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Comment Re:Contempt of the court... (Score 1) 522

As I said — it is not testimony. The jury will not hear it. The 5th Amendment protects him from being compelled to be a witness against himself

The courts have generally held the 5th Amendment protections to be wider than that. For example, are you denying that people have the right to remain silent when being questioned by police? Why is there a distinction between being questioned by the police and by the court here?

As for encryption passwords, the Supreme Court hasn't ruled on such a case yet, but they have given hints on how they would rule. Maybe this will actually be the case that goes all the way?

I don't know about case law, but there is no "right to remain silent" in the Constitution. You don't have to be a witness against yourself.

Rights do not *only* come from the Constitution. Case law is indeed important, and there's a lot of case law around one's right to remain silent.

Comment Re:Modern HW crypto (Score 1) 522

I'm aware of ATA drive locking and their on-drive encryption, but that's not really what I was referring to.

I was thinking more of organized crime and enemy governments and other well funded and well-planned enterprises -- it would not surprise me if they had custom drive firmware made that was designed to foil the drive being imaged for forensics. I don't know if this is actually being done yet (though I suspect it is), but if it was, law enforcement (well, the better-equipped offices, and especially things like the NSA) would adapt.

And yes, you're right, such countermeasures would be a good deal harder to deal with on SSDs than spinning hard drives. Perhaps even approaching impossible without a lot of assistance from the drive manufacturer themselves.

And no, I wouldn't expect any of this to be done by a guy who's simply got illegal porn on his computer. Really, just keeping it on an encrypted drive probably puts him ahead of most.

Comment Re:In an ideal world (for the cops) yes (Score 1) 522

Even a lab "up to the quality of a guy running a hard disk recovery business out of his garage" is going to work on images of the disks rather than the disks themselves -- anything less will get all their cases thrown out of court by the defense ("how can you guarantee that you didn't alter the data yourselves?") *and* will get caught by "oh, you entered the wrong password? erase everything!" code. Maybe in 1992, but in 2017 ... that's law enforcement computer forensics 101, day 1. They absolutely will not be hooking up his computer and drives and working on that (unless they need to do so to figure something out, and even then -- it'll have copies of his drives rather than the originals.)

If a police department can't even reach that level ... then they're probably either avoiding such cases entirely, or deferring them to some other, larger and better-equipped organization.

Beyond that ... it becomes an issue of how badly they want the data. The local police department probably can't do too much, but the NSA/CIA/etc. can do a *lot* if they are properly motivated.

(That said, this sounds like a case where they won't be going to any extraordinary technological lengths to get at the data. They certainly do seem to have some friends in the courts, however.)

Now, back to "self-destructing crypto" ... if half the encryption key is on some remote server in Russia that self-destructs if not accessed at least every 30 days, then maybe. (That said ... people would lose their data often under such an arrangement.) If such services popped up and were being actively used, I imagine that the NSA and friends would be working on countermeasures (like compromising that box and looking for other vulnerabilities in the arrangement or simply installing keyloggers where needed), but that would probably foil the local police department's attempts to get the keys.

Of course, simply refusing to tell them the password should also foil them, legally and technically. This ruling is bad, bad, bad ... but I guess fighting child porn is more important than the right to not self-incriminate to this court?

Comment Re:Rubber-hose cryptanalysis (Score 3, Interesting) 522

.Perhaps some type of expiry after 30-60 days of non-use for sensitive encrypted drives might protect against this, since there's no way the person could decrypt the drive after that threshold.

You aren't imagining the defendant's computer in a nice neat room with his drives plugged in and a cop sitting at it trying to guess the password, are you?

No, the drives will have been imaged through a hardware device that blocks all attempts to write, and their work will be on their own computers running their forsensic software against the images of his drives, with his original drives safely in the evidence lockup.

And if criminals start using drives with custom firmware to foil this (they've already read the first GB sequentially? return gibberish and erase everything!), the cops will then be removing the control boards and subsituting their own before they do the imaging.

"Self destructing crypto" will just be something else for them to work around. It might foil the local police department, but if the FBI/NSA/CIA/etc. really wants your data, that's not going to foil them any more than straight strong crypto will.

Comment Re:Contempt of the court... (Score 5, Insightful) 522

This is not a Constitutional question — the guy is not asked to testify against himself. What he is to say is not under oath and will not be used against him.

It is indeed a Constitutional question. He's accused of a crime, and he's being asked, er forced to aid the prosecution. What happened to his right to remain silent, his right against self-incrimination?

And yes, I do believe it is the goal of the prosecution to use any passwords he provides to find stuff that *will* be used against him. They are *demanding* that he aid their prosecution of him by divulging secrets ... how is that not testifying against himself? Next, are they going to waterboard him for the passwords?

What is demanded of him is a key to the premises, for which a perfectly valid search-warrant has already been issued.

If they were demanding a physical key, he could refuse to tell them where that is too. That said, without that ... they'll just knock down the door.

Also ... has a search warrant been issued to search his brain?

This stinks to high heaven. I thought that it was already established by case law that you did not have to say anything to aid the prosecution in any way, that your right to remain silent was absolute in a criminal case?

Comment Re:Drone collisions... (Score 1) 52

Yeah, that's pretty much how I interpreted it as well.

(The bipe pilot turned on his smoke to "increase his visibility to the R/C airplane operators". Uh-huh -- *he was showing off*, and got too close.)

That said, the FAA's decision was pretty clear -- the collision was the fault of the pilot of the model aircraft. I guess that's the only possible answer given their rules -- showing off is permitted, but hovering where a manned aircraft decides to be is not, permission or not.

Comment Re:Yet another Tech CEO confusing AI with Johnny-5 (Score 1) 111

For a class of person that feels that they are more in tune with technology than the rest of humanity, they seem woefully ignorant of "Artificial Intelligence".

Personally, I suspect that anybody who thinks they can accurately predict what AI is going to look like 20 to 50 years from now (and especially on the longer end) probably isn't as "in tune with technology" as they think they are.

All in all, as I see it ... that quote suggests to me that Reed Hastings is on the better part of the Dunning-Kruger curve here -- he knows how quickly this stuff is changing and how quickly it could change in the future and so isn't going to make any specific predictions for what might happen 20-50 years from now, and instead makes a joke about it.

Comment You could do better than that ... (Score 1) 301

Rather than having a PIN that erases everything, just make one that unlocks a totally different filesystem.

You've got 32 GB of space on your phone, so dedicate 8 GB of that to an alternate system (and make sure the phone doesn't say 32 GB on the outside) and when you give it the alternate PIN you log into the alternate setup that has no access whatsoever to the main setup. You can even install apps and stuff in this alternate setup, so it looks real but it only has the things you've deemed to be OK.

This wouldn't fool the FBI using forensic software on your phone, but it would stop the border patrol guy who wants to poke around your phone, as long as such things don't become common knowledge and he starts checking sizes vs. published specs and such.

You could even set up multiple PINs -- PIN #1 gives the main phone, #2 gives alternate setup #1, #3 gives alternate setup #2, #4 erases everything if entered three times in a row ...

Comment Re:Drone collisions... (Score 2) 52

This incident was shown to be a structural failure rather than unmanned aircraft collision. Your link actually says that -- they originally thought it was a drone, but further investigation showed that there was no collision at all, only a structural failure.

That said, there have been some incidents in the US over the years that have been confirmed/well documented ...




And outside of the US, there's this --


Comment Re:I don't like the EHang 184 design (Score 1) 47

Are you making a joke, or are you not familiar with multicopters?

If one motor dies or its prop breaks or something, the computer detects that and turns that motor off, and the motor on the opposite side of the craft (which will be spinning in the opposite direction.) This will keep the forces balanced.

Then you speed up the remaining motors to make up for the lost lift. Given that you've only lost/turned off 25% of your motors, the thing would almost certainly still be able to maneuver normally. Performance would be reduced, yes -- but it would be designed to be able to lose some number of its motors and still maintain altitude and fly around.

And even if you were to lose all four bottom motors/props -- even if that doesn't leave it with enough power to maintain altitude (which is uncertain -- it might still be able to fly with only four motors), it would still be able to make a controlled descent at a reasonable rate of speed. (It might not be able to pick its landing spot, however.)

That said, given that human life would be on the line here -- I'd expect these things to also be equipped with a ballistic parachute. You probably wouldn't need it if one motor or prop failed, but if more things went south (or the computer or power source failed) -- you might.

Comment Re:I don't like the EHang 184 design (Score 1) 47

I didn't do the work to figure out if these guys are using four motors for their eight props, or if they have eight motors, but I'd want to use eight motors, at least two redundant control systems, independent motor controllers...

Motors are small and cheap -- there's little advantage to one big one per boom driving two props over two smaller ones, one for each prop ... and some big disadvantages.

I'm pretty sure they'd design it exactly as you said, including a ballistic chute in case everything goes wrong. Anything less for a human carrying craft would bankrupt the company the first time one crashed.

Comment Re:I don't like the EHang 184 design (Score 1) 47

Even with just four rotors you can lose one rotor and go into a slow descent with the rotor opposite the failed one dedicated to maintaining balance and the other two remaining rotors at near-maximum thrust.

Unless the rotor opposite the failed one can *reverse* ... that's not going to work, and even if it can, the odds are pretty good that it can't switch between going forward and backwards quickly enough to overcome the instability on the axis between the two working props that this mode would have.

*Maybe* this could be made to work better (and without reversing) if the center of gravity was shifted towards the motor/prop dedicated to maintaining balance. (Tell the passengers to lean to the front right!)

Also, with only three props it probably won't be able to do much to control yaw. That said, a smart computer might still be able to have it go somewhere, even if the thing keeps rotating. But even if not -- a controlled descent even while spinning is still better than falling like a brick.

That said, the Ehang solves this problem by being an octocopter. I would not expect any human carrying craft to only have four props, though I'd probably also expect them to give them a ballistic chute in case everything goes wrong.

Comment Re:I don't like the EHang 184 design (Score 1) 47

The Ehang is an octocopter -- so it can lose somewhere between 1 and 4 motors/props and still fly properly. (Exactly how many can be lost depends on which ones are lost and how much thrust it needs to maintain altitude.)

That said, if it loses power completely, or the computer crashes or something ... it might as well be a brick for how well it'll fly. There will be no autorotation.

That said, I see no reason why they couldn't equip it with a ballistic parachute in case something does go horribly wrong.

Comment Re:I don't like the EHang 184 design (Score 1) 47

Quadcopters are *not stable at all*. Without the flight controller and its gyro sensors they would immediately crash. This goes way beyond the computer turning a human's movements of the two sticks into throttle inputs for four or more motors -- it also makes sure that when the human isn't telling it to do something that it doesn't do anything. Turn this off and the craft would flip over and crash in a few instants.

That said, these flight controllers can be used on traditional helicopters too, making them as stable as quadcopters. I don't think this has been done much with manned helicopters yet, but R/C helicopters? Sure.

The nice thing about quadcopters is that they replace the considerable mechanical complexity of a helicopter with extremely simple mechanics and a computer with some sensors. This makes them cheaper to design, build and repair.

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