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Question: How good are Wi-Fi connections on airplanes and are they worth paying for?
Phoenix Veterans Day Parade
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Saying Tucson has been “uncooperative and evasive,” the American Civil Liberties Union wants a judge to immediately order it to turn over documents about use of a device by the police department that allows it to track cell phone users without their knowledge.
PHOENIX -- Saying Tucson has been "uncooperative and evasive,'' the American Civil Liberties Union wants a judge to immediately order it to turn over documents about use of a device by the Police Department that allows it to track cell phone users without their knowledge.
In legal filings in Pima County Superior Court, attorney Dan Pochoda pointed out to Judge Douglas Metcalf that he had ordered city to provide the ACLU with a list of each document it believes it does not have to disclose "with enough information to make it identifiable.'' Metcalf also directed the city to explain why it is being withheld.
What the ACLU got, Pochoda said, was a list of documents the city already said it had given to Metcalf for him to review in chambers along with "vague, speculative, and conclusory rationales for withholding the requested items.''
Pochoda said the request, submitted by investigative reporter Beau Hodai, was very specific about wanting data about the purchase and use of device, sold by Harris Co. originally as the StingRay and later as Hailstorm, along with what appears to be a new non-disclosure agreement between the Tucson Police Department and the FBI about what it would and would not make public.
"Defendant simply chose not to address this request in its submission (to the court) and failed to submit any factual or legal reason to the court why the requested records should not be provided,'' Pochoda wrote.
He said the Police Department "simply ignores'' a subsequent request for information on requests for search warrants to use the equipment.
If nothing else, Pochoda said Arizona case law states if a document falls within the scope of the public record statute, then there is a "presumption favoring disclosure.'' He said that means Tucson must "prove specifically how the best interest of the state outweighs the public right to disclosure,'' something he said the city did not do.
"A purported speculative interest does not outweigh the presumption favoring disclosure,'' Pochoda wrote.
There was no immediate response from the city.
At issue is equipment the Police Department admits it bought in 2011 and has used at least five times.
The device tricks cell phones into believing it is just another cell phone tower operated by the owner's carrier. That causes the phone to report its individual identifying information and essentially allow police to use the mobile device to find its location.
Hodai, an investigative reporter, made three separate requests for the information. The case wound up in court, with Hodai represented by the ACLU, when the department failed to produce all the documents. On Aug. 18, Metcalf said the way to resolve this is for Tucson to produce a list of what it won't produce and why.
But Pochoda said what the city produced last month does not comply with the judge's order. So now he wants Metcalf to produce the records themselves.
In his own filing at the time, City Attorney Michael Rankin told the judge he believes the items not produced are exempt from Arizona's public records laws.
There is a catch-all category dealing with what is in the "best interests of the state.'' And in this case, Rankin argued, releasing the information would "compromise sensitive law enforcement techniques and national security interests by making the technology available to criminals.''
Rankin said the city also does not want to release "equipment worksheet'' and PowerPoint presentation to familiarize those working with the equipment with how it operates, arguing it would "compromise the effectiveness and use of this technology by both local and federal law enforcement agencies.''
In his filing with the court, Pochoda said Tucson does not dispute that records pertaining to the Counter Narcotics Alliance, of which the Police Department is a member, are public. The same is true, he said, of any communications between the department and the FBI.
"Defendant misleads the court concerning the scope of plaintiff's requests and ignores the applicable law concerning the duty to release public records,'' Pochoda told Metcalf.
Pochoda said the city's argument about the narcotics alliance records is that producing them would "easily produce thousands of pages of materials that is in no way related to the use of Harris technology.'' But he said that does not mean the records do not have to be poroduced.
"Public officials do not have the right to ignore or limit the scope of a record request based on their belief the request is too broad,'' Pochoda wrote.
Similarly, he said the city is somehow suggesting that the request for communications between the Police Department and the FBI also is overly broad. But Pochoda said the request covers less than a 12-month period.
"Despite defendant's claims that there could be 'tens of thousands of documents' responsive to plaintiff's request, defendant failed to provide plaintiff with a single responsive record,'' Pochoda argued.
Q: I’m a little nervous about all this talk about turning my smartphone into my wallet; isn’t it just going to create another major area to get breached?
The chief attorney for the city of Tucson is telling a judge that national security could be compromised if it is forced to disclose some documents about how it uses equipment it has purchased to track cell phone users.
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The Chandler Public Library will make the transition to a new catalog system beginning July 23.
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Question: We’ve got a new college graduate with lots of stuff to be backed up off her computer. Should we use cloud or external hard drive?