I am not a lawyer, and so when I looked at the competing letters from the Florida Department of State and the Federal Department of Justice about the voter purge, I thought that, well, it doesn’t look like the law is on the side of Florida — but since our legal code is written in lawyerese and not plain English, I couldn’t be sure what the definition of “is” is in this case.
However, I am a computer systems architect. I work with the largest of corporations on issues of managing their customer data, and the problem of reconciling two lists of customers is a frequent challenge my customers have.
And that is exactly the same problem Rick Scott wants to solve: he wants to match up his list of Florida voters with the list of aliens in the Department of Homeland Security’s SAVE database. Matches would theoretically allow him to identify non-citizens who are registered to vote. Rick Scott points out, correctly as far as I can tell (again, I am not a lawyer), that the law permits Florida to gain access to the database for any lawful purpose. And then he chides the DHS for not fulfilling what he perceives to be their obligations under law.
Yesterday, Marissa Alexander was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot to scare off an abusive husband. Many people, myself included, feel this is a miscarriage of justice. And many people took to Twitter to express their dismay:
# of tweets mentioning Marissa Alexander
It’s interesting to see what hashtags people are using in their Tweets:
The most frequent hashtag is #nerdland, which refers to the Melissa Harris-Perry show on the weekends and, in fact, the bulk of tweets using that tag occurred last weekend. The Trayvon Martin tags come from the fact that the prosecutor in this case, Angela Corey, is also the prosecutor in the George Zimmerman trial for the killing of Trayvon Martin. Ms. Corey is no stranger to controversial cases: she is also currently prosecuting Cristian Fernandez as an adult for murder, even though he was 12 at the time the crime was committed.
I see a lot of people asking what the hashtag #SYG means: Stand Your Ground, the law in Florida that did not help Marissa Alexander and may or may not help George Zimmerman.
CBS news has an interesting piece about how the police are using Social Media to “monitor” (their word) the activities of groups like Occupy Wall Street, citing one case where prosecutors sought to use the Twitter feed of a protestor arrested for disorderly conduct.
The article mentions a report from the International Association of Chiefs of Police that said that roughly 90% of US law enforcement agencies have used social media.
What’s interesting, though, is that it appears that a lot of the usage has nothing to do with crime, per se. The report covers both the investigative uses of social media as well as more mundane things like creating a facebook page for police departments. The report does say that about 71% of the agencies have used Twitter for crime investigation, but that’s a fairly loose description — and when law enforcement is tasked with crimes that take place at least partially online, it’s not surprising that some one would look into the Twitter postings of a suspect.
The implication, though, of the article is that there is a large scale pre-crime monitoring of social media by the police. That’s not really supported by the facts…