggable voting machines and not in the mail-in verfiable ballots? If you believe that then I have some Florida Coronavirus numbers just for you.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Worldometers next

        "Florida was one of those states that didn't do the testing just before the election to make the numbers look they were falling. Now they're doing testing, that fake trough is clear on all datasets:"

        FWIW, looking at the provided link, the trough for both cases and deaths looks to be late Sept., not early November. It looks like it was climbing for at least a month leading to election day, and carried on rising at a similar rate after election day. While I agree with your general thrust, I think it's quite clear the "trough" is not useful evidence to bolster your case. Unless the claim is that the Republicans just got the timing wrong.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Worldometers next

        you are so off your rocker gramps. you got it all backwards, and history and current activity show the point. The criminal organizations (Democrats and Republicans) Republicans believe is smaller government - less regulating people. Democrats believe in bigger government, managing peoples lives down to what they are allowed to eat, drink and put on their own face.

        Supposedly one is Freedom/less regulation, and the other Slavery/pets of the government.

        However in the US the government is supposed to be The People (but it's currently corporations like google and AT&T) So we have greedy people (for a large part) running the government and not good people. Brings back the old saying, Power corrupts, Absolute power ~~~~~

        Eliminate the parties/gangs, free the people from greed.

      3. rnturn

        Re: Worldometers next

        > Florida was one of those states that didn't do the testing just before the election to make the numbers look they were falling.

        SOP in Florida. They rigged their unemployment system to make it extremely difficult to qualify for unemployment insurance and then tout how little unemployment there is in the state (as measured by those actually receiving UI payments).

    2. tfb Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Made up charges

      It probably isn't going to come to light. Of course it is based on fabricated evidence, but if the people who fabricated the evidence continue to be in power, this will never come to light, any more than the corruption and idiocy behind the UK government's handling of CV19 will ever come to light.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re:corruption and idiocy behind the UK government's handling of CV19 will ever come to light

        Really? You think it's a secret they spaffed 12 BILLION quid on a barely functional track and trace system run by the buffoon who fucked up at TalkTalk? It's no secret.

        We don't need to hide this stuff in the UK, our population are genuinely too thick to understand the news.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Re:corruption and idiocy behind the UK government's handling of CV19 will ever come to light

          "You think it's a secret they spaffed 12 BILLION quid on a barely functional track and trace system"

          No, but if you ask them questions about how much money they've spent on PPE and other things related to COVID, the answer is, "we don't know" ...

          1. Michael B.

            Re: Re:corruption and idiocy behind the UK government's handling of CV19 will ever come to light

            That's probably the truth though. - They don't know how much they've spent.

          2. Down not across Silver badge

            Re: Re:corruption and idiocy behind the UK government's handling of CV19 will ever come to light

            No, but if you ask them questions about how much money they've spent on PPE and other things related to COVID, the answer is, "we don't know" ...

            Is that inclusive or exclusive of the PPE that was not even usable?

        2. tfb Silver badge
          Big Brother

          Re: Re:corruption and idiocy behind the UK government's handling of CV19 will ever come to light

          No, it's not a secret. But the situation is much more complex than that.

          There are three notions of 'truth': (1) is a thing actually objectively true? (2) is a thing generally believed to be true? (3) has the state sanctioned it as being true?

          All of these things are independent today. What I meant by 'coming to light' is that the first and third of these things should be the case. It's not enough for the thing to be true, or for people to know is true (still less for people to 'know it is true' when it is in fact false): unless it is blessed as 'true' by Dominic Cummings Trump Boris the state it has not come to light. Similarly things which are blessed as 'true' by the state but which are not actually true have not come to light: they're just state-sanctioned lies.

          In your example: yes, the UK government did actually spend billions of pounds on a track and trace system which did not work, and yes, this was due to incompetence and corruption, and yes, everyone knows both these things, but no, it is not a Boris state-sanctioned 'truth': the state-sanctioned 'truth' will be that some lower sum of money was spent, that the system worked reasonably well, and that there was no corruption involved.

          The state-sanctioned 'truth' matters because, given the state is busily ensuring that there is no independent legal system (the judges and lawyers are, of course, enemies of the state people), if the state chooses not to sanction something as 'true' then there is nothing you can do about that.

  4. Winkypop Silver badge
    FAIL

    Pointing guns at kids over a “hacking” case?

    Classic America

    Classic fail

    1. Blazde Silver badge

      Re: Pointing guns at kids over a “hacking” case?

      "You need to calm down now"

      * proceeds to scream up stairs and point weapons in the direction of her family *

      (Oh thanks officer, I feel calmer already).

      Textbook example of why US cops need more de-escalation training and less thug training.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Pointing guns at kids over a “hacking” case?

        "You need to calm down now"

        * proceeds to scream up stairs and point weapons in the direction of her family *

        Coincidently, I was watching that story on CNN while reading your comment. There is a noticeable edit and therefore indeterminate time between the actions you stated above. I've no idea if that edit is what we are all seeing or if CNN made that edit to shorten the overall video length (or to spin it more onto their own "message")

        1. Claptrap314 Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: Pointing guns at kids over a “hacking” case?

          Oh, no. CNN would NEVER do that!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Pointing guns at kids over a “hacking” case?

        @Blazde

        If you listen to the video, the officer repeated an order from another officer to come downstairs, saying "COME down now". Not "calm down".

        Ordering other family members to come down so that the cops can prevent them from potentially destroying or hiding evidence seems like a prudent step to preserve evidence and avoid a possible confrontation upstairs as the cops search the place.

        1. Blazde Silver badge

          Re: Pointing guns at kids over a “hacking” case?

          He says 'calm down' three times at the beginning of the video (I did quote it slightly wrong though).

          Aiming the guns just wasn't a prudent step, and the idea they need to prevent destroying of evidence so urgently doesn't jive with FDLE's claim they waited outside for 20 minutes for her to open the door. Nope, they just have this whole 'must gain authority over situation with shock and awe' mindset and that actually increases the possibility of confrontation because it pisses everyone off, and you can't tell them it doesn't work because they enjoy doing it too much.

    2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Pointing guns at kids over a “hacking” case?

      I guess she must be white because they didn't shoot her. Had she been black and lifted the lid on her scanner to pull a sheet of paper out, they might have thought she was reaching for a gun and shot her.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Pointing guns at kids over a “hacking” case?

        Well, yeah! It's a computer scanner thingy. She probably scanned and 3D printed a gun while their backs were turned!!!

        Paris, because probably thinks that's possible too ------------------>

        1. onemark03 Bronze badge

          Pointing guns at kids over a “hacking” case?

          Yeah.

          The police in the US still believe that they are "at war" with the citizenry.

          You know: "police militarisation" by people who would never have been good enough for the US military.

      2. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: Pointing guns at kids over a “hacking” case?

        That's if they'd even bothered to wait before getting through the door. They might have decided to shoot first and plant 'evidence' later.

    3. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Pointing guns at kids over a “hacking” case?

      Although not apparently state-sanctioned, the levels of racism, violence against minorities and actions by the police would possibly have resulted in South Africa-levels of sanctions imposed against the USA once upon a time.

      I wonder how long it will be before someone (China?) manipulates everyone else into instigating "Boycott America", as a "social awareness" campaign.

  5. quartzz

    the only thing Elysium (the film) was inaccurate about, were the special effects.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How soon

    before they try doing this in the UK?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How soon

      No need. We don't have a Rebekah Jones here exposing the truth of the situation.

      Is that because our figures aren't doctored?

      1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

        Re: How soon

        They kinda are, but owing to not being able to get things under control in a better way even the fudged stats look bad.

        Because there are lies, damn lies and Statistics

      2. Blazde Silver badge

        Re: How soon

        The BBC are careful to always report figures with "... within 28 days of testing positive" caveat, which at least exposes the existence of the doctoring.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: How soon

          The within 28 days limitation was introduced because the original, hasty definition was really ill thought-out. According to that if you died after a positive test you were added to the statistics. If you were hit by a car leaving the test centre you became one of the COVID count. If you died of old age decades later you'd have become part of the count. It was a definition that ensured that sooner or later 100% of those with positive tests would be defined as having died of it.

          There are other definitions such as COVID being mentioned on the death certificate and the ONS figure of deaths in excess of the average for time of year. The Beeb reports these as well but they are not available on a daily basis, only the deaths within 28 days. When reporting these statistics they're properly labelled; this isn't some form of casting aspersions, it's simply good practice.

          1. Blazde Silver badge

            Re: How soon

            The point is, much like the original no cut-off metric, the 28 days cut-off doesn't make sense on any medical basis. It's know to be a substantial underestimate, and it's use is politically driven.

            The government scientists' preferred metric is the 60 day cut-off plus those with Covid mentioned on death certificate even after 60 days, and you don't have to study the numbers long to see it's a much better estimate. That figure is still published on a weekly basis (it's currently about 13.5% higher) but you'll never hear a minister mention it and all the press releases, graphs, daily figures and so on contain the 30-day figure which is explicitly called the 'headline indicator'. It may as well be called the 'propaganda number'.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: How soon

              "It may as well be called the 'propaganda number'."

              On the other hand, if they keep using the same methods to calculate the numbers, you still get an accurate trend.

              1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

                Re: How soon

                -ish. Accurate-ish. There are definitely ways to measure things that result in substantial errors even in trends.

              2. Blazde Silver badge

                Re: How soon

                One of the issues with being so sensitive to the timing of a patient's first positive test is that it screws the trend as availability of testing changes.

                For example: in April a typical patient may not get a positive test until 2 weeks after infection once they were admitted (and some were dying without any test), after which they had a full further 4 weeks to pass away and still be counted. Over the summer the greater test availability meant more were positive long before they got to hospital and may have had only 14 days in ICU to pass away and be counted. By October the timing of your first test depended on where you lived and your willingness/ability to drive for hours. This isn't the characteristic of a stable metric.

                The 60-day metric is much less sensitive to first test timing because almost all those who will die from Covid have done so within 60 days of infection (that's significantly less true for 28 days). Plus if they die without a test they'll eventually be counted in that metric via the death certificate criteria.

            2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: How soon

              My preference would be having it mentioned on the death certificate as the sole criterion. Otherwise the "hit by car on leaving the test centre" problem is still there. In the early days there could have been a problem with a doctor misdiagnosing some other respiratory illness as COVID or vice versa when there was insufficient testing capacity but that's not going to be a problem now. However the GRO isn't going to process death certs quickly enough for monitoring purposes.

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: How soon

            "the ONS figure of deaths in excess of the average for time of year. ""

            Even that figure is suspect, since deaths from some other causes, eg road traffic accidents, murders, dipped significantly over the 1st lockdown period. The additional hygiene and mask wearing will also be having an effect of other contact or airborne transmissible diseases. Of course, this probably means the numbers of COVID deaths is higher than the ONS figures.

            1. AW-S
              Holmes

              Re: How soon

              "since deaths from some other causes, eg road traffic accidents, murders, dipped significantly over the 1st lockdown period"

              Interesting. Do you have a source for your numbers?

              According to my data source (ONS England/Wales only) - and I am rounding up the numbers here - the daily road death figure is 5 and the murder figure is 2. That's 7 per day. How many days was lockdown 1? Well your mileage may vary - but those 7 (maximum non-deaths) against the overall deaths, suggests your source is wrong - and by a very large margin.

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: How soon

                The only hard figures I have are 1770 deaths for 2018 and 1752 for 2019. For 2020, I'm remembering Grant Shapps (in a Parliamentary Committee hearing IIRC) stating road deaths were down "70%", pro rata during at least the first part of the lockdown starting in march.

                That is a very small number in the overall death rate, but there have been news reports claiming some decrease in non-COVID death rates, but it's likely we won't have any real hard and fast numbers until next year when the ONS does it's reports.

                Having said that, the "excess deaths" number is calculated by looking at death rates higher than expected for the time of year based on the averages of previous years. So, again, we don't really know for sure what the actual excess death rates are yet because we don't know yet if this years "expected" deaths rates have changed.

                Anyway, all that said, I accept your point that the figures/estimates/guess may well b e wrong, I Donald Trump your claim with "well, I said THOSE deaths dropped significantly, not necessarily that the number is significant in the grand picture :-p

            2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: How soon

              Excess deaths also includes deaths due to COVID taking up medical resources that could have been deployed elsewhere.

              1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                Re: How soon

                Excess deaths also includes deaths due to COVID taking up medical resources that could have been deployed elsewhere.

                Yup. I think it's both simple, and complicated. So one measure for excess mortality is just to compare annual or seasonal death rates & see how 2020 compares to previous years over the last few decades. Then statisticians can dig deeper to try and attribute contributing factors. So there tends to be an increase in deaths of elderly people over winter. Presumably as we've got an aging population, that would factor into comparisons with say, 30yrs ago. Or there's a temperature correlation, ie a cold winter generally leads to more deaths. And as you say, we probably have more deaths this year due to COVID restrictions and NHS resource re-allocation.

                Crime stats I guess would be interesting. I noticed less traffic on the roads during lockdown, so maybe that leads to fewer RTAs and deaths. Or maybe more deaths because people drive faster. And I guess some stats may show other effects, ie a fall in shoplifting because shops have been closed. Or if there's some migration to online thefts and frauds, so shoplifting from home.

                But I also think there's been a lot of dubious attribution & stats. So there was a Florida man killed in a motorbike accident, yet became a COVID statistic. Or as winter approaches, suppose someone's had mild COVID that didn't require treatment, but then catches a cold & dies of pneumonia. That would seem a clearer co-morbidity, ie COVID weakened the person, the common cold killed them.

                But for me, the biggest sin is probably the fixation on 'cases', especially in the media. Other than for public health epidemiologists tracking the spread, a 'case' isn't that serious, especially given the number of people who've been infected, but didn't notice or know until they got their test results. I'm also curious how the vaccination protocol will work. So 'diagnosis' is often via PCR, which can have high false positive/negative results. So will the PCR test detect 'cases' from people who've been vaccinated? If yes, how reliably can we determine it's effectiveness?

                And that I guess also links into general effectiveness & 'public health' policies. So suppose I get vaccinated because I need my official COVID-Free travel & access pass. Yey! But if that only gives temporary (or no) immunity, I may become a blissfully clean asymptomatic spreader. And if I refuse vaccination, what services will I be denied? And what might I be required to carry, physically or virtually to show I'm 'unclean', like the lepers of old?

                And then there's the safety angle. So governments around the world are gearing up for mass vaccinations. Jab for Victory! So on the one hand, this could be little different to other routine vaccinations like MMR, or flu shots. On the other, it's a novel mRNA vaccine that's been rushed into production with the vaccine makers being shielded and given immunity from liability. And if the vaccine's immunity is temporary, it looks to be hugely profitable & mostly risk-free. Stats on that should become more apparent after more people get their 2nd shot, which is when most of the adverse reactions seem to show up.

                1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

                  Re: How soon

                  >Excess deaths also includes deaths due to COVID taking up medical resources

                  Here drug overdose deaths/month are higher than our total covid deaths (until a few recent old folks home outbreaks). Reasoning is that people got cash from the govt and spent it on the street

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: How soon

          "The BBC are careful to always report figures with "

          Yes, because it was shown that REAL figures were at least three times higher than what the government was claiming

          https://www.ft.com/content/67e6a4ee-3d05-43bc-ba03-e239799fa6ab

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: How soon

        Not "doctored" as such, since the raw data is available. Different groups are using different methods, and possibly have different agendas and as such are producing different numbers and conclusions.

      4. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

        Re: How soon

        Is that because our figures aren't doctored?

        Competence - using an old version of Excel that can't handle the dataset comes to mind

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How soon

      The Scene: unexpected 5am alarm call as Armed Goons break down your front door to arrest you and accuse you of breaking The UK Official Secrets Act by revealing accurate COVID-19 figures.

  7. tkioz

    Really?

    They needed to draw guns on a middle aged couple and their kids in a computer crimes case? What the hell America...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Really?

      The kids could have come out carrying a murderous Teddy, those things could kill you dead in a second. Lucky the cops restrained themselves, they could have just shot them all, just to be sure.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: they could have just shot them all, just to be sure.

        I didn't realise she was black.

      2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        1. genghis_uk Silver badge

          Re: Really?

          You may want to re-read that article...

          <quote> In a statement Sunday, the Franklin County Sheriff's Office said Jason Meade, a 17-year veteran of the department and a sheriff's deputy assigned to the US Marshals Service fugitive task force, had shot Goodson </quote>

          Unless he joined the force as a baby, he was older than 17.

          He still shot a kid holding a Subway sandwich though!!

          1. rnturn

            Re: Really?

            You read "17-year veteran" and interpreted that as "17-year OLD veteran"?

            Shees!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Really?

      At least she's white. Imagine if she wasn't - all the burning, looting and stuff.

      1. gerryg

        Re: Really?

        I think you forgot a step in your reasoning: At least she's white so they didn't shoot her.

        1. Blazde Silver badge

          Re: Really?

          Being white isn't enough to stop US cops shooting you. If you got that from the BLM protests you've been sorely mislead. Go check out all the different coloured faces here: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/ng-interactive/2015/jun/01/the-counted-police-killings-us-database

          Being female is a pretty decent method of staying alive however.

          1. tfb Silver badge
            Boffin

            Re: Really?

            Being black isn't enough to stop them shooting you. It is enough to make it getting on for twice as likely that they shoot you though (black people are about 14% of the population, about 24% of the people they shot in 2016 were black).

            1. Blazde Silver badge

              Re: Really?

              Something like that, however it depends what you mean by twice as likely. If you pick an American individual at random and all you know about them is they're black then you know they're about twice as likely to become a police death statistic.

              But if you want a hypothetical like 'if Rebekah Jones was black' you arguably already have the conditional that she's someone who's come into contact with angry armed police, and an increased likelihood of interacting with angry armed police is a significant component of what increases the fatality rate in the black population. The at-the-scene racism being the other big component.

              (Of course if you drill down into the scenario far enough: white female former state employee data scientist being arrested in Florida for hacking charges vs black female former state employee data scientist being arrested in Florida for hacking charges, then there won't be any fatality statistics).

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Probs just standard operating procedure

    The cops don't know who'll they'll find. And they are just executing a standard search warrant like so many others. So it seems nothing wrong on the police's part. No weapons fired, everyone chill.

    The issue seems to be the politics and that the department of health went after a warrant and then had it executed in the way it was.

    And all the other crap in the land of the 'free'

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So it seems nothing wrong on the police's part.

      So if the pigs come into your house and point guns at your children you consider that "nothing wrong"?

      You are a good citizen. Continue to behave as instructed.

      1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: So it seems nothing wrong on the police's part.

        Indeed, because no police has ever gotten spooked and hosed an innocent member of society down with lead (sorry, environmentally friendly white metal) and walked away from manslaughter with nary so much as a slap on the wrist.

        /sarcasm

      2. Strahd Ivarius Bronze badge

        Re: So it seems nothing wrong on the police's part.

        Nothing wrong because of the 2nd Amendment.

        If any citizen may be armed, you as a policeman need to be prepared to see them resist.

        1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

          Re: So it seems nothing wrong on the police's part.

          Because cops never arrest people who ignore the law?

          Try again.

      3. rnturn

        Re: So it seems nothing wrong on the police's part.

        No. It's entirely wrong on the police's part. This kind of crap happens all the time in Chicago. In fact, one reporter has done so many reports on these cases that it almost seems he's able to do nothing /but/ that. The hell of it is that so many of these raids are taking place at the wrong addresses.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Probs just standard operating procedure

      The issue is the idea that the police executing a warrant for computers need to have guns drawn, this isn't a warrant for someone that has displayed any violent tendencies.

      American police need to be taught de-escalation methods as at the moment their behavior increases the likelihood of a violent response.

      1. John Sturdy
        Black Helicopters

        Re: Probs just standard operating procedure

        I didn't see the guns as relevant to suppressing a nominally possibly violent response; surely it's all about the message it sends to those who don't do as the state orders?

    3. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Probs just standard operating procedure

      So you think it's normal to go into a house with weapons drawn to execute a search warrant for a very non-violent offence? After being told there are children in the house?

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Probs just standard operating procedure

        Of course. They may have to protect themselves against what might happen if they broke into the wrong address by mistake. Can't be too careful.

        What's that? Can't be too careful about getting the right address?

      2. Graham Cunningham

        It's nearly Christmas...

        ... Kevin might be home alone.

    4. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: Probs just standard operating procedure

      There are 2 independent issues here:

      1. DoH took an insanely heavy-handed approach to deal with this alleged infringement. Doubtless to make an example of her, to deter others from doing foolish things like refusing the massage the figures and instead reporting real numbers.

      2. The cops, as ever, went for instant escalation an maximum aggression. Against a middle-aged family and their kids. Over an non-violent alleged crime. I suspect they get such a kick off the adrenaline rush that this is the default behaviour. Seems like shear luck no one got shot.

      Please don't ignore the second by focussing solely on the first.

      1. Electronics'R'Us Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Probs just standard operating procedure

        Many years ago (possibly before I actually went to the USA permanently so mid 70s) my then g/f worked in an area in Norfolk, VA well known for problems at night. (She was working in a bar opposite a 'massage parlour').

        She told me that one of the local cops had turned down a promotion because he would have had to drive a desk and he 'enjoyed kicking ass'.

        No change there, then.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Probs just standard operating procedure

        "1. DoH took an insanely heavy-handed approach to deal with this alleged infringement. "

        This! From what I've seen, heard and read so far, the only "crime" she's accused of is unauthorised use of some sort of "emergency" messaging system which seems to be something akin to a mailing list for "important" messages to State staff and officials rather than something like an emergency broadcast system used in times of life threatening crisis.

  9. Potemkine! Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Incredible

    Cops coming with guns out in a house with kids inside... what a crazy country.

    I hope we'll never reach that level of nonsense this side of the ocean.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      You know how to vote ?

      Then you know what you need to do.

      1. Potemkine! Silver badge

        I do, however I'm not the only one to vote. Problem is when the idiots are taking over

    2. onemark03 Bronze badge

      Cops coming with guns out in a house with kids inside..

      Unfortunately another example of police in the US believing they are at war with the citizenry.

      Police militarisation, anybody?

  10. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Is Ms Streissand about?

    Meanwhile how did it work out hushing up these allegations about massaging the COVID death figures?

  11. genghis_uk Silver badge

    DoH Security

    From what I have seen she was arrested for accessing an emergency messaging system that has multiple users across a number of departments but only 1 user / password combination for everyone. Their security was non-existent - Rebekah Jones was fired in May and the breach was supposed to be on 10th November. Did no-one think to change the password?

    Anyone can access the system with no traceability of who did it

    They apparently traced her IP address back but I wonder how much of that was a 'political' track back?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: DoH Security - Not revoking user access != Hacking

      Sorry, but this isn't hacking. Misuse of a government communications system, at least in the eyes of the state, but they failed to correctly handle access and failed to revoke her access.

      If my employer fails to revoke my building access and I walk back into the building, that's trespassing, not breaking and entering.

      An they know what she did and where she did it from, so what legitimate evidence were they hoping to scrape from her devices that was actually related to the issue the warrant was ostensibly for?

      I hope when she goes to trial the judge throws out everything from the search that is out of scope and then kicks this down to civil court. Sadly, the point of the exercise was to steal private communications from her to go after whistleblowers still inside the agencies dealing with Florida's Covid response. I doubt that her legal representation has enough pull to get those devices back, or purge or at least restrict access to the images taken of them.

      1. genghis_uk Silver badge

        Re: DoH Security - Not revoking user access != Hacking

        I don't know what legitimate evidence they think they may find but she says the computer holds details of leaks and her sources still working in government. It will be interesting if there is a subtle purge of some people who have helped over the last 6 months.

  12. onemark03 Bronze badge

    it's a state by state problem

    No, it's a nation-wide problem. It's about America.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Saying goes

    We have a word for this in the US, its called Flori-duh

    You can find many websites about this.

    It's painful to see outsiders not understand states rights/independence.

    But that's okay, if I didn't live here I might not either.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I gotta ask...

    Is it possible that she's actually in the wrong here? So many comments assume she's telling the truth about the hiding of data - but is that the case? Also, if she did send the message, that's pretty clearly accessing a system she knew she shouldn't access - fired in May, message sent in November, message text matches the kind of thing she's been saying, IP address is hers...

    Could it be a setup? Sure. Could it have really been her? Sure. Could even have been a "wonder if my password still works" kind of stunt.

    As for pointing guns at kids? First, the video doesn't seem to show that at all. (No kids present in video, unless I was looking at the wrong one. Just her answering the door, then officers entering.) Second, this is Florida. Lots of folks with crazy amounts of firearms. I'd **expect** police entering and searching a home to have weapons drawn, as they've been shot at in similar situations. Third, how old are the kids? A 4-year-old is likely not going to be threat - but a teenager hearing their mom being arrested might well be. Fourth, she told them her husband was also home, and they ordered everyone downstairs... at which point the video ended. The rest of it would be more revealing about the officers' conduct than what was released.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: I gotta ask...

      In order:

      1. It's possible, but a crime that effectively consists of "typed a message into a system with a single every-user username and password" is a very small crime. It wasn't an abusive message. It wasn't a harmful message. It wasn't a repeated message. Assuming she did send the message, she neither broke through a complex security system nor did something very harmful with the access. The response is not proportionate.

      2. The people in the house were not suspected of any violent crimes, nor have I seen any evidence of any reason to expect violence from them. I cannot use the same logic as a private citizen; "I just wanted to retrieve the toolbox I lent to my neighbors but I did so with a big gun in case they were armed too" isn't generally considered a good excuse in court. The police have provided exactly zero good reasons for why they had to get the guns out and point them; if they're that worried, they could just carry them in a safer way. Intentionally pointing them, at anybody, is clearly an act of intimidation.

      3-4. Your argument on that point effectively boils down to "I don't know the facts, so let me invent some hypotheticals to justify the actions". Yes, an older child is more likely to respond violently to the police than a younger one. Also, a child with a box of sharp knives is more likely to be dangerous than one without. You can't use that kind of what if to justify the threat of violence unless the person actually demonstrates a likelihood to get violent. Just because there could have been an older child is a pointless argument, because there could have been all sorts of things that there wasn't.

    2. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: I gotta ask...

      It's possible that she is "in the wrong," but that's a question of where your moral and ethical compasses point. Many people believe she did the right thing by publishing information about the woeful state of Florida's pandemic response. Many people think the cops drawing their guns on her and her family was unnecessary and put everyone at unnecessary risk of being shot to death for no good reason. You personally may disagree.

      I think what a lot of the Europeans in this comment thread are reacting to is summarized in your statement "I'd **expect** police entering and searching a home to have weapons drawn." Lots of people find that notion shocking.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I gotta ask...

        Here in the US, a lot of people have guns, and even more so in Florida. Going into a house with weapons drawn is likely standard procedure. I understand gun ownership is likely not the norm in Europe, but it is here in the US. As for pointing their guns at her and her family, I didn't see in the video where they necessarily did; the officer on the other side of the door drew his AFTER she came out, and no other family members were shown on the video.

        I'm curious to know if the information she posted about their pandemic response is accurate.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I gotta ask...

        You're also going into the home after 20 minutes of discussions to gain access. One, the cops would be a little irritated by the wait. Two, 20 minutes is of course more than enough time for members of the family to arm themselves or barricade themselves in a part of the house to make some kind of stand.

        The cops were probably right to have guns drawn at that point. They have a right to their own safety too.

  15. Claptrap314 Silver badge

    Overwhelming force

    It might not be obvious, but one way to minimize casualties is to go in with overwhelming force. If one cop shows up with a warrant, the chance of some foolish person trying for a Darwin award are a whole lot higher than if twenty show up with drawn weapons.

    I saw six or so cops show up to a domestic violence call--it's pretty impressive. No one got hurt. I saw one cop show up to a domestic violence call. Four injured. Yeah, I'm talking about drawing a line with two data points, but America really isn't so violent that the average citizen is likely to personally witness that many situations.

    The question of course is "how much force is appropriate in this particular situation"? Warrant-serving is a dangerous process.

    Police are people too. Most want to get through their day safely. Some go in for the kicks, or get addicted to them. Personally, I would like to raise their salaries enough to increase the applicant pool substantially--and then get WAY more picky about who gets hired. Improving the attitude of the citizenry towards the police function itself would be a much cheaper way to get the same effect.

    I saw a short documentary about the "police" forces for some of the smaller reservations in Alaska. Every last one of them had at least one criminal conviction for violence. But the towns could not afford to offer a salary sufficient to attract more desirable officers.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Overwhelming force

      Against someone who is clearly thinking about a violent response but still values their own life, maybe. Against anyone else, dead wrong (often literally). If you put six people with weapons in front of someone, you have six times as many chances that they'll misinterpret something peaceful as potentially dangerous. They're already holding the weapons, so the usual response is lethal. Also, going into a situation where you're in a large group of armed people increases stress, which has proven in various experiments to reduce the ability to recognize small details and act in a calm and peaceful manner. This means it's even more likely that something gets interpreted as dangerous when it's not.

      Bringing a lot of force can be of use when your goal is to make someone put down their weapon and come quietly, because you've destroyed any notion they might have had that they can shoot everyone in the way and get away. In a situation where you need to show up and take some computers, you don't need to do that. All you accomplish by doing it anyway is to make the people in the home more stressed because there are many armed people nearby and the officers more stressed for the reasons in my first paragraph. That can only make things worse, even though we may know incidents where it managed not to end tragically.

      1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

        Re: Overwhelming force

        I would like to see those studies. For those of us who are familiar with fire arms, I cannot imagine how being armed would be more stressful than less. Or how having buddies similarly armed beside me increases stress. If there is no one in charge, then that can be a problem. But on such a warrant/raid there is ALWAYS someone in charge. And a designated second, at least.

        I certainly agree that going in with guns out to serve a search warrant for a computer sounds excessive. But that is NOT what happened, and it is NOT what I was talking about. I was attempting to address the other side of the issue regarding the use of excess force to serve a warrant generally.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Manufactured consent in a non-authoritarian society

    Sounds like another fake "news" story to reinforce Covid fear and voluntary submission.

    Cui bono?

    Now I think about it, this story is totally true, you'd better believe it.

  17. ecofeco Silver badge

    From The Guardian

    Here is the backstory from June of this year.

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jun/15/florida-coronavirus-cases-counter-rebekah-jones-fired-scientist

    And other news.

    https://www.kunr.org/post/fired-florida-data-scientist-launches-coronavirus-dashboard-her-own

  18. tundish

    Step away from the keyboard

    “I’ve never taken any computer courses or anything like that. I do statistics in a software program designed basically to do all that stuff for you by clicking stuff.”

    This here is the real problem for the entire world right now.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Step away from the keyboard

      Why is that a problem? In fact, isn't that an asset of computing? The person who works as a statistician needs to know how to do statistical analysis and how to make the computer do the heavy computation bit. Their most important skills are knowing how to process data in a useful way, how to modify the processing to get useful views of data without corrupting the analysis, how to get data that represents reality, all that stuff. Why should they also know how the computer is going to go about calculating something once they've told it to? If they want to, they should learn. It might help them, so a lot of statisticians I know are good at programming, though they're mostly programmer-statisticians, so that's not a good sample. Still, if you don't need to know that in order to do what you're doing, it seems strange to assign some demerit to not knowing it anyway.

      Do you say the same thing about other computer users? Should the people who know how to make GIMP edit a picture in complex ways also know the different utilities their GPU contributes to the task? Should the person who writes a book in a word processor know how the kernel relays input from a keyboard and how the word processor's text system interprets their keystrokes into characters and commands? In the same way, since I'm assuming you mostly work on computers, should you have to know the way all your equipment was manufactured, down to the logic gates on your processor? If you work in that, should you know how the rare earth elements that are used in it were mined and processed before they got to the factory? With all of the above, there's no reason that someone should be prevented from knowing that if they want, but also no good reason someone should be required to know it when they never deal with it.

  19. First Light Silver badge

    DeSantis hates her

    A former criminal lawyer involved in the FL judicial system resigned in protest at this search, in part because of how outrageous it was.

    The judge who signed the search warrant only graduated from law school in 2014 - even in FL, not enough time to be worthy of a seat on the bench. He was appointed in the last *two months* by Gov DeSantis, who hates this woman for standing up for the truth. Though she has had some personal issues in the past, what she has done recently has been very helpful for many in Florida.

    Don't know if El Reg allows this, but her gofundme is at https://www.gofundme.com/f/DefendScience

  20. arctic_haze

    Sad

    Some parts of the USA are starting to behave like Russia.

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