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Encryption Crime The Courts United States IT Your Rights Online

Bicycle Thief Barred From Using Encryption 449

Posted by timothy
from the ssl-is-encryption dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A teenager found in possession of a stolen bicycle was given probation, with a whole bunch of computer-related restrictions. He wasn't allowed to use social networks or instant messaging. He wasn't allowed to use a computer that had 'encryption, hacking, cracking, scanning, keystroke monitoring, security testing, steganography, Trojan or virus software.' The kid appealed, noting that the restrictions on social networking seemed overly broad, and restricting him from using a computer with a virus was difficult since viruses and trojans and the like tend to try to stay hidden, so he might not know. While the court overturned the restrictions on social networking, and changed the terms of computer restrictions to include the word 'knowingly,' it did keep the restriction on against using any computer with encryption software. Remember, this isn't someone convicted of malicious computer crimes, but of receiving a stolen bicycle. So why is perfectly reasonable encryption software not allowed? And what computer these days doesn't have encryption software?"
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Bicycle Thief Barred From Using Encryption

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  • So... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by RLU486983 (1792220) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @01:45PM (#33976316)
    does this mean that Microsoft has to open-source the windows code? This guy can't use a log in?
  • by johanw (1001493) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @01:46PM (#33976348)
    How strange that US judges can order the most stupid things from people. Here, if you are convicted for something, you cvan get a fine, community labour or jailtime. When it's traffic related your license can be revoked in certain cases, and that's it. A judge ordering someone not to use a computer would be laughed out of court.
  • The court order (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 21, 2010 @01:55PM (#33976572)

    15-year-old ward of the state with history of drug use on probation for shooting someone with a pellet gun found riding a dirt bike hotwired with no papers and bullshit excuse of buying it for cash from "some guy."

    This seems to be a very troubled kid who will soon become a adult criminal.

    It seems the story is spun to get us excited about taking away our encryption.

  • Re:need more input (Score:4, Interesting)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland @ y a hoo.com> on Thursday October 21, 2010 @02:13PM (#33976932) Homepage Journal

    You will note that this was a violation of probation. So it probably relates to a previous crime the we do not know.

    Was he using online contact to acquire drug contacts? to find pellet gun targets? To associated with people who encourage this behavior? Is he dealing with parent issues? It said he is a ward of the court. I'm not sure if that just means he was arrested, or if he is in foster care.

    My point being, there is a lot of information we just don't have. And seeing how he only wanted a loosening of their restrictions, it seems he knows why as well.

  • Re:need more input (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jgagnon (1663075) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @02:13PM (#33976934)

    Also worthy to note: nearly every OS in common use today includes some sort of encryption software. Might as well bar someone from using a computer completely.

  • Encrypting email!? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by 91degrees (207121) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @02:18PM (#33977034) Journal
    The articles author asks incredulously whether that means that he can;t even encrypt his email.

    Strange as it may seem, email encryption is not all that common amongst anyone except geeks, professionals in certain fields and some of the more tech-savvy criminals. I suspect that this kid is none of these. Preventing email encryption was probably the specific reason this was included in the first place.

    Here's a bigger problem - go to facebook.com. Log in. Notice how you get directed to an encrypted webpage? So he's still not allowed to use facebook. Or even use jut about any web browser (I guess some of the older version of Mosaic or Lynx might have been pre-https)
  • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @02:32PM (#33977286)

    the 'legal system' wants an effort-free way to check up on his activities.

    encryption only makes 'law enforcement's job harder. and so to ease their job, they tell the kid he can't communicate in private anymore.

    I find this more criminal than ANY theft any kid could do.

    as usual, our legal system is broken beyond belief. I know there is a lot of missing data here, but I cannot think of any other reason to inflict this does not jibe with the crime kind of punishment.

    it has to be that they want an easy 'in' to his computer at any time and with no 'complications'.

    seems wrong. I can see what they WANT, but just because they WANT it does not mean they should HAVE it. same with the kid, he WANTED the bike and used force to take it (we assume). the government is doing the same fucking thing! they WANT to see what he's doing at any time, and they FORCE him to communicate in the clear.

  • by guyminuslife (1349809) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @02:47PM (#33977560)

    I had my bike stolen several years ago, after having forgotten to lock it up at night. At the time, it was my only means of transportation. It was a brand new bike, so I still had the serial number, and when the thief pawned it, the Austin PD flagged it in their database and I got it back.

    When I was picking it up at the police station, the cop who was filling out the report told me, "Look, we know who stole your bike. It was some homeless woman around town. You can press charges if you want, but personally I don't think it's worth it." Now, maybe it was saving him some paperwork on a misdemeanor larceny, but I tend to agree. I was angry about having the bike stolen, but I don't see the utility in it. You could fine her, but is she going to pay? And if she does, how will she pay---by stealing another bike? You could jail her for nonpayment of the fine, but that's not going to solve anything, either: spend some tax dollars on it, she'll get out quickly and be in roughly the same situation as before. It's just not worth it; there's no point.

    But that might just be me.

  • Re:need more input (Score:5, Interesting)

    by causality (777677) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @04:30PM (#33979132)

    That was to cover my ass for those anal types that would point to a Commodore 64 in active use today and say it doesn't include encryption. They're still "common" in some circles. /shrug :p

    I've found that "those anal types" are not worth accommodating. You could make a post with more disclaimers and clarifications than actual content and they'd still find something wrong with it. I deal with them a different way, myself. I let them do as they will because if I calmly explain why they are missing the point despite it being made obvious, they always make themselves look stupid and/or belligerent. They do that for themselves; it is not something I inflict on them. Trying to take them seriously and pre-emptively engaging them interferes with their process of making themselves look stupid.

    I'll add that it isn't so much that they are "anal" or obsessed with detail. That's a means to an end only. The root of it is something harder to define that I call "playing the hostile audience". As in, they don't like what you said and that bothers them, especially if it really is the truth and the facts back it up so they can't just easily contradict it. So now they've got to justify their disdain and they do that by finding something wrong, however trivial, and playing that up as much as they can.

    I believe this is mostly a subconscious process of bias. Had they possessed the skill of entertaining a notion even if they disagree with it, they'd appreciate that it may not be so trivial to refute. When these folks like something and it is what they want to hear, they are suddenly less concerned about the most trivial and meaningless edge cases that don't relate to the point being made. It's just a form of childishness that is the very opposite of dispassionate inquiry and a willingness to follow the facts wherever they may lead. Instead, what pleases and what offends is supreme and facts are cherry-picked to fit.

    I call it childishness because it's a failure to recognize that there are things like truth that are bigger and more important than what they like and don't like. That's ultimately an unwise and self-defeating worldview that unfortunately, a lot of like-minded people are more than willing to (falsely) validate. It's no wonder that they will so readily make themselves look stupid if you don't get entangled with them.

  • Re:The court order (Score:3, Interesting)

    by EdIII (1114411) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @06:40PM (#33980746)

    It seems the story is spun to get us excited about taking away our encryption.

    Not at all. The specifics of the case are totally irrelevant. Taking away encryption for any reason is a fundamental violation of our most basic rights.

    This should concern you. I assume that you are productive member of society without a criminal record right? You're a good innocent person, so ostensibly, you have nothing to fear from the government right?

    Well when something as low-level as the theft of a bicycle can starting taking away basic rights, you should be concerned. One day you might find yourself in a situation beyond your control, and a simple bar fight, or some other misunderstanding and then your rights start to dissipate.

    I don't even support taking away rights from felons. That is ridiculous. If they are released from prison they are supposedly rehabilitated and no longer a threat to society? Then why are we making them 2nd class citizens with permanent punishment? Why on Earth should a felon not be allowed to participate in the democratic process? Taking away guns may make sense if they were violent, but once again, if we fear them enough to take away their right to gun ownership perhaps they should still be in prison.

    It's easy to dismiss what happens to a criminal and look down upon them. However, you may be surprised about how easy it is for governments to start making criminals of us all. Especially, when it allows them to mitigate such inconvenient things like your fundamental right to privacy?

    I don't care what this kid did. If he is no longer being detained and punished he deserves his right to privacy, and therefore, encryption. This is not a case of FUD, or spin on a news article. Ridiculous crap like this in a court of a law needs to see the light of day and be discussed for what it is - the seeds of oppression.

  • by sg_oneill (159032) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @10:49PM (#33982388)

    Your a good man, and you should be proud of yourself for with-holding those charges :)

    I had a similar thing. When I was a teenager, I got pretty badly assaulted for my wallet by some other young guys, leaving me in hospital with blood loss , a busted kneecap and a pulverized nose. The cops pretty quickly caught the kids, and pressed charges. Anyway, a week later I was visited by the mother of one of the kids, an elderly Aboriginal woman (Im in australia) and she basically gave me his story and the story of the family, and it was clear these people where destitute poor, completely wracked with alcoholism, and regardless, any fine paid was going to be paid by the parents not the kid (first offence, juvenile, at the time in the 1980s that usually just meant a fine here). So I spoke with my Dad, and instead we aproached the cops and asked the cops to drop the charges on the condition the kid came and helped my dad rebuild the driveway and back patio. 2 months of backbreaking working on weekends with my conservative old man. At the end of it, the kid was a new person, polite, genuinely remorseful about what he did to me and keen to get himself an apprenticeship as a builder.

    I bumped into him about 5 years ago, and he was a married roofing tiler with 3 kids and his own business. A little bit of compassion and the firm guidance of a firm but fair adult can turn any juvenile delinquent around.

    My nose is still fucked, alas.

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