Daily Digest 10/12

FBI Deploys Counterterrorism Team in Portland Protests; Apple Requests Telegram Channels Be Shut Down Amid Belarus Protests; R. Kelly Document Shows How Google Gave Data to Law Enforcement; Argentina Under Fire for Using Facial Recognition on Children. Click “Continue reading” below.

FBI Deploys Counterterrorism Team in Portland Protests

The FBI sent out its “Fly Team” counterterrorism unit from Washington in July to interview arrested protestors from Portland, Ore.

According to an FBI email obtained through a public records request, the team was instructed to exploit cellphones and other communication devices from protestors, The New York Review Daily reports.

“In my day, this would have been unheard of — sending the Fly Team out not against al-Qaeda terrorists but protesters in American streets,” a former FBI official told the newspaper.

Many local officials said law enforcement’s response to the protests was too violent, causing demonstrators to use graffiti, attack property and participate in dangerous confrontations, according to the Review Daily.

It remains unclear if the Fly Team’s operation extended past July, but in the email, volunteers were requested to do follow-up investigations.

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Apple Requests Telegram Channels Be Shut Down Amid Belarus Protests

Apple told the messaging app Telegram to take down three channels used by protesters in Belarus.

The channels were used to expose identities of individuals belonging to the Belarusian authoritarian regime that allegedly oppresses civilians, the “iPhone In Canada” blog reports. 

“This situation is not black-and-white and would rather leave the channels be, but typically Apple doesn’t offer much choice for apps like Telegram in such situations,” Telegram CEO Pavel Durov wrote on the messaging app.

The Apple-Telegram rift stems from Belarus’ 2020 election in August, which saw incumbent Alexander Lukashenko re-elected despite accusations of widespread election fraud.

Many citizens took to the streets to protest the election, with Telegram being the main form of communication for calling out politicians.

Apple said the channels could reveal identities of Belarus law enforcement, which might cause further violence, according to the Canadian blog.

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R. Kelly Document Shows How Google Gave Data to Law Enforcement

A newly unsealed court document related to an alleged associate of embattled R&B singer R. Kelly illustrates how Google hands over data about what people search to law enforcement.

In a court filing that was submitted in July but unsealed on Wednesday, a Homeland Security Department special agent detailed a police investigation into an arson attack on a car outside of the home of a witness involved in the continuing sexual-racketeering case against Kelly, Business Insider reports.

The U.S. District court document showed that investigators linked Michael Williams, a family relation of Kelly’s former publicist, to the arson by sending a “keyword warrant” to Google.

Police had asked Google for any data on “users who had searched the address of the residence close in time to the arson,” which allegedly occurred on June 11, according to the document.

Google sent IP addresses that had searched for the arson victim’s address. Two IP addresses were linked to Williams’ phone number, which police then used to track the phone’s location.

Authorities then were able to determine the device was near the victim’s car at the time of the arson attack.

Then, investigators then obtained a warrant for Williams’ personal search history, which showed he’d searched for terms that included “witness intimidation,” CNET.com reports.

Although requests for broad data sets to tech giants from police are not new, this case illustrated exactly how tech companies work with law enforcement.

“We require a warrant and push to narrow the scope of these particular demands when overly broad, including by objecting in court when appropriate,” Richard Salgado, Google’s director of law enforcement and information security, told CNET.

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Argentina Under Fire for Using Facial Recognition on Children

A rights group Friday requested that Buenos Aires stop using facial-recognition technology on children accused of committing crimes.

Human Rights Watch, the New York-based group, said that Buenos Aires began using the tech in 2019, making Argentina is the only country to use face technology on minors, Reuters reports.

While no minors have yet been arrested, the rights group said the tech could misidentify kids, which can lead to them being wrongly accused of crimes — and, in turn, having limited access to job and educational opportunities.

“Kids accused of having committed a crime are having their personal information published online, which is against international law and national standards,” Hye Jung Han, a Human Rights Watch researcher, told Reuters.

A Buenos Aires government official refused to comment.

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— By DPN Staff