[Freedombox-discuss] School intimidates girl to give up Facebook password

John Gilmore gnu at toad.com
Tue Mar 13 21:11:47 UTC 2012

Police officers and school officials are trained to extract information
from unwilling victims and students.  Police in particular interrogate
suspects a dozen times a day, and get fairly good at it.  When you are
the suspect, you probably have not been through the experience more than
a few times, spread over many years.  So they have a training advantage.

Also, at least in the US, police are free to lie to suspects without
penalty, while suspects who lie to police are committing a crime.
This level of legal idiocy requires suspects to be very careful, to
avoid committing multiple crimes in front of the officer (as well as
revealing possible past crimes).  Cops can lie about what the laws and
rules are, what the constitution says, what the cop saw, what other
people told the cop, etc, etc, etc.  If you as the suspect do not KNOW
your rights before you ever saw the cop, you are very unlikely to
succeed at resisting interrogation.  Most people get their information
on rights and police encounters from television shows, which are not
only fictional, but which also tend to glorify cops and show them with
more power than they have.

Court decisions periodically change the rules for police encounters.
A recent idiotic Supreme Court decision (Berghuis v. Thompkins) now
requires you to speak up in order to effectively remain silent; a
suspect who merely said nothing for three hours while being
interrogated was found by the courts to have given up his right to
remain silent.  (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_to_silence)
On the other hand, another recent decision (Arizona v. Gant) restored
suspects' constitutional right to avoid having their car searched
anytime they are arrested near it for any reason.

The fundamental strategy is to assert the few rights that you have and
that you need to assert, then to shut up.  Do not answer their
questions.  Say, "I do not consent to any search.  I want to speak
with my lawyer.  Am I free to go?  I want to remain silent."  And then
shut up.  If you are tempted to run your mouth (and they *will* tempt
you), say the same thing over again.  If they ask you questions, and
you absolutely must open your mouth, answer with a question, like "Am
I free to go?".  This is quite hard to do, which is why it takes
training.  If you do this, they will recognize that you've been
trained.  They will try ten or fifteen tricks on you, and eventually
give up.  If they have no actual reason to arrest you, they'll let you
go.  If they do arrest you, whether you're innocent or guilty, keep
following the same drill.  While in a cell, don't talk to the other
prisoners about your crime, your day, your life, or anything else
besides the weather and the sports scores.  Not only are the cells
monitored and recorded, but some of the "prisoners" are cops, and
others are happy to betray you to the cops in return for more lenient
treatment for themselves.  Following this path will not only help
you avoid arrest, but will give your lawyer powerful tools to prevent
you from being convicted later in court.

Various nonprofits and activist organizations do train people in how
to survive police interrogation.  FlexYourRights.org has produced two
excellent DVD videos (Busted; and 10 Rules for Dealing with Police)
which are also available on Youtube.  They also blog about
citizen/police encounters.  The book "Beat the Heat" by Katya
Komisaruk (http://openlibrary.org/works/OL6042047W/Beat_the_Heat) is
an excellent guide to how to handle encounters with law enforcement,
in a perfectbound comic-book format.  An excellent video is "Don't
Talk to Police", https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wXkI4t7nuc, by a law
professor and a career policeman, giving dozens of examples of people
who went to jail because they wouldn't shut up (in many cases despite
their innocence - like Martha Stewart).  AmericansForSafeAccess.org
runs periodic "raid trainings" for people involved in the medical
marijuana movement in the US.  These trainings involve actual physical
interrogation by a police-uniformed actor, and give you a chance to go
back and do it again until you do it right.

Unfortunately, one of the many problems with government-run schools is
that they are unlikely to train students about what their actual
rights are, nor about how to effectively assert them during an

FreedomBox could and probably should offer CC-licensed training
materials, either as copies directly in the software installation, or
as links to external sites.  If we don't train our users to assert the
rights that their peers and ancestors fought to gain and retain, there
is little that our software can do to protect our users from coercive
tactics on the part of police.  If you voluntarily give the cops or
the school the password to your FreedomBox, they'll have the same
access to it that you do.  You have to politely or silently decline
to give them that information; you have the right to do so, no matter
what they say or do.

Virtually every warrant I have seen includes within the scope of the
search "all electronic media, computers, answering machines, video and
audio tapes", etc.  Cops come to the door prepared to pick up entire
computers and take them to a police station.  They have tricky
portable-power gadgets that let them pull the power cord partway out
of the wall, clamp a device to it that provides power, and then pull
the cord all the way out, keeping the computer powered-up so that it
won't even notice that it's been unplugged.  See
http://www.wiebetech.com/products/HotPlug.php and
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erq4TO_a3z8&feature=channel .  A web
search for "computer forensics" will turn up all sorts of specialized
computer search and seizure devices that your tax dollars will be used
to purchase and turn against you.  Knowing your rights, and asserting
them during the crunch, is the only way to protect yourself.

	John Gilmore
	Electronic Frontier Foundation

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