March 4, 2009
California Bill Would Require Bluring of Churches, Schools, and Hospitals in Satellite Pictures
A legislator in California is introducing a bill that would require Google, Microsoft, and other satellite image providers to blur out schools, hospitals, and government buildings among others. These could be terrorist targets, even though many of the same entities occupying these buildings put up address, directions, and other how to find us information. Any terrorist who has the skill to use Google Maps can figure this out. Why not ban GPS systems if that's the case? If we can't stop the terrorists, we can at least confuse them with our arcane street layouts an no GPS help. What, you say? That would deprive all of non-terrorists of GPS benefits? A small price to pay to defeat terrorism. In fact, an even better solution would be to stop using churches, schools, and hospitals. It would diminish their importance as potential terrorist targets. Did California think of that one yet? [MG]
Borings Are Not Quitters, Though They Should Be
The Borings are not giving up easily. They are asking the federal court to reconsider its dismissal of their lawsuit against Google for invasion of privacy. Their motion waves the flag:
"This case is about every little guy, once again being trampled upon by the big shoe of big business. With nowhere to turn but the American Courts, he is cast away to endure the pinpricks of trespass that bleed our American liberty to death,"
Bottom line, if they couldn't get what they wanted from Google based on facts and law, this kind of language isn't going to change a judge's mind. Save it for the Oscar ceremony, as they say. Google gave them a process for removing themselves from the Streets database. They decided to sue instead. It didn't work. It's nice to have principles, but sometimes a court won't invest them with the force of law. Deal with it. Expect an appeal to the Third Circuit.
More at MSNBC.
The EU Says Something Nice About Microsoft
Microsoft is (gasp!) meeting its documentation obligations to the European Union. The decree issued in 2004 over interoperability concerns between Windows and third party software has been a thorn in Microsoft's side, what with the verbiage by the EU denigrating Microsoft's compliance efforts, and, what, the excessive fines. I guess it's time to cut Microsoft some slack while gearing up for the possible web browser litigation the EU is contemplating.
More in Betanews. [MG]
March 2, 2009
Boucher Case Tests Limits of Fifth Amendment Protections
The Boucher case has bubbled back up recently. Boucher had been stopped at the Canadian border while crossing into Vermont. His running laptop was examined by an ICE agent who determined that it contained child pornography. Boucher was arrested and the laptop seized. The government used forensic experts to examine the machine and they discovered that they could not find the Z drive or access any of the contents because it was protected by Pretty Good Privacy encryption. This case will be a commercial for PGP no matter how it turns out. Banner ads will trumpet "Even the government can't break us." Well, maybe not. Still, the product lives up to its name.
The government issued a subpoena to compel Boucher to turn over the password to the encrypted drive. Boucher declined, citing his Fifth Amendment rights. A Magistrate Judge in late 2007 agreed and quashed the subpoena. The government appealed that decision to the District Judge assigned to the case. He reviewed the government's later, narrowed subpoena, which does not require Boucher to turn over the password, but to start his laptop in an unencrypted form before the grand jury. The government's reasoning is that it is already aware of the nature of the contents based on the initial view by the ICE agent.
The Judge agreed, noting that incrimination occurs in two situations, "(1) ‘if the existence and location of the subpoenaed papers are unknown to the government’; or (2) where production would ‘implicitly authenticate’ the documents.” Id. (quoting United States v. Fox, 721 F.2d 32, 36 (2d Cir.1983))." The Court reasoned that the government is already aware of the contents, and they need not be authenticated as Boucher has already admitted that the laptop is his.
The case is In re Boucher, 2009 WL 424718, D.Vt., February 19, 2009. On to the Circuit Court of Appeals.