Must read 06/17/13

State photo-ID databases become troves for police. (Washington Post)

In many ways, this is much more disconcerting than the NSA data-mining “scandal.” Top of the website this morning:

The faces of more than 120 million people are in searchable photo databases that state officials assembled to prevent driver’s-license fraud but that increasingly are used by police to identify suspects, accomplices and even innocent bystanders in a wide range of criminal investigations….

The most widely used systems were honed on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq as soldiers sought to identify insurgents. The increasingly widespread deployment of the technology in the United States has helped police find murderers, bank robbers and drug dealers, many of whom leave behind images on surveillance videos or social-media sites that can be compared against official photo databases.

But law enforcement use of such facial searches is blurring the traditional boundaries between criminal and non-criminal databases, putting images of people never arrested in what amount to perpetual digital lineups. The most advanced systems allow police to run searches from laptop computers in their patrol cars and offer access to the FBI and other federal authorities.


Study finds supportive tilt to gay marriage coverage. (New York Times)

Tough call here. The piece points out:

The study lends credence to conservative charges that the nation’s news media have championed the issue of same-sex marriage at the expense of objectivity. Others have argued that news organizations are right not to overly emphasize opposition to what many see as a core civil rights issue.

And that’s what makes it a tough call. Would news coverage that tilted toward legalizing interracial marriage have been wrong? What about news coverage that tilted toward freeing slaves? We strive for fairness and balance, but does every issue require that each side get equal time?


Ohio police chief takes criminals to task online. (AP)

49,000 is about to multiply exponentially. What a fun story. Don’t be a mope:

KENT, Ohio (AP) — If you’re up to no good in this pocket of northeast Ohio, especially in a witless way, you’re risking not only jail time or a fine but a swifter repercussion with a much larger audience: You’re in for a social media scolding from police Chief David Oliver and some of his small department’s 49,000 Facebook fans.


Bloomberg plan aims to require food composting. (New York Times)

I’m sure the right will blast this as nanny-statism, and it’s seriously hard to imagine pulling this off in New York City, but . . . It really is a great idea. It will save money and it’s environmentally sound.

If composting can make it here, it can make it anywhere. It’s up to you, New York.

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