Web

A congresswoman who’s combatting ‘swatting’ just got swatted herself

swatting katherine clark swat team
OregonDOT/Flickr
Congresswoman Katherine Clark is now living proof of the premise that no good deed goes unpunished. The politician, who has championed legislation that would make “swatting” a federal crime, has now fallen victim to the practice herself. In a plot twist that reads more like a crime thriller than a real-life occurrence, Rep. Clark was swarmed by “long gun” bearing police officers at her Melrose, Massachusetts home. Police said they’d received a computer-generated call insisting there were “shots fired” in the congresswoman’s residence.

Such is the premise of “swatting” — a crime that has received considerable media and legislative attention in the past few months. In essence, a malicious individual places an anonymous call to law enforcement agents, supposedly tipping them off to dangerous activity in his or her victim’s house. Police, or in some more extreme cases, SWAT teams, then make an appearance, resulting in potentially catastrophic consequences for the innocent.

And while Rep. Clark was lucky enough to avoid any serious accidental harm, the incident was terrifying enough in and of itself. “We saw lights flashing outside of my house,” she told WBZ-TV. “I went out to explore. There were a number of police cruisers. There were police visible with long guns on my front lawn.” Both her husband and two children were also at home at the time.

“My family and I are grateful to Chief Lyle and the Melrose Police Department for their timely and professional response,” Clark said in a statement. “No mother should have to answer the door to the police in the middle of the night and fear for her family’s safety simply because an anonymous person disagrees with her.”

FBI estimates that some 400 swatting cases occur every year, for an average of just over one per day. Clark’s proposed congressional legislation would outlaw the practice — she recently introduced the Internet Swatting Hoax Act, which would address “loopholes” in laws regarding bomb and other hoax threats. If the bill were to be signed into law, it would make pranks like swatting punishable by up to 20 years (or in some cases, more) in prison.

New Jersey assemblyman Paul Moriarty who proposed similar measures at the state level also had police sent to his home, and the problem remains prevalent throughout the nation.

“I’m relieved that no one was hurt, but the sad reality is, these hoaxes known as “swatting” are a danger to victims, first responders, and our emergency preparedness,” Clark said. “This is the exact reason that I introduced the Interstate Swatting Hoax Act – I want perpetrators to know that there are legal repercussions to their actions, and I’m committed to giving law enforcement the tools to deter these dangerous crimes.”

Gaming

New ‘Stardew Valley’ content on the way, as game’s maker freezes next project

Stardew Valley creator Eric Barone said that he will continue working on new content for the indie farming simulator. The developer previously said that he will devote all his time to his next game, but that has been placed on hold for now.
Smart Home

People are stealing Ring doorbells (and it’s no knock-knock joke)

Ring Video Doorbell thefts in a Denver neighborhood raise questions about how much security the smart home devices actually provide. One homeowner and the police have a video of the theft. Here's what to do if your Ring device is stolen.
Music

Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ becomes the most-streamed 20th-century song

Queen's iconic Bohemian Rhapsody has become the most-streamed 20th-century song. Knocking Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit off the top spot, the British band's 1975 classic has now been streamed 1.6 billion times globally.
Movies & TV

'Stranger Things' season 3 teaser reveals the new episodes' titles

With a sophomore season as strong as its first, Stranger Things is now moving on to season 3. Here's everything we've learned so far about the Netflix series' upcoming third season.
Computing

From beautiful to downright weird, check out these great dual monitor wallpapers

Multitasking with two monitors doesn't necessarily mean you need to split your screens with two separate wallpapers. From beautiful to downright weird, here are our top sites for finding the best dual monitor wallpapers for you.
Web

Google Translate updated to reduce gender bias in its translations

Google is changing how Google Translate offers translations. Previously when you entered a word like doctor, Translate would offer a masculine interpretation of the word. Now, Translate will offer both masculine and feminine versions.
Web

Encryption-busting law passed in Australia may have global privacy implications

Controversial laws have been passed in Australia which oblige tech companies to allow the police to access encrypted messages, undermining the privacy of encryption with potentially global effects.
Web

Can Microsoft’s Airband Initiative close broadband gap for 25M Americans?

A new report from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) says that 25 million Americans do not have access to broadband internet. Of these, more than 19 million are living in rural communities. Can Microsoft help out?
Computing

Microsoft’s Chromium Edge browser may be adding your Chrome extensions

Fans sticking to Google Chrome because due to its vast extension library might be able to switch over to Microsoft's latest iteration of Edge, as a project manager confirms that the company has its eyes on Chrome extensions.
Computing

If you've lost a software key, these handy tools can find it for you

Missing product keys getting you down? We've chosen some of the best software license and product key finders in existence, so you can locate and document your precious keys on your Windows or MacOS machine.
Computing

Google+ continues to sink with a second massive data breach. Abandon ship now

Google+ was scheduled to shut its doors in August 2019, but the second security breach in only a few months has caused the company to move its plan forward a few months. It might be a good idea to delete your account sooner than later.
Social Media

‘YouTube Rewind 2018’ is about to become its most disliked video ever

YouTube is about to achieve a record it really doesn't want — that of "most-disliked video." Yes, its annual recap of featuring popular YouTubers has gone down really badly this year.
Computing

Want to save a webpage as a PDF? Just follow these steps

Need to quickly save and share a webpage? The best way is to learn how to save a webpage as a PDF file, as they're fully featured and can handle images and text with ease. Here's how.
Mobile

5G: Why everything is about to change

Curious about the many ways 5G will change and enrich your life? Here’s our guide to all things 5G.