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If you get this call, you're being conned

Two right-wing scam artists known for their bumbling stunts allegedly paid for a robocall targeting Detroit voters with disinformation about voting by mail in the upcoming presidential election, according to an audio file released yesterday by Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. A recording of the call, which makes numerous false and racially charged claims about mail-in voting, says it was paid for by Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl, who have achieved minor celebrity status for their attempts to smear Democratic politicians that often end in self-humiliation for the pair. Wohl told StateScoop he believes he and Burkman are being pranked, but Benson and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel are investigating the call, which could be punishable by up to five years in prison. Benjamin Freed hops in the clown car.

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Pittsburgh could be next to band facial recognition

A new proposal introduced to the Pittsburgh City Council this week would ban police use of facial recognition software and predictive policing technology, though the city’s law enforcement agency says it isn’t currently using either technology. The bill follows the city's decision in June to indefinitely suspend its use of predictive policing following concerns of racial bias, though Pittsburgh authorities have continued to use social-media surveillance software provided by the Pennsylvania state government. If the city council's bill passes, Pittsburgh will join the ranks of San Francisco, Boston and other cities that have banned or significantly curtailed the use of surveillance technology. Ryan Johnston reports.

Ransomware tactics keep shifting

A former FBI cybercrime investigator told StateScoop this week that the coronavirus pandemic’s effect of forcing entire organizations to work remotely has given ransomware actors a bigger canvas than before, while hackers’ tactics continue to mature into new threats. New devices on home networks coupled with surges in demand for digital services are spreading the public sector's resources thinner than ever, said Austin Berglas, a former assistant special agent in charge of cyber investigations for the FBI’s New York Field Office. “Covid allowed all cybercriminals to have a greater attack surface. You’ve got everyone 100% remote. Think about all the additional machines on the network," he said. Ben has more.

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