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Phoenix Police Seize PCs of a Blogger Critical of the Department 515

Posted by Soulskill
from the check-and-mate dept.
logicassasin sends in a story about a blogger in Phoenix, AZ, who runs a site that is critical of the local police department. The police recently raided his home and seized his computer hardware. "Jeff Pataky, who runs Bad Phoenix Cops, said the officers confiscated three computers, routers, modems, hard drives, memory cards and everything necessary to continue blogging. The 41-year-old software engineer said they also confiscated numerous personal files and documents relating to a pending lawsuit he has against the department alleging harassment — which he says makes it obvious the raid was an act of retaliation." A local publication quotes Pataky saying, "We have heard internally from our police sources that they purposefully did this to stop me... They took my cable modem and wireless router. Anyone worth their salt knows nothing is stored in the cable modem."
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Phoenix Police Seize PCs of a Blogger Critical of the Department

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  • by MinistryOfTruthiness (1396923) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @12:13PM (#27458063) Homepage Journal

    When the Police came for the bloggers,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a blogger.

    Then they locked up the rich,
    I remained silent;
    I was not rich.

    Then they came for the gun owners,
    I did not speak out;
    I was not a gun owner.

    Then they came for the press,
    I did not speak out;
    I was not a member of the press.

    When they came for me,
    there was no one left to speak out for me.

  • Backfired! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tryle (1159503) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @12:13PM (#27458071)

    This is what happens when panic'd decisions are made. The police force thinks they can go in and silence the whole thing with a BS warrant and put an end to it, only for the story to be picked up nation wide and now they're drawing way more attention than ever.

    Serves them right. This looks like a clear cut abuse of power by the department and now that the story is national, hopefully some heads will roll.

  • by mysidia (191772) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @12:19PM (#27458115)

    Unfortunately, it seems that if you want to blog and say anything remotely negative about the Phoenix police department, you better move out of Phoenix first.

    This is tyrannical, a clear abuse of power. Everyone aware and responsible for this farce and the reason for the seizure needs to be jailed.

    Apparently the standards and scrutiny imposed to ensure "probable cause" for a search before a warrant can be issued (or before a search can be done) aren't high enough.

  • by fava (513118) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @12:20PM (#27458119)

    Harassing a critic is just a bonus, what the police really wanted was the names of the internal informants so that they can be silenced.

    No informants = No credible criticism.

  • by maxume (22995) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @12:21PM (#27458123)

    Good thing people are talking about this, huh?

  • by linzeal (197905) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @12:21PM (#27458125) Homepage Journal

    ...to explicitly layout stronger civil and criminal penalties for abuse of office in the US.

        Use of the office to start an unjustified war, death and 50 million dollars or 50% of your wealth whichever is greater.

        Use of the office to murder, death and 50% of assets.

        Use of the office to take bribes, death and repayment of any contracts lost by competing companies.

        Use of the office to facilitate violence or cause violence against a person, 25 years to life.

        Use of the office to intimidate, threaten or harass, 15 years.

        Use of the office to deny someone their constitutional rights, 5 years.

        Anyone want to help get this on the ballot in 50 states while we still have the populist fervor going?

        Public servants need to be held to a higher standard because of the amount of power they have been given. If we continue allowing politicians and police to be above the law than we have lost our way as a people. We need to remake the laws so that this sort of thing carries penalties that these police officers and district attorneys will be forced to reckon with when they demonstrably are routinely operating as criminals with badges and warrants.

  • by fjo3 (1399739) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @12:24PM (#27458153)
    ...that law enforcement agencies are still foolish enough to harass people in such a public and blatant way. Over time they will gain more technical expertise and find other, more difficult to detect, methods of harassing citizens who dare to criticize them. I fear the day when the police get a little bit smarter about disguising their abuses of power. Until then it will continue to be relatively easy to bring the enforcers of law to justice.
  • More (Score:4, Insightful)

    by amclay (1356377) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @12:25PM (#27458155) Homepage Journal
    It's only going to bite us once the police report what he may have been actually doing, or what was not published. Where I find it horrible that they would do it for no reason, I also find it unlikely that they would go to such efforts, when it is obvious that it was retaliatory. My guess is there's more than they reported or know.
  • Re:Backfired! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by langelgjm (860756) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @12:32PM (#27458195) Journal

    The real question is, who's the judge who signed the warrant?

    If the guy's done nothing wrong, the department either fabricated information in requesting the warrant, in which case heads should roll, or the judge is incompetent, in which case the judge should be fired.

  • Re:More (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @12:32PM (#27458199)
    Possibly. But the chilling effect on possible informants is real. And having people with guns show up at your house and root through your possessions is always disturbing. There's also the opportunity to plant evidence, or to find evidence of an unrelated and real offense, however minor, to continue to bother our blogger with.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 04, 2009 @12:36PM (#27458227)

    Then they locked up the rich,

    Fail.

  • by AmiMoJo (196126) <(mojo) (at) (world3.net)> on Saturday April 04, 2009 @12:41PM (#27458253) Homepage

    It's surprising that the police didn't realise that this would almost certainly look very bad for them, especially if there is already a lawsuit and the took files specifically pertaining to it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 04, 2009 @12:43PM (#27458267)

    To quote another slashdotter's sig:

    Please read 1984 before commenting on 1984.

  • by fractoid (1076465) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @12:51PM (#27458355) Homepage
    Begging the question, IMO. "See, he's acting innocent. Only the most hardened of criminals act innocent when confronted with their guilt, so he MUST be guilty of something!"
  • by NeverVotedBush (1041088) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @12:59PM (#27458413)
    For all you know they 'blogging' could be a front for a local child porn ring.

    Because I know when I'm doing something very illegal, I'm going to draw as much attention to myself from the authorities as possible...

    I think your scenario is kind of unlikely.

    If the Phoenix police don't have a very good reason for this raid, the blogger probably won't need a job ever again after he sues the pants off them.
  • backups (Score:4, Insightful)

    by quickOnTheUptake (1450889) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @01:01PM (#27458427)

    âoeThey broke into my safe and took the backups of my backups,â he said in a phone interview with Photography is Not a Crime on Wednesday.

    Let us use this as an instructive moment: Always keep important backups at a seperate physical location.
    Especially if we are dealing with information that important, powerful, or underhanded people may want destroyed.

  • Re:Backfired! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by russotto (537200) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @01:04PM (#27458447) Journal

    If the guy's done nothing wrong, the department either fabricated information in requesting the warrant, in which case heads should roll, or the judge is incompetent, in which case the judge should be fired.

    How do you fire a rubber stamp?

  • by techno-vampire (666512) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @01:14PM (#27458547) Homepage
    Only on slashdot with a bunch of paranoid 12 year olds would the first reaction to be that he was completely innocent and the cops were wrong.

    Actually, no, or at least, I hope not. In case you haven't noticed, this took place in the USA, where people are by law presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

  • by MinistryOfTruthiness (1396923) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @01:17PM (#27458565) Homepage Journal

    I understand your point about jumping to conclusions of innocence, but at the same time, I'll assume he's innocent until he's proven otherwise, thank you very much. Attitudes like that are exactly the reason that there's very little outrage over abuses of power. People are so cynical that they figure the guy MUST have done something bad, or that it's a foregone conclusion that the "bear" will wake up and eat people who irritate them.

    The fact is that irritating the police is not illegal -- and never should be -- and, if that's the extent of his offense, they really need to publicly own up to misconduct. The "bear" is not supposed to be able to eat people who poke them with sticks. We as a society put very strict limitations on the power of authorities -- doubly so on those who weild the power to incarcerate and kill people.

    The articles they confiscated point to it being exactly as described. Now yes, it's possible he's all loaded up with kiddie porn, is evading taxes, and possibly administering a botnet, but I haven't heard anything about any of that.

    The freedom of speech is not the freedom to say "fuck" in public places. It's to limit the government from taking retaliatory actions to your speech. It's the first line of defense against tyranny.

  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @01:37PM (#27458739) Homepage Journal

    Actually, no, or at least, I hope not. In case you haven't noticed, this took place in the USA, where people are by law presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

    Did you just wake up from a 20 year sleep?

  • by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Saturday April 04, 2009 @01:46PM (#27458813) Homepage

    I'm already starting to forget what life in America is supposed to be like. Please help me by indicating which of the following is appropriate:

    A) Arrest the publisher, take all his property, and dump the body in the ocean.

    or

    B) File a libel suit and if it is determined that libel exists, receive compensation for damages.

  • Re:Cable modem... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pete6677 (681676) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @01:51PM (#27458857)

    We need a new mod choice: (-1 Overly Pedantic).

  • by BitZtream (692029) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @01:59PM (#27458917)

    Ahhhh right, because the politicians and cops where you live a 'different' and 'good' ...

    Do you really believe its that different here, are you that naive?

  • by Scrameustache (459504) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @02:00PM (#27458927) Homepage Journal

    When the Police came for the bloggers,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a blogger.

    Then they locked up the rich,
    I remained silent;

    LOL!

    The police locking up the rich is a very ironic concept, considering that their purpose is to protect the rich.

  • by BrokenHalo (565198) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @02:04PM (#27458959)
    My, you live in a nice cosy little world. Welcome to the real world, where the race is run and the good guys lost. Policemen are not nice guys, and neither are judges. Evidence, schmevidence, police departments are usually adept enough at covering their asses.

    All the blogger can really do if he needs his data is to make damn sure he has an off-site backup somewhere the authorities can't get at it.
  • by Ash-Fox (726320) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @02:07PM (#27458987)

    Didn't Gandhi get killed, thus losing in the end?

  • by Zero_DgZ (1047348) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @02:11PM (#27459017)

    People need to wake up to the realities of this shit. Modern day police departments are filled with tyrannical people who enact tyrannical policy purely for the sake of their own egos. (Not all of them, but enough bad apples to ruin the bunch in a lot of cases.) The modern day police department is a THREAT to security and liberty in this country, not a protector of it, and in all honesty people need to start fighting back against it. Unfortunately, the police are also the ones with all the guns and tear gas and media connections who will label protestors, detractors, and other enemies of tyranny as "terrorists" or "criminals." And they have their egos in a bunch over their presumed notion that everything they do is "in the right," and anything anyone says or does against them is automatically "in the wrong," largely because we've let them think that way for entirely too long.

  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @02:34PM (#27459201) Homepage Journal

    Gahndi won. India is free today. Some people have greater goals than their own self-preservation. That is the concept behind medals, and other forms of recognition. In fact, that is the concept behind serving one's country - in the military, or otherwise.

  • by KingSkippus (799657) * on Saturday April 04, 2009 @02:37PM (#27459221) Homepage Journal

    You, sir, are an idiot. Or a troll, but really, I'm leaning strongly towards idiot.

    It's just that stupid "don't fuck with people in power" attitude that has plagued this country for years. If everyone had your idiotic attitude, the ghost of Richard Nixon would still be President after everyone completely ignored Watergate, allowed him to toss out the Constitution, and declare himself leader ever after. It's idiots like you who elected George W. (as in, "What do you mean the law applies to me too?") Bush, who then—you guessed it—tossed out the Constitution and conducted a reign of scaremongering with the threat that if you spoke out against him (or just had a Muslim-sounding name [wikipedia.org], you were a terrorist who could be packed up and shipped to Egypt, Syria, or some other godforsaken part of the world and tortured or killed. Hell, with that attitude, we'd still be a fucking British colony, you moron.

    If the guy did something illegal, then let them prove it. As it is, though, all indications so far that the police are guilty as sin of gross abuse of power, and if so, every damn one of them who were involved in this should be heavily fined, jailed, and never allowed to work for law enforcement again.

    If you RTFA (reported by the Arizona Republic [azcentral.com], you idiot, not just "some bloggers"), you'll see that a former homicide detective who is speaking out about crime lab mismanagement was also targeted. Of course, I guess that just falls under the "he should have just shut up and let the police do any damn thing they want" umbrella that is your philosophy on people who have the legal right to kill you.

    I'm not even going to try to explain how law enforcement must necessarily be held to a higher standard of not retaliating when people do things that aren't illegal no matter how much they don't like it. I'm afraid it might explode your tiny little brain that can't comprehend that things like accountability and the right to free speech is a little more complicated than poking a bear with a pointy stick. Maybe we'll get lucky and some policeman who you pissed off will throw you in a cage with a hungry bear just because he can, then maybe you'll realize how stupid and facetious your analogy really is.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @02:47PM (#27459299) Journal

    Um, the whole fucking country is crooked

    FTFY

  • by grahamd0 (1129971) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @03:04PM (#27459435)

    Your ability to blog whatever you want is no good if some stranger keeps breaking into your house and stealing stuff.

    Like the Phoenix police dept?

  • by ScentCone (795499) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @03:04PM (#27459437)
    I've never seen such a breathless defense of fascism on Slashdot as this post.

    You don't actually know what word means, do you?
  • by falconwolf (725481) <falconsoaring_2000@NOSPaM.yahoo.com> on Saturday April 04, 2009 @03:27PM (#27459595)

    Uhm, if he's already been to court, doesn't it stand the chance that maybe he's doing something wrong and deserves what he's getting?

    Yes, he was in court before. Because he filed a lawsuit against them.

    Cops don't just randomly pick people to pick on, even the most corrupt cops. They are after all, people, and for the most part they have better things to do, until you make yourself a target.

    Except it wasn't random and he didn't make himself a target. He went through a bad divorce and his ex filed a lot of complaints against him. According to TFA some of the complaints happened when he was out of town.

    Perhaps, just maybe, the slashdot assumption that a blogger did no wrong, is infact, wrong.

    People are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty not the other way around.

    This guy is doing exactly what any liar does, just like a politician does. Screams as loudly as possible to anyone who will listen that he has been wronged and trying to drag in a bunch of support from people who don't know what actually happened because all they've heard is his one sided bullshit story that paints him to be a saint.

    The innocent should do the same thing, scream as loud as they could when wronged.

    Falcon

  • by interval1066 (668936) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @03:30PM (#27459623) Homepage Journal

    @ushering05401: "Blah blah blah blah..."

    Huh? What the hell does that statement have to do with anything important???? If the facts presented here on /. are correct, this move by the Phoenix PD is CLEARLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL. Why aren't you in as much shock as I am?

    Clearly, the nation is slowly moving towards a state fear-based govmt. It should be the opposite. WHY ISN'T ANYONE ALARMED AT THIS CRAP?

  • by linzeal (197905) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @03:39PM (#27459661) Homepage Journal
    Does anyone deserve to be menaced by a gun?
  • by mikewelter (526625) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @03:48PM (#27459717)
    County? Isn't that a misspelling? Shouldn't that be country? In the next few years this incident will become just one of thousands.
  • by Naturalis Philosopho (1160697) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @04:10PM (#27459845)
    Or you don't. I love the English language as much as the next guy, and realize that fascism used to refer to to a specific sociopolitical system. However, I also realize that "fascism" is used in the the vernacular to refer to any over-reaching authoritarian system that uses strong arm tactics to maintain it's power; more specifically one that used these tactics against anyone who disagrees with them, regardless of whether or not their target is guilty of anything other than this disagreeing. These tactics generally include intimidation, harassment, unlawful search and seizure, or even incarceration of the targeted individual or individuals. "Ain't" didn't used to be in the dictionary either, even when everybody knew what it meant. Get over it.
  • You missed one (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Shivetya (243324) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @04:43PM (#27460025) Homepage Journal

    Using the office to put future generations into debt beyond reckoning should result in jail. Using the office to write laws to deprive them of their property (to include cash) for merely punitive matters should result in jail time.

    I don't know why so many don't see their money being taken as a violation of their rights. It is the profit of your labor yet so many turn a blind eye to its taking and outright abusive spending.

    Why should locals care? We let Congress run amok all the time so its not like the locals won't get their air of aristocracy about themselves as well. Don't worry, you will get to pay for their golden retirements too. Too many locals when booted for any reason from office hold on to their cherry pensions.

  • by ultranova (717540) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @04:56PM (#27460125)

    Assuming the guy didn't deserve it. You don't know why they did it. All you know is that this guy claims they are singling him out.

    True, we don't know anything with certainty. However, it sure is mighty suspicious when authority raids the home of someone critical of said authority.

    Why the fuck do you idiots assume he is telling the truth? Innocent until proven guilt, no argument there, but no where does that statement say that you BELIEVE WHAT THEY SAY until proven guilty.

    It is incoherent to simultaneously assume someone not guilty and not believe them when they say they are, in fact, not guilty.

    I hate to tell you this but most of the time when you get attacked on this level, its because you did something wrong in the first place.

    Do you have some statistics to back that claim?

    For all you know they 'blogging' could be a front for a local child porn ring.

    Why would a child porn ring need a "front"? What could the blog possibly offer their operations? And if this hypothetical criminal organization needed a front, why choose one that was bound to attract police attention?

    If you're going to go making wild accusations with no basis whatsoever, at least make them somewhat plausible.

    Only on slashdot with a bunch of paranoid 12 year olds would the first reaction to be that he was completely innocent and the cops were wrong.

    So why read this forum? Go back to 4chan and learn to troll properly. Or did they ban you from there already? Or just laugh you out?

    Another hint, if you start poking a sleeping bear with a stick, the bear eventually will wake up and eat your ass for breakfast. I suspect his blogging resulted in roughly the same result.

    Here in Finland we shoot man-eating beasts as threats to public safety rather than give them a badge and a gun. But I guess that in Capitalist America, the beast shoots you !-)

  • He's lucky... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WoollyMittens (1065278) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @05:15PM (#27460235)
    He's fortunate to not have been beaten half to death while they were at it. It's very easy for the police to claim he "assaulted" them.
  • by dotgain (630123) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @05:43PM (#27460399) Homepage Journal
    Most people still have more to fear from rubber-hose cryptanalysis techniques than they do from divulging their data. Deniable cryptography either equals or will be equal to guilt in $YOUR_COUNTRY.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 04, 2009 @06:34PM (#27460741)

    They're the ones with the power. Always assume they're "lying corrupt mofos" until proved otherwise.

    When my word carries the same weight as a cop's in court, then maybe I'll change my mind on that one.

    Maybe.

    Same goes for politicians.

  • by tsm_sf (545316) on Saturday April 04, 2009 @08:46PM (#27461637) Journal

    Just like any other sort of job, there will be different cultures in different offices. To say that all police departments are equally corrupt is either incredibly naive or intellectually dishonest.

    Any profession that deals with controlling people will have it's problems, but seeing corruption as a boolean is simply a childish view of the world.

  • Re:Cable modem... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ScrewMaster (602015) * on Saturday April 04, 2009 @11:05PM (#27462397)
    Face it, the guys collecting "evidence" probably don't know what a cable modem is, they just grabbed anything that looks computerish. And if they did know, they'd probably take it anyway just to make it harder for him to get back online and post about their activities. My first impression of this is that those cops are dicks, but it'll be up to the courts to make that official.

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