Morning Security Brief: BioWatch Problems, Court Rules in IRA Interviews Case, UK CCTV Numbers, and More

By Carlton Purvis

►BioWatch air samplers, used by DHS To detect biological agents, have been plagued by false alarms and other failures but DHS hopes to still move forward with the technology. “The ultimate verdict on BioWatch is that state and local health officials have shown no confidence in it,” the Los Angeles Times reports in a lengthy feature on challenges facing the devices. Public health officials have said the systems are pointless, but DHS argues that the systems have accurately detected organisms in the environment, even if they weren't bioattacks. 

►A U.S. Court of Appeals ruled on Friday that Boston College must turn over tapes of interviews with a convicted IRA terrorist to UK authorities. The interviews of car bomber Dolours Price, recorded between 2001 and 2006, were conducted as part of an oral history project by the college under the condition that they would not be released publicly while she was alive. “The transcripts are wanted by Northern Ireland police in relation to an investigation into the 1972 abduction and killing of Jean McConville,” The Guardian reports. The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal ruled that the information must be turned over to comply with a treaty between the U.S. and the UK that requires both sides to aid each other in criminal investigations. It also said criminal investigations take precedence over academic studies.

►There is one CCTV camera for every 32 people in the UK, according to a new study based on numbers collected by community support police officers. Most of the cameras are indoors and are controlled by private companies. “Details of the research come in the week that a government consultation document proposed a voluntary code of practice for public CCTV systems, but left private cameras largely unregulated,” The Guardian reports. “Cheshire's deputy chief constable, Graeme Gerrard, said the data undermined more sensational estimates, such as the widely-repeated but dubious claim that the average Briton passes under 300 cameras a day.”

►In other news, the ACLU of New Jersey has released an app that allows users to record video and audio of police stops and have the footage sent to its servers for review. ♦ The Israeli Defense Force recently tested an air raid siren that would be used to warn the public of incoming chemical or biological weapons. “When the idea was first raised to use one siren for conventional missiles and another for nonconventional missiles, the IDF Home Front Command nixed the idea. The ongoing conflict in Syria, however, has led it to rethink the plan begin a new round of tests,” BioPreWatch reports. ♦ Israel has 3,100 sirens throughout the country to warn against incoming missiles. ♦ And cell phone carriers say they have responded to 1.3 million requests for subscriber information from law enforcement.


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