Dogs, Memory Devices, Child Porn, Mass Surveillance… and Tesla’s Wardenclyffe Reborn in Russia?

First of all, some Russians have launched a campaign to replicate Wardenclyffe. I’ve never heard of these people before, but the underlying approach (do what Tesla said in his patents and papers, without any funny “updates”) makes sense. [1]

Second, of considerable relevance to anyone interested in transporting data securely — it turns out dogs can detect memory devices: [2]

“Given to the state police by the Connecticut State Police, the dog assisted in its first search warrant in June pinpointing a thumb drive containing child pornography hidden four layers deep in a tin box inside a metal cabinet. That discovery led the police to secure an arrest warrant, Yelle says. […]

Thoreau furiously sniffed shelves, desks, cabinets. The dog located a hard drive inside a Ziploc bag in the upper shelf of a desk. A flash drive and thumb drive were also found, with the dog zeroing in on their location down to the exact drawer. In exchange, Thoreau got food.”

This seems almost unbelievable to me, given that the materials involved (plastic, metal) are so comon, but perhaps that’s just an illusion and there’s enough of a molecular signature from memory devices’ unique material makeup to make them detectable.

Since the story is focued on “the evils of child pornography” (and gives some hair-raising examples) which are so often used to justify intrusion into the private sphere, I would be curious how pervasive these cases actually are.

Specifically, what’s the ratio of legitimate use of these techniques to… “unintended by the lawmaker” usage? In Europe the case of data retention has shown measures intended for use against serious crimes being mostly used for day-to-day policing. And nobody releases statistics on the abuses like policing for “political” purposes — though they should!

It is worth pointing out one citation in the article, of course. A 2008 study by the now-chief psychologist of the US Marshals Service suggested 85% of child pornography offenders surveyed, also confessed to molesting children.

To be sure the study author was clearly biased towards law enforcement’s desire for “more laws so we can kick more ass!” But such a result would seem to strongly refute e.g calls by Rick Falkvinge of the Pirate Party for the legalization of child pornography, since it suggests catching child-porn users is an effective proxy for catching much-harder-to-spot child molesters.

Counterpoint: Assuming the most extreme case, is a 15% “not actually a child molester” rate acceptable?

It’s a matter of balancing the enormous harm caused by child sexual abuse — Wilhelm Reich’s psychoanalytical theories make this point nicely — with the Western legal tradition espoused by William Blackstone: “It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.”

Ironically the NSA has shown what happens when you wilfully throw this principle out the window in the name of “fighting terrorism.” There, it’s better that ten innocent people get watched than let one guilty one escape… and in fact, they DO watch ten innocent people for every “guilty” one they’re supposed to target!

[1]
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/let-s-build-a-planetary-energy-transmitter

[2]
http://www.providencejournal.com/breaking-news/content/20140705-new-methods-to-combat-growth-of-internet-child-porn-in-rhode-island.ece

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