Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Crime News: Now Informers Can Narc Anonymously by Text Message

For criminal defense attorneys in Texas, it's getting closer and closer to Orwell's 1984 every day ....

Have you heard about this one? A Nacogdoches, Texas, company called Anderson Software issued a press release that victoriously announced its introduction of a new product, Tips via Text TM, which will allow anyone, anywhere to send an anonymous tip to an agency, like CrimeStoppers, and have the cops text them back, all without revealing their identity.

Informers Can Text In Their Tips Anonymously Using The New Tips via Text program

CrimeStopper programs are chomping at the bit to get this software for their communities (it assigns an encrypted alias to the tipster's call, so their real identities are not revealed).

Anderson promotes Tips via Text as a way for informers to send in their tips when its "not feasible or safe" to telephone a tip line. CrimeStoppers is particularly excited about the product, predicting it will be "particularly useful for student programs."

Doesn't anyone think about the implications here?

How does this anonymous text messaging impact the rights of you, me, and our teen aged kids -- you know, like our right to privacy and all those civil rights that we are guaranteed under the Constitution??

Ponder this situation: teenager A is mad at teenager B because A's boyfriend has left the party with B, and it's not looking like they're coming back to the soiree. What does A do?

She sends a Tips via Text and with her guaranteed anonymity, reports that the boyfriend is driving drunk. There's a prompt reply and a quick text discussion on the type of car being driven, the road they've taken, a description of the driver.

Remember, there's no human to listen to her giggle as she reports this, or to judge how inebriated she might be....

The police quickly respond and pull over boyfriend on suspicion of drunk driving. Nevermind that the cops never saw anything that would lead them to believe he might be intoxicated -- they act solely on the text-tip and when boyfriend fails the field sobriety test, he's busted.

What Happens to Due Process and Privacy and All Those Other Rights?

In this country, we're supposed to have LIBERTY and JUSTICE ... which means that the government cannot detain us, much less arrest us, without good reason. Cops shouldn't be able to pull someone over for a suspected crime unless those cops actually have their own reason to believe a crime is occurring. Period.

Police power is supposed to be exercised within carefully defined, clear-cut boundaries. This Text Tip Under an Alias messes with that ... and police power can be misused.

Think this won't happen? Think again. It's already been okayed by the California Supreme Court (police acting on anonymous tips without their own verification of a possible crime). They even have signs along the road, encouraging fellow travelers to narc on each other about possible drunk driving.

Imagine the misuse this invites. Imagine. Think of your ex-wife. Think of the disgruntled employee. Think of the cop who's tempted to text himself.


Anderson Software

Darren Kavinoky's

No comments: