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Tag: judge

Judge Upholds FBI’s Right to Keep ‘National Security Letters’ a Secret

courtroomBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI can continue to keep “national security letters” secret after issuing them to demand customer records from phone companies, banks and others, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. 

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston ruled the letters don’t violate freedom of speech and are permitted after Congress passed the USA Freedom Act last year.

Illston said government showed the need to keep confidential three of the four letters issued to unidentified technology companies in 2011 and 2013. The fourth letter won’t be disclosed pending a government appeal.

Recipients of national security letters “still can be gagged at the FBI’s say-so, without any procedural protections, time limits or judicial oversight,” said attorney Andrew Crocker of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Federal Judge: FBI Improperly Seized Child Pornography Website

Data securityBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI failed to obtain a proper warrant before hacking a child pornography website, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

Judge William G. Young said evidence against at least one defendant must be suppressed, TechCrunch.com reports.

The FBI seized the child pornography site, Playpen, and continued to run it to get information on the users.

The public defender for one of the defendants in the case, Alex Levin, successful argued that the warrant wasn’t valid because it was issued by a magistrate judge in Virginia. Levin’s computer was at his home in Massachusetts.

“The court concludes that the NIT Warrant was issued without jurisdiction and thus was void,” Young wrote. “It follows that the resulting search was conducted as though there were no warrant at all.”

Young also expressed concerns about the FBI running a child pornography site.

“Unlike those undercover stings where the government buys contraband drugs to catch the dealers, here the government disseminated child obscenity to catch the purchasers — something akin to the government itself selling drugs to make the sting,” he wrote.

Apple Engineers May Refuse to Unlock iPhone Even If Judge Delivers the Order

Apple logoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Even if a court orders Apple to comply with the FBI’s request to unlock an iPhone, engineers may refuse to develop the technology that would make it possible.

The New York Times interviewed current and former Apple employees and discovered that they may quit their jobs or balk at the work.

Apple has argued that demands to open an iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters curbs free speech.

“Such conscription is fundamentally offensive to Apple’s core principles and would pose a severe threat to the autonomy of Apple and its engineers,” Apple’s lawyers wrote in the company’s final brief to the Federal District Court for the Central District of California.

The concerns also shed light on a company culture that embraces anti-establishment principles.

“It’s an independent culture and a rebellious one,” said Jean-Louis Gassée, a venture capitalist who was once an engineering manager at Apple. “If the government tries to compel testimony or action from these engineers, good luck with that.”

Federal Government Ramps Up Legal Assault Against Apple Ahead of Court Hearing

Apple logoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department and FBI ramped up their legal assault against Apple on Thursday, saying in court papers that the technology grant is using “heated rhetoric” to interfere with a “modest” law enforcement demand to unlock one of the San Bernardino shooters’ iPhones.

Apple responded by calling the legal brief  a “cheap shot” and an “act of desperation,” the San Jose Mercury News reports. 

The federal government accused Apple of using security features to deliberately impede FBI investigations.

“The tone of their brief reads like an indictment,” said Bruce Sewell, Apple’s general counsel. “I can only conclude the Department of Justice is so desperate at this point it has thrown decorum to the wind.”

A March 22 hearing is scheduled on the issue before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym, who last month ordered Apple to help authorities hack the cell phone.

Federal prosecutors are asking the judge to leave the order intact.

“The order invades no one’s privacy and raises no Fourth Amendment concerns,” Justice Department lawyers wrote. “The government and the community need to know what is on the terrorist’s phone, and the government needs Apple’s assistance to find out.”

U.S. Government Appeals Judge’s Ruling That Apple Not Obligated to Help FBI

courtroomBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The U.S. government is appealing a recent ruling by a New York Judge who said the FBI and Justice Department cannot force Apple to unlock an iPhone that is part of a drug investigation, the Guardian reports. 

The Justice Department is arguing that Apple is able to gather the evidence and has assisted law enforcement in dozens of other similar cases. It’s only recently that Apple began fighting efforts to unlock phones.

The case is important because it could set a precedent on whether companies can sell “warrant-proof” technologies.

Apple and the FBI are in federal court on another case in which the company refuses to help investigators unlock an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooter.

Judge: Apple Not Required to Unlock iPhone in Drug Case

Apple logoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Apple is not required to help the FBI open a locked iPhone belonging to a suspected drug dealer, a federal judge in New York has ruled.

U.S. Magistrate Judge James Orenstein said the FBI does not have the authority to force Apple to open the phone after Congress rejected a bill that would have compelled companies to open up their technology, NBC News reports. 

“The relief the government seeks is unavailable because Congress has considered legislation that would achieve the same result but has not adopted it,” the judge said.

“It is also clear that the government has made the considered decision that it is better off securing such crypto-legislative authority from the courts, rather than taking the chance that open legislative debate might produce a result less to its liking.”

The case has no legal bearing on a California judge’s ruling that Apple must unlock an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters.

Orenstein wrote that lawmakers should debate the balance between privacy and the government’s investigative authority.

“The debate must happen today, and it must take place among legislators who are equipped to consider the technological and cultural realities of a world their predecessors could not begin to conceive,” the judge wrote in the 50-page decision.

Judge Orders Justice Department to Quit Stalling on Releasing Hillary Clinton E-mails

Hillary_Clinton_official_Secretary_of_State_portrait_cropBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A federal judge wants to know why the Justice Department has been delayed in producing the remaining 3,700 e-mails from Hillary Clinton’s time as secretary of state, CBS News reports. 

U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras gave the Justice Department one day to explain why the Justice Department can’t produce the e-mails by Feb. 18.

The judge said the e-mails must be released at the end of the month as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed for the electronic communications.

The issue is unrelated to an FBI investigation to determine whether any laws were broken when Clinton used a private server to send and receive e-mails.

It was divulged less than two weeks ago that the State Department said investigators found 22 “top secret” e-mails.

Other Stories of Interest

Judge: FBI Did Not Act ‘Outrageously’ by Taking Over Child Pornography Website

computer-photoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI did not act “outrageously” by taking control of a child pornography website for 13 days in an attempt to capture people who were  using what authorities said was the largest site of its kind on the dark web, a judge has ruled, the International Business Times reports. 

A man who was charged with child pornography crimes argued the FBI overstepped its authority by taking over the site and using a tool to identify IP and MAC addresses of people who were logging into Playpen.

“We consider [the FBI’s running of the child porn site] outrageous, because even if there is a legitimate argument for doing that as an investigatory need, which is not true, judges need to be able to decide if it is appropriate. And, frankly, we believe it is appalling,” a lawyer for Colin Fieman said, Motherboard reports.

The attorney accused the FBI of “aiding and abetting the uploading and distribution of massive amounts of child pornography.”

Judge Robert J. Bryan disagreed.

“I am not shocked by this. I did not find it outrageous,” the judge said.

“We are dealing with actions by law enforcement that were necessitated by the actions of the offenders choosing to use, and in fact misuse, technology in order to hide their identity while they sought to exploit and abuse children online,”  Keith Becker from the Department of Justice Criminal Division, said.