Monday, August 25, 2008

Meeting with Women from Internet Turns Into a Death Trap

A man was shot and killed early 8/24/08 after being lured into a building in Brooklyn, N.Y. Police say officers found Daniel Brandt, 24, on the fourth floor of a building on West 33rd Street in Coney Island early this morning.

According to police, Brandt believed he was meeting a woman he had been communicating with over the Internet. Instead, he ran into two armed men who robbed and then shot him.

Brandt was taken to a local hospital, where he later died.

As of Sunday evening no arrests had been made, and the investigation continues.


Friday, August 22, 2008

U.S. Congress has Web Privacy in Their Sites

Here are some things Internet users can discover about Kiyoshi Martinez, a 24-year-old man from Mokena, Ill., from some of his recent posts online. He watched “The Colbert Report” on Tuesday night, he likes the musician Lenlow and he received bottles of olive oil and vinegar for his birthday. Mr. Martinez has Facebook and LinkedIn pages, a Twitter account and a Web site that includes his résumé.

So it is surprising to learn that Mr. Martinez, an aide in the Illinois Senate, is also vigilant about his privacy online.
“I’m pretty aware of the fact that ANYTHING you do on the Internet pretty much should just be considered public,” Mr. Martinez said. While he knows that companies are collecting his data and often tracking his online habits so they can show him more relevant ads, he said, he would like to see more transparency “about what the company intends to do with your data and your information.”

“Like all privacy matters, it’s something that people need to be informed on,” Mr. Martinez said.
Those same questions of data collection and privacy policies are attracting the attention of Congress, too. There is no broad privacy legislation governing advertising on the Internet. And even some in the government admit that they do not have a clear grasp of what companies are able to do with the wealth of data now available to them.
“That is why Congress, at this point, is wanting to gather a lot more information, because no one knows,” said Steven A. Hetcher, a professor at Vanderbilt University Law School. “That information is incredibly valuable; it’s the new frontier of advertising.”
Beyond the data question, there are issues of how companies should tell browsers that their information is being tracked, which area of law covers this and what — if anything — proper regulation would look like.

On Aug. 1, four top members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce sent letters ordering 33 cable and Internet companies, including Google, Microsoft, Comcast and Cox Communications, to provide details about their privacy standards. That followed House and Senate hearings last month about privacy and behavioral targeting, in which advertisers show ads to consumers based on their travels around the Web. If an advertiser knows that Mr. Martinez watches “The Colbert Report,” for example, it might show him an ad for “The Daily Show.”

As advertisers become more sophisticated about behavioral targeting, and online privacy standards become increasingly varied, regulators and privacy advocates are becoming concerned. A few companies have taken precautionary measures to try to fend off criticism; in the last few days, for instance, both Yahoo and Google have made it easier for people to opt out of targeted ads on their sites. But that may not be enough.
“Some type of omnibus electronic privacy legislation is needed,” said Representative Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, “regardless of the particular technologies or companies involved.”
He and the other members of the House expect to receive responses from all of the companies by early this week. With the responses to the House letters, “we can understand exactly what each sector of the communications industry is technically capable of doing, and how they use the information once they do get access to it.”

One of the controversial new behavioral-targeting technologies is called deep packet inspection, and a company that does it — NebuAd — was a focus of the July Congressional hearings.

In NebuAd’s version of deep packet inspection, a hardware device is put into an Internet service provider’s network that can track where users are going online. NebuAd looks for categories that the user will be interested in. If the device notes that a user is browsing or searching for sites about German automobiles, it can deliver an ad about German automobiles later that day, even when the user is on a site about pets.

NebuAd’s chief executive, Bob Dykes, who testified at the hearings last month, said his company protects privacy.
“We don’t have any raw data on the identifiable individual,” Mr. Dykes said in an interview last month. “Everything is anonymous.”
He said NebuAd took several steps to ensure that the information could not be traced back to an individual or an Internet protocol address. The company avoids sensitive categories, he said; someone making a search about H.I.V., for example, would not see related ads. And NebuAd cannot gain access to secure sites.

Mr. Dykes came under scrutiny at the hearings for NebuAd’s technology and for how the company notified consumers.

The ways that some Internet service providers told consumers about their tracking were vague or too subtle, some privacy advocates and congressmen said.

NebuAd lost several customers this summer amid all the scrutiny, including CenturyTel, Charter Communications, WideOpenWest Holdings and Embarq.
“We will not be using this technology again until such time as all the privacy concerns have been addressed,” said Charles Fleckenstein, an Embarq spokesman.
Mr. Dykes said, “We are perfectly O.K. for some of our partners to wait until we have a better, more informed education of the public and folks in Washington before they resume their rollout.”

The NebuAd controversy illustrates the difficulty of regulation in online advertising, when new ways of tracking users arise regularly and companies have different ways of handling data.

The Federal Trade Commission has made some tentative steps toward standards, including a December proposal on behavioral-advertising practices. The proposal suggested that companies provide a clear notice to consumers that lets them opt out of tracking, notify consumers if the company changes the way it uses the data and use reasonable security measures. It also sought comment on several matters.

But Lydia B. Parnes, the director of the F.T.C.’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, has said she supports industry self-regulation, saying that it isn’t yet clear that the consumer is being harmed and that regulations might be too specific to current technologies. Laws have been made on slices of the privacy pie, including data about finances or children. But complying with various pieces of legislation is difficult, companies said.
“Compliance is becoming very complex and not very clear in terms of what applies to a new and emerging business model,” said Mike Hintze, the associate general counsel at Microsoft. “From the company’s perspective of trying to comply with these laws, we thought a comprehensive federal privacy law made a lot of sense.”
There is some industry support for a comprehensive law, but any wide-ranging law would require some legal wrangling.
“They’re raising these bigger-picture questions, and those questions are inherently intertwined not just with privacy laws, but also with contract law, computer-intrusion law, consumer-fraud law,” said Andrea M. Matwyshyn, an assistant professor of legal studies and business ethics at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
“When legislators are trying to regulate in this area, they’re always caught a little bit between a rock and a hard place,” she said. “You don’t want to adopt a technology-specific standard that’s destined to fail as technology advances faster than the law can ever hope to embody. At the same time, you need to allow adequate specificity in the law to allow companies to comply with it and allow consumers to know what their rights are.”
Some advertising industry groups say self-regulation is enough. The most prominent programs are the Online Privacy Alliance and the Network Advertising Initiative. Both ask members to follow principles on notifying consumers and avoiding personally identifiable information.

Regulation is “certainly going to have unintended consequences and unintended impact,” said Mike Zaneis, the vice president for public policy at the Interactive Advertising Bureau, a coalition of online advertisers.

Some civil liberties groups disagreed.

“There’s a self-regulatory program out there which hasn’t been very effective,” said Alissa Cooper, the chief computer scientist at the Center for Democracy and Technology. She said her organization was concerned about NebuAd’s technology. As for general federal privacy legislation, she said, the center supports it but thinks more information is needed about data-handling.

The letter from the House committee, she said, was “a really welcome development in the absence of any kind of regulation.”

“The companies don’t feel the need to explain everything they’re doing,” she said, “so a little bit of pressure from Congress or the F.T.C. can go a long way.”

As government representatives think about legislation, they are also trying to gauge how aware and concerned consumers are about online privacy. A recent study of about 1,000 Internet users asked them if they agreed with the statement that they were comfortable with advertisers’ using their browsing history to decide what ads to show them. Thirty-nine percent strongly disagreed; only 6 percent strongly agreed. The study was conducted by TNS Global, a research firm, and TRUSTe, an online privacy network.

Is privacy a concern for younger consumers, who are splashing personal details all over MySpace? The sparse data available suggest that it is. A study last year of 2,274 British adults showed that people ages 18 to 24 considered privacy tied with “avoiding hate and offense” as the most important consideration in digital technologies. For older people, privacy was second to “avoiding hate and offense.” The study was conducted by YouGov, a British research firm.
“People my age — in their 20s or in their 30s — a lot of them are very clued up on protecting privacy on the Internet,” said Ben Saxon, 23, a student in Cambridge, England. He has started a Facebook group objecting to Phorm, a NebuAd-like company that is working in Britain and is starting to court the United States market.

Still, he said, “I don’t think complete privacy on the Internet is actually possible anymore.”

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Cyberstalker Arrested in Indiana

FORT WAYNE -- Police in Wabash arrested a man for cyber-stalking two sisters -- one of them underage -- and using their identities for sex for two years before he was discovered.

Prosecutors charged the man -- who worked at the family's church -- with felony stalking and misdemeanor harrassment.

Police say he created Facebook pages under the young women's names, then pretended to be them -- posting pictures of them, displaying their addresses and phone numbers, and even detailing their after-school activities and work places.

Using those fake identities, he had virtual sex with men around the world, using language so graphic, we can't share it with you.

The ruse was discovered by their pastor, who was compiling an Internet list of his congregation to take to his new position out of town.

And since their personal information was in cyber-space for two years, the young women now fear for their safety.

Haley Flanagan\Had Identity Assumed:
" Me and my sister have both taken a self-defense class. We carry Mace on our keychains with us. And I don't go anywhere by myself."
Cindy Flanagan\Daughters Had Identities Assumed:
"These laws need to have some teeth to them, and not just a general law. They need to be substance, they need to be basic enough that it's okay if the Internet changes that they can still apply it to whatever the new technology would be."

The best way to protect yourself and your children? Google your name and see what pops up. If there's anything fishy, call the police.

The man is scheduled to be in court August 20th.

But even if he's convicted of stalking and harrassment, he still wouldn't have to register as a sex offender, which would restrict his Internet use.

That's partly why the family is working with state and federal legislators to draft some stricter laws.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Michigan woman charged with cyber-stalking

Police say messages posted to a blog were threatening, harassing

In an electronic age which makes every text-message, e-mail and blog entry part of cyberspace permanent record, a particularly vicious break-up can lead to criminal charges as well as broken hearts.
Frances Boensch, 28, of Essexville (Michigan), found that out the hard way. After contacting police ...about what she said were threats from a former lover, Michigan State Police launched an investigation that lead to cyber-stalking charges filed against Boensch.

Boensch was free on a $5,000 bond after being arraigned last week in Bay County District Court on a charge of stalking via posting a threatening message on the Internet.

If convicted of the felony, she faces up to two years in prison.

Boensch works at Delta College, teaching her colleagues to avoid sexual harassment.

But police and prosecutors have decided that entries in Boensch's blog, along with content of text messages and e-mails to the alleged victim, amount to Internet stalking.

In 1993, Michigan became the first state to make "electronic stalking" a crime, but Bay County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Nancy Borushko said this is the first case that she personally has been involved in.
"As more people have access to the Internet and get more comfortable online, I think we may see more charges like this," Borushko said. "We're not talking about protected speech here, we're talking about things that make the victim feel terrorized, threatened or molested."
The Times was unable to reach Boensch, of 886 N. York Drive, for comment.

Her defense attorney, Joseph S. Scorsone, said he advises his clients not to make statements while charges are pending, but that he will be prepared to make a statement on her behalf after the preliminary evidence hearing, set for Aug. 12.

The blog - frandazzel.com - has been cleared of the previous content, and the lone page at the address [used to show] a photo of Boensch's face, wearing sunglasses, in a cemetery full of white crosses.
"With much sadness, I have to report that frandazzel has died," the message said. "She was brutally raped and murdered for reasons unknown to us at this time."
The police report prepared by Michigan State Police Trooper Elizabeth Hunt, however, contains copies various blog postings, e-mails and text-messages. A blog - short for Web log - is like an online diary.

Hunt launched an investigation after Boensch, herself, called Delta College police to report that she was being threatened by someone via e-mail who claimed to have semi-nude photos of her that were about to be printed and distributed.

While no criminal charges stemmed from that incident, Hunt spoke to the person identified as the suspect, a former lover of Boensch, who provided additional information about the blog and other communications from Boensch.

"With technology," Borushko said, "things can be saved for a very long time."

Ironically, in literature distributed by Boensch to Delta employees, she urges her colleagues to "record the date and time" of any threatening actions by another and to "save all e-mails, voicemails, and messages that relate to the complaint."

What is Internet stalking?

Michigan Compiled Law 750.411s forbids a person from posting a message 'through the use of any medium of communication, including the Internet or a computer, computer program, computer system, or computer network, or other electronic medium of communication, without the victim's consent' if several other factors are present.

Those factors are:

• The poster realizes 'that posting the message could cause two or more separate noncontinuous acts of unconsented contact with the victim.'

• Posting the message is intended to cause conduct that would make the victim feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested.

• Conduct arising from posting the message would cause a reasonable person to suffer emotional distress and to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested.

• Conduct arising from posting the message causes the victim to suffer emotional distress and to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested.

Conviction is punishable by up to two years in prison and $5,000 in fines.

However, if the posting results in a credible threat against the victim, violates probation or a restraining order or if the victim is under 18 and five years younger than the perpetrator, the crime in punishable by up to five years in prison.

The section does not prohibit constitutionally protected speech or activity.


Friday, August 15, 2008

Man Held his Internet Lover Prisoner when She Tried to End It

[United Kingdom:] Paul Peccioli, 55, "reacted badly" when Julia Pickup, whom he met online, told him she thought they should stop seeing each other, a court heard.

When Miss Pickup, 51, told him that their six-month relationship was over he banged his head against a wall then held up an airgun, telling Miss Pickup he would "deck her if she was a man", Leicester Crown Court was told.

The court heard that over the next few days Peccioli, a former Conservative member of Daventry District Council, slapped Miss Pickup's legs and threatened to take an overdose.

When she tried to go to work one morning, four days after she had ended their relationship, Peccioli blocked her path.

But he allowed her to call in to explain her absence. Two workmates realised something was wrong and went to her home.

When they arrived at the property in Ullesthorpe, Leicestershire, Miss Pickup escaped but Peccioli chased after them in his own car.

Mr Thatcher told the court: "She ran out to the waiting car. When Peccioli realised what was happening he ran out after her, screaming."

Miss Pickup's colleague did not know the village and turned into a cul-de-sac.

Peccioli tried to open the doors of the car, forcing Miss Pickup's colleague to mount the pavement. They managed to drive away, but Peccioli was following at high speeds.

Miss Pickup's colleague drove to the nearest police station where Peccioli was arrested.
He pleaded guilty to putting a person in fear of violence by harassment and blamed his driving on "emotional upset".
The couple met via the internet in March last year, but Miss Pickup ended the relationship in September after Peccioli became "possessive and overbearing".

Peccioli was given a 12-month suspended prison sentence and a restraining order that prevents him from going within 50 metres of Miss Pickup's home or contacting her.

Judge Michael Pert QC said: "I am prepared to accept that at this late stage of your life you have made a fool of yourself rather than being an inherently dangerous person.

"But that is of little consolation to your victim, and I have to take steps to protect her. Your behaviour during this incident was disgraceful."


Please contact the ORIGINAL writer and source of this article if you have any problems, or corrections.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Do a Criminal Search on Them!

Confirm your worst suspicions about the one that got away

“Do you really know who people are?” That’s the slogan for pay site PeopleFinders.com's freshly launched (and totally free!) companion site, CriminalSearches.com. Do you want to know? Everybody has something to hide — so the cliché goes. That’s where CriminalSearches.com comes in.

Totally free and possibly the most intuitive Web site of its sort, CriminalSearches.com painstakingly culled and standardized the disparate record-keeping practices of counties, municipalities, cities and states to provide an almost-instant snapshot of neighborhoods and people with criminal records.

Parents may favor the comprehensive Sex Offender section of the site, which includes photos and details of offenses with its record returns. Meanwhile, privacy advocates are apoplectic. What’s more, critics decry such sites as yet another attack on America’s privacy — not to mention potentially disastrous inaccuracies, incorrect or incomplete information provided by the original record keepers.

Still, nobody’s talking about the totally awesome aspect of this whole criminal record compilation. Why settle for Google stalking your ex when you can confirm your worst suspicions by looking them up on CriminalSearches.com? Who wants to read about happy marriages and job satisfaction on Facebook?

Do it! Do it now! CriminalSearches.com your ex!

That Power Point presentation can wait an extra minute. If you’ve ever questioned for one second the direction your life’s taken — or even if you haven’t — it may do wonders for your self-assurance. I myself never doubted ditching that age-inappropriate bad boy once I finally extracted myself from that unfavorable situation in my late teens. For years however, I did beat myself up for the length of time it took me to finally see the light. But two seconds on CriminalSearches.com washed away any remnants of self-recrimination that may’ve been lurking.

My ex Loser’s name returned almost-immediate confirmation that getting out of that relationship — not to mention that state — was the right choice, even if it took me longer than I’d prefer. There, under Loser’s name, corresponding birthday and county of residence was an early conviction that occurred before we became involved, one of which I was previously aware.

(Sad to say, at the time, his run-in with Johnny Law was part of the attraction – that’s before I wised up and started finding my dates in music magazine classifieds, under “Guitarist Available.”)

In the years since I ended my acquaintance with Loser, there were a couple of shocking additions to Loser's record — most appalling, a record of child abuse/neglect accompanied on the same date with a creepily oblique “O” offense for “Other.” (CriminalSearches.com conveniently color codes offenses with letters for quick reference: Red “S” for sex offense, purple “V” for Violent, etc.)

My inner Sherlock piqued but stomach nauseous, I chose not to pay the $40 to get further details from the affiliated PeopleFinders.com. Instead, I called a friend and insisted she do the same. Always game for a good Internet scavenger hunt, she inserted the name of a former beau she knew for a fact had some sort of police record related to owning a pet wolf that mauled some dude — and fully expected to see his name pop up with the specified “O” icon.


So I turned to my sister. Seeing as we share a genetic predisposition for bad seeds, I felt certain she’d get some positive returns in the ex department. Instead, she decided to search for herself.

What she found was a woman of a similar name living in an entirely different state and a list of that woman’s traffic offenses — yet no acknowledgement of my sister’s identity let alone her own speeding ticket legacy. Disappointed, she made what some might consider a risky move and looked up her husband — fully expecting to find his own collection of traffic offenses.

Again, nothing.

So she tried Charles Manson and came up with many — but none that appeared to be THE Charles Manson. So she tried some more recent notorious criminals of somewhat less renown, (who, along with Charles Manson, she never, ever dated) and found their records straight away.

Then she was on to her ex-husband, a man we lovingly refer to as “Wingnut.” Alas, nothing. A search for our other sister’s husband also proved an exercise in futility as we’re unsure of his birthday and he shares a ridiculously common name. She then moved on to her neighbor, of whom she’d heard rumors of a youthful indiscretion. But again, there were so many people who shared his name, the search was inconclusive.

My sister reasoned that she could probably find out his birthday and search again, but by then, she was bored. What’s more, he's good guy and also a friend so she wasn’t so sure she really wanted to know what he did in his younger years. Which, given omissions and possibilities of incorrect or misinterpreted information, is probably the best policy when using such sites. Consider it like your horoscope — for entertainment value only.

Like my friend, who we’ll call “Grumpy.” He checked up on each member of his family just for giggles and learned that his buttoned-down uncle got busted for drug possession in 1979.

“Wow!” Grumpy reported. “I love this Web site.”


Friday, August 01, 2008

Off to Jail for Off2Hunt

EOPC first reported this two years ago... despite the slow wheels of justice... looks like Richard Kudlik's accountability moment finally arrived.

Officials: Man posed as federal marshal to impress women

It could be off to federal prison for "Off2hunt."

Richard Kudlik, who used that name in online chat-rooms while pretending to be a federal marshal, pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court in Central Islip [Long Island, New York] to two counts of possessing a counterfeit U.S. Marshal's badge, officials said.

In real life, Kudlik, 45, of Port Jefferson Station, was a mechanic's helper at the federal Plum Island Animal Disease Center.

But online, Kudlik took on the persona of a latter-day Wyatt Earp to attract women with tales of his exploits as a U.S. Marshal, hunting down fugitives and guarding politicians, officials said.

"He was using the marshals service as a way to get girls," a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service said in 2006 at the time of Kudlik's arrest.

Kudlik had been warned in 2005 about impersonating a marshal after Suffolk police spotted him with a marshal's jacket in his car, officials said. Kudlik promised to stop, so he was not charged then, officials have said.

Kudlik was arrested by real marshals in 2006, after he was outed by a former girlfriend who discovered he was a married man. She told officials he was still pretending to be a marshal.

The former girlfriend, Pamela Brown, of Mattituck, [Long Island, New York] had set up a Web site, the similarly named off2hunt.com, to warn other women about Kudlik's activities.

"You couldn't even question his stories because you could see emotion in his face as he told them," Brown said in a Newsday interview in 2006.

Kudlik's attorney, federal public defender Tracey Gaffey, declined to comment yesterday, as did federal prosecutor Charles Kelly.
Kudlik's wedding photo - 1980s(?)

Kudlik could be sentenced to up to six months in prison on the misdemeanor charges.