In a stunning decision, a Federal court has held that a user has no expectation of privacy for their personal computer if they have connected that computer to the Internet. While the case and holding is fairly complex, this part of the holding boils down to this: in this day and age we know that computers that are connected to the Internet can be hacked, and knowing this, we are not entitled to an expectation of privacy on our personal computers.
In the latest round over the Feds’ effort to force Apple to help them break into the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, and Apple’s refusal to do so, Apple has come out with both fists up. The Feds most recent court filing accuses that “Apple’s rhetoric is not only false, but also corrosive of the very institutions that are best able to safeguard our liberty and our rights.” In response, Apple’s general counsel, attorney Bruce Sewell, said during a press conference call that “…it seems like disagreeing with the Department of Justice means you must be evil and anti-American.” (Full text below.)
In a novel twist in the FBI versus Apple iPhone case, the San Bernardino District Attorney’s office has filed a motion (full text below) to submit an Amicus Curiae brief, stating that, among other things, the phone could harbor a “lying dormant cyber pathogen.” Of course, there’s no such thing as a lying dormant cyber pathogen, but why let a little thing like the facts get in the way of a good argument?
As we recently reported, the FBI (and so the Federal government) is trying to force Apple to assist them in unlocking the iPhone that belonged to San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook. A Federal court ordered Apple to do so, and so far Apple has resisted. Part of the heart of the FBI’s argument is that this will affect only one phone, while Apple has insisted that it’s much larger than that – that an order to help unlock one phone will lead to a dangerous precedent of being ordered to help unlock any number of phones. The Feds have steadfastly insisted it is “just this one.” However, recent court filings have revealed that in fact there are as many as a dozen iPhones in other cases just waiting for Apple to be ordered to unlock them.
In Round 2 of the Apple iPhone FBI court dispute, in which the court ordered Apple to alter the iPhone used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook, the Feds have filed a Motion to Compel Apple to comply with the order, in which they mention, in passing in a footnote, that the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health (SBCDPH) actually changed the password to the iCloud account to which the phone was backing up, thwarting any further backups of the phone’s data, between the time it was recovered from Farook’s vehicle, and handing it over to the FBI.
Late yesterday afternoon a Federal court ordered Apple to assist the FBI in their investigation into the San Bernardino shootings by unlocking the iPhone belonging to the shooters. In response, this morning, Apple CEO Tim Cook released a public statement in which Apple refuses to comply, explaining the reasons that even if Apple can comply with the order, they will refuse to do so.
We’ve always said that submitting your DNA for DNA analysis at services like 23andMe, and AncestryDNA by Ancestry.com, is a bad idea, because regardless of what ‘good’ can come from it, the potential for bad is just too great. Having unknown actors have access to your DNA information is a violation of privacy of the most basic, and intimate, kind. Sadly, we were right. Law enforcement agencies are now using what is known as “familial DNA search” to go on DNA fishing expeditions, searching for near matches to DNA found at a crime scene.
Last month the U.S. Justice department announced the takedown of the Darkode (get it? DarkCode – Dark Code?) international cybercrime ring, which the DOJ called one of the “gravest threats” to the security of online data. But what exactly does that mean to you, the average user sitting at home behind your computer?
Both the Federal Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee heard today from FBI Director James Comey, and from Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates, that they need a backdoor (or a “front door”, as Comey calls it) that allows them to decrypt encrypted email and messages in order to fight terrorism.
The FBI glossary of Internet slang acronyms reads like a leet speak (l337 5p3@k) primer, albeit a massively over-inclusive one. Indeed, in the time it would take an FBI agent to skim through the Internet slang glossary looking for a particular term, one would hope they could have just inferred it from context. Put together by the FBI Intelligence Research Support Unit (IRSU) and starting with ADN (Any Day Now) and ending with ZOMG (“emphasized OMG”) and ZUP (“what’s up?”), and everything in between, the FBI primer on ‘net slang is a whopping 83 pages containing nearly 3000 terms, many of them, if not most of them, not even really a thing. Although we are fond of BOGSAT (bunch of guys sitting around talking) and are now using it every chance we get.
Move over, NSA, the FBI, having obtained the entire Tormail email database is the newest organization to be revealed to have engaged in massive breaches of email privacy.
The FBI, in conjunction with the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) has released their list of “Potential Indicators of Terrorist Activities Related to Internet Cafe” (sic). It may surprise you that your own Internet cafe activities render you suspicious. For example, if you attempt to shield your screen (like when, you know, you are entering a password?) you may be a terrorist. Or, if you travel an “illogical distance” to use an Internet cafe, you may be a terrorist. (We can’t help but hear Jeff Foxworthy’s voice as we read this list.) The list also includes suspicious computer activities and uses, as well as advice on what to do if you suspect that the guy next to you sipping his double light-foam mochaccino latte is a terrorist.
GPS. It can be invaluable in helping you to get from Point A to Point B (of course, GPS can also lead you to a near death experience). However, it turns out that GPS can now be surreptitiously attached to the outside of your car, and used to track you – without a warrant – by the FBI (and who knows to what other law enforcement agencies this may extend).
From our “Now I’ve heard it all” department, Gregory McKenna (misreported in many articles as “George McKenna”) is suing, among others, the St. Louis County Police Department, the FBI, and Apple Computers for allegedly allowing the Mafia to bug his iPods (along with his house, his cars, and more) and allowing them to play sinister songs with hidden messages to him on his iPods.
The papers which underpinned the investigation into the anthrax scare and incidents of 2001 which included the death of five people, and which ultimately lead to the suicide of lead suspect Bruce Ivins last week, have not only been unsealed, but in record time they have been put on the Internet and made available to the public on the Department of Justice (DOJ) website.