Civil Rights & Constitutional Law


L.A. Fire Department used drones for the first time during Skirball fire

Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles Fire Department dispatched drones for the first time while battling a wildfire this month as firefighters took on the Skirball fire in Bel-Air. Fire officials demonstrated the use of the unmanned aerial vehicles for reporters on Thursday, sending two drones buzzing near blackened hills around Linda Flora Drive. "They provide real-time situational awareness from a bird's-eye perspective to the incident commander so they can see what's going on at their emergency and then change their tactics accordingly to mitigate the hazards," said Capt. Firefighters used two DJI Matrice 100 drones during the Skirball fire, Scott said. One had a high-definition camera used to survey the burn area, and the other had an infrared camera to assess hot spots.


Should the LAPD test drones? Police Commission is set for final vote on controversial proposal

Los Angeles Times

In the two months since the Los Angeles Police Department revealed that it wants to try flying drones, the unmanned aircraft have been the source of an often heated back-and-forth. Advocates say the drones could help protect officers and others by using nonhuman eyes to collect crucial information during high-risk situations. Skeptics worry that use of the devices will steadily expand and include inappropriate -- or illegal -- surveillance. The LAPD's harshest critics want the drone program scrapped before it even takes off. On Tuesday, the civilian board that oversees the LAPD will vote on whether to allow the department to test drones during a one-year pilot program.


Civilian oversight panel hears guidelines for LAPD use of drones

Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles Police Department released formal guidelines on its proposal to fly drones during a one-year pilot program, spurring questions and concerns among members of a civilian oversight panel and the public at a contentious meeting Tuesday. "Our challenge is to create a policy that strikes a balance, that promotes public safety, the safety of our officers and does not infringe on individual privacy rights," Assistant Chief Beatrice Girmala told the Los Angeles Police Commission at the packed meeting. Before outlining the guidelines, Girmala reviewed initial feedback from the community on the proposed drone initiative. An assistant chief, the police chief and two police commissioners would also be notified.


Banksy donates funds from anti-arms artwork sale

BBC News

The artwork, Civilian Drone Strike, was on display at the Stop the Arms Fair art exhibition in east London. The exhibition was held alongside the world's largest arms fair, the Defence and Security Equipment International - both exhibitions closed on Friday. The money raised from the Banksy sale will be split between one of the exhibition's organisers, Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), and the human rights group Reprieve. During last week's Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) fair, Mr Smith said it was "shameful that the government is welcoming despots and dictatorships to the UK to buy weapons".


drones-become-newest-crime-fighting-tool-for-police.html

FOX News

Just one week after the sheriff's department in Cecil County, Md., got its brand new drone up and running, it was asked to investigate a case of stolen construction equipment. So the Cecil County Sheriff sent his Typhoon H Pro to investigate. The sheriff's department in Somerset County, N.J., hopes its drones could help it find missing people. "Years ago, when we had people wander off, we would bring out the rescue department, the fire department, fire department volunteers, K-9 if we had it and we'd search and search and search and never find the person," said Somerset County Sheriff Frank Provensano.


LA Fire Department could soon use DRONES

Daily Mail

Hamid Khan, founder of the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, said that the drones could provide a'backdoor' to share information with the police. Hamid Khan, founder of the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, said that the drones could provide a'backdoor' to share information with the police. Melanie Ochoa, staff attorney at the ACLU, said: 'We can't protect against mission creep because we don't know what the mission is to start with.' Melanie Ochoa, staff attorney at the ACLU, said: 'We can't protect against mission creep because we don't know what the mission is to start with.'


AI Predicts Human Rights Trial Outcomes With 79% Accuracy - RealClearLife

#artificialintelligence

Artificial intelligence can now predict human rights cases with 79% accuracy, part of an increasing trend of the computer-driven tech being applied in novel ways. The accuracy is impressive, but many are concerned it could lead to eliminating human judgment from the rule of law. By scanning court documents, the algorithm was able to anticipate the judicial decisions made in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) trials with relative precision. The results were part of a study by an international group published in PeerJ Computer Science, an academic journal. Led by Nikolaos Aletras, a Research Associate at the University of London's Computer Science Department, the team of researchers argued that the machine-generated analysis provides a look at the most important parts of the judicial system, such as the schism of law interpretation among ECHR judges.


Cops Have a Database of 117M Faces. You're Probably in It

WIRED

But a new, comprehensive report on the status of facial recognition as a tool in law enforcement shows the sheer scope and reach of the FBI's database of faces and those of state-level law enforcement agencies: Roughly half of American adults are included in those collections. The 150-page report, released on Tuesday by the Center for Privacy & Technology at the Georgetown University law school, found that law enforcement databases now include the facial recognition information of 117 million Americans, about one in two U.S. adults. Meanwhile, since law enforcement facial recognition systems often include mug shots and arrest rates among African Americans are higher than the general population, algorithms may be disproportionately able to find a match for black suspects. In reaction to the report, a coalition of more than 40 civil rights and civil liberties groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights launched an initiative on Tuesday asking the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division to evaluate current use of facial recognition technology around the country.


Secret aerial surveillance by Baltimore police stirs outrage

Los Angeles Times

Authorities were searching Wednesday for two people suspected of kidnapping the three young children of a woman found dead last week on the side of a road near Gorman. Authorities were searching Wednesday for two people suspected of kidnapping the three young children of a woman found dead last week on the side of a road near Gorman. T.J. Smith, a police spokesman, confirmed Wednesday that the company had conducted 100 hours of surveillance in January and February and 200 hours of surveillance between June and this month. While there are U.S. Supreme Court decisions backing police use of certain aerial surveillance techniques, the nation's highest court has also restricted the ability of law enforcement to indiscriminately track individuals -- an ability essentially given to Baltimore police through the surveillance footage now being collected.


Weaponized robot used by Dallas police opens ethical debate

The Japan Times

While there doesn't appear to be any hard data on the subject, security experts and law enforcement officials said they couldn't recall another time when police deployed a robot with lethal intent. Meanwhile, militaries around the world have come to rely on their robotic friends to disable improvised explosive devices -- a need that only increased with the U.S. occupation of Iraq following its 2003 invasion. One robot developed by China's National Defense University called AnBot has been designed for "an important role in enhancing the country's anti-terrorism and anti-riot measures," according to its website. A 2014 report by Human Rights Watch and Harvard Law School's International Human Rights Clinic raised concerns about the use of fully autonomous weapons in law enforcement operations.