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How Will America's Investigators Identify Capitol Hill Protesters

Published by Slashdot on Sat, 09 Jan 2021


"Both local police and the FBI are seeking information about individuals who were 'actively instigating violence' in Washington, DC, on January 6," writes Ars Technica. Then they speculate on which tools will be used to find them:While media organizations took thousands of photos police can use, they also have more advanced technologies at their disposal to identify participants, following what several other agencies have done in recent months... In November, The Washington Post reported that investigators from 14 local and federal agencies in the DC area have used a powerful facial recognition system more than 12,000 times since 2019. Neither would an agency need actual photos or footage to track down any mob participant who was carrying a mobile phone. Law enforcement agencies have also developed a habit in recent years of using so-called geofence warrants to compel companies such as Google to provide lists of all mobile devices that appeared within a certain geographic area during a given time frame... With all of that said, however, the DC Metropolitan Police and the FBI will probably need to look no further than a cursory Google search to identify many of the leaders of Wednesday's insurrection, as many of them took to social media both before and after the event to brag about it in detail. In short: you don't need fancy facial recognition tools to identify people who livestream their crimes. Friday the Washington Post also cited "the countless hours of videomuch of it taken by the rioters themselves and uploaded to social media" as a useful input for facial recognition software. But in addition, they note that "The Capitol, more than most buildings, has a vast cellular and wireless data infrastructure of its own to make communications efficient in a building made largely of stone and that extends deep underground and has pockets of shielded areas. Such infrastructure, such as individual cell towers, can turn any connected phone into its own tracking device. "Phone records make determining the owners of these devices trivially easy..."Read more of this story at Slashdot.
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