back to article LA cops told to harvest social media handles from people they stop, suspect or not

Los Angeles police are instructed to collect social media details from people they stop and talk to, even if those civilians aren’t suspected of breaking the law, according to documents finally revealed after a lengthy legal battle. The Brennan Center for Justice, a non-profit institute at New York University, last year …

  1. jake Silver badge

    But ...

    ... I don't use social media, Officer, and I haven't used email since spam became a problem back in the early 1990s. No, you may not have my social security number, my driver's license is ID enough.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But ...

      Stop resisting!

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: But ...

        If you think I am resisting, arrest me.

        Might want to call your Watch Commander before you do that, though.

        LA's been known to pay out mid-7 figures for false arrest, sounds good to me :-)

        1. Joe W Silver badge

          Re: But ...

          Might work if you are white...

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: But ...

            Ever notice that pretty much anybody who plays that particular card has absolutely nothing to add to the conversation?

            1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

              He's not wrong though . . .

              1. jake Silver badge

                Correct. As stated, he's not wrong.

                However, it also might work if you are black. Or yellow. Or brown or red or whatever colo(u)r amfM claims to be.

                As stated, in this context, it is designed to do nothing more than stir up shit. The person uttering those words is a shit disturber, for no reason other than to stir shit. As such, that person is a part of the problem, not a part of the solution.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Stirring up shit...

                  That MLK guy sure stirred up shit. Go figure.

                  1. Cliffwilliams44 Bronze badge

                    Re: Stirring up shit...

                    And he was shot by the American Socialists for doing so.

                    "Even hos family does not believe the Ray shot MLK"

            2. NicX

              Re: But ...

              Ever notice how white people get off easier with the cops?

              Ever notice how cops don't automatically assume a white person is up to no good?

              Ever notice how cops don't automatically assume white people have drugs on them?

              Ever notice how cops don't stop white people walking down the street because they "looked suspicious"?

              Nah, you probably haven't, or you wouldn't have made that comment.

              And for the record, I'm white.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: But ...

                As a black man, your bias is noted and not appreciated. Not all cops are like that, just like not all black people are gang members or drug dealers. One's disposition, attitude, beliefs, constitution, and intelligence is not determined by occupation nor one's skin color.

                In my town the majority of cops are helpful social servants. Though there are a few racists, everyone knows about them and they are kept on a short leash by both the populace and the force. The last time I was pulled over it was by a black man. Does your post still apply to my situation?

                And if we're being honest, white trailer park trash is more a problem in some areas around me than the primarily black projects close by. Does that mean the cops are racist vs whites when people are profiled for looking like obvious white trash?

                Please keep in mind that not all cops are bastards, not all black people are murderers, not all white people are trailer park bums, and not all black people want white knights to come defend them from that knight's own percieved injustices. Next time you feel yourself jumping to the defense of the poor unintelligent black man or biting at the evil cops, put yourself in their shoes and have a good think.

                Having said all that, I would never live in a place like LA, and it would not take much to convince me there are corrupt cops there. Funny how that works.

                1. bombastic bob Silver badge
                  Thumb Up

                  Re: But ...


                2. jake Silver badge

                  Re: But ...

                  Thank you, Sir.

                  Kindly stick around, your perspective is not just valid, it is valuable in these parts.

                3. A random security guy

                  Re: But ...

                  Okay, let's just say for the sake of argument, in one town only 1 cop out of a hundred is a racist MF. Let's also say, he makes 3 stops a day in a town which is 33% black. Here is what is going to happen:

                  a. 100% of his stops are of black people

                  Bad cop= 3 black, 0 white.

                  Good cop = 1 black, 2 white

                  b. He gives all of them tickets. Other good cops

                  c. Anyone asserting his rights is roughed up. Let's assume he does this once a week (Every 5 days).

                  Yearly (200 working days)

                  Bad cop: 600 black tickets, Good cop= 200 black tickets.

                  Bad cop: 40 roughed up, Good cop = none.

                  Imagine you are one of the 40.

                  Now imagine you are one of the 600.

                  Then, finally, imagine you are one of the 33%

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: But ...

                    Okay, what's your point? That doesn't refute anything I've said. If anything, you essentially repeated my situation as it was before the captain heard the reports and punished the cops causing trouble. People of the "33%" were the ones to make those reports. One of the cops was fired, the others suspended without pay and forced to go to training. While they're still not nice people, they are cordial enough, do their job well, and don't cause major problems anymore. And now with the increased political power of minorities lately, I guarantee you they're too scared of the consequences to try anything now.

                    If you're trying to come up with a situation to explain or excuse those that live in that hypothetical group of 40 and their Twitter echochamber for having a negative outlook on a whole group of people automatically, you do not have my sympathy. Why? Two main reasons.

                    One, because in this hypothetical, there are 99 "good" cops and 1 "bad". How has this idiot not been caught and prosecuted yet? If there are seriously 40 people that live in the same community and have all been harmed at the hands of this dude, all it would take is someone going to the courthouse and taking legal action against them. Others would notice and could be used as witnesses, or the lawsuit could become bigger. With as many people that have been impacted due to this one person's actions, I don't see any way for them to get out of it. Even then, if the rest of the 99 cops are "good", then they should also be "good" enough to utilize their moral responsibility to punish the 1 "bad" for the good of the whole. Even if none of that happens, you know that at least one of those 40 has a smartphone and recorded/livestreamed them being harmed by the cop. The rest of the black population that was harmed would share similar stories at that point, and then we loop back to the start of this paragraph.

                    Two, I do not support any kind of stereotyping. And that's what it is: you have a bad run in with a few cops, and now all cops are bastards? I touched on this in my post above, but how is that any different from saying all black people are rapists and murderers, all Jews are money-grubbing bankers, all Mexicans are trying to steal our jobs and are also gang members, all men are rapists, all women are naggy bitches, all trans people are mentally unstable, all white people are colonizers—even if they aren't from an ethnic or racial group that did that historically, or all blacks were slaves and require reparations—even if they have no African or enslaved ancestors? Look at that, I just offended like 10 different groups of people with stereotypes and racism that many people actually believe. I bet you, fair reader, might have even agreed with one or two of them, while others offended you heavily. What good does any of this do in our modern society? I say nothing. Judge people by the content of their character and not their ethnicity, ancestry, nationality, looks, language, culture, religion, or otherwise. If you don't, then you open the door to every single generalization I wrote out above, and will do nothing more than further the hatred. We need to stop the loop before we spiral completely out of control—perhaps we already have.

                    And look, I get what you're trying to say. Some people have nothing but bad run-ins with cops, and it's all they see and all they know. But it takes merely seconds to go on the Internet nowadays and find a video or news article of some random police officer being a good person to immediately destroy the argument that "all cops are bastards" or what have you. The same can be said about any other broad generalization, racist belief system, or what have you.

                    Please understand that while I am against stereotyping and largely supportive of good policing, I am not in any way excusing the actions of bad cops. Should racist asshole cops be allowed to walk free and commit crimes? HELL NO. They should be tried for the problems they cause and removed from their position of power if it is shown they abuse it. I am not defending these types of people.

                    If I have misunderstood the point you were trying to make, please be more descriptive next time.

              2. bombastic bob Silver badge
                Thumb Down

                Re: But ...

                * facepalm *

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: But ...

              Being white or the son of a sheriff didn't help Kelly Thomas. It's that nut job murders take police jobs too, just to get away with it.

            4. jake Silver badge

              Re: But ...

              I wonder if all those people who downvoted me in the last 24 hours and didn't join in the conversation know that they are kind of proving my point?

              1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

                Re: and didn't join in the conversation

                Pity TheReg can't block downvotes without the voter having to make a mandatory comment in the thread to explain why. Moderation of one-word 'bollocks' responses might be somewhat onerous however.

          2. Wellyboot Silver badge

            Re: But ...

            What's stopping the police simply asking* for the list of account contacts? FB already use in their algorithms, it'd be a lot quicker and more accurate than doing it themselves.

            If you don't create the information in social media it can't be used against you when an unknown (to you) acquaintance of a friend of a friend is caught doing something naughty while you're not far away.

            You can control only your contact list and every one of them has their own list that you can do zip about.

            * with a warrant.

            1. doublelayer Silver badge

              Re: But ...

              "If you don't create the information in social media it can't be used against you when an unknown (to you) acquaintance of a friend of a friend is caught doing something naughty while you're not far away."

              That is not true and the conclusions that would come from it are not good.

              If you don't create the information on social media, false links can still be created from other information. People's phone contacts, mail client address lists, or similar can be used to create a similar social graph which is as useless as the social media one.

              Furthermore, though I don't like social media, the conclusion shouldn't be that you shouldn't use it if you like it because then the police will use it against you for no reason. It should be illegal for them to conduct this surveillance without proper controls, which would leave the decision of whether to set up accounts back at the justifiable personal reasons. I made my decision not to use social media because I didn't want to. I should not have to make that decision out of fear.

        2. jgarbo
          Big Brother

          Re: But ...

          That should pay for your new bridgework and prosthetic leg after you tried to assault him...

    2. ShadowSystems

      Re: But ...

      Jake, add "And I only use a FeaturePhone, not a SmartPhone." to your list of things to say that will leave them scratching their heads in confusion.

      1. luminous

        Re: But ...

        When I go out, I don't take a phone at all. No notification bliss...ahhhh

        Confuses the hell out of most doorman, guards etc.

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: But ...

        I normally don't carry any phone at all, but when I do it's as close to an old Nokia 5185 as I can manage in today's world. All I want a telephone to be is a telephone ... and even then, it's only for emergencies and usually stays turned off, in the glovebox (cars & trucks) or under the seat (bikes). No electronic leashes for me, thanks.

        Shame about the crappy transmitters and receivers these days ...

      3. Cliffwilliams44 Bronze badge

        Re: But ...

        Simply just say no. If the cop starts to give you a hard time, ask him to site the criminal code that requires you to surrender this information, when he can't, because that code does not exists, and he persists, pull out your phone and start dialing, when he asks you who calling tell him, your calling your lawyer!

    3. Adelio

      Re: But ...

      I have a facebook and twitter but have no idea how to log in. Have not used them in many years. Why would i want to watch cat videos?

      No i do not have a social security number (I am british after all) but you can have my passport no.

      Being of a certain age I just found that facebook seemed an utter waste of time. I only used twitter for support on an application and then never again.

      Watsapp, i use to talk to my 2 sons. not much else.

      I prefer to get news from News sites rather than people with no accreditation, After all, why would people think that just because some nobody says so that taking hore worming tablets cures covid? There are some very dense people around. And social Media just seems to have brought more and more of them out into the public!

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: I have a facebook and twitter but have no idea how to log in

        Can you convince the police of this? Will they believe you? Will you be arrested for obstruction?

        It's like the TV Licensing people coming round to your house "But you can't NOT have a TV, everyone has one these days".

        1. SundogUK Silver badge

          Re: I have a facebook and twitter but have no idea how to log in

          If TV licensing come round to your house and say that, you just tell them to fuck off. Nothing they can do about it.

          1. theOtherJT

            Re: I have a facebook and twitter but have no idea how to log in

            This is true, but telling police officers to fuck off, especially in America, tends to lead to people having unfortunate "accidents"

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: I have a facebook and twitter but have no idea how to log in

              Be nice to the man with the gun and there's no problem. People that treat police incidents like they have something to prove end up on the short end of a beatstick or worse.

              I'm not saying that is warranted or they should be allowed to act that way, which they shouldn't. Just stop acting like assholes to cops and maybe they won't act like assholes to you.

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: I have a facebook and twitter but have no idea how to log in

                "Just stop acting like assholes to cops and maybe they won't act like assholes to you."

                Fact. Ask yourselves "How many cop shootings/beatings/whatever would never have happened had the person just shut up, stood still and let the cop do his/her job?". The answer is "Almost all of them".

                Cops have a very, very stressful job. If you contribute to that stress ... Well, need I say more? Shirley the proverbial Thinking Man would stand still, keep his hands visible, and move to whatever location to cop asks, without acting like a belligerent asshole. If you do, chances are better than excellent that you will be allowed to continue on your way, with nothing lost but a little time and possibly a citation for whatever illegal thing you were doing that drew the cop's attention in the first place.

                And YES, if you are carrying drugs or a stolen gun (or your own legal gun, sans CCW permit), or have a warrant out for your arrest, or otherwise raise flags, you might get arrested. What the fuck did you expect? You broke the fucking law! Accept the arrest, take the punishment, and then get on with life, hopefully having learned something.

                Or you can try to fight the cops to get away. And very possibly die. Where's the logic in that?

                1. low_resolution_foxxes

                  Re: I have a facebook and twitter but have no idea how to log in

                  It is depressingly obvious why most deaths during police arrest occur, when you watch enough US bodycam footage of incidents. It's eerie and really upsetting when you watch how situations develop and spiral out of control (particuarly the ones relating to mental health breakdowns/knife attacks and the occasional 'suicide by cop').

                  It's generally a stochastic outcome of what happens, when an armed security worker gets confronted with a citizen who resists arrest.

                  Sure, there are terrifying exceptions on the cop side and those incidents should be punished accordingly.

              2. Cliffwilliams44 Bronze badge

                Re: I have a facebook and twitter but have no idea how to log in

                Lesson every young person must learn!


            2. jake Silver badge

              Re: I have a facebook and twitter but have no idea how to log in

              "This is true, but telling police officers to fuck off"

              So don't tell them to fuck off. Simples.

              Why would you want to do that in the first place? Are you antisocial by nature?

              1. doublelayer Silver badge

                Re: I have a facebook and twitter but have no idea how to log in

                It's called anger. If I started demanding you give me information to which I had no right, and probably not in a perfectly polite manner, you too would get irritated. It is a good idea not to be belligerent when the other person has lots of ways to make you regret it, but anger is completely justified. A few things perhaps should be taken into account when making points like this:

                1. Being annoyed at a police officer is not a crime. It is never a crime. It is inexcusable for them to treat it as a crime. Saying "I will not give you any such information" is not resisting arrest or any other criminal offense.

                2. A police officer does not have the right to demand that information.

                3. If a police officer gets angry at me for refusing an unlawful demand from them, I will likely have a similar feeling toward them.

                4. They are expressing their anger at me, so there is no longer a social more that I must hide my own anger.

                5. If I hide my anger anyway, it is because I am fearing their reprisals, which comes back to point 1.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: I have a facebook and twitter but have no idea how to log in

                  At the same time, you must understand your intentional escalation of a situation—"justified" or not—only makes things worse for you, not the cop. Policing is a dangerous and stressful a job, so there is a lot of legal leeway in their favor. With the pacification of dangerous threats—of which you can be made one quite readily by the wrong cop if you become visibly agitated—including and not limited to turning you into Swiss cheese, just keep a calm head. If the officer you are dealing with has shown themselves incompetent enough to get angry when they don't get their widdle way, getting angry back at them is only going to increase your own chances for legal action, injury, or worse. Calmly tell them your legal rights. Do not escalate. If they take you into custody, allow it—because whether you are momentarily and illegally detained while they perform their "investigation" just to find that nothing is amiss and release you, or illegally arrested and taken back to the station, your next step is to call a lawyer, take them to court, and get a fat paycheck from the state for the trouble. Don't know about you, but I prefer getting paid for my time more than getting shot by power-tripping cops just to prove a point to them.

                  And let's recall that, sometimes, while it may not be your social responsibility, it is often in your best interest for self-preservation to not get angry at those superior to you, i.e. your boss chewing you out, your parents as a wee lad, or an angry power-tripping cop that you rightfully refuse giving information to. Keep your cool and fight back when the time is right or you will just make things worse.

                  1. doublelayer Silver badge

                    Re: I have a facebook and twitter but have no idea how to log in

                    I have made exactly this point in my post. I would continue to be perfectly polite to them during this theoretical confrontation, but not for the reasons that the poster to whom I replied suggested. I don't do it because the police deserve my courtesy as they break the law. I do it because I know they have more power than I do and they will cheerfully use it against me if I displease them. That is not a good thing.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: I have a facebook and twitter but have no idea how to log in

                      Do not conflate what I said with police having power over citizens being a bad thing. I believe it to be necessary, as humans are fickle, fallible, and selfish, and it has been shown time and time again that we cannot self-regulate without one of them eventually throwing a wrench into the works. Mediators, enforcers and caretakers are required to handle these kinds of people. That is the role of the police, and it's only that they have this powerful and responsible role that ironically attracts those that wish to abuse it into their ranks.

                      Additionally, do not conflate what I said with the idea that all cops are bad people, which is not only a strong and incorrect generalization, but offensive to logical thought and the structure of modern society. There are good and bad cops just as there are good and bad people just as there are good and bad governments just as good and bad exist as concepts. As long as the idea of power over another exists, there will be someone to take advantage of it—even more reasons to have and keep good cops.

                      Rather than expect and dread this hypothetical situation and continue to be kind out of fear, just try to be a nice person in general. Most humans are intrinsically great at reading eachother, and your fake-kindness and assumed nervousness can set people off just as well as being openly antagonistic. After all, what's to be afraid of if you're innocent? Ever heard that line used as justification for a search? I've seen it on Live PD a bunch.

                      And finally, to muse a bit more, if you live in a place that allows it, just carry a gun or other weapon. If you don't trust the police to protect you, then learn to protect yourself. You have no excuse if you allow yourself to be controlled when you have the option of taking charge. It's why I carry. (For legal and moral reasons, note I am not telling you to shoot the next cop that gets mouthy with you. That's weak.) If you still want to live in and reap the benefits of society, but can't accept that someone must be kept in place to secure it, and that there will be those that will abuse it, and are incapable of protecting yourself, then go somewhere else where you don't have to deal with it. (And if you already carry, great, an armed citizen is a prepared citizen.)

          2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

            Re: Nothing they can do about it.

            Maybe true. They could be in a position to waste your time though.

            One of my clients who owns a warehouse upset someone who came to inspect some aspect of his property. He was more polite and even diplomatic about things than your In Yer Face response. He told his co-directors "you watch, we're going to get lots of compliance visits now from this guy's mates," which sure enough they did.

            As an aside, there was a list of about 100 organisations that have a Right to Entry to property in the UK (I did have a link, but can't find it now). I was at the sharp end of this one day when I was out the office and an employee answered the intercom. "Who is it?" "Valuation office". "The boss is out and I don't believe you are expected...?" whereupon my colleague was made aware we were breaking the law by not letting him in and that the police would be involved if still refusing. You would be surprised at some of the organisations that nobody has heard of that can pitch up and access your property at any time.

            1. NonSSL-Login
              Big Brother

              Re: Nothing they can do about it.

              Is the list similar to the list of organisations who can view any Brits (except us VPN users) past years of internet website visiting history?

              * Metropolitan police force

              * City of London police force (Dummy corporate police IMO)

              * Police forces maintained under section 2 of the Police Act 1996

              * Police Service of Scotland

              * Police Service of Northern Ireland

              * British Transport Police

              * Ministry of Defence Police

              * Royal Navy Police

              * Royal Military Police

              * Royal Air Force Police

              * Security Service

              * Secret Intelligence Service

              * GCHQ

              * Ministry of Defence

              * Department of Health

              * Home Office

              * Ministry of Justice

              * National Crime Agency

              * HM Revenue & Customs

              * Department for Transport

              * Department for Work and Pensions

              * NHS trusts and foundation trusts in England that provide ambulance services

              * Common Services Agency for the Scottish Health Service

              * Competition and Markets Authority

              * Criminal Cases Review Commission

              * Department for Communities in Northern Ireland

              * Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland

              * Department of Justice in Northern Ireland

              * Financial Conduct Authority

              * Fire and rescue authorities under the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004

              * Food Standards Agency

              * Food Standards Scotland

              * Gambling Commission

              * Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority

              * Health and Safety Executive

              * Independent Police Complaints Commissioner

              * Information Commissioner

              * NHS Business Services Authority

              * Northern Ireland Ambulance Service Health and Social Care Trust

              * Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service Board

              * Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Regional Business Services Organisation

              * Office of Communications

              * Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland

              * Police Investigations and Review Commissioner

              * Scottish Ambulance Service Board

              * Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission

              * Serious Fraud Office

              * Welsh Ambulance Services National Health Service Trust

            2. jake Silver badge

              Re: Nothing they can do about it.

              Fortunately we don't have that problem here in the US ... Perhaps do better in the next couple of elections?

              Or you can enjoy your nanny/surveillance state.

          3. jake Silver badge

            Re: I have a facebook and twitter but have no idea how to log in

            If the TV licensing people came around to my house, I'd call the cops and have them arrested for fraud.

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: I have a facebook and twitter but have no idea how to log in

          "Can you convince the police of this?"

          Nope. I wouldn't even try. Proving a negative is a logical fallacy.

          "Will they believe you?"

          Frankly, I don't care.

          "Will you be arrested for obstruction?"

          No. There is no law on the books that states I have to give those details to the police.

          "It's like the TV Licensing people coming round to your house"

          Wrong jurisdiction there, pardner. The LAPD is in the US, not the UK.

          1. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: I have a facebook and twitter but have no idea how to log in

            Original: "It's like the TV Licensing people coming round to your house"

            Reply: "Wrong jurisdiction there, pardner. The LAPD is in the US, not the UK."

            It was a comparison, hence the word "like". They're making an analogy to something which occurs in a different place and using that comparison to draw a parallel which they can point out as a problem.

        3. Sam Therapy

          Re: I have a facebook and twitter but have no idea how to log in

          It happens. Had one of those guys visit me, some time ago when we didn't have a telly. The bugger didn't believe me, though, and went round the house, trying to peer through the curtains. Knocked on the door again, told me he'd seen a screen on, with something playing. I told him - truthfully - it was a large monitor with a DVD player hooked up to it, and therefore not a telly and not liable for the TV tax.

          When he asked if he could come in to verify, I told him to come back with a police officer and a warrant. Never heard from him again.

          A couple of years later, we did buy a telly and I even paid the telly tax like a good citizen. Then, when the law changed and allowed you to not pay if you only ever watched streaming services, I cancelled the license and told TVLA all about it. They were OK with that and I've never heard from 'em since.

        4. Cliffwilliams44 Bronze badge

          Re: I have a facebook and twitter but have no idea how to log in

          You will not be arrested, there is no criminal code that states you must surrender this information. By law all you need to give them is your name, address and ID, i.e. driver license. All you need to do is politely say no, then STOP TALKING! You have a right to remain silent! DO SO!

      2. Jim Whitaker

        Re: But ...

        What are the legal requirements for what you have to give to a police officer in the US? Here in the UK, they are entitled to be given your name and address. They are entitled to satisfy themselves that the information you have given is correct. You don't have to give date of birth, National Insurance Number, Facebook or any other information. (Certain exceptions to this if a "terrorist" crime is suspected.)

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: But ...

          "What are the legal requirements for what you have to give to a police officer in the US?"

          If you are walking down the street minding your own business, absolutely nothing.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: But ...

          If you are using a public road and in control of a motor vehicle, you are required to provide driver's license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance. If you are not, you are not required to provide anything unless the officer believes without reasonable doubt that a crime has occured—in which case you can just be arrested anyway. IANAL.

    4. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: But ...

      i should create a special e-mail address just for them...

      "Up.Yours.Porker at" (whatever my domain is subbed in for '') although the DMV already _does_ have my regular e-mail address from when I renewed driver's license and car registration online...

      claim "4th ammendment" and "5th ammendment" to the rest of 'em.

      (YMMV in the UK or elsewhere in the world)

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: But ...

        Suggestion, Bob ... don't go there. Not worth it.

        A friend had a doormat that said "Come Back With a Warrant!". He thought it was funny. Until a neighbor called the cops after seeing something odd at his house one weekend when he was away on a fishing trip.

        His front porch video cam caught the cops reading the mat, shrugging and going away ... leaving the burglars (also caught on cam... masked, no ID likely) free to steal everything that wasn't locked down. Timestamps show the bad guys were aware of the cops on the porch.

        His insurance company was not amused.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: But ...

          That does sound a little odd. Surely if the Police have been called to an address and suspect a crime in progress, then they have "reasonable suspicion". A "joke" doormat should not be an excuse to just walk away, although a lazy cop who can't be arsed to do his job might feel it's a "reasonable excuse". They could at least have had a walk around and peered in the windows.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: But ...

            The cops had no reason to suspect a crime was in progress. The neighbor reported "something odd". In those words. So the cops went to have a gander.

            The cops testified (insurance hearing) that they detected nothing wrong. The perps had even garaged their van, and closed the door behind them, after letting themselves in through an easily opened window.

            As with most homes in the US, the backyard was fenced off from the street, so they only had the front of the house to go on. All of the downstairs front windows are (still) curtained. The neighbor who called it in had gone shopping and wasn't home when the cops got there.

            The perps were caught some 4 months later when my friend found one of his missing power tools in the hands of the son of a cow-orker. The kid fingered his "friends". Seems the kid had overheard them discussing the upcoming fishing trip. Inside job, of a sort.

            First offense. Tools and other kit returned (including all the jewelry!), and 300 hours community service. Each. The victim got lucky in this case ... And learned a valable lesson about what is actually useful when it comes to home security.

    5. DS999 Silver badge

      Better to just tell them you are refusing to answer

      If you claim you don't have social media and it later turns out you do, you are guilty of making a false report to a police officer. This is a perfect example of why you should never volunteer ANY information to a police officer, beyond your name and address as listed on your ID. They are not on your side! If they press you for more, or claim "you have to answer" tell them you want to speak to an attorney before responding to any further questions.

      They may mark you down as a troublemaker, but there's nothing they can do about that unless they can come up with some pretext to arrest (and I say bring it on, I'll happily sue for false arrest and ask in the suit for them to choose between a fat settlement or the firing of the officer who arrested me)

      Whether this is a viable strategy for someone who is not white I can't say as I'm not one, but I recognize this may not be universally applicable. I suspect this is targeted at minorities who will be more likely to feel compelled to provide their social media details rather than risk a confrontation with a cop that has a chance of not ending well for them.

      1. Cliffwilliams44 Bronze badge

        Re: Better to just tell them you are refusing to answer

        It is universally applicable, no matter your skin color! The problems arise when certain "people of color" take the whole situation as a "personal affront" and start screaming at the officer in a hysterical manor. Which invites an unwanted response from said LEA. In most jurisdictions screaming at an officer is a crime, which they will arrest you for. So now the situation spirals further out of control!

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But ...

      You're talking too much. If you're not under arrest, just say you're leaving now (if they come to your home, tell them to leave). If they want to arrest you, say you want a lawyer, then keep your mouth shut NO MATTER WHAT. Anything else gives them opportunities to do exactly what this article is about, as well as to falsify what you say and put it in writing, which will be impossible for you to dispute later. If you lie, even about trivial things like these, they can get their ADA buddies to charge you with obstruction of justice and hold it over your head until you give them whatever else they want.

      Talking to cops is always, always, always a mistake. If there's something you just absolutely insist on getting off your chest, put it in writing, then run it by your lawyer before filing it as a police report. If they demand a statement from you, tell them your lawyer will provide one in writing. If that's not good enough, let them arrest you, then demand a lawyer and get what you need that way. Never let anyone else do the writing; anything in writing will always be trusted by a court over anything you say, and that goes double if the person writing it is a cop. Whoever does the writing is creating legal truth, so that always needs to be you.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not Criminals

    but FutureCriminals * ?

    * = ® Phllip K Dick.

    1. Kane
      Big Brother

      Re: Not Criminals

      "but FutureCriminals * ?

      * = ® Phllip K Dick."

      Give it a couple of years, and Palantir will change it's name to the PreCrime Division.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not sure about that

    Where I worked they used fake facebook accounts to monitor people for council tax and/or benefit fraud (you'd be amazed how many idiots get caught via Facebook). I remember telling them, as I was curious, what is the legality of it? They didn't know the answer. I said surely if you nab someone from evidenced gained via your fake facebook account, if they had a good solicitor, they'd probably try to argue the evidence isn't submittable because it was obtained via a fake Facebook account which is against Facebook's terms of service.

    But as its not illegal to create a fake Facebook account, I wonder if it would be possible to ignore it breaches Facebook's own t&c.

    "Police also have the green light to invent a "fictitious online persona" if needed to investigate a crime."

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Re: Not sure about that

      In UK courts, 'proof beyond reasonable doubt' that the online account information came from was under the sole control of the accused would normally be enough to allow its use.

      Once something is in print (FB post / tweet / whatever) the law doesn't differentiate very much and the poster has a high bar to cross in proving it's not indicative of their intent or actions.

      Everyone is deemed to be competent*, being tricked into admissions or actions just adds stupidity to the charges.

      *until proven otherwise

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: a high bar to cross in proving it's not indicative of their intent or actions.

        Not sure if I've understood you correctly, but if someone is tricked using a fake FB account, couldn't they use the argument that they knew full well it was fake and trolled it with fake information?

        There was the man who killed his wife who was incriminated* by his plants when the police planted an electronic bug in them (as opposed to a Coccinellidae), but he would have had a hard time saying that he was trolling his plants.

        *He liked to talk to them, which the police cottoned onto.

        1. Cuddles

          Re: a high bar to cross in proving it's not indicative of their intent or actions.

          "Not sure if I've understood you correctly, but if someone is tricked using a fake FB account, couldn't they use the argument that they knew full well it was fake and trolled it with fake information?"

          That might work if it relied only on interactions with the fake account being used as some kind of sting operation. But I suspect it's more likely that the fake is simply used to get added as a friend, at which point they can see everything the suspect posts with no further interaction needed. People don't get caught because of detailed investigative work and social engineering, but simply because they're stupid enough to boast about their crimes where pretty much everyone can see.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Not sure about that

        Once something is in print (FB post / tweet / whatever) the law doesn't differentiate very much and the poster has a high bar to cross in proving it's not indicative of their intent or actions.

        Sometimes, even when it's clearly just letting off steam, the "written" word can still land you in trouble

    2. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Not sure about that

      Why would doing something against Facebook's T&C make the evidence inadmissible in court? Cops can't break the law to gain evidence, but violation of Facebook's T&C is not a criminal matter. Facebook can only bar you from their services, they can't put you in jail (though I imagine Zuck wishes they could)

    3. Medixstiff

      Re: Not sure about that

      Two tools our Credit management staff used all the times were Facebook and e-Courts.

      e-Courts because unfortunately a small percentage of our customers did stupid things - check out Jamie Quirk's adventures in Kalgoorlie as an example - and if they were going away for a stretch in W.A's prison's, then of course they wouldn't be paying their mortgage and the Mortgagee In Possession team would have to get ready for another house to sell.

      Facebook because we always had a percentage of recalcitrant customers that would do things like request $10,000 be taken out of their Superannuation accounts because they were at risk of having their house being taken over, then - true story - blowing $5,000 on hookers and drugs in a weekend bender, then when they came into our office and the Executive Manager for Credit asked if they were going to at least pay the other $5K, telling him no they were going on another bender, all because they posted on their Facebook page how they had this great bender or flew to Bali instead of making their promised payment or at Easter and Christmas not paying because they had to pay for eggs or presents.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Social media?

    I’ve heard of it….

    1. Joe W Silver badge

      Re: Social media?

      A novel concept, that's for sure!

      1. Alistair Silver badge

        Re: Social media?


        A navel gazing concept, thats for sure!


    2. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: Social media?

      yes, I avoid it like the plague. El reg and one other tech website is as social as it gets for me...

  5. Potemkine! Silver badge

    We are all suspects to them.

    1. dave 81

      We are all guilty to them.

      1. Kane

        "We are all guilty to them."

        Everyone was guilty of something. Vimes knew that. Every copper knew it. That was how you maintained your authority - everyone, talking to a copper, was secretly afraid you could see their guilty secret written on their forehead. You couldn’t, of course. But neither were you supposed to drag someone off the street and smash their fingers with a hammer until they told you what it was.

        - Night Watch, Sir Pterry

        Hat icon, El Reg?

    2. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      We're all criminals to them, simply (in their eyes) they haven't proven it yet.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Luckily, not all cops get that way. The ones who do should be leaving the job and looking for something a bit less stressful. Maybe take a job as a lion tamer or alligator wrestler.

  6. Schultz
    Black Helicopters

    Welcome to the internet age...

    ... makes the old way of collecting personal information look a bit quaint.

  7. scrubber
    Black Helicopters

    Network Mapping

    aka SigInt. Commonly (mis)used to figure out links between people of interest and drone strike grandmothers and weddings abroad. Coming to a US city near you soon.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Yep, that might fly...

    ...if I actually had any social media accounts.

  9. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Big Brother

    It's left to individual cops to decide...

    Whatever happened to 'you have the right to remain silent...'?

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: It's left to individual cops to decide...

      Miranda rights still exist here in the United States. There is no punishment for refusing to talk to a cop here. You don't even have to provide your name vocally, much less ID.

      The trick is knowing how and when to refuse to talk or produce ID. For best results, discuss it with a real lawyer in your jurisdiction before the fact.

      Note that Internet Lawyers are worth exactly the money you pay them. Likewise, so is any advice you may think I have just provided. Seriously, if you think you have a need to know the details, talk to a real lawyer in your jurisdiction. The rules in LA and San Francisco can vary, and from state to state the differences can be quite large.

      Also note that you are required by law to produce a valid driver's license, current registration and proof of insurance if a cop stops you while in charge of a motor vehicle. This goes along with the privilege of driving.

      1. jonathan keith

        Re: It's left to individual cops to decide...

        Don't Talk To The Police.


        (If you're in the U.S.)

    2. The_Man_In_The_Pub
      Black Helicopters

      Oh do keep up at the back

      We lost our Right To Remain Silent in 1994 when they modified the (England & Wales) police caution.

      EDIT: Not to mention the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act of 2000 which serves up 3 years in chokey for keeping quiet about your encryption keys.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Oh do keep up at the back

        Most lawyers here in the UK still recommend remaining silent in interview if you get arrested as most people incriminate themselves in interview. And never speak to the plod without legal representation there, as they want to try and interview you asap as they don't like having to wait for solicitors to turn up due to them only having 24 hours from the time of arrest to charge you with something.

        So a good way to get released on bail is to pay for a lawyer who lives hundreds of miles away to come to your police station interview. As if its going to be hours for your lawyer to get to the police station so they can start the interview, they will probably release you on bail rather than risk running the 24 hours down, as the clock stops ticking while you are out on bail.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Oh do keep up at the back

          As soon as you're actually arrested (via "I arrest you etc, anything you say etc") you should clam up. A lot of police officers have bodycams now which are recording everything and obviously at that point anything you say is fair game.

          On the original point after watching far too much of 24 Hours In Police Custody (on C4) it's fairly obvious that your best bet is pretty much not to say anything at all (even with legal representation) and to use a statement if needs be. Too many people are tripped up in the interview by "trying to sort things out" or trying to maintain silence and then answering any question (if it's relevant or not). It seems police nowadays are after any sort of low hanging fruit result to boost their stats, so best not actively help them.

        2. jonathan keith

          Re: Oh do keep up at the back

          This video does a fairly good job of explaining things in the U.K.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Oh do keep up at the back


        So I keep hearing about having to tell the plod about my cypher keys.

        But a bit of research to do with "Diffie-Hellman" key exchange establishes some interesting (mathematical) facts:

        1. Alice and Bob both set up completely independent keys, one private and one public, both randomly chosen, and selected EVERY TIME they want to exchange a message.

        2. For each message, they exchange public keys.

        3. For each message, they calculate the encryption key FOR THAT MESSAGE.

        4. Once the (encrypted) message has been exchanged, THEY DELETE ALL FOUR KEYS. your point, Alice and Bob have NOTHING USEFUL to tell the plod. Unlike PGP, there's NO PERMANENT key pair.

        Did you know this? Do the plod know this? It's been in the public domain since 1976....that would be ove forty years in the past!!!!

      3. KBeee

        Re: Oh do keep up at the back

        Not strictly true, though the wording was changed -

        “You do not have to say anything. But, it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.”

        1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

          Re: Oh do keep up at the back


          “You do not have to say anything. But, it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.”

          and your evidence will be passed to the criminal protection squad, who'll charge the perp with the wrong thing, the perp pleads guilty to something else and the judge gives him an absolute discharge as he was never charged with whatever he pleaded guilty to.

          Recent case around here where someone killed 2 people by dangerous driving.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Oh do keep up at the back


        The other thing about Alice and Bob (and this AC too) is that it's very easy with a cheap laptop to create keys using VERY LONG decimal prime numbers.



        Maybe the plod can do this sort of mathematics. Not!!!

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Oh do keep up at the back

        @The_Man_In_The_Pub do I remember stuff like this? Another of these easy to generate long numbers......which have long since been deleted from my laptop?

        Answers on a postcard to Cresida Dick!!!


        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Oh do keep up at the back

          Ignoring the fact you can get a 2 year jail term for refusing to divulge a password in the UK or 5 years imprisonment for an offence involving national security or child indecency.

      6. jake Silver badge

        Re: Oh do keep up at the back

        But The_Man_In_The_Pub, the FA was about the LAPD ... last time I checked the LAPD don't give a rat's ass about the Law in the UK, nor should they.

        Please try to keep up, there's a good chap.

  10. Captain Hogwash


    Do they just ask for "social media IDs" or do they ask for FaceBook IDs, Twitter IDs,....?

    If the former, how does one know which things they mean?

    Do they want to know that I'm Captain Hogwash on this forum?

    The list of forums could be very long for some people.


      Re: Specificity

      ...Ahh yes, in 2003 I joined the Forum for Mariner's Rights, and one year after that, I joined the Kawaii Uguu Emoticons group on DeviantArt...

  11. cantankerous swineherd

    no comment

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      no point

  12. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "collect social media details from people they stop and talk to"

    Um, nope.

    I plead the Fifth.

    Move along, officer, nothing to see here.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: "collect social media details from people they stop and talk to"

      "I plead the Fifth."

      Isn't that just confirming that you are guilty of something and only going to encourage them to dig even deeper into your life?

      Refusing to answer on the grounds you may incriminate yourself always struck me as a dumb thing. Yes, I can see the point of the protection it offers, but surely, as I just said above, if "they" want you, "they" will get you, they just need to dig deeper for the evidence. "Pleading the 5th" is only another way of saying "I ain't doing your job for you" and will almost certainly go against you in any future sentencing if found guilty, ie being uncooperative.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: "collect social media details from people they stop and talk to"


        The 5th is only useful when you are already on trial. It is utterly meaningless elsewhere.

  13. James 51
    Big Brother

    Wouldn't surprise me if someone was arrested for obstruction or public nuisance or such for refusing to answer. Of course depending on your apperance refusing to answer might be a lot more dangerous than a trip down town to not answer questions there.

  14. bronskimac

    Fourth Ammendment?

    If only they protected their fourth amendment rights as strenuously as some other amendments. Unreasonable searches and seizures by the government.

    1. Swarthy

      Re: Fourth Ammendment?

      I've raised that point many times. No-one in charge cares - at all.

  15. JimmyPage

    Permission to use a fictitious online persona ....

    So basically there will be a circle jerk of cops chasing each other around the internet.

    Fucking marvellous.

  16. NicX

    There is a catch

    If they've got your ID, they've got your Facebook account info. FB cracked down on the use of fake names. I suppose you could be "Gurtbeeth Rove" on FB, but last time I tried a fake name, it failed.

    But you could always play stupid. You don't have to give them this information. All the need is your name and ID.

    1. JimmyPage

      Re: Fake names

      I have a few FB accounts I created back in the day that are still active. Hell they get more friend requests than I do.

      I wonder if they are saleable ?

      The only fake accounts I have that are more active are with LinkedIn. Apparently these people who have never existed have a shed load of colleagues and ex-colleagues.

      One reason why I remain sceptical about a lot of SM ...

  17. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    Looks like the dystopian future is here.

  18. rg287

    Civilians? Yes, we are all civilians.

    The overall goal is to funnel social media records and other data into a Palantir-built surveillance system, broadly monitor people, and identify connections between civilians members of the public.

    Police are civilians, just like the public they notionally serve and protect (and in most western countries do a reasonably good job of).

    Also, the subjects of interview cards are likely to include members of the military who were stopped whilst off-duty. So Palantir are likely identifying connections between civilians and military.

    I know many Police agencies have a habit of using "civilian staff" to describe non-warranted/sworn personnel, but that doesn't mean they are not themselves Civilians. According to Police Vocab guidelines (ahem), Member of the Public is the appropriate term.

  19. A random security guy

    Maybe I could respond with a quick background search on the cop?

    In the US it is very easy to do an instant check on an officer's (or anyone's) background. Just need a name to go by.

    I bet I will get my head bashed in though ...

    Naah, I'll just stick to honest and say I write random messages on a security site which monitors cops like him.

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