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Feds Want Access to Your Machine 317

PDA Buzz wrote to us with the latest privacy-invasion scheme. The Clinton Administration plans to ask Congress to give police authority to go secretely into people's computers, search for passwords and override encryption programs, "using devices, if needed".Investigators would need to have a sealed warrant to carry this out, but privacy groups are casting this as an invasion of the home. Shades of the Clipper Chip, anyone? Check this out for another report as well.
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Feds want to crack your encryption

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  • woo hoo! 209th
  • I love needling the libertarians at this site. They are so paranoid, they can't see past the end of their paranoid_nose to realize some things folks just say to bate them.

    Seriously, warrants are not given out on a whim, there has to be credible evidence of crminal activity. While I do support privacy, I personally don't have anything to hide.If I did I'd keep them on a Jazz disk on the shelf.

    Oh, for you libertarians..reply to www.fbi.gov
  • How naive. The best code warriors work for Sam the Man; you know (UNCLE SAM) . You think some fresh faced kid in college knows more? Get real.

    I have a friend, a patrolman, in an un-named state who is a Linux guru. Go figure. Not only does he not eat donuts, he runs 5K per day or does 25 miles on a road bike. Gee, he's fit and smart. Taught himself Linux, like the rest of us old farts.

    I assure you thinking you have a corner on brains is only a sin of the young and dumb. John Law is not of those. While not all us are computer_Linux literate; don't be too smug.
    Reply to www.fbi.gov.com
  • Here's a little something to think about. You know that illusive THEY you guys keep talking about? "... if you have something THEY want... THEY will use all the power they have to get it...." Well, who in the heck is this THEY you keep talking about? If you take a closer look, you'll find that part of THEY is YOU.

    You see, that's be think with a society. You're part of it. The laws exist to protect you. The law enforcement agencies exist to enforce the law, which protects you.

    As long as a society realizes that, there will be no threat to privacy. As long as YOU and I make the laws, these threats won't be an issue. But when you give up, and let this THEY run your life, you become a prisoner in your own society.

    You are a part of THEY. When someone cuts you off in traffic, and you complain that the cop sitting nearby won't stop eating his donuts long enough to do something about it, you're being one of THEM. When your mother gets raped, and you complain that it's been 2 months and the cops haven't been able to do anything about it, you're being one of THEM. Whenever you're trying to get the laws to protect you, you're being one of THEM.



    You think that THEY are only looking out for THEM. You're right. And, if you're part of THEM, THEY'll be looking out for you, too. If you're not, then go move out into the middle of the jungle somewhere and give up on society. Because that's what society is, my friend. It's a bunch of mes and yous getting together to form a THEM.

    &gtBut these arguments will not work on you, I know. Because you're a good little sheep.

    But these arguments will not work on you, I know. Because you're against the idea of people working together to protect one another. You're against anyone telling you that you don't have the right to put a bullet through my skull. Well, remember, that means that you don't have the right to complain when your neighbor puts a bullet through yours.

  • The laws exist to protect you. The law enforcement agencies exist to enforce the law, which protects you.
    And just how exactly do the laws that punish you for having sex for money (or with members of the same sex or of other races, those laws are still on the books in some places), for growing or smoking the buds of certain plants, or for buying or selling pictures of naked people, protect me?

    Laws are the will of the lawmakers, nothing more. Occasionally that will is benign; often it is not.

  • As much as everyone here is screaming about how they don't want to give the gov't that much power and that its an invasion of privacy, don't forget:

    THEY'LL DO IT IF THEY WANT TO ANYWAY!!

    If they really want to find out something about you and no judge will give them a warrent, they'll just go into your computer anyway, find out what they want, get enough evidence to get a warrant, then go back in *legally* and haul you off (IF you have anything they want, and sometimes even if you don't!).

    So I think anything that does at least a little towards regulating this is good in my book, I'll just start beefin' up the security here at home a little more...

    --Hurst Dawg
  • The Court has said many things over the years. A large number of its decisions have shown a lack of basic reasoning and reading comprehension skills.

    This is, of course, your opinion. You might as well say, "I don't like their decisions" -- unless, of course, you can provide examples other than your own subjective interpretations?

    The Court does not determine what is or is not Constitutional; it determines what the government is going to treat as Constitutional or not.

    This is simply playing with words.

    Kythe
    (Remove "x"'s from

  • I have no problem with that. Given a warrant from a judge, the police have every right to search my house, my car, and my hard drive.

    This does not require me to use a lock on my door or my car that the police can easily pick. If they want to search my house, they either have to get me to open it or break it down (and they have every right to break it down if I don't open it).

    The problem with back doors is that they are prone to abuse. The search warrant is a legal technique that allows police to use powers they wouldn't otherwise have (without the warrant, searching my home is breaking and entering). If they required a technological technique, such as a lock that can be opened by anyone with a police key, the abuse could be rampant. A bad cop could just unlock my door with such a key and get whatever he wants, regardless of warrant. Without that, they have to break in, make a ruckus, make it obvious as to what he is doing, and basically give me a reasonable chance to get him arrested if he doesn't have a warrant.

    Worse yet, a technological entry point like a back door can be used by non-cops. If cops can get into a back door, crackers can, too.

    Note that not all cops are bad. Very few of them are. But if there are a million policemen in this country, and one half of one percent of them are "bad", that would be five thousand criminal policemen with keys to my data. Note that the above numbers are out of my hat; I don't have statistics on me.

    Giving police a back door into your house, car, or computer means that you must implicitly trust, not police officers in general, but every single police officer individually. Do you? I don't.

    If you have a warrant, you have my hard drive. But you are going to have to physically walk up to my house and seize the computer, or you are going to have to electronically monitor or enter it just like any cracker would. The ability of the police to obtain a warrant and search my data is a far cry from an obligation for me to make it easy for them to do so.

    Also, I have an implicit right to encrypt anything. I am not required to testify against myself, again per the Constitution/Bill of Rights. Requiring me to make information available to police is potentially requiring me to testify against myself.

  • Let's say I have collected a large body of information on home-growing of pot and stored it on my hard drive. Suspecting that other people might not think that my motives are pure, I encrypt all this stuff, and, maybe use steganography, as well. Now if the cops come with a warrant, they have to deal with the encryption. They need a court order for me to surrender the key, I can claim Fifth Amendment, etc., etc. It becomes a prolonged legal battle, expensive for the cops to wage.

    You're implying that protections against police abuse rely upon the irretrievable hiding of information from the police. The illogic of this scenario is that a warranted search that turned up papers with the above information would in no way violate your rights. Again, the 4th Amendment relies upon the court system, not individuals, to control police abuses. Efficiency of the actual search is not an issue.

    Furthermore, you can argue 5th Amendment protections, regardless.

    As I've said before, the potential for abuse of power (i.e. ignoring the need for a warrant) is another issue, entirely. Such abuse is possible in any system, including the "old-fashioned one" in which the police had to enter suspect's homes manually. To wit:

    1) If someone in law enforcement wanted to ignore the warrant system, he/she would have multiple illegal options open to him or her, regardless,

    2) In a small-scale, corrupt system where the police have free reign, the limiting of police to "traditional" efficiency won't help you much,

    3) In the large scale, such actions are prohibited by Constitutional protections, and would result in a major waste of time by (and probable legal action against) the police involved.

    Kythe
    (Remove "x"'s from


  • Yes, you are legally bound to give out your keys if they have a subpoena. That is the whole point with it.

    Did I mention those have to go too?
  • >Look, guys, I'm as much a privacy advocate as the next guy, but the Bill of Rights CLEARLY states that a warrant is grounds to enter and search.

    This could and should be made into a 5th amendment issue. If the computer can legally be considered an extension of the user, the 5th amendment could be extended to cover it's contents.

    Many types of surveillance were expensive and difficult to implement, that's why it was only used when there was already reasonable suspicion. Today it's cheap and easy to tap phones and the FBI can get a warrant to do so on a whim. (unless you're involved with doing illegal favors for the president).

    I'm against this. If I'm a drug dealer or a terrorist there will be real world examples of my breaking the law which can be prosecuted. If I'm a drug dealer, I have to actually make the sale somewhere. If I'm a gangster I have to actually pull the trigger to kill someone. We may as well criminalize violent thought while we're at it.

    LK
  • The 4th Amendment's protection against illegal search and seizure does rely upon the "difficulty of conducting a search" or the efficiency of police operations. Rather, the entire rationale of the Amendment is the use of a warrant system for such protection.

    The framers assumed certain things about how the world operated and build a system of checks and balances based on these assumptions. If some of these assumptions become invalid, the checks and balances are likely to become unbalanced. Stepping for a second into the realm of science fiction, imagine that the police officers can effortlessly see what's happening at any time in any location. Wouldn't the 4th Amendment be different then?

    However, we're not talking about placing cameras in every home,

    Not yet. But the "slippery slope" argument is pretty convincing here. Witness all the govenrment efforts to mandate backdoors to all encryption -- this is very similar in spirit.

    We're talking about the police, with a warrant, entering a home

    Unless I am mistaken, we are also talking about a remote intrusion over the net, and that's a very significant part.

    Kaa
  • Perhaps (a) and (b) are true, but I still don't think that they're that much of an issue. Privacy "experts" would *really* have a field day if either of those were really true.

    I don't think that (c) is an issue at all though. Let me ask you this: How is a keyboard sniffer different than a wire tap on a phone?

    Ben
  • get something for your linux box where if you specify the wrong password it corrupts all your data and blames it on something else.
  • ... let them do this, fine. Use hardware to circumvent it.

    Microchip makes Keeloq devices (code-hopping technology) whcih you could plug into your keyboard port or serial or even put it on a card. Hell, why not incorporate it into a PCI IDE/SCSI controller? Don't ever type your password, 'cause you don't know it. You have an RFID style tag on your possession and when you're near the computer every time you need access to something the computer queries the tag for the next password.

    They can't guess the next password and keeping a log of past passwords is useless.

    You can throw in a self-destruct style case so that if you hit a sequence or they tried to open it it would obliterate the device and render the data useless. Unfortunately useless to you too. Perhaps backups with a nice big key so that you could restore if you had to and start over?

    I like the idea of monitoring suspicious activity on the wire and alerting you. Gives you time to run or at least prepare if you have to. You could run SecureFS or some other sort of filesystem that keeps everything encrypted. Perhaps create a drive that will scatter-write or actually physically damage the platters if tampering is detected.

    Hell I think I'm gonna start design on this. :-)
  • If you're clean, Uncle Sam generally leaves you alone. There are exceptions, but they're not my greatest concern.

    Opening my doors to law enforcement, however, means leaving my doors open to every law enforcement officer with certain permissions.

    If the setup gives one thousand police officers the technological ability (not the legal power) to access my machine, I can be potentially screwed if the corruption rate among police officers is one tenth of one percent.

    In general, I trust any police officer I meet; the one I run into is not likely to be one of the corrupt few. But a back door for police makes you an easy target specifically for the corrupt officer. That back door will not be invaded by the nine hundred ninety-nine clean cops, unless they can procure a warrant. I only worry about the minority corrupt cop, and that's enough.

    Can you think of any group of one thousand people where you can trust each and every one of them? I can't.

  • Hmm, runs the chksum on _every_ file, then replaces it? might as well just mount your filesystem in read only, cause the second you change a configuration file, or edit a file for that matter, or upgrade a program, will get you nowhere fast if it keeps replacing those files with the backed up ones. i would just check important programs, like in /bin/ or /sbin/. and not to overwrite them right away, just maybe notify you.

    ----------
    Have FreeBSD questions?
  • You have forgotten the obligatory encryption backdoors and/or obligatory usage of DES as a standard (the fast hardware engine design for cracking it was published in 96).

  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is exactly why we should encrypt everything on our drives as well as what we send out. I've been doing this for a while now.

    What next? Random inspections of everyone's machine to see if there's anything illegal!?
  • What we citizens really oughta be afraid of is Covert Law Enforcement. This is the scariest part of the whole issue.

    Sure, nobody wants the gub'mint peeking into their email, but all this talk of "covert" and "black bag" operations by local police has me really concerned. It ought to have all of us concerned. We live in enough of a police state already, and if local police start operating like Oliver North, I'm leaving. I'm serious. Few other Americans seem to be at all concerned about it, and they won't be until it's too late.

    We should be opposed to any effort to licence local law enforcement to engage in covert operations. Kee-rist, there's been enough scandals involving abuse of power this decade, and we want to give them more?

    That's what we get for electing DAs to office en masse in the past 15 years.

  • That's what the Feds basically want to install. I don't like this at all.

    It seems that instead of 'spot the Fed' we'll all soon be playing 'spot the Fed sniffer on your machine'.


    Kaa
  • the point is, that they want to able to *secretly* snoop in your computer... how would you like it if the FBI got a warrant, snuck in to your house at night, and looked for... I dunno, whatever the FBI likes to waste their time looking for... it's a big step...
  • The police can already get warrants to tap your phone and install surveillance in your house, all without you knowing. Now they're trying to tap your computer, and you all go nuts as if this is something bad.

    And so what if some cops somewhere can get any warrant they feel like? Warrants can get thrown out of court at a later date anyway, and if it's a really blatant case of invasion of privacy, you can even sue the police department.
    Knowing this, the cops are less likely to care about what the average joe is doing, and this law makes it easier to catch the losers who are trying to do the same thing to you (grab your credit card number, read your passwords, break into your machines).

    And don't complain about this technology "getting into the wrong hands" as if it doesn't already exist (Think about it, keyboard and screen grabbers? You think this is new?). It does, and the government, and "other malicious people" can already get it if they really want.

    Help the cops weed out the losers (including corrupt cops and government officials), don't hinder them.
    --------
    "I already have all the latest software."


  • Sure. Why not? You don't have anything to hide do you?


  • Sounds like Toqueville, but it's actually from a computer game of all places (Alpha Centauri). Unless, of course, they swiped it from someplace.

    ----

  • OK, Kaa, You've argued some good points well, and after having had a chance to look over the proposal in more detail (the Center for Democracy and Technology has an analysis at http://www.cdt.org/publications/pp_5.1 9.html [cdt.org]), I'll now concede that this proposal indeed goes too far.

    However, I do maintain that, if a warrant is served, under the law and the Constitution, the police do have the right to the specific material they are seeking. I believe the courts are the proper (and smarter) place to fight police abuses, overall.

    Kythe
    (Remove "x"'s from

  • I hold it, that a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing...
    -- Thomas Jefferson

    'nuff said.



    nick
  • I'm not sure I get why this is a big deal..

    Why is this any different than the Feds coming in and pulling apart your house with a warrant? They still have to go through the process of convincing a judge that they have probable cause to pull things apart trying to find stuff. The whole warrant system is designed to protect people's privacy, and I haven't heard of many cases where the warrant system is abused, so what's wrong with using the same system on people's computers? I understand that it's just one more place the gov't can come in to your little world, but still, the police have a right to investigate crime under certain restrictions, and as long as those restrictions are followed here I don't understand what's wrong.

    Can anybody help me?

    Ben
  • I just realized that the comment I posted on behalf of "us x86 users" was posted from a Mac G3...

    But seriously, if the gov't can get require intel to include this functionality, they can just as easily go to AMD and require the same thing, or for that matter, any motherboard manufacturer...

    I'd think the way to cirumvent the above scenario would be to use USB devices, actually... So long as they all provide standard I/O, it'd hopefully (someone help me here?) be impossible for a loggin mechanism of that type to discern which device sent which particular input... Unless it just logged the device with the slowest throughput or something.

    This subject seems have been glued in the back of my mind now. I'm sitting here working, but thinking of the most invasive ways to monitor computers and then ways to circumvent them as well...
  • Note:
    For the uninformed. the above reply was intended as sarcasm.
  • I hate it when people say "happen to know". Are you an Enlightened One?
  • ABC News has this article [go.com], as well; It mentions the old Clipper fiasco, too.
  • Look, guys, I'm as much a privacy advocate as the next guy, but the Bill of Rights CLEARLY states that a warrant is grounds to enter and search. As long as they have to have a warrant, it's kosher with me.

    Whether it's too easy these days to GET warrants is another issue, entirely.

    Kythe
    (Remove "x"'s from

  • This is probably after the fact and you won't get this... but in case you do, i was actually wondering about a chip, or sublogic to an existing chip, of the chipset which intel sells... it wouldn't matter which keyboard you used... so long as the input came from a PS/2 keyboard, AT keyboard, or theoretically, the USB device with the slowest I/O (which would mean a human was attatched to it)... So, no, in that scenario, hanging on to your keyboard but upgrading your motherboard would do you no good.
  • I suppose wearable computing would be a better answer, since you'd never need
    to part with any data or hardware at any time.
  • If they want to take a look at my computer, I'll gladly cooperate. All they have to do is show up at my door and with a warrant that they will show me, and I'll gladly let them look at whatever they want.

    If they show up at your door and want to search your computer, you'll be lucky if they let you watch from across the room. More likely, the officers at your door will not be computer-competent, and they'll take your hardware with them so they can have someone who knows more look at it -- no chance to make a backup, never mind if you need it to work, and your "receipt" documenting what they took might just be a picture of the box.

    Personally, having them get a warrant try to crack in bothers me a lot less than a physical search. At least this way you keep physical control of your box and you have a chance to defend it or detect the intrusion. And you can be sure that the officers doing the search are at least as competent at a keyboard as your average script kiddie.

    I don't like the idea of having my privacy invaded this way; I don't imagine anyone does. It would be better if you were notified of the warrant after the fact -- permanently sealed records keep voters from knowing about patterns of abuse. But of all the proposals I've heard for helping law enforcement cope with computers, I'd say this is most benign.

  • Read the rest of the thread, jackass.
  • well, i do for one. i don't even like my friends touching crap on my computer, let alone perfect strangers. plus i dont want to be harassed everytime i telnet into a box. "you were trying to hack this site and attain valuble info, right?", " no sir, just telneting to my friends computer to say hi, saves on long distance phone calls", "yeah right, youre under arrest".... i cant wait for that day...

    ----------
    Have FreeBSD questions?
  • Almost certainly so.

    In fact, my rights may end up being more secured, if this measure makes it easier to delineate between criminals and law abiding citizenry.

    When a line is drawn, the police are inclined to respect it. With no line drawn, the more vigilant agents in the police force will act on their own.


  • Clinton has commited the worse crime he could commit against the American people, treason. He gave away nuclear warhead secrets and sold the chinese a fuck in super computer for $30,000. Not super computer as in dual PIII by the old "super computer" definition, but one of the beasts that the military and intelligence agencies would use to guide their systems, or a scientist would use for a mega number crunching. He has armed the fuckin commies in China who have openly threatened to nuke LA if we intervene on taiwan's behalf! Now he wants to screw us over again, how can anyone be surprised?
  • That Thompson piece is thought provoking indeed. Does the FSF keep a master C compiler binary in a vault somewhere and checksum their working copies every so often? Would it be possible to create a very small compiler that would produce very unoptimized object code, but you could use it to 'bootstrap' a clean (unbugged) full-fledged c compiler binary?

    Hmm. Then as Ken said, you'd have to worry about the CPU's microcode.

    The US has all kinds of leverage over S.Korean and Taiwanese governments, and indirectly over the companies who make most of the world's non-Intel hardware, so:

    My solution is to buy all your hardware from the French. They'd be the last to bow to demands from the US gov't.

    [Fred Norris using his frenchie "look into my ass" voice]
    "F*ck yewh! Yewh hambergeh iting, ketchup-on-everyting uncultur-ed meird-faces! Hey, Hyperpower, you kin kiss mah Parisian derriere!"

  • by Jay22 ( 80089 )
    Pretty soon they will be diving into our minds...
  • good thing I have a secure linux box running ssh at all times running ip masquerading for me, keeps me safe, and free to boot between linux and win98 to play games or what have you... hey, a guy has to have his fun...
  • (Note: I haven't read the article(s), just responding to this post)

    Just to clarify- the complete texts of the fourth and fifth amendments to the U.S. Constitution follow. I take issue with your statement:

    What do you mean? If the cops have my data and my encryption key, they don't have to ask me anything, the 5th just never comes up.

    Your very use of the word "my" throws this directly into the mix of fifth amendment rights and protections (IMHO). The fifth amendment says: "nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself".

    If *MY* personal, private, not for archival purposes data were used against me (ie- you gank my private diary for a criminal case), that is in my mind a very serious breach of privacy.

    Maybe I think a little differently than some, but when the lawyer says: "yet, in your own words, you said on your journal entry on 8/20/1999 that you enjoyed hearing the screams of your murder victims as your friend Paul watched on"... how is that not being compelled to testify against oneself? As horrible an example as this is, unless the person has the opportunity to say: "yes, you can read my private diary with private thoughts," or "no, you can't", then it's a very serious breach of privacy and trust. Now if you talk to Paul and he testifies against you, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

    The other issue I would have with "remote keyboard sniffers" is that it doesn't adequately describe the "place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized".

    Imagine law enforcement saying: "I'd like a search warrant for the internet, because it's being used to commit crimes" and being able to sniff the packets of everybody! This would follow probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, but would be contra to the idea of "secure in persons, houses, papers, effects", as well as "particularly describing the place to be searched and persons or things to be seized."

    The problem with a remote keyboard sniffer is that it doesn't have fine enough grain of control- IIRC it is illegal for law enforcement to tap a phone call which is simply a private conversation, even if they have the lines all hooked up, etc... A keyboard sniffer that triggered off of keywords might be acceptable, but using sniffed passwords to violate privacy is just plain not good, IMHO.

    Just my $0.02

    --Robert (rames@utdallas.edu)

    Fourth Amendment: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no Warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
    Fifth Amendment: No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Not to mention the whole Ruby Ridge debacle. The FBI wanted this guy, Weaver, to help them infiltrate a local militia. He didn't want to. So an FBI agent posing as a local gun enthusiast convinced him to help him modify a gun in a slightly (and I do mean slightly, not being sarcastic) illegal, and used this as justification to lay siege to his property. They shot and killed his wife and his son, and wounded a friend of the family before he and his remaining living family member surrendered. THIS ALL HAPPENED, AND NOT TOO LONG AGO, RIGHT HERE IN THE USA.
    The moral of the story is that the US government will leave you alone until they have decided that you have something they want, and then all bets are off. In the absence of more effective checks on government power, the only defense is to lay low and pray random chance won't draw their attention to you.
    "The Federalist Papers" and "The Antifederalist Papers" are an account of the public discussions our founding fathers held prior to the drafting of the constitution, and describe effectively the thoughts behind its creation. I know that the federalist papers are available at http://sailor.gutenberg.org -- anyone who wants to speak authoratively on the Constitution should read them, or at least keep them readily on hand for reference. The reason I bring them up in this context is because they make it clear that the second amendment was intended to act as the "fourth leg" of the government's system of checks and balances -- put simply, the people should have guns so that if the government misbehaves the people can shoot them. I know that's an unpopular view these days, but it is undeniably how things were intended to work. The Antifederalist Papers are available as "The Complete Antifederalist" .. I don't have the author's name handy, unfortunately, and I see that amazon.com doesn't carry it, but searching on "antifederalist" did yield up two other references there which look promising.

    -- Guges --
  • No, the law exists to further the law. In an ideal society, yes, YOU are part of THEY, but in ours, no. I'm sure, in the comment you originally replied to, THEY shot an innocent man to protect us all, right? Bullshit.

    And civil liberty isn't about demanding the right to put a bullet in your head -- it's about the right to put a bullet in MY head. I'm all for getting rid of every fucking statist out there, but I would never support any objection to *not* being able to freely put a bullet in your head. It's a termination of YOUR rights.

    If you believe that YOU are a THEY, you're wrong. You have totally bought in to the bullshit you are supposed to believe. WE do not make the laws. WE are the ones who get shot because we have long hair, or drive a beat up car, or, for gods sake, support the right to consume something "THEY" say you aren't supposed to consume.

    Open your eyes, god damn it.
  • Well, I asked for that, didn't I?

    Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are not the exclusive domains of Libertarians -- in fact, I'd argue that much or Libertarianism would result in a major loss of the above, carried to it's logical extreme.

    Regardless, you're free to believe whatever you wish about the 10th Amendment, of course. However:

    1) If you want to ignore Supreme Court interpretation of the Constitution, you need to explain how laws are to be screened for their adherence to individual rights. Should Congress simply be trusted to pass laws that do not violate constitutional rights, as the constitution implicitly allows? (BTW, judicial review is based upon several areas of legitimacy, including the fact that the Constitution itself allows the Supreme Court to settle all disputes to which the Federal Government is a party.)

    2) The "intent of the Framers when they wrote the Amendment" is a wildly subjective thing, given the fact that they were quite a contentious lot, and each had their own agendas (gee, sounds quite a bit like -- today!). However, my second reference completely shoots down this objection, already: the Framers specifically voted down proposals to make the 10th Amendment a brake upon Federal powers.

    3) The notion that one cannot surrender rights is a mixing of the notions of what is and what ought to be. One most certainly can surrender rights -- people living in totalitarian countries do it all the time.

    4) I have absolutely no idea where you got your last paragraph.

    Kythe
    (Remove "x"'s from

  • "But it has to be implemented in a way that's consistent with other values, such as law enforcement,"

    Excuse me? Since when is 'law enforcement' a value? Didn't they used to call that justice? Wait, maybe that was something else...
  • I never said that it was the sole domain of libertarians. It is a core value of libertarians, and using the term disparagingly shows that you don't think much of the belief ... but anyway!

    I never said that we should *ignore* the supreme court, i just said that they cannot legislate away individual inalienable rights, *by definition*. Im sure they picked that word carefully. No, congress cannot be trusted to pass laws that are constitutional, but neither can the sumpreme court be trusted to ubhold constitutional laws, nor strike down unconstitutional ones. Ethernal vigilance is the price of freedom.

    The intent of the framers is not a wildly subjective thing; I believe you have already referenced the federalist papers, which while only written by three men, describe their feelings in great detail. And, even if they meant the 10th to be loosly interpreted, deToqueville has explained why that is, and I dont want to get too far offtopic (too late!)

    One can never surrender their rights. They can be taken from someone, but not freely. And your pragmatic view belies your feeling that it's not worth fighting for ... and that's what's sad about this country today. Don't you care?

    My last paragraph was a (rambling, i admit) description of the bogus argument that it is within the govt's right to do this. Would you complain if they had video cameras in your bedroom, always taping, in order to facilitate the execution of a warrant? Perhaps on charges of violation of a blue law? "We promise not to look at them, unless we have a valid warrant!" This is exactly the same thing, except because it's crypto, no many people understand it. "It doesn't affect me!"
  • What if we combined the DataHaven idea from Cryptonomicon (yes I know it isn't an original idea from the book), with some kind of remote PC, using strong encryption? Then ppl who wanted privacy could keep their computers in a bomb proof vault in SE Asia, and only have a dumb Xterminal in the US. Of course TEMPEST monitoring would still work, but at least then the feds would need to get off their donut eating asses and work for a living.

    What the world needs is massive bandwidth.

    Chris
    --
    3rd Annual Atlanta Linux Showcase [linuxshowcase.org]

  • They're calling this a "search warrant approved by a judge" and something close to the current sealed search warrants for wiretaps, but there are two huge differences here.

    First, wiretaps don't necessarily require entering the target's premises. The taps can put into the phone company's CO, at the external junction box, or in a basement area. Having to place a wiretap in the target's bedroom or home office is rare. This helps ensure that the cops don't take advantage of the opportunity to illegally browse through the target's possessions. In contrast, this idea *requires* that the police invade the target's most personal spaces, yet the "reasonable grounds" barrier to obtain the warrant will be lower than all others since the nominal target of the warrant is so specific - all of a target's passwords should easily fit on a 3x5 index card!

    Second, the burden on the police in obtaining a wiretap warrant is already pretty low, precisely because it's relatively non-invasive. This is especially true for the warrants that "only" record numbers dialed (and oops, up to 90 seconds of the conversation). The justification for this warrant is that *it's used as a prelude to a subsequent wiretap* (according to the Washington Post). In other words, this ancillary warrant would actually have more sweeping powers than the warrant it nominally supports!

    Hopefully this trial balloon will go down in flames immediately, but if not I hope the adminstration and Congress realizes that these warrants may result in some enlightened judges holding the police to higher standards of proving that their evidence is "clean" when they have early access to the suspect's premises. They could easily win the battle (collecting evidence) but lose the war (no conviction since evidence is thrown out).
  • You're implying that protections against police abuse rely upon the irretrievable hiding of information from the police.

    Yes, they do. That's not the only protection, and probably, not even a highly important one, but my capability to hide information from police puts a limit to police's power and so indirectly protects from the abuse of this power.

    I don't trust the police to do all the right things all the time. I do want some capability to personally control which information can be found without necessarily depending upon the wisdom of some judge. You are telling me to trust the system -- I don't want to trust the system.

    The illogic of this scenario is that a warranted search that turned up papers with the above information would in no way violate your rights

    I don't see anything illogical here. If a cop searches your house without a warrant and finds some cocaine, he violated your rights. If you go to a cop and hand him the same cocaine, your rights weren't violated. So what?

    Again, the 4th Amendment relies upon the court system, not individuals, to control police abuses.

    Yes, but to repeat myself,

    (1) Some assumptions on which the 4th was based have changed or are changing

    (2) Regardless of what the 4th relies on, I do want some personal protection against police abuses.

    Furthermore, you can argue 5th Amendment protections, regardless.

    What do you mean? If the cops have my data and my encryption key, they don't have to ask me anything, the 5th just never comes up.

    As I've said before, the potential for abuse of power (i.e. ignoring the need for a warrant) is another issue, entirely.

    No, not at all. If there were no potential for abuse, there would be no need for all the checks and balances, and for the 4th in general. It is exactly the balance of power between the individuals and the government, and the distrust of the government, that brought to life the Bill of Rights.

    Besides, I disagree with your examples. If I have encrypted data on my hard drive, it's currently very hard to get it. A single person is not likely to have the needed resources (TEMPEST surveillance, hardware keyboard sniffers, etc.) even if he resorts to illegal methods, and a small-scale corrupt system isn't likely to do much better, either.

    Kaa
  • Atlanta has them on the metro interstates. When they were installed, they were "Only going to be used to monitor traffic flow and spot accidents" (yeah, right).

    Sure enough, they're now spotting traffic violations. Since they can obviously read tag numbers, guess what they will be used for next?

  • The difference is in checks and balances. If everyone searched knows they have been searched, the public has a way to judge if the searches are warranted (and Warranted). If the searches are covert, there's no checks and balances.

    It's the difference between KNOWING you haven't been searched, and the creepy feeling that the feds MIGHT have been in your house because your best friend's second cousin's ex-wife's sister's boyfriend's mother's uncle's son might know the guy who posted a picture of Janet Reno in an SS uniform. (After all, they 'have reason to believe' you might have communicated with him).

  • Dred Scott leaps to mind.

    I'm sorry you feel that the enforcement of property rights was an example of the Supreme Court being "challenged in basic reading skills". Unfortunately for you, the US government was NOT in the business of proclaiming people free or slaves: that was a private sector responsibility until that Evil Statist Lincoln stole that sacred private right for the State. Until that time, only private, capitalist owners had the right to declare whether a black person was free or slave. Slavery was a sin of capitalism alone -- which presents a particular problem for Libertarians.

    So do civil forfeiture, and most of the federal drug laws - unless there's interstate trade or they levy a tax, there's no Constitutional justification.

    There are many Federal functions and powers that are not specifically enumerated in the Constitution. As I've already addressed in other posts, this is a non-issue. Once again, we're back to the notion that you don't like the rulings -- hardly grounds for accusing the Court as you have.

    If, for example, Congress & Clinton were to pass into law the proposal about posting the Ten Commandments in schools and the SC ok's it, it would still remain a blatant violation of the First Ammendment.

    Even in the above doomsday scenario, you are trying to assign a more certain, fundamental meaning to words and principles than they truly have. In our current system, the Supreme Court is the final word on whether such a law is Constitutional. This is not to say that we cannot disagree with the Court's rulings. And we can do something about it, by working to change the composition of the Court. But if you don't want to trust Congress to pass laws that respect Constitutional rights, you need someone to have final say. If not the Supreme Court, then the ball is firmly in your court to provide a reasonable alternative.

    Kythe
    (Remove "x"'s from

  • I don't doubt that this type of stuff is out there root kits and other software packages can already install this type of stuff packet sniffer, keyboard grabbers, screen grabbers and other stuff. What some of the people have been saying is getting a stealth chip that manufactors have to put in. Something that needs a specific 'key' to open the back door over the net if the chip is in your computer. That is what I am worried about. What if someone can re invent that 'key'.

    I know that this is very unlikely just because most manufactors probably won't go for something like that. What I am hoping is that the government will take into consideration what ever they do they have to make sure that if someone can replicate that 'key' down the road it won't cause much of a problem. Basically all I am asking is if the government wants to put in a mandortry back door that is a hard ware solution they better make sure no one can reproduce a 'key' to open it.
  • 1. Straw man argument: I seriously doubt that the person your replying too is arguing that the Supreme Court should be abolished, or that it shouldn't be a break on Congress. I very much doubt the *spirit* of his argument was making this point.

    If you're attempting to demonstrate a straw-man argument, your own statement serves admirably.

    The original poster stated:

    I am less concerned with later judicial decisions regarding it; rather, what is important to understand is the intent of the framers when they wrote the amendment. Any future weakening of the constitution is invaild from the start, regardless of the Sumpreme Court decisions.

    (emphasis added)

    To which I replied:

    If you want to ignore Supreme Court interpretation of the Constitution, you need to explain how laws are to be screened for their adherence to individual rights. Should Congress simply be trusted to pass laws that do not violate constitutional rights, as the constitution implicitly allows? (BTW, judicial review is based upon several areas of legitimacy, including the fact that the Constitution itself allows the Supreme Court to settle all disputes to which the Federal Government is a party.)

    Nowhere did I defend the Supreme Court against abolition. Rather, I addressed his argument that Supreme Court decisions were invalid when he didn't like the findings. My question to him (or to you) is: how are you going to judge a "legitimate" interpretation of the Constitution? If you don't want the Supreme Court to be the final word, what will serve?

    By your admission the Framers were a contentious lot, but somehow they all agreed that the Tenth Admendment wasn't supposed to be a break on the Federal government, huh? Isn't that convenient? I suppose that the First admendment is also "largely symbolic" too

    It's not a matter of convenience; rather, it's a matter of public record. Anti-Federalists wanted to insert the word "expressly", to limit the powers of the Government to those specifically enumerated in the Constitution. However, the majority voted it down, presumably recognizing the fact that Government (and the Constitution upon which it is based) must change and adapt with the times. Most constitutional historians regard the 10th Amendment as the unsuccessful attempt to limit Federal powers that it was. You might want to check out what FindLaw [findlaw.com] has to say on the subject.

    So is the very idea of rights in the first place! Your point?

    I assume you're saying that rights are "what we believe ought to be". If so, we agree. My point was, I take issue with the previous poster's implication that the Supreme Court has somehow gone against some notion of "absolute rights". If you indeed agree with me, you should take issue with this, too.

    My example of totalitarian societies was simply a refutation of the notion of absolute rights. It had nothing to do with whether "we in the US should tolerate the infringement,if not the outright denial of our rights".

    Kythe
    (Remove "x"'s from

  • The average person feels powerless (yes, I am average, and yes, I feel powerless).

    Do we write our senators, congessmen and mayor?
    I think most people would consider that a waste of time, and instead, just *hope* that someone is willing to stick up for the average person.

    I will write the letter however, I will sign the petition and I will voice my opinions. But I still feel relatively powerless. My main hope is that there are politicians and law makers out there who will denounce this, and these plans will not go through.
  • "if you're clean, Uncle Sam leaves you alone"

    And I'm sure back in the dark ages (which I'm not sure we've completely left yet, future generations will probably call the 20th century the dark ages) conversations would run something along the lines of "if you're not a witch you dont have to worry".

    Whose definition of "clean" do you prefer to go by anyway? You must have a LOT of trust in your government! (And in human nature in general - or perhaps you've never heard of corruption and/or abuse of priviledge/power)

  • It's not actually the case that the people conducting a search are only permitted to collect the items listed in the warrant. I believe that current case law has it that one can collect any evidence one comes across in the course of searching an area where one might reasonably find the listed item(s). That is, if you're supposed to be looking for a body, you aren't allowed to go poking into desk drawers. If you're looking for a particular postcard, though, you can. Then, if you happen to find a baggie of cocaine, there is absolutely no problem with confiscating that and using it as evidence to arrest you for a completely separate crime.

    A warrant for some particular snippet of data on your computer gives the police the right to look anywhere on your computer where that data might be hidden, obviously, just as a warrant to search for, say, tabs of acid in your car will allow them to look all over your car. Thus, any sort of incriminating data in those places is up for grabs. Depending on how you look at this issue, you may or may not find this an important distinction, but it is a point worth understanding about search and seizure law.

  • Basically, the aspect of this to which people are objecting is the "secret" part. It is different in no way than the ability of investigators to secretly tap your phone line or enter your home without your knowledge.

    The issue is not whether investigators should be allowed monitor your computer use at all, but whether it should be made easier for them to get the warrants which allow them to do so.

  • I'm sorry you feel that the enforcement of property rights was an example of the Supreme Court being "challenged in basic reading skills".
    It was the Court's judgement that no freed slave or decendant of slaves could be a citizen of the United States that is Constitutionally baseless. Prior to the Fourteenth Amendment, it was the power of the individual States to determine who constituted their citizenry; there was no federal authority to make any such determination.

    Slavery was a sin of capitalism alone -- which presents a particular problem for Libertarians.
    Perhaps, but if so only for libertarian capitalists. Libertarians who take a people-based, rather than property-based, approach have no problem here. (Libertarian != libertarian capitalist, unless one is speaking of the Libertarian party.)
    There are many Federal functions and powers that are not specifically enumerated in the Constitution. As I've already addressed in other posts, this is a non-issue.
    It's already been pointed out that your position is explicitly contradicted by the text of the Tenth Amendment: [bcpl.net]
    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.
    It's right there in black and white. (Or whatever colors you may have set on your browser.) If you find this a non-issue...well, I can't find a polite way of saying what this suggests about your mental state.
    In our current system, the Supreme Court is the final word on whether such a law is Constitutional.

    De facto, yes, this is the case. De jure, however, it is not; the Court assumed the power or judicial review for itself decades after the Constitution was ratified, in the Marbury v. Madison decision [jmu.edu]. It is not a role provided for by the Constitution. That is not a value judgement that the Court should or should not have such power; it is a textual and historical fact.

  • Seems to me this law is just insurance that such a search cannot be excluded at trial. Current laws allow surrepetitious entry to plant microphones and cameras, and those warrants are upheld at trial, most likely a warrant to plant sniffer software would be upheld too. they just don't want it to be decided by a judge.
    ^. .^
    ( @ )
  • >And just how exactly do the laws that punish you for having sex for money (or with members of the same sex or of other races, those laws are still on the books in some places), for growing or smoking the buds of certain plants, or for buying or selling pictures of naked people, protect me?

    These laws reflect the moral opinions of the majority of society. If the moral opinions of the majority of society change, that majority should be able to vote people into office who will change those laws. Some of those laws you mentioned above are just. Others, if tested, would not stand up in today's courts.

    >Laws are the will of the lawmakers, nothing more

    I agree entirely! You could not have put it more simply.

    I think the point that you are missing here, though, is that you can be a lawmaker in this country. That's what voting is for. Instead of complaining that laws suck, change them.

    The laws of this country have been made, indirectly, by the voters of this country. (Whether or not those voters are idiots is another matter).

    If every intelligent, free-thinking person had your attitude (and, unfortunately, many do), then none of them would involve themselves in the law-making process. That would leave the idiots and zealots to run the country. Is that honestly what you want?

  • I never said that we should *ignore* the supreme court, i just said that they cannot legislate away individual inalienable rights, *by definition*. Im sure they picked that word carefully. No, congress cannot be trusted to pass laws that are constitutional, but neither can the sumpreme court be trusted to ubhold constitutional laws, nor strike down unconstitutional ones. Ethernal vigilance is the price of freedom.

    But you can't pick and choose the decisions you want to treat as "legitimate" -- because your idea of "inalienable rights" might be different from mine, and views of rights changes over time, thanks to a more enlightened view. Our system, including Supreme Court decisions, is particularly good at this. We've abolished slavery, enfranchised women, minorities, and debtors, just to name a few changes to rights in the U.S. I do not believe that rights are "inalienable" -- rather, they are a reflection of the way we would like to live, and the kind of society we want to live in. They are based upon long, hard experience with other systems. I would submit to you that, without a final arbiter (the Court), there would be no instrument for protecting Constitutional rights.

    This does not mean that we cannot work to change the composition of the Supreme Court, if we feel that they are making rulings contrary to what we would like. But that does not make their rulings "illegitimate".

    One can never surrender their rights. They can be taken from someone, but not freely. And your pragmatic view belies your feeling that it's not worth fighting for ... and that's what's sad about this country today. Don't you care?

    I care absolutely passionately about rights in this country. There are multitudes of reasons, ranging from the fact that the U.S. fundamentally represents the sort of society in which the vast majority of us would like to live, given the alternatives, to the democratic means by which the laws, the Constitution and upheld rights are responsive to the will of the People.

    It is precisely because rights are not inalienable (by which I mean, they can be taken away) that I care as much as I do.

    Kythe
    (Remove "x"'s from

  • That wouldn't necessarily protect the computers of the other people who might be involved in what the Congresscritters are hiding. Suppose Monica had kept a diary on her PC...
  • Of course, that means that your private key floppy will be on your person when they present you the search warrant for it - no chance to 'lose' it.
  • This is a very good point, and could be easy used to show people the evils of this proposal. It is giving police the authority to break into your house and fiddle with your computer without your knowledge. Now, how are they supposed to do this if you have a good lock and/or alarm on your house? Should we be looking out for some future law which will require us to buy locks which open to some police master key? Perhaps we should register our alarm PIN's with the police too. I suppose the next logical step would be to make everybody show up for a 10 minute hate once a day so that the police would know when they could safely break in without getting caught.

    We have often used the comparison that key escrow is like the police keeping a copy of your house keys. It appears that some people in government decided that this would be a good idea.
  • Remember Ken Thompson's brilliant piece from 1984: Reflections on Trusting Trust [acm.org]. So I go to the local computer store and put a box together, install my favorite Linux distribution, carefully examine the source and recompile everything. Oh well, my compiler was boobytrapped so my system is still bugged. Do'oh. Perhaps the traps are hidden in the bios... Do you really want to compile everything on your system from scratch?

    The technology exists to spy on anyone anytime: churning the technological arms race won't help us. Any lock can be broken by a determined attacker. We need to practice social engineering and forge societies where spying is impossible. Look for solutions that lead to fewer secrets rather than more secrets and remove the necessity for complicated technological locks.

    For example: Openly install monitoring tools on all police hardware with a 3 month delay before it goes public. So maybe they will be spying on us, but at least we can find out exactly what abuses they are doing. (The three month delay is to give them some time to prosecute their cases.) -ccm

  • The cameras are coming people!

    The difference is that the people can also own their own cameras, not just the gub'ment.

    Who has been royally screwed by cameras the most so far? The rich and powerful, especially those in the gub'ment.

    So why are we worried about cameras? I'm going to go out and get a camera myself and point it at the street. Every time a police car goes by higher than the speed limit and he's not chasing someone, UP on the web page he goes.

    You can fight back!

  • There is a phrase I've heard... "rubber hose cryptography". It amounts to "Give me your encryption keys or we will do something very bad to you." Constitutional or not, IT HAPPENS. Constitutional amendments don't mend broken bones or give you back the finite days of your life spent under a 'contempt of court' trial-less incarceration.

    Anyone remember how many YEARS Susan McDougal spent in jail because Ken Starr put her there to extort falsified testimony? Rapists get less time in jail than McDougal did. And if Starr can do that to someone with the whole nation watching, what prevents anyone with a badge or a gavel from doing exactly the same thing to YOU? The difference is, you don't have reporters interested in you like McDougal did. No one will be demanding YOUR release.

    Bottom line: crypto is a Good Thing, but no crypto in the world will protect you from good old-fashioned application of force. Worried about something Politically Incorrect being on your computer? DON'T PUT IT THERE.

    And for God's sake, don't labor under the illusion that the Powers That Be consider themselves subject to law.
  • For us x86 users (or any other platform, for that matter), how can one be sure that the Feds don't persuade Intel to put the logic within chipset of the logic board? Say add an extra chip the the 440xX chipset that contains the sniffer, battery backed memory that logs everything you typed for the past 2 months (what's that? 2 MB?)... it'd add probably $5 or $10 to the cost of the system, and with it on the logic board, there'd be no way for anyone to bypass it, save for building your own systems using 3rd party chipsets developed outside the reach of the Gov't... So long as there become no regulation barring the import of parts without the required logic chip
  • This still requires a warrant. As other posters have pointed out, "fishing expeditions" are just as illegal with this law as they were before the law. So no one can legally install a hardware sniffer on your machine without the same sort of warrant necessary to wiretap your phone, for example. This isn't really a big change.

    What the authorities are trying to prevent is the sort of situation that occurred with Kevin Mitnick. (I'm not an authority on Mr. Mitnick; I'm sure someone here will correct me if I get the facts a little wrong.) My understanding is that he had encrypted files on his machines which could have been used as evidence against him. However, he refused to surrender the password/keys necessary to get at the files (I can't argue with that, from a 5th Amendment point of view). This new law allows the government to install a hardware monitor on your machine hopefully before you encrypt all of your data. After that, even though you think you are encrypting all of your files, that may no longer be the case. Or perhaps your files are encrypted, but the password and/or keys are stored by the monitoring device, so that there's no wasted time getting information out of the suspect in order to decrypt their files.

    Either way, no more messy 5th Amendment issues to cause headaches for law enforcement.

  • If this were done under the "constitutional" warrant process as developed under what I see as common law, the approved method would be to serve you with the warrant in person, and then go directly to your computer and copy over the items specified in the warrant. You should have the right to be present. You should have the right to have a lawyer present.
    This is how it should apply to private residences. Portable computers do make a special case here, that would need to be developed.

    The thing is: They can already do this! This is the currently approved legal procedure. And I see nothing that any legitimate person could complain about here (except possibly, that one should be able to run a 256 bit checksum on the data after they have copied it, so that it could be demonstrated whether or not the items copied had been tampered with after being copied.

    I see no good purpose served by this law. OTOH, it certainly has many possibilities for evil purposes.

    It is a bad (proposed) law.
  • Listen man, they are NOT going to change things, regardless of how many letters you write them. If you write to your senator and ask him to take a pay cut, is he going to? No, it's not in his best interests. Neither is it in his best interests to decrease his (aka the government's) power over you. Writing ain't going to accomplish shit.

    Just about every government in history has grown corrupt over time, and the citizens have had to endure ever increasing abuse from their government until they simply could not take it anymore and had to step in and take some of their power BACK.

    This country is long overdue for a revolution. The people taking your rights are not going to stop, regardless of how nicely we ask. I think the time to ask nicely is long since past.

  • Bad news: I'm pretty sure a faraday cage doesn't make you tempest proof. It will drain electric current (als in lightning etc), but it'll only decrease the intensity of EM radiation.
  • The only problem for the criminals that I see is determining if it's some script kiddie working on their own or if it's some script kiddie working for the man.. I'm sure if I sold drugs, I'd be pissed that I'd shutdown shop just for some punk trying to be 3l33+.

    Oh yes, and we know what drug barons do when they're pissed... buhbye packet weenies
  • I just realized that the comment I posted on behalf of "us x86 users" was posted from a Mac G3...

    Or an x86 user with Junkbuster (which reports your machine as a Mac by default).
  • No, for real it's a mac! Look! colored apple logo... one button mouse... productive user!
  • If the cops found my wife cut to pieces with a butcher knife, and thought that I hid the butcher knife in my sock drawer, they had better have means of searching my sock drawer. Searching the data on my computer is no different.
    Nonsense.

    The bloody knife in your sock drawer is a murder weapon - it is direct evidence of a real crime. The data on your computer cannot kill anyone. The most likely thing they're looking for is dirty picture or unapproved knowledge; at best, they may find indirect supporting evidence of real crimes; maybe your diary entry where you planned to kill your wife.

    But while it would be hard (though not impossible) for someone to fake your fingerprints on a knife, it would be trivial for any hacker to fake data on your computer. Digital evidence is automatically questionable.

    If you're convinced that the warrant system sucks, then give us a viable alternative.
    Some suggested improvements:
    • Warrants shall be issued only for the investigation of crimes involving force, theft, or fraud. Eliminating drug searches would take care of the majority of abuses.
    • False testimony by an officer to obtain a warrant is a felony with a life sentance, no parole. False testimony by a civilian in support of a warrant is a felony with a ten year sentance.
    • No warrants based on anonymous testimony, or that of criminals testifing in exchange for reduced charges or sentencing.
    • An end to "no-knock" blitzkreig-style searches.
    • Warrants require the signature of two judges.
    • The government pays heavy restitution to the suspect if a search finds nothing.
    • Only a limited number of warrants can be granted to a police agency per year.
    • After the warrant is issued, but before it is executed, the officers and judges record all the evidence and reasoning that led to the issue. These records are available for public review, and are reviewed regularly by a civilian control and oversight board chosen by neighborhood groups.
    • A judge who issues more than n warrants for fruitless searches is removed from the bench.
    Just a few ideas off the top of my head.
  • This'd be easy a few years ago -- just get the industry to play along and have MS, IBM and whoever else makes OSes slip keyboard sniffers into their OS (it's easy for a government to pressure a company; I should point out that I don't think even MS would do something like this voluntarily).

    Now, however, I can download my OS from, say, (where else) Finland, check out the source and compile it myself.

    Of course, it occurs to me now they could build this sort of thing into the hardware and restrict the sale of other hardware in the US. At that point, I think I'd like to move to Cuba or Iran, or some other country where they make no pretense at loving libery and where despotism can be taken in its pure form.

    ----

  • I will admit that the "central" idiology of the libertarians would appear to be against this, but what I've seen of some particular "libertarian" private lives (i.e., the way they were running companies) doesn't encourage me to believe that this is an automatic cure.

    The fundamental flaw of Libertarianism is that you can do what you want with your own property, including restrict the activities of those who are on it or impose obligations on them for remaining there. So, if you think of the U.S. as one big Home Owner's Association, and the Constitution as the rules of that HOA, we live in a perfectly Libertarian society. Don't like the rules of the U.S.? You're perfectly welcome to go elsewhere and live by the rules of the current owner. There's nowhere on earth with the rules you want? Not my problem.
  • Well, first of all you seem to be mightily confused about what is a society and what is a government. You are arguing that societies are a good thing and without a society around us life would suck. Sure, no problem. But then you make a interesting jump and tell me that the government is the society. Er... Consider for a moment an interesting place like North Korea. Are you willing to tell me that the government there is doing nothing but serving the North Korean society, looking out for every member of it, etc. etc? Are you going to tell me that every law passed is a good law and should be obeyed because THEY know better and are really doing this in your best interest?

    Go back and read some basic history/sociology/political science/anthropology/philosophy -- hell, almost anything that deals with humans. There are such things as clues lying around there. Try to find at least one.

    Kaa
  • Why is this any different than the Feds coming in and pulling apart your house with a warrant?

    This is not taking your house apart to search for something. This is like installing hidden microphones and videocameras all around your house to see if you are doing anything illegal. Sure, you still need a warrant, but

    (a) there are a lot of tame judges that go along with pretty much everything a DA asks for;

    (b) fishing expeditions become much more alluring;

    (c) the DOJ might decide to install a keyboard sniffer on your machine over the net, a remote intrusion attack. If it'll work (whether this will work depends, as usual, on the cluefulness of the target computer's owner), the temptation to install sniffers all over the place will be irresistible. And think of the justification: there is no invasion of privacy because just installing a sniffer by itself does not provide any of your info to the cops. Only later, if it turns out that the cops do need info from your hard drive (say, they are bored and want to check out your pr0n), then they can use the handy captured passwords to read all your safely encrypted stuff.

    Kaa
  • Well, if I *were* really doing something I wanted to hide, I'd rig my closet with a faraday cage and do my work there. However, this kills the idea that the best way to have privacy is if everyone else exercises the right, too (the sealed envelope theory).

    This matter is more important from a philisophical standpoint than a practical one -- do we really want our government to have this sort of intrusive control over our lives and our information? I certainly don't.

    "Free flow of information is the only safeguard against tyranny. The once-chained people whose leaders at last lose their grip on information flow will soon burst with freedom and vitality, while the once free nation slowly restricting its grip of free discourse has begun its rapid slide into despotism.

    Beware he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart he dreams himself your master"

    ----

  • Hardware. It's the easiest point of entry to control, and the hardest to deactivate. And it's universal. Just legislate that all keystrokes must pass through a buffer where they're stored in, say, 12 megs of flashram someplace hidden on each motherboard.

    Say goodbye to your personal liberties.

    ----

  • I should have a right to know if the government is acting against me. They shouldn't be able use these "sealed warrents" to wander in and see if I'm being a good little patriot every so often.

    I want my fscking lawyer the *second* the government starts snooping around. Without some kind of legal protection, it's too easy to strip away my rights (why do you think the cops never ever want anyone to call a lawyer?).

    ----

  • a warrant is grounds to enter and search

    How about break in and watch?

    The problem is that conventional enter-and-search is very manpower-intensive. The budgets and staff limitations of law-enforcement agencies ensures that they don't do too many searches. Now, if they'll be able to pull off a remote intrusion attack and install a keyboard sniffer / trojaned encryption on your system -- possible, given sufficient cluelessness of the target computer's owner -- then the process becomes very quick, painless and cheap.

    Your local police department cannot do 1000 searches a day. But it can install 1000 sniffers in a day (given the warrants, etc.) and will be tempted very much to do so. Somebody's selling marijuana in a neighborhood? Find a tame judge, install sniffers on everybody's machines and catch your guy! This ain't gonna work this way, but that's the way the police departments will think. And if they bad a couple of tax evaders along the way, so much the better.

    Kaa
  • When the government starts coercing operating system companies into putting law enforcement back doors into their distributions, I'll be glad I'm running an open source OS. ;)
  • by Shoeboy ( 16224 ) on Friday August 20, 1999 @03:58AM (#1736376) Homepage
    If the police get a warrant, they can burst into your home and search for kiddie porn in your closet, under your bed or on top of the laundry hamper in your bathroom. They can also override any security procedures you have installed to prevent this - like a door lock. Heavens! We have to do something to stop this invasion of privacy.
    --Shoeboy.
  • I submitted this as a story, but it probably won't be posted now. Here [washingtonpost.com] is the original Washington Post article all the other news sources are quoting...
  • At least it's relatively obvious when they bust down your door and you can actually make sure they really have a warrant. Why would they necessarily *need* a warrant to snoop on your computer? How can you check if they had one if you never knew they were there?
  • Why would you even care that the feds can crack into your machine? ... And even if they did go to every machine, if you haven't done anything illegal, who cares?

    Ah, another of those happy people...

    I guess, then, that you wouldn't mind a device in your car that recorded every time you went over the speed limit, would you? You probably also wouldn't mind wearing another device that calls the cops when you cross the street on a red light, or throw a piece of paper on the sidewalk, would you? And, of course, the cops are never ever going to use any of this information for other purposes (like reading erotic email for fun).

    [sigh]

    Kaa
  • The spooks like hardware...

    How about a keyboard cable that looks exactly like the one you have now, but just happens to have certain additional capabilities?

    Kaa
  • It sounds like you want to have a chance to hide stuff that looks bad. I can understand that. But with a non-sealed warrant, you can't see it coming, either. The only difference is that you can see them rummaging around your house.

    No, you don't understand the difference. Let's say I have collected a large body of information on home-growing of pot and stored it on my hard drive. Suspecting that other people might not think that my motives are pure, I encrypt all this stuff, and, maybe use steganography, as well. Now if the cops come with a warrant, they have to deal with the encryption. They need a court order for me to surrender the key, I can claim Fifth Amendment, etc., etc. It becomes a prolonged legal battle, expensive for the cops to wage.

    However, in the case we are discussing now, the cops have installed a keyboard sniffer on my machine and so don't need a court order for my encryption key: they already have it. Major time- and effort-saving for cops happened, and I am screwed in worse way than with a 'normal' warrant.

    Again, as I posted elsewhere, I don't believe (as a lot of posters around here) that the main issue is with the warrant being sealed. That was done before, and while unpleasant it is understandable and perfectly legal. I think that the main problem is making the search-and-seizure so easy, fast and cheap, that the balance of power shifts and the protections we have look much more inadequate.

    Kaa
  • You're not addressing this particular action; rather, you seem to have a problem with how search warrants are granted in general.

    Not exactly. I have another post which describes the main problem with this idea, but basically the physical enter-and-search is quite manpower-intensive. Your local cops physically cannot do 1000 searches every day. Electronically they can, and they will be tempted very much to do so. This is not a problem with the granting of warrants (that problem exists, but it is different), but rather a problem with the fact that one of the existing limitations on search-and-seizures starts to disappear and that upsets the balance of need-to-know vs. privacy.

    Kaa
  • >>What next? Random inspections of everyone's machine to see if there's anything illegal!?

    Yes. The government is slowly taking away our rights, one-by-one. I used to drive a truck (18-wheeler). The law requires that trucking companies randomly drug test drivers on a draconian random basis. A friend has been test 3 times in the last 6 months. No warrants. No suspicion. Everyone gets tested. The rules require that the 'target' not be notified. He comes in to work and is told to go directly to a drug testing center. The justification is to make the roads safer since such a large number of trucker are drug addicts. And it has made things safer, too. Don't all of you remember the daily reports of drug crazed truck drivers either barreling through playgrounds full of beautiful young pregnant mothers and their sweet innocent children playing, or running church buses off the road killing all aboard? When is the last time you heard such a report? The politicians had to do something to protect all this goodness.

    Now, everyone knows that nearly everyone who uses the internet spends a considerable amount of time searching for and exchanging pictures of these same sweet mothers and children being raped and sodimized. In order to protect all this goodness the politicians will have to implement some sort of constant, yet random, monitoring of the populace. I ask you. What's the difference?

    Rights? Privacy? If you're not doing anything wrong, you won't mind the secret police secretly reading everything you type.

  • Probably, they really do want to protect us from terrorists. But this is too much. I have nothing to hide. If they want to take a look at my computer, I'll gladly cooperate. All they have to do is show up at my door and with a warrant that they will show me, and I'll gladly let them look at whatever they want. But until they get that warrant, I'll do everything I can to keep my stuff private. I'd been putting off using encryption, simply because too few of my friends know how to use it. But I'll be starting now.
  • How about keeping your old keyboard? ;)

    Ah, that's a free upgrade program courtesy of the Federal government. Why, they'll come in and upgrade your keyboard cable all for free, you needn't worry your pretty little head about it. They may forget to mention it to you, too, but you know how paperworks gets lost...

    Kaa

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