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Comment Re:It was a premises warrant. (Score 1) 329

He may in some cases be forced to surrender a key to a strongbox containing incriminating documents, but I do not believe he can be compelled to reveal the combination to his wall safe —- by word or deed

Meaning the fingerprint gathering for the use of opening the phone is tantamount to compelled testimony in the general case, while the fingerprint gathering for the use of identification and matching is not.

Keys don't change. Fingerprints don't change. A biometric identifier is therefore not affirmative.

Combinations can change. Pin codes can change. Utilizing either requires active participation in a process. And is therefore affirmative.

Fingerprint usage is therefore tantamount to using a key, and if you are stupid enough to use a biometric identifier as an access method, you've picked a non-affirmative access method.

Comment It was a premises warrant. (Score 5, Informative) 329

In a premises search, they can compel an unlock of phones by fingerprint, assuming you lock your phone that way.

The specific legal decision was the 1988 John DOE, Petitioner v. UNITED STATES. 487 U.S. 201 (108 S.Ct. 2341, 101 L.Ed.2d 184) decision.

It came down to whether on not an affirmative action was required on the part of someone, or if it was a non-affirmative action. Use of a key on a safe or lockbox is not affirmative. Being forced to enter the combination is not affirmative; it's tantamount to compelled testimony.

Here's the part of the decision of interest:

A defendant can be compelled to produce material evidence that is incriminating. Fingerprints, blood samples, voice exemplars, handwriting specimens, or other items of physical evidence may be extracted from a defendant against his will. But can he be compelled to use his mind to assist the prosecution in convicting him of a crime? I think not. He may in some cases be forced to surrender a key to a strongbox containing incriminating documents, but I do not believe he can be compelled to reveal the combination to his wall safe —- by word or deed.

Moral of this story: use a pin code, rather than using the fingerprint unlock. It may be a cool feature, but it offers you no legal protection.

Comment Re:If the point was ... (Score 4, Insightful) 315

There's no proof that it has anything to do with Wikileaks, but in a world of IoT devices with no thought toward security, anyone who cares to do so can mount DDOS with the power of a national entity.

What's the point of doing what Assange and Wikileaks have been doing without any moral position? He isn't helping his own case.

Comment Re:Legal? (Score 2) 251

No, of course it is not legal to set a trap to intentionally hurt someone, even if you expect that the trap could only be activated by the person committing property theft or vandalism. Otherwise, you'd see shotguns built into burglar alarms.

Fire alarm stations sometimes shoot a blue dye which is difficult to remove or one which only shows under UV. Never stand in front of one when pulling the lever! But they are not supposed to hurt you.

And of course these booby traps generally are not as reliable as the so-called "inventor" thinks and tend to hurt the innocent.

Comment Re:huh? (Score 1) 146

A decade or two ago (I'm not really sure when he wrote it)) Brad Templeton suggested something like this as a fix for various problems, especially trademark. My take is that the basic idea is that TLDs are already meaningless, so diversifying them into increased meaninglessness does no damage while offering some benefits. (e.g. makes monopolizing certain words harder, makes it easier to try out new registration policies, etc)

Comment Re:Does anybody ... (Score 1) 474

how do you cut off *his* internet connection without cutting off the entire Ecuadorian Embassy's internet connection?

Go to the rack and unplug the ethernet cable whose other end is in Assange's room. Change the wifi password and only tell people the new one along with the instructions "don't share your password, especially with that Assange guy."

The "state actor" was Ecuador, or else it didn't happen. That's the only government capable of doing it.

Comment Re:Logical (Score 1) 365

Who is responsable in the case your AI-autonomous car decides to kill some pedestrians ?

I don't know. Tell me more about what happened right before that.

Was the pedestrian running out into traffic for laughs, to see all the cars crash into each other as some other threads here suggest? Was the occupant aiming it toward crowds to impress his friend with how it suddenly swerves away from the crowd when he takes his hands off the wheel? Did it just suddenly "randomly" turn off the street into a crowd as a result of a bug?

By the time someone or something decides "hit this or hit that" you already have a huge failure. That is way more important and common than the hit-this-or-that question itself.

Comment Not all Li batteries are prone to thermal runaway (Score 1) 99

Lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries are considerably more stable than lithium polymer and are not prone to thermal runaway.

They have somewhat lower energy density than lithium polymer, which is probably why they're not very common for phones, tablets, and laptops. They were used in the OLPC.

They are also somewhat common in RC cars and planes, in part due to their voltage (3.2V, so four series cells make 12.8V), and in part due to their higher possible discharge current.

Comment Re:Logical (Score 1) 365

If you're worried to the point of stupidity/paralysis ("be prepared to be sued out of existence") then you've already chosen to never drive even a manually-operated car, because you were overwhelmed by your fears. Most people don't have that attitude going on, so they already drive cars anyway, where they face constant daily risk of injuring or even killing pedestrians.

And some of them end up occasionally doing it, to many peoples' grief. For whatever reason, society didn't give up and decide the existence of cars was just too dangerous to allow. It's over a hundred years too late for to advocate against cars. By the time your grandparents were born, this argument (that we're having today) had already been settled.

How the vehicle got to be out of control is what everyone trying to establish liability will be asking. That it killed a pedestrian or driver is merely the motivation for asking.

Comment "Wouldn't they be stuck in the traffic as well?" (Score 0) 60

"Wouldn't they be stuck in the traffic as well?"

I believe the theory is that if you practice something, you get better at it. An Uber driver (presumably) practices driving, which means they get better at it, which means that they don't automatically slow down any time they see a huge ball of fire in the sky (try 101 Northbound at 4-5 PM), or other stupid things that less practiced drivers do, meaning they end up not clogging things up, like less practiced drivers tend to do.

The expression "Sunday driver" is actually based on observations.

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