Forcing Defendant to Decrypt Hard Drive Is Unconstitutional, Appeals Court Rules

Photo: Mr Mo-Fo/FlickrForcing a criminal suspect to decrypt hard drives so their contents can be used by prosecutors is a breach of the Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday.

It was the nation’s first appellate court to issue such a finding. And the outcome comes a day after a different federal appeals court refused to entertain an appeal from another defendant ordered by a lower federal court to decrypt a hard drive by month’s end.

Thursday’s decision by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that an encrypted hard drive is akin to a combination to a safe, and is off limits, because compelling the unlocking of either of them is the equivalent of forcing testimony.

The case at hand concerns an unidentified “Doe” defendant believed to be in possession of child pornography on 5 terabytes of data on several drives and laptops seized in a California motel with valid court warrants.

The Atlanta-based circuit held:

First, the decryption and production of the hard drives would require the use of the contents of Doe’s mind and could not be fairly characterized to a physical act that would be non-testimonial in nature. We conclude that the decryption and production would be tantamount to testimony by Doe of his knowledge of the existence and location of potentially incriminating files; of his possession, control and access to the encrypted portions of the drives; and of his capability to decrypt the files.

The court added: “Requiring Does to use a decryption password is most certainly more akin to requiring the production of a combination because both demand the use of the contents of the mind, and the production is accompanied by the implied factual statements noted above that could prove to be incriminatory.”

The defendant in April had refused to comport with a Florida federal grand jury’s orders that he decrypt the data, which was encrypted with TrueCrypt. A judge held him in contempt and jailed him until December 15, when the circuit court released him ahead of Thursday’s ruling.

Obama Calls Upon Congress To Pass ‘Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights’



The White House on Thursday released a report outlining the Obama Administration’s goals for protecting consumer privacy as more and more of our personal lives end up online.

“Never has privacy been more important than today, in the age of the Internet, the World Wide Web and smart phones,” President Obama wrote in a statement at the beginning of the report.

The report calls upon Congress to pass a “Consumer Privacy of Bill of Rights,” going on to outline just what the White House wants to see in such legislation — 7 tenets, to be specific: Individual control, transparency, respect for context, security, access and accuracy, focused collection and accountability.

As for who should enforce the bill, the report is abundantly clear that the Administration wants to “strengthen” the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and give it the primary responsibility, and power, to watch the companies watching us.

The report also calls upon industry leaders to implement their own practices in line with the “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights,” saying that the FTC will be watching, and that the agency will not hesitate to take action against companies found to be violating consumer privacy.

The FTC has notably already been doing this, going after high-profile targets Google andFacebook in recent years, finding both companies to have failed to give consumers adequate tools to protect privacy, and making each one agree to a similar settlement to undergo 20 years of privacy audits.

Indeed, although Google and Facebook aren’t named specifically in the report, it’s likely they are high on the White House’s list for companies that should be leading the way on this new policy.

iPhones Cost Less Than $30 To Make?

Eric Mack writes on cNet News:

Recent Foxconn revelations hint at higher costs than previous estimates that are still staggeringly low by Western standards. An unprecedented peek behind the curtain of Foxconn’s factories in China may have revealed new hints to how much it actually costs to make each iPhone.

ABC’s “Nightline” was recently given access to the factory floor, and the resulting reporting has provided some new insights into exactly how iPhones are built, a part of the gadget’s gestation process that’s typically been a very closely guarded trade secret.

Horace Dediu, blogger, analyst, and former business development manager for Nokia, tried to parse some of the clues and came to some interesting conclusions …

Read More: cNet News

Tweets from courtroom land activist in jail

A Russian activist is facing 15 days in jail after tweeting details of a court hearing he was attending.

Pyotr Shkumatov, who is an active participant of the Blue Bucket movement and a co-founder of the League of Voters, claims one of the trial prosecutors was reading his tweets while in court and found some of them offensive.

His mobile phone was then demanded by the court and the opposition activist was marched out of the courtroom.

A statement from the judge said the hearing was being broadcast live without permission. Shkumatov now faces a fine or up to 15 days in prison.

Anonymous accuses NSA of fear-mongering

Anonymous accuses NSA of fear-mongering. (Reuters / Stefano Rellandini)

The loose-knit online collective Anonymous is going after another US government entity, but not with the hacks, attacks and other assaults on par with their usual Internet infiltrations.

Instead, Anonymous is saying that the National Security Agency (NSA) is guilty of propagating fear among America.

A popular Twitter account associated with the hacktivist group Anonymous is saying that the NSA is engaged in fear-mongering after a recent Wall Street Journal report alleged that government officials feel that the computer group could eventually disrupt power grids across the globe. According to sources close to the NSA, the Journal filed a report that reveals comments allegedly made by the agency’s director, Gen. Keith Alexander, during engagements at the White House and elsewhere.

According to the Journal, the NSA fears that Anonymous could “bring about a limited power outage through a cyberattack” within the next year or two.

Neither Alexander nor the NSA have publically addressed whether or not they feel that the hacktivist group poses an actual threat to the world’s power grid, but according to the YourAnonNews Twitter account, these allegations exposed by the Journal are both baseless and outrageous.

“Why would Anons shut off a power grid? There are ppl on life support / other vital services that rely on it. Try again NSA. #FearMongering,” reads a recent tweet from the account. Other tweets sent from the account on Tuesday call the alleged comments from Gen. Alexander “fear-mongering at its best” and “ridiculous.”

Although Anonymous has no official spokesperson, organization or membership, the YourAnonNews account has in the past confirmed and announced Anon-related activity. It is considered one of the most reliable conduits for events pertaining to the Anonymous agenda and has more than half-a-million followers subscribed to its tweets.

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Anonymous says power grid not a target

The Anonymous statement came after The Wall Street Journal quoted the head of the US  (NSA) as warning that hackers could have the ability within the next year or two to cause a limited power outage.

The newspaper said General Keith Alexander has not publicly expressed such a concern about the power grid but has provided his assessment in meetings at the White House and in other private sessions.

Anonymous, on various  feeds used by the group, accused the NSA director of “alarmist rhetoric & fear-mongering.”

“Why would Anons shut off a power grid? There are ppl on life support/other vital services that rely on it. Try again NSA. #FearMongering,” Anonymous said in a message on @YourAnonNews.

In addition to rejecting the Journal report, Anonymous also organized a spam attack on the newspaper’s Facebook pages on Tuesday, urging supporters to post comments denouncing the article.

The Journal said the “comment flashmob” was apparently started in Germany.

Anonymous last month briefly knocked the FBI and Justice Department websites offline in retaliation for the US shutdown of file-sharing site Megaupload and members of the group targeted the CIA website earlier this month.

In late 2010, Anonymous attacked the websites of Amazon, Visa, MasterCard, PayPal and others in retaliation for their decisions to stop working with Julian Assange’s anti-secrecy site WikiLeaks.

(c) 2012 AFP

Researchers: First test-tube hamburger ready this fall

February 20, 2012 by Deborah Jones

The world's first "test-tube" meat, a hamburger made from a cow's stem cells, will be produced this fallEnlargeThe world’s first “test-tube” meat, a hamburger made from a cow’s stem cells, will be produced this fall, Dutch scientist Mark Post told a major science conference on Sunday.

The world’s first “test-tube” meat, a hamburger made from a cow’s stem cells, will be produced this fall, Dutch scientist Mark Post told a major science conference on Sunday.

Post’s aim is to invent an efficient way to produce  in a laboratory that exactly mimics , and eventually replace the entire meat-animal industry.

The ingredients for his first burger are “still in a laboratory phase,” he said, but by fall “we have committed ourselves to make a couple of thousand of small tissues, and then assemble them into a hamburger.”

Post, chair of physiology at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, said his project is funded with 250,000 euros from an anonymous private investor motivated by “care for the environment, food for the world, and interest in life-transforming technologies.”

Post spoke at a symposium titled “The Next ” at the annual meeting of the in Vancouver.

Speakers said they aim to develop such “meat” products for mass consumption to reduce the environmental and health costs of conventional food production.

Conventional meat and dairy production requires more land, water, plants and disposal of waste products than almost all other human foods, they said.

The global demand for meat is expected to rise by 60 percent by 2050, said American scientist Nicholas Genovese, who organized the symposium.

“But the majority of earth’s pasture lands are already in use,” he said, so conventional  can only meet the booming demand by further expansion into nature.

The result would be lost biodiversity, more greenhouse and other gases, and an increase in disease, he said.

Big Brother aims to screen all online activity in UK

Big Brother aims to screen all online activity in UK. (AFP Photo / Thomas Coex)

British security agencies are pushing for a law, which would allow vast amount of private data to be collected and stored, according to media reports. Big Brother will know who you call to, what sites you surf and how you play video games.

The government wants details about text messages, phone calls, email, visited websites, Facebook and Twitter exchanges and even online games chats, British media report.

According to the initiative called the Communications Capabilities Development Programme, the data will be stored for a year and will be available to the secret services.

The security scheme requires Internet providers, landline and mobile phone operators to police their clients in and effort to combat terrorism.

What is said in text messages and phone calls will not be recorded, but much other data, including geographical whereabouts or people involved will be.

The plan is said to have been prepared by the Home Office in collaboration with home security service MI5, the foreign intelligence service MI6 and the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the body responsible for signals intelligence and information assurance for UK’s government and armed forces.

Rights activists fear potential abuse of the surveillance, as well as hacker threats to the database storing the personal details collected.

“Britain is already one of the most spied on countries off-line and this is a shameful attempt to watch everything we do online in the same way,” Nick Pickles, director of the liberty organization Big Brother Watch told the Daily Mail newspaper.

The plan is expected to be announced in May in the Queen’s Speech. It is a rewrite of a similar plan, which was developed by the Labour party, but had been shelved in November 2009 due to lack of public support. Then in opposition the Conservatives criticized Labour’s “reckless” record on privacy.

ACTA is part of a multi-decade, worldwide copyright campaign

By  | Published about 12 hours ago

ACTA is part of a multi-decade, worldwide copyright campaign

The World Intellectual Property Organization is a relatively representative body. Which might be why the US has been avoiding it.

Last week, we observed that major content companies have enjoyed a steady drumbeat of victories in Congress and the courts over the last two decades. The lobbying and litigation campaigns that produced these results have a counterpart in the executive branch. At the urging of major copyright holders, the Obama administration has been working to export restrictive American copyright laws abroad. The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is just the most visible component of this ambitious and long-running project.

Ars Technica recently talked to Michael Geist, a legal scholar at the University of Ottawa, about this effort. He told us that rather than making their arguments at the World Intellectual Property Organization, where they would be subject to serious public scrutiny, the US and other supporters of more restrictive copyright law have increasingly focused on pushing their agenda in alternative venues, such as pending trade deals, where negotiations are secret and critics are excluded.

The growing opposition to ACTA in Europe suggests this strategy of secrecy may have backfired. But the US is not giving up. It has already begun work on its next secret agreement, ealled the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Geist told Ars that restoring balance to copyright law will require reformers to be as determined as their opponents have been. He said that donating to public interest groups that focus on international copyright issues is the best way to make sure that the public interest is well-represented.

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Law enforcement subpoenas Twitter account

Reuters / Mario Anzuoni

Reuters / Mario Anzuoni

TAGS: ProtestInternetInformation Technology,USASocial networks


Don’t be surprised if more courtroom bailiffs call for a tiny blue bird to take the stand.

Twitter, Inc. was recently named a witness in filings made by the Criminal Court of the City of New York, and the man behind the tweets supposes the trend will only continue.

“When I saw an email from Twitter Legal in my inbox, I figured it was spam,” Malcolm Harris tells Reuters. He found out last month that the Criminal Court of the City of New York had sent a subpoena to Twitter headquarters with a demand for them to deliver “any and all user information, including email address, as well as any and all tweets” that were related to an account Harris had registered with the microblogging site.

“Twitter had attached the subpoena, and there was my handle, called by the County of New York to testify against me, the person it represents,” Harris writes.

The request called for information limited to a brief window in late 2011 and it didn’t’ take Harris long to figure out what the city was getting at.

“My tweets were being called to testify against their creator because on Oct. 1 of last year I was one of more than 700 people arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge as part of an Occupy Wall Street action,” acknowledges Harris.

The event in question would become a turning point for the Occupy Wall Street movement, which began only weeks earlier down the road in Lower Manhattan. Although authorities in New York and across the US have since used every trick in the book to break the movement — from banning demonstrations in NYC’s Zuccotti Square where it started to pulverizing protesters in downtown Washington, DC with the aid of National Parks Service patrol equipped with batons and riot shields — it continues to swell.

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