Morning Links

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008
  • If you’re entering the country from abroad, it looks like your hard drive is now subject to search without probable cause.
  • I think lots of people would quibble with me being on the “right,” but I appreciate the suggestion. Of course, I’d never stoop to write for that liberal rag. Just kidding. I’d say “yes” in a friggin’ heartbeat.
  • Here’s a whole site devoted to terrifically awful album covers. (Thanks to Tom Bux for the link.)
  • St. Charles, Missouri city council wants to ban profanity in bars. If you can’t swear in a fucking bar, where the hell can you?
  • Giuliani on Hillary Clinton’s tears: “I cried on September 11.”
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14 Responses to “Morning Links”

  1. #1 |  Jozef | 

    Given that I do software development for companies both in the US and Europe, I quickly learned that the most secure way to store my files was on a secure server. That way, if my laptop is stolen, bursts into flames or is impounded at the border crossing, nobody’s any wiser, and I won’t lose anything.

  2. #2 |  Nando | 

    As far as computers go, if you can VPN (virtual private network) back to a server or computer in the US from abroad, you don’t have to worry about what info is on the laptop (everything is encrypted in a VPN tunnel so you don’t have to worry about it going clear over a wire). Also, my work laptop has hard drive encryption (meaning you get three tries when you boot up or the hard drive gets wiped out) and I’m sure there is nobody that can force me to enter a password (sorry, Officer, I seem to have forgot it. It’s written down at home somewhere). You can also password-protect individual folders and files, assuming you have an NTFS file system.

    I know that’s not the issue, tho. The Fourth Amendment reads as follows:

    “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.”

    It seems to me that computers (or even luggage) are your papers and effects and you should be secure in the knowledge that the Fourth Amendment prohibits them from being searched unless there is a SPECIFIC warrant.

  3. #3 |  Jester | 

    Two words: TrueCrypt and hidden volumes

  4. #4 |  whiskey | 

    Nando:

    The Fourth Amendment says that you are secure against unreasonable searches, not warrantless searches. A search supported by warrant is presumptively reasonable. A search without a warrant is presumptively unreasonable. Both of these are only presumptions, however, and can be defeated by a showing of reasonableness, which is at the root of the Fourth Amendment.

    You’re free to debate whether it is reasonable to search a laptop, but the warrant issue is a red herring.

  5. #5 |  martin | 

    There was a discussion on the Boucher case cited in the NY article on the Volokh Conspiracy.

    It appears that the SCOTUS has effectively undermined the 5th amendment by distinguishing testimonial from non-testimonial acts and using a “foregone conclusion” standard. By this reasoning it seems to be only a small next step to using witness testimony that the defendant had used the computer and must thus be in possession of the password or a simple ownership and control standard to compel the disclosure of any passwords. No special politically difficult disclosure laws needed. In the UK such law has already expanded from being used on terrorists, as promised, to being used in other investigations, against the high crime of Animal rights activism.

    As if Mr. Boucher could not have been successfully prosecuted on the border guard’s testimony alone.

  6. #6 |  divadab | 

    Customs agents’ inspection is an exception to probable cause – if you want to enter the country, you are subject to search. And it’s not a bar, so don’t cuss!

    What’s next in St. Charles – banning farting in the men’s room?

  7. #7 |  Alex | 

    ”That searches made at the border, pursuant to the longstanding right of the sovereign to protect itself by stopping and examining persons and property crossing into this country, are reasonable simply by virtue of the fact that they occur at the border, should, by now, require no extended demonstration.”

    That was passed by the First Congress, and I don’t really have a problem with it. I need to see a more compelling case than a pervert coming from the Philippines with kiddie porn to change my mind.

  8. #8 |  CK | 

    Eventually it comes down to faith.
    If you are using a VPN, you have faith that it cannot be snooped during the transmission of the encrypted files and faith that even if it is snooped the snoopers do not have the capability of defeating your encryption package.
    If you use a secure server to store your files you have faith in the security processes at the server end as well as faith that the entire route to the server is not compromised.
    If you use hard drive encryption you have faith that the erasure of the encrypted drive is not uneraseable by computer forensic technology. Not to mention your faith that the erasure will be completed before the inquisitive shut down the power and remove the drive.
    You effectively are saying that you have faith that the people who designed the systems did not compromise the system during the design, intentionally or at the behest of some more powerful agency, faith that the people interested in the contents of your computer are not smart and not attuned to every nuance and development in the field, faith that the NSA is just another dumb TLA agency.
    Faith that your firewall can keep things out. Faith that there are no keystroke loggers, no call home programs, faith that you got them all.
    Some folks have faith in steganography, some folks have faith in linux or OpenBSD or encrypting messages in the white space in text files.
    I have faith that if someone with enough power wants something you have, they will get it. It might take a few minutes or a few hours or a few days but it will be obtained.
    I have faith that any computer is breachable, that no files are defensible, that no operating system is secure. Anything on any personal computer/secure server/VPN/encrypted drive/hidden thumb drive/backup tape/net server/email server/chatroom/blog/onlineshopping convenience is non-private and obtainable

  9. #9 |  Alex | 

    “Two words: TrueCrypt and hidden volumes”

    touche (or perhahps fourche – zing)

  10. #10 |  zeb | 

    I don’t really see any good reason to look at the contents of people’s hard drives when they enter the country, particularly for citizens. It is jsut another way to nibble away at our privacy and freedom of thought and communication. Anything you can have on your hard drive, you can jsut as easily import into the country electronically with no customs check. You are not going to stop or have any effect on child pornography by busting a few losers at the border.

  11. #11 |  Tom Bux | 

    Here is my vote for must effed up cover

    http://lpcoverlover.com/2007/07/15/bodies-and-soul/

  12. #12 |  Persona non grata | 

    Crocodile tears don’t count.

    First it was metal detectors and x-rayed baggage then its pat-downs, remove your shoes and no liquids or tolietries on-board, now its checking your laptop HD for child-porn or perhaps secret Iranian nuclear plans. Whats next bending over for a rectal exam. I can hear the TSA-spin on it now, TSA official “we have unverifible intelligence reports that terrorists, who incidently hate our freedoms, are trying to smuggle “plastic-explosives” on-board airliners inside their rectums and it is every “good” Americans duty to let their local-hometown airport/seaport TSA offical check their rectums A.S.A.P..

    If its child-porn the TSA or Customs is looking for does it necessarily have to be stowed in digital-form on a HD?

    Isn’t it possible to transport child-porn by other means?

    Wouldn’t this make all peoples entering the US “suspect” child-porn transporters and thus subject to greater “scrutiny” ?

  13. #13 |  ZappaCrappa | 

    Tom Bux says:

    “Here is my vote for must effed up cover

    http://lpcoverlover.com/2007/07/15/bodies-and-soul/

    OMG….that would be worth having JUST for the cover. I bet Walmart wouldn’t sell it :)

    Nice pick Tom…it gets my vote.

  14. #14 |  GreginOz | 

    Re: St. Charles Missouri link: fucking hilarious! So…next step is to remove all toilets in their bars? I mean, like you go into one to have a SHIT, you know and that, obviously, is disgusting! Next these trogs will ban sex because, like, it’s FUCKING? Good idea since there wouldn’t be another generation of these MORONS.

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