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BPD bought secret phone monitor by using funds hidden from public oversight

WBUR reports Boston Police bought a $627,000 "cell site simulator," which can be used to secretly monitor cell-phone traffic from a specific cell tower, by dipping into a "civil forfeiture" fund from people accused of crimes. The fund is not part of the department's normal budget process, which means it never came up during the City Council's annual budget review.

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Comments

Speaking of which, are we ever as a voting public going to address how sketchy and corrupt the process of "civil forfeiture" is?

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I've been attempting to educate people about civil forfeiture for years. Up until the last 5 years or so, I've mostly had people roll their eyes and say it only happens when there's really good evidence that a crime was committed, and all they're seizing is those wads of drug money you see in the media.

While we're at it, also research what evidence the government needs to seize your kids. Hint: absolutely none, nor a court order.

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Because people want for their enemies (even perceived ones) to suffer abuse at the hands of authority figures, even if they're not directly aggrieved.

Bootlicking is a mental disorder.

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...civil forfeiture (with inappropriate allocation of the burden of proof of wrongdoing) is just a form of self-interest governmental thievery.

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Secret phone monitors, secret slush funds how many other local police departments have slush funds ?

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All of them?

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They are monitoring police on details to make sure they are working and not talking on the phone.......hahaha

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Slush funds that exist outside of legislative oversight are invariably a bad idea. See, for example, the entire history of Robert Moses.

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of all public (ya know, government of, for and by the people) activities should be non-negotiable.

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also known as deprivation of property without due process. If only the supreme law of the land said something about that...

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I mean, I know state legislators are talking about it, but maybe we should keep it top of mind with a ballot question for 2022. A quick google did not turn up a specific campaign in MA to do so. Is anyone aware of a movement for a ballot question in MA?

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And they whine about getting their budget reduced slightly. What else are they hiding from the public?

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I'm confused as to how "taking forfeiture dollars out of the hands of law enforcement and rerouting them into the state’s general fund" was not the original and final intent of these asset forfeitures.

Or are these forfeitures, and I'm being rhetorical here, some sort of self-financing mechanism akin to a third world roadside shakedown where it's easier to keep the guys on the job if they can make some side money to buy whatever it is they want while keeping it hidden from the very people charged with keeping an eye on them?

I won't even address the civil liberties aspect here because if the money doesn't exist, the purchase of the equipment is obfuscated and hey there's no actual policy on how and when to deploy it then there's zero accountability with these people and as long as that's the status quo then they'll keep on doing it while fear-mongering the suburban voters into silence whenever some radical talks about sensible approaches to reigning in the lawlessness of entitled civil service employees.

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$627,000 sounds kind of high

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oh great, so they have a reserve of this tech going back generations or they are throwing someone under the bus to hide the money they've been pocketing?

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Yes.

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"if no criminal charges are brought, law enforcement almost always keep the money"

steal the money, decline charges, collect overtime, buy spy equipment without oversight, steal the money and on and on.

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Let the Libertarianism flow through you.

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I'm not opposed to a large government, if that's what is necessary for this all to work for us, nor am I opposed to smaller if it gets the job done right, but whether small or large, I am for an accountable and transparent public government.

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The one of this size abuses and steals from people.

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I think with a bit of effort you could imagine aspects of government not being controlled strictly by size.

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I'm a leftist. I'm in favor of government; just one built on research, science, and civil rights rather than white supremacy and panic.

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Which means I like what you have to say, because horseshoe theory.

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Why is collecting everyone's cell phone data without a warrant allowed?

And why does the technology allow it? This is a classic example of the type of security hole that encryption and authentication are supposed to prevent. Does the cell phone communication standard have such poor security that this machine walks right in the open door? Or is this data intentionally designed to be available to cops? And if cops can do it, can any random person who has the money for the machine?

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What cell-site simulators do is they pretend to be a cell phone tower, so nearby cellphones try to connect. This tells the operator who is nearby -- not sure what distance, but I'd guess within a few blocks? It doesn't record conversations or SMS or anything like that.

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You have to think like a criminal to catch a criminal. When your thinking turns to acts like secret searches without warrants, it becomes (or should become) a criminal act. I mean... it's all the same.

Cheat to win! Steal, spy, hide your killings and beat downs and threatening, and collect pay for your work. Every once-in-a-while join forces normally in opposition and get a successful criminal organization going!

Pay for a couple budget cellphone accounts.
Leave those phones plugged in and powered on in disparate locations and use call forwarding.

Or use other methods of communication.
Hoovering data for analysis is a learned behavior from successful tech companies and Federal government security agencies.

Trickle down... into the depths of immorality.

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It makes cops into robbers. Imagine a man with a gun ordering you out of your car, getting in, and driving away. The only difference is that you can't report the crime to the police, because the police are the ones committing the crime.

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