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Submission + - Supreme Court Unanimously rules that police need a warrant to search cell phones (cnn.com) 1

HunterZero writes: The Supreme Court on Wednesday unanimously ruled that police may not search the cell phones of criminal suspects upon arrest without a warrant. By a 9-0 vote, the justices said smart phones and other electronic devices were not in the same category as wallets, briefcases, and vehicles — all currently subject to limited initial examination by law enforcement.

Submission + - US Supreme Court Says Cellphones Can't Be Searched Without a Warrant (nytimes.com)

SonicSpike writes: In a major statement on privacy rights in the digital age, the Supreme Court on Wednesday unanimously ruled that the police need warrants to search the cellphones of people they arrest.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the court, said the vast amount of data contained on modern cellphones must be protected from routine inspection.

The court heard arguments in April in two cases on the issue, but issued a single decision.

The courts have long allowed warrantless searches in connection with arrests, saying they are justified by the need to protect police officers and to prevent the destruction of evidence. The Justice Department, in its Supreme Court briefs, said the old rule should apply to the new devices.

Others say there must be a different standard because of the sheer amount of data on and available through cellphones.

“Today, many Americans store their most personal ‘papers’ and ‘effects’ in electronic format on a cellphone, carried on the person,” Judge Norman H. Stahl wrote for a divided three-judge panel in Mr. Wurie’s case, quoting the words of the Fourth Amendment.

Submission + - Supreme Court rules cell phones can't be searched without a warrant (nytimes.com)

CarlThansk writes: The courts have long debated on if cell phones can be searched during an arrest without a warrant. Today, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the police need warrants to search the cellphones of people they arrest.

"Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the court, said the vast amount of data contained on modern cellphones must be protected from routine inspection."

Comment Re:Concentrations (Score 4, Interesting) 216

Did you just randomly combine numbers? Your math has nothing to do with anything.

.18 parts per trillion = 0.00000018 parts per million for PFTBA, vs 400 parts per million for CO2.

Even at 7000 times stronger for PFTBA, the PFTBA would be equivalent to
.00000018 * 7000 = 0.00126 parts per million of carbon, which is
.00126 / 400 = 0.00000315, or 0.000315 percent of the effect of the CO2.

Comment Re:Only 53% of South Koreans claim any religion (Score 2) 286

The reporting on this was overblown. All that was issue was two examples -

The controversy began in May, when Korea's Ministry of Education, Science and Technology announced that revised editions of high school textbooks would leave out discussion of two examples of evolution: the Archaeopteryx, an ancient ancestor to birds, and ancestors of the modern horse.

Not removing the subject from the textbooks -

The STR's Lim, meanwhile, says the group won't end its efforts to remove other evolution examples from Korean textbooks "one by one."

But that could be difficult, notes Choe. Government regulations mandate that all Korean science textbooks include a section on evolutionary theory with a discussion of the fossil record. STR sidestepped those rules by targeting two examples of evolution whose exact mechanisms evolutionary biologists still puzzle over, Choe says. "Korean newspapers give the impression that the whole discussion of evolution is disappearing" from textbooks, Choe says, "which is ridiculous, but exactly what the STR was aiming at."

So evolution in textbooks was never in danger, just two diagrams. And they were only in danger because they were apparently outdated; and they're not being removed, just fixed.

(See also this post by a Korean-American).

Comment Re:but but but... Apple (Score 3, Informative) 447

And you're sure of this why?
And from geek.com (http://www.geek.com/articles/mobile/how-much-of-your-phone-is-yours-20111115/):

Currently, Trevor has found CarrierIQ in a number of Sprint phones, including HTC and Samsung Android devices. CarrierIQ is confirmed to be found on the iPhone or on feature phones, but Trevor has found RIM’s Blackberry handsets and several Nokia devices with CarrierIQ on board as well.

This may just be a terribly worded sentence and CarrierIQ isn't on the iPhone (and I can't find any other cites), but even if this specific software isn't there, that doesn't mean other software that does the same thing under the excuse of "improving the network" isn't. Further, "Apple doesn't engage in abuse <x>" is a bullshit excuse for other problems.

Comment Re:Fuck exceptions for religion (Score 1) 615

some don't (Native Americans cannot use Peyote).

Nitpick, but you're wrong about Peyote.

I think you just have to state that it is a religion, if all you want to do is call it that. I would you want an exemption, I would imagine the burden of proof that it's a real belief, and not one ginned up for the exemption is on a sliding scale.

Under current US law while you don't need to belong to an organized church (Seshadri v. Kasraian for one example), it does need to be sincere and there has been some attempts to distinguish "personal creeds" from religions (Brown vs Pena gave:
(1) whether the belief is based on atheory of "man's nature or his place in the Universe,"
(2) which is not merely a personal preference but has an institutional quality about it, and
(3) which is sincere.
Unique personal moral preferences cannot be characterized as religious beliefs) and marijuana-related religions (for one example) have done rather poorly in court.

As for the broader context of exceptions, Employment Division vs Smith gutted a lot of protections, but the various federal and state Religious Freedom Restoration Acts passed in its wake have generally imposed some variant of a Strict Scrutiny test. Which I have no real problem with, as laws adhering to a standard of meeting a compelling government interest, and being narrowly tailored and using the least restrictive means seems like a good idea for laws.

Comment Re:Hold on... (Score 1) 490

I need to actually read the case, but:
1. Alice sends Bob a message
2. Bob decides to post the message on Facebook or even, the police ask Bob for the message and Bob says: Sure here you go!
3. Alice has no expectation of privacy from Bob because she chose to send him the message.

The above situation is already well established as being perfectly fine from long before the time of the Internet. The meaning of the term "Third Party" is at issue here, and third party does *not* necessarily mean your ISP. Look at the stored communications act for the rules on how email is treated by law enforcement. If you send your email to somebody (the "third party") that somebody can choose to hand it over to anyone. However, this isn't any different than sending a letter over the Pony Express and having the person you sent the letter to read it in the town square for everyone to here.
Moral of the story: If you don't trust a third party, don't send them information!

Wrong, as you would learn if you RTFA:

1. Alice sends Bob a message. There are now copies of the message with both Alice (her ISP) and Bob (his ISP).
2. Alice has no expectation of privacy from the copy of the message with Bob because she chose to send him the message.
3. Court decides because Alice has no expectation of privacy from Bob's copy of the message, Alice has no expectation of privacy from Alice's copy of the message either, and so the police can grab the email from her ISP without a warrant or probable cause.

Two quotes from Kerr, now that the site is back up:

The conceptual error in Rehberg is in treating Fourth Amendment rights in the copy stored at the ISP as if it were the same as the Fourth Amendment rights in the copy that was delivered.

Moreover, the court applied to the emails seized that Rehberg received as well as sent (again quoting Kerr):

The complaint suggests that the government obtained both incoming and outgoing e-mails stored with Rehberg’s ISP; according to the complaint, investigators “obtained Mr. Rehberg’s personal e-mails that were sent and received from his personal computer.”

Comment I'm going to have to disagree (Score 2, Interesting) 78

The short version of the argument is that allowing a lot of character customization
a) Can't fully achieve the goal of having the player "become" the character, as the gameplay and narrative of the game provide their own limits;
b) Doesn't really solve the problem of the interaction of race and video games; and
c) Limits the games, because it prevents them from using meaningful character details as driving the narrative, gutting it.
This misses the point to a great deal;

For (a) All creation has limits but that doesn't make it valueless or not an act of creation; even if the limits are that born within a game system.

For (b) it's true but character customization was never really aimed at solving the interaction fully.

For (c) not all details of a character limit the story of a game (would it really matter if Gordon Freeman was black?) and if a game is anything other than a railroad it needs to branch at some point anyway, so the branching of a game in response to character creation (see Dragon Age's multiple origin stories) is not a meaningful limit of narrative.

In longer form, his argument is full of holes in general; he starts off by begging the question, complete with passive-agressive "I'm going to get modded down for this, but" bullshit:

Now, to offend half the blogosphere offhand: For the purpose of this article, we will consider avatar customization a convenient narrative cop-out. We shall also assume that no mechanisms are in place stopping developers from writing and designing heterogeneous yet fully structured, narrative-based computer games with carefully constructed and immutable, unchangeable characters.

So he assumes the practice he's complaining about is the only thing stopping him from getting the games he wants (it isn't, but I can see the assumption as useful for purposes of argument) and then assumes the practice he disagrees with is valueless (it isn't). He even admits that in terms of narrative etc he's dismissing the value with nothing more than the word "seems":

(Obviously, there are occasions wherein the “tabula rasa” scenario is a fully motivated one, either by its ludic or narrative function, but assuming this to be a default state to be aspired to seems ultimately misguided beyond the MMO.)

As he asserts this without evidence, I'll dismiss it with little more (At very least, games in the line of Fallout or (from what I know about it) Dragon Age are clear examples in opposition to this).

He goes on for a while about minorities and gaming, nothing that minorities are underrepresented in gaming, and that the common approach of reading % of characters as a measure of this is a bit of tokenism and misses the point – that the experience of growing up white and growing up, say, Latino are different and this affects a lot of things in subtle ways, and just changing a character's skin isn't going to reflect these ways. And that making this irrelevant works against both the white and Latino's experience. This is true as far as it goes, but it really doesn't have much to do with character creation:

a) I've always thought the % studies as a quick and dirty measure of how much of the creators are working to take those experiences into account. If the numbers are heavily lopsided, then it's a sign the probably aren't; if the numbers are more even there's at least a chance they are.
b) More importantly, the ability of a trait to help someone connect with a character isn't necessarily connected with the importance in the game world. To paraphrase from a shadowrun sourcebook, “Who cares about the color of someone's skin when the guy over there is a rock with hands as big as your head?” This is even true for characters set initially in our on world (c.f. Gordon Freeman). So the race of the character could end up being meaningful for the player and not meaningful for the game world.
c) Even where it is relevant, it can be branched; this can help the narrative in a way that it doesn't work with books. Flipping back to Dragon Age – the plan for the game is you select one of several “origin stories”, which set the first few hours of the game and have impacts through the rest of the game. This allows them to examine more of the game world – improving the narrative/story of the game as a whole rather than weakening it - while giving freedom in character creation. While it does it in context of class and species rather than (say) race and gender, which are rendered irrelevant, there's no reason it couldn't be used for the latter.

Then he gets tripped up on language for a bit:

Yes, the act does resemble that of “creation” in that players apply their imagination to a restricted set of tools, much in the same way one would other forms of art, but a process of “birthing”, like Alexander calls it, it is not.
After all, the word “birth” is far removed from the tangible actuality of the interfaces to which our creativity is ultimately tied to

I dunno, people get pretty creative with the interfaces used in birth. (Well, people that aren't slashdot readers.) But I'm really not sure what he's getting at here; yes, it is a restricted set of tools for creation. And? It seems like he's trying to confuse himself with terminology while knowing what people actually mean by it:

In video games, then, we do become one with our character – at least as much as acting out a role in a play allows us to vicariously experience being an another being.

Well, yes, but this doesn't actually lead to the rest of his point:

audiences often demand protagonists to whom they can relate, whom they admire, to motivate gameplay and enhance immersion – so isn’t the best way to “get it right” to allow players to build their own.

For designers, writers and ultimately companies to seek to “get it right” in this manner, from my narrative-obsessed standpoint, is what I mean by avataritis.
This is the dualistic fallacy of the avatar: Customization may seem to offer developers and players alike a chance to mask, to separate an avatar from its perfunctory position and move it closer to the player, bridging the gap between various players of different origins, but due to the avatar’s function as a literary element, a character never does become perfectly liberated from its original environs and place of creation.

The idea that an idea (character creation) allowing a character to move towards the player rather than the creator is fallacious because it's not perfect is absurd. That something isn't imperfect doesn't mean it's valueless; customization does not always weaken the narrative (as I noted above) and even when it does the tradeoff may be worth it.

He goes on to say we can connect with people that aren't like us, which no-one has ever disagreed with. Skipping past the first 2 summary points, a note on the third:

Third, I sought to explain how offering players avatar-based customization can lead to beautification, stereotyping, archetyping and the ongoing perpetration of an established discourse of the avatar that allows companies to purport and rely on the assumption that players (or viewers) only want to relate, desire, admire or be themselves.

So I'm an elf, robot, alien, human, and talking cow-person of various genders? Alternately, avatar customization can also be used to put yourself in someone else's shoes and experience them, or just mess around with different characters in general; while avatars allow us to make characters like ourselves they don't require it. And often they lead away from it; if customization and the game are sufficiently robust, they can even encourage it, by playing as multiple characters. If you're replaying a game on a different path, you may as well make a different character as well.

Comment Re:Actual implications (Score 1) 154

I believe it could apply to databases as well. Excel could be considered (in a loose way) to be a database that includes the capability to format the data.

The ruling applies to all digital evidence (databases, excel sheets, text documents, images, whatever). I'm just wondering (a) where the summary got it from and (b) why a number of people are acting like the ruling is limited to databases, given that neither the facts of the case nor the scope of the ruling deal with them specifically.

Comment Re:Actual implications (Score 1) 154

The decision is here.

It explicitly sets down a rule applying to *all* electronic media search warrants (though it will only apply to federal courts in the 9th circuit). The ruling's core is about the method of electronic searches and the plain sight doctrine, and eviscerates the usage of the latter for electronic media :

In general, we adopt Tamura's solution to the problem
of necessary over-seizing of evidence: When the government
wishes to obtain a warrant to examine a computer hard
drive or electronic storage medium in searching for certain
incriminating files, or when a search for evidence could result
in the seizure of a computer, see, e.g., United States v. Giberson,
527 F.3d 882 (9th Cir. 2008), magistrate judges must be
vigilant in observing the guidance we have set out throughout
our opinion, which can be summed up as follows:
1. Magistrates should insist that the government waive reliance
upon the plain view doctrine in digital evidence cases.
See p. 11876 supra.
2. Segregation and redaction must be either done by specialized
personnel or an independent third party. See pp.
11880-81 supra. If the segregation is to be done by government
computer personnel, it must agree in the warrant application
that the computer personnel will not disclose to the
investigators any information other than that which is the target
of the warrant.
3. Warrants and subpoenas must disclose the actual risks of
destruction of information as well as prior efforts to seize that
information in other judicial fora. See pp. 11877-78, 11886-87
4. The government's search protocol must be designed to
uncover only the information for which it has probable cause,
and only that information may be examined by the case
agents. See pp. 11878, 11880-81 supra.
5. The government must destroy or, if the recipient may
lawfully possess it, return non-responsive data, keeping the
issuing magistrate informed about when it has done so and
what it has kept. See p. 11881-82 supra.

So while it hasn't changed the plain sight doctrine per se, it's basically ordered magistrates to require cops to not use the plain sight doctrine when issuing a warrant for electronic data, among other restrictions to help ensure privacy. (Tamura is about a set of restrictions around searching things like filing cabinets, which have some of the same issues with the "plain sight" doctrine). Orin Kerr has a good post about the decision, which is part of a series of posts he's done on the situation.

So it's an extremely important case for computer privacy, at least in the 9th circuit, although it will probably end up being reviewed by the Supreme Court.

Also, I have no idea why "database records" keeps coming up; the records searched were an excel sheet. The summary is terrible.

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