With guns drawn, police raid home and seize computers of COVID-19 data whistleblower

With guns drawn, police raid home and seize computers of COVID-19 data whistleblower
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With guns drawn, police raid home and seize computers of COVID-19 data whistleblower

With weapons drawn, police raid residence and seize computer systems of COVID-19 information whistleblower

Eight months in the past, Deborah Birx of the White Home Coronavirus Process Pressure praised Florida’s COVID-19 dashboard for example of “the type of data and energy we have to put into the fingers of the American folks.” That dashboard was constructed by Rebekah Jones.

However in Could, Jones was fired by the Florida Division of Well being for reportedly refusing to control that information to justify reopening the state — and now, Florida state police have raided her residence and brought the tools she was utilizing to keep up a brand new, impartial COVID-19 tracker of her personal.

Jones posted a series of tweets concerning the incident, together with a video of police getting into — with weapons drawn.

Florida’s Division of Regulation Enforcement (FDLE) confirmed to the Miami Herald and the Tallahassee Democrat that police had a search warrant and had seized her tools. Right here’s the division’s full assertion as supplied to GadgetClock:

“This morning FDLE served a search warrant at a residence on Centerville Court docket in Tallahassee, the house of Rebekah Jones. FDLE started an investigation November 10, 2020 after receiving a grievance from the Division of Well being concerning unauthorized entry to a Division of Well being messaging system which is a part of an emergency alert system, for use for emergencies solely. Brokers imagine somebody on the residence on Centerville Court docket illegally accessed the system.

When brokers arrived, they knocked on the door and referred to as Ms. Jones in an try to reduce disruption to the household. Ms. Jones refused to return to the door for 20 minutes and hung-up on brokers. After a number of makes an attempt and verbal notifications that regulation enforcement officers have been there to serve a authorized search warrant, Ms. Jones finally got here to the door and allowed brokers to enter. Ms. Jones household was upstairs when brokers made entry into the house.

Because the Tampa Bay Occasions reported final month, somebody mysteriously despatched an unauthorized message to the state’s emergency public well being and medical coordination workforce, studying “communicate up earlier than one other 17,000 individuals are useless. You understand that is mistaken. You don’t need to be part of this. Be a hero. Converse out earlier than it’s too late.”

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In accordance with an affidavit supplied to us by the FDLE, regulation enforcement believes that Jones or somebody at her handle was the one who despatched it. We’re not publishing the affidavit as a result of it incorporates numerous personally figuring out data, however the FDLE claims the message was despatched from a Comcast IP related along with her residence handle and electronic mail handle, and the affidavit asks permission to grab and search all laptop tools police may discover.

Whereas there was a suggestion final month that the system might need been hacked, it apparently didn’t have significantly robust safety anyhow: the affidavit says all the registered customers shared the identical username and password.

Jones didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark, however on Twitter she says she’s getting a brand new laptop and can proceed to replace her new web site.

Extra reporting by Mitchell Clark

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