Seattle Computer Security Expert Turns Tables On The Police

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Honestly there’s been nothing much going on for the past few days or over the weekend, Microsoft retracted some patches citing ‘quality issues’ and there was announcement about Metasploit Express version.

But well that was about it! This was the only story I found vaguely interesting, because well we all love to flip the bird to ‘The Man‘ don’t we? That’s why we do what we do.

A ‘cyber PI’ in Seattle turned the tables on the police when they tried to give him the run around when he was arrested after refusing to identify himself.

A computer security expert used his elite skills to turn the tables on Seattle Police who arrested him for doing nothing more than refusing to identify himself during a drunken street golf game in 2008.

Eric Rachner, identified by The Seattle PI as a cyber security expert, fought the charges for obstructing a police officer, and as part of his defense, he demanded access to the video and audio recordings of his arrest. The recordings are automatically made using cameras mounted to squad car dashboards and microphones on police uniforms.

Seattle Police refused and prosecutors eventually dropped the charges, but that wasn’t good enough for Rachner. He filed a request under a Washington state public disclosure law demanding access to the recordings and was again turned down.

“These recordings are both past our retention period and can no longer be obtained,” Seattle Police Department officials responded in writing. “Please note that the majority of 911 calls and videos are retained for a period of ninety (90) days.”

The whole story is quite laughable and extremely indicative to how government organizations generally act – trying to brush people off. It’s good to see a citizen standing up for his rights and calling them out when actually he’s done nothing wrong and he was punished for non-compliance.

It turns out he wasn’t even the one that prompted the 911 call in the first place, one of the street golfers accidentally sliced the foam ball and hit a passerby in the face. He wasn’t injured but after being heckled by the golfers he called the police.

So Rachner researched the video and audio recording system used by the department and discovered that permanent logs index every recording and show when it is uploaded, flagged for retention, played, copied, or deleted.

Armed with this new information, Rachner filed a public records request for the log, and that’s when he hit pay dirt. It showed that the recordings had been flagged for retention after his arrest and still existed. Soon enough, he had them, and they backed his contention that he was arrested solely for refusing to provide identification to police. (Officers claimed otherwise but never elaborated).

Police now say their earlier claim that the videos couldn’t be obtained was the result of a server error, which sounds like the modern-day equivalent of the dog-ate-my-homework excuse.

It’s a good result and I hope it prompts more people to stand up for their civil rights and stop the US becoming a totalitarian state “Papers please”.

You can read the full report from the Seattle PI here including a quote from Dan Kaminsky:

Local computer security expert investigates police practices

Source: The Register

Posted in: Hacking News


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8 Responses to Seattle Computer Security Expert Turns Tables On The Police

  1. CBRP1R8 April 26, 2010 at 4:34 pm #

    F’g awesome!!!!

  2. Jordan April 27, 2010 at 5:26 am #

    Unfortunately when we look at the recent immigration legislation in Arizona, at least one state is already at the “Papers Please” stage. Well, only if you appear “reasonably suspicious.”

  3. Mario April 27, 2010 at 8:50 pm #

    Outstanding. I applaud your tenacity and sense of right and wrong.

  4. Timothy April 27, 2010 at 8:51 pm #

    While I applaud Arizona’s efforts to enforce laws that already exist… I think the methodology is questionable.

    As far as Rachner is concerned, big props for standing up for himself.

  5. Morgan Storey April 28, 2010 at 9:21 am #

    Good on him, but a shame that he had to go to such lengths to get a result.

  6. CC April 30, 2010 at 9:46 am #

    If I was with the police on the scene I would have likely done the same. The police get a call about violent drunks, they come expecting to find violent drunks and act like they act with violent drunks.

    I would arrest anybody there who wouldn’t cooperate right away and clear things up later.

    If the police gets soft they cant do their job.

    Source : ex police

  7. dd May 5, 2010 at 2:13 am #


    I am sure you would be happy your cop buddies helped you cover it up later, too.

  8. Rob May 24, 2010 at 9:50 pm #

    “I would arrest anybody there who wouldn’t cooperate right away and clear things up later.”

    And that why no one trusts or likes the police anymore..its not their job to ‘knock heads’ together, despite their strong contention otherwise. Just a little recent Google should show anyone that the police in the good ole’ USA are WAY out of control…or ask the father of a 7 year old in Detroit. Are there a lot of good cops? Hell i want one as a neighbor, nope. Growing up in a police family clearly demonstrated to me that the rules were for everyone else, and we can fix, f**k with, or flip anything we need to protect our own. And the tragedy is..the so called “good” cops..SAY NOTHING…Id rather risk it, use my 2nd amendment rights, and take care of myself…