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Raoul wants ISPs to help police crack down on “flash mobs”

Friday, Apr 19, 2013

* From a press release…

State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-13th) has introduced legislation cracking down on violent “flash mobs” and requiring internet service providers (ISPs) to cooperate with law enforcement to help track down instigators. In recent incidents in Chicago’s Magnificent Mile and in the Loop, large groups of young people shoplifted from retailers and assaulted and robbed passersby. Social networking websites such as Twitter allowed them to coordinate their efforts.

“The ability to coordinate a mob action online gives criminals two key advantages: surprise and large numbers,” Raoul said. “State law can support police efforts by helping them use one of the criminals’ tools — social media — against them.”

Senate Bill 1005 would require ISPs to provide identifying information, including the location from which a tweet or other message was sent, to law enforcement once they show probable cause to believe a mob action has been or is being facilitated via the Internet. ISPs could be fined for failure to comply.

Raoul’s measure also would allow a judge to impose an extended sentence for offenses related to criminal mob activity if the perpetrator used electronic communications to organize the mob.

“Criminal flash mobs discourage tourism and create an environment of fear and uncertainty for businesses,” said Marc Gordon, president of the Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association. “Our hotel members and their guests will sleep easier knowing these criminal acts can be detected and deterred in the planning stage.”

The full text of Raoul’s proposal is here.

Thoughts on this bill?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Michelle Flaherty - Friday, Apr 19, 13 @ 9:19 am:

    We should use drones to crackdown on flash mobs.

  2. - RonOglesby - Friday, Apr 19, 13 @ 9:23 am:

    Part of the problem is that this is after the fact.

    What he wants is a magical technical wand that makes the police aware of a mob occurring. But everything he is talking about is tougher. So a mob happens at 9:15pm….

    Who sent the tweet or message? one of 30 people? what did it say? if the location tells you it was sent from S. michigan avenue but that person was not arrested in the mob what can they be charged with?

    Arrest people for actions. Prosecute them for it dont just catch and release and there will be less of those actions.

    Some magic techno switch will not work unless you want to step on 1st amendment right and decide who can say what, and when on their social media platforms.

  3. - Knome Sane - Friday, Apr 19, 13 @ 9:24 am:

    The bill, while well intended, lacks important privacy protections. It doesn’t include a subpoena process and could lead to abuses by law enforcement.

  4. - RonOglesby - Friday, Apr 19, 13 @ 9:26 am:


    what if I wanted to leverage social media for a “mob” as he calls it, but I call it a protest?

    I call for an insta protest at the Fed building downtown to protest FOR or AGAINST gun rights… or for same sex marriage… Tweeting things like “Lets meet here X, we are going to TEAR IT UP!”

    Did I just create one of his mobs? again. we have laws for assault, robbery, disturbing the peace, etc. Focus on that.

  5. - wordslinger - Friday, Apr 19, 13 @ 9:34 am:

    This seems to be a solution in search of a problem.

    During spring break, a bunch of people got bumped on North Michigan Avenue by a bunch of teens, but the cops were on it a hurry and it was over in 20 minutes.

    From what I recall, there were no reports of injuries or robberies. The robbery occurred to the woman on the el.

    It’s not like it was Spring break in Florida with dangerous drinking and drugging enabled by tourism officials, with the resulting stabbings and rapes.

  6. - chefjeff - Friday, Apr 19, 13 @ 9:56 am:

    The hair on the back of my neck stands up when I hear the phrase “Require [ ] to help law enforcement track down instigators” We have way too many mandated reporters who become criminals themselves for not informing to the police.

  7. - Louis G. Atsaves - Friday, Apr 19, 13 @ 10:06 am:

    Part of the problem here as I see it is that a flash mob forms based on a communication that will never say “we plan to loot stores and steal and beat up people we see on the street, buses and trains.” Thus many who show up in response to a flash mob notice will never have no intention of committing crimes and may find themselves in the middle of a crime before they realize it. In addition, the instigators of a flash mob may not have intended for it to turn to criminal activity.

    I’m not sure what the solution other than outlawing flash mobs, which creates a whole new set of problems and potential constitution issues.

    A permit to flash mob? :-)

  8. - wishbone - Friday, Apr 19, 13 @ 10:17 am:

    Every time some criminal or crazy person (or both) commits a horrendous act (9/11, Sandy Hook, Boston Marathon) there is someone from the right (Dick Cheney) or left (Diane Feinstein) who wants to restrict our freedoms. Since there is an unlimited supply of bad people out there it is clear that ultimately we will have to live in chains for our own protection. We need to “Keep Calm and Carry On”.

  9. - Carl Nyberg - Friday, Apr 19, 13 @ 10:21 am:

    If there’s a crime, get a warrant.

    It’s not like the judiciary isn’t heavily slanted toward police and prosecution already.

  10. - Wumpus - Friday, Apr 19, 13 @ 10:24 am:

    These are not flash mobs. Flash mobs are when a bunch of people arrange to meet up at a spot to sing or do a silly dance routine.

  11. - WhoKnew - Friday, Apr 19, 13 @ 10:25 am:

    Wouldn’t Conceal Carry be a deterrent to these Flash Mobs?

    Rich, sorry I just had too!!

  12. - OneMan - Friday, Apr 19, 13 @ 10:25 am:

    Ok where to start

    “provide chat room identities” in general this is not available to an ISP. Your “chat room identity” is set up with the chat room operator(s) not by your ISP so asking for a bit of information and ISP isn’t going to have seems a bit daft. Also it is easy to change leading to miss-identification.

    Text Messaging identities: Again may not be tied to your ISP in any way shape or form and likely would not be if someone is planning something bad and they knew what they were doing. By using a third party service or application (not tied to your ISP) you can send text messages as whomever you wanted. Again without your ISP knowing anything about it.

    An ISP may know an e-mail address but again that is not necessarily useful. There are at least 4 people who from time to time use my e-mail address for legitimate stuff due to fat finders or whatever. I get Chilean class rosters, there is a guy in New Zealand who signs up for stuff, I get notifications about a guys cell phone bill in India.. etc…

    Sounds nice, not practical.

    Also I am guessing the immunity provided to an ISP would not apply at the federal level.

  13. - dupage dan - Friday, Apr 19, 13 @ 10:34 am:

    Unless Rep Raoul can claim he doesn’t understand the difficulties of such a proposal from a technical and/or legal aspect this could come under the heading of - We. Gotta. Do. Something.

  14. - dupage dan - Friday, Apr 19, 13 @ 10:34 am:

    My apologies - I should have said Senator Raoul.

  15. - Brendan - Friday, Apr 19, 13 @ 10:44 am:

    Raoul is trampling on free speech and privacy rights with this legislation.

    Government preemption arguments are a slippery slope toward a police state.

  16. - RonOglesby - Friday, Apr 19, 13 @ 11:01 am:

    —-We need to “Keep Calm and Carry On”. —-


  17. - Downstater - Friday, Apr 19, 13 @ 11:23 am:

    Well stated Wishbone

  18. - MrJM - Friday, Apr 19, 13 @ 11:56 am:

    As noted in the comments above: It’s not only a bad idea, it’s impossible to implement.

    – MrJM

  19. - titan - Friday, Apr 19, 13 @ 12:02 pm:

    A good Concealed Carry law (with both “shall issue” and “local preemption”) would likely do a lot to avoid future problems with violent flash mobs

  20. - Downstate Illinois - Friday, Apr 19, 13 @ 12:33 pm:

    This law makes so much more sense when you read ISPs as internet service providers, rather than Illinois State Police.

  21. - Just Observing - Friday, Apr 19, 13 @ 1:05 pm:

    I agree with the concerns raised by other commenters.

  22. - 47th Ward - Friday, Apr 19, 13 @ 1:09 pm:

    To all those who I’ve contacted (you know who you are): today’s Harlem Shake gathering at the Museum of Contemporary Art is cancelled. I repeat, cancelled.

    It would have been awesome though.

  23. - Biz Guy - Friday, Apr 19, 13 @ 1:52 pm:

    Very disappointing bad idea. Someone is running for AG.

  24. - PublicServant - Friday, Apr 19, 13 @ 2:05 pm:

    47th, you better hope there’s not a purse-snatching today at MCA…

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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