Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

'Full-Pipe' FBI Internet Monitoring Questionably Legal

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the frag-em-all-sort-em-out-later dept.

The Courts 211

CNet is running a piece looking at what they refer to as a 'questionably legal' internet surveillance technique being employed by the FBI. In situations where isolating a specific IP address for a suspect is not possible, the FBI has taken to 'full-pipe' surveillance: all activity for a bank of IPs is recorded, and then data mining is used to attempt to isolate their target. The questionable legality of this situation results from a requirement that, under federal law, the FBI is required to use 'minimization'. The article describes it this way: "Federal law says that agents must 'minimize the interception of communications not otherwise subject to interception' and keep the supervising judge informed of what's happening. Minimization is designed to provide at least a modicum of privacy by limiting police eavesdropping on innocuous conversations." Full-pipe surveillance would seem to abandon that principle in favor of getting to the target faster.

cancel ×

211 comments

Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules... (3, Insightful)

mfh (56) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814440)

RTFA people.

It's employed when police have obtained a court order and an Internet service provider can't "isolate the particular person or IP address" because of technical constraints
This extends the police's right to examine a crime scene, only. They have to be looking for someone, for a particular case and anything they find is bound to the rules surrounding that action.

If you're doing something wrong, and they happen to catch you because they were looking for someone else -- then you shouldn't have been doing whatever it was you were doing.

That's fair.

What this means is that there are circumstances when ISPs cannot isolate IP addys or individuals, then it's ok to sniff the whole pipe. Why not? Why should the cops have to pussyfoot around BS red tape just to do their jobs?

Now if they do this when they had the opportunity to perform IP isolation calls properly -- then we have to apply a sober and proportionate response to that kind of human rights abuse. And that means we the people will have to have the particulars behind such cases when this method is employed, in full detail. Do you think we'll get it?

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (3, Insightful)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814520)

I was about to say the same thing.

If they are UNABLE to isolate the IP addy, but they have a good idea which ISP it's coming from , then doing a "full pipe" exam would be the logical next step, and the smallest step they could take. This would fit into the "minimalize" concept. I don't see what the big deal is here.

Now, if they were doing "Full Pipe" exams without CAUSE (IE: just out fishing to see what they can catch) then I would have a problem with that. But with cause, this is perfectly legit and appropriate.

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (2, Insightful)

Nitage (1010087) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814758)

If they are UNABLE to isolate the IP addy, but they have a good idea which ISP it's coming from , then doing a "full pipe" exam would be the logical next step
If they are unable to isolate the perpetrator of a crime, then the next logical step would be to imprison all the suspects.

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (1)

krakelohm (830589) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814934)

Think of this more as a roadblock when there is a big crime. The cops stop ya, ask a few questions, then you are on your way. Thats how I look at it... but I still don't agree with it.

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (1)

computational super (740265) | more than 7 years ago | (#17815106)

Think of this more as a roadblock when there is a big crime.

Sounds more to me like a roadblock every time there's a little crime.

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (4, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 7 years ago | (#17815886)

Sometimes, living in a free society makes it harder on law enforcement. There are certain prices we pay for liberty and this is one of them. Taxes are another price we pay for a civilization based on personal freedom. The "hassle" of following the Constitution and not just summarily executing bad guys that we KNOW are bad guys is another.

I'm sure it's a drag for police to have to get a warrant when they know someone is doing something illegal in their house. I'm sure the FBI gets very frustrated when they have to provide a judge with affidavits of Probable Cause when they KNOW that the bad guys are using phones to do bad things, just so they can put up a wire tap.

And it's a hell of a lot more than just a little hassle when our own freedoms allow really really bad guys to plan and execute a terrorist attack where thousands are killed. But it may turn out that too, is the price of living in a free society, God help us.

I know that as I sit in my neighborhood coffee shop, someone with a bomb strapped to their body could walk in and blow me to bits. I watched as fellow Americans (and a lot of innocent non-Americans) lost their lives on September 11, more than 5 years ago.

But I refuse to live my life in fear. And I absolutely refuse to give up one single bit of my liberty to make it easier for law enforcement to do their jobs, or to make it more convenient for our government to govern, or even to ensure that I can walk down the street without the fear of something bad happening to me. That's how important liberty is to me - more important than my security.

I see fear making a lot of people willing to live less like Americans and more like the residents of a gated community or the inmates of a prison. I mean, it's not really that bad if officials have to ask us to show papers on the street - not if it makes us safer. And it's not really that bad if someone in the Federal Government has to read my mail without my permission. And it's not really all that bad if the FBI has to sniff my packets because someone, somewhere else on the internet is doing something wrong. After all if you're not doing anything wrong, you don't have to worry.

There a lot of people who have been convinced - we see them around here - that all those little freedoms just aren't worth having to be afraid. These people have wandered very far from the principles that made the US unique in the world and a beacon of freedom to those who live in safe places where they don't fear terrorists, or pornographers, or child molestors. Those people only have to fear their own government.

I'm not willing to trade, and I'm not willing to give up my freedom. I would really, honestly rather die a free man than live under tyranny. I don't blame those of you who have become so scared that you've convinced yourselves it's OK to be watched, because you're not doing anything wrong. But I absolutely pity you. It must be hell to be so afraid.

But that's just the kind of hairpin I am.

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (4, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814524)

If you're doing something wrong, and they happen to catch you because they were looking for someone else -- then you shouldn't have been doing whatever it was you were doing.

That's fair.


No, it isn't fair, it's unconstitutional. Any evidence gained in this way should not be admissible in court or be allowed to be used to gain further evidence. Saying "if you were doing something wrong, you deserved it" is the same as saying "if you aren't doing anything wrong, you have nothing to hide." Both of these arguments are just dead wrong.

If the FBI has a tap on your neighbor's phone, they can't tap your phone and listen to your conversations too just because they happen to be in the neighborhood.

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (1)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814590)

While I agree that collecting "side evidence" from a "full pipe" exam is wrong, and probably inadmissible in court, it is NOT "Unconstitutional".

Unlawful, most likely. Unprincipled, absolutely. Unconstitutional, no.

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (4, Informative)

Who235 (959706) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814732)

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.
How many clauses in there can you count that have direct application to this matter?

People, we really need to go back to teaching Government and Civics in high school. There are some people here who have been left behind.

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (2, Insightful)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814830)

Gah!

You're right. 4th Amendment to the Constitution. I need to re-read my copy again.

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (2, Insightful)

Who235 (959706) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814892)

I need to re-read my copy again.
Don't worry, you're not alone.

We all need to have a look at it from time to time.

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 7 years ago | (#17815944)

Homework: read this
http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/constituti on.overview.html [cornell.edu]

Amendment in question:

Amendment IV

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.
I've done a lot of reading of the constitution and the US code (mostly as a result of the link in my sig :-)
-nB

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (4, Interesting)

Thansal (999464) | more than 7 years ago | (#17815228)

See, the problem is that you could easily interpert that (with out stretchign it much) to fit full pipe:

particularly describing the place to be searched
They have done that. They know the problem is with in this range of IPs, however they can not narow it down because the ISP can not help them with it.

and the persons or things to be seized
This is where it is sorta tricky. This part has been interpereted to say that anytihng found durign a reasonable execution (aka, no searchign in pill bottles for stollen TVs) of a warrent is admissable.
So if they only need to be checking web pages visited, and they start sniffing P2P traffic, that should be inadmissable, however if they fidn something durring a reasonable execution of the warrent, then it would be.

Note, I am not sayign I am for or against this as I honestly don't have enoguh information on it. I lean away from it as it DOES look like it is way to much of an invassion of privacy, but I can't say 100%.

The big deal for me is how the heck could an ISP NOT be able to tell you what IP you need to look at?
If you have the name/house/whatever the ISP should easily be able to pull up what IP(s) that person/place currently has assigned to them.
If you are working back from an IP you found doing something illegal, then the ISP should know who that IP was assigned to at the given time, and give you the current IP (assuming non-static).
I don't really like the ISPs trackign what we are doing and when, but I know they are, so why would this 'full pipe' warrent ever show up?

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (1)

hhghghghh (871641) | more than 7 years ago | (#17815814)

This is where it is sorta tricky. This part has been interpereted to say that anytihng found durign a reasonable execution (aka, no searchign in pill bottles for stollen TVs) of a warrent is admissable. The rule for physical searches is "in plain sight". If the police are searching your home for, say, a fugitive, and you have a bong on your table, that's in plain sight. Data mining is the exact opposite. It's taking a microscope to any minute detail you can find, but strip-searching not just an individual home, but an entire neighborhood. That's the kind of physical search that's explicitly prohibited. Does the principle apply to wiretaps? You'd think so.

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17816024)

Data mining is the exact opposite. It's taking a microscope to any minute detail you can find,

Quite the opposite. Data mining is like having a custome magnet that only attracts red rhombus's with acute angles between 16 and 23 degrees. It would completely miss the bong on the table.

Going back to the original phone tap comparison, if they tapped your phone instead of the neighbors, all evidence gathered is inadmissible, that would be outside the scope of the warrant. If you called your neighbors tapped phone while they were listening for drug intercepts and mentioned your plan to off your wife for the insurance money, that would be admissible.

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (1)

Thansal (999464) | more than 7 years ago | (#17816146)

You are correct about plain sight, however plain sight often gets people messed up with the idea that you can't open stuff up. For instance, if I am looking for drugs, and I find AP bullets (those are illegal, aren't they?) in pill bottles, then it is admissable.

As for datamining to strip searching:
One of the precedents is that warrents are supposed to cover the smallest area possible (Searchign house? garage? office? what?), and what you are lookign for exactly. Datamining CAN be done as a strip search (examine EVERYTHING), however if you are sepecificly tryign to get me on sharing the latest britney spears album via bittorrent (disseminating that shoudl have me locked up), then there is no reason to be looking at web traffic or emails, and those SHOULD be inadmissable (if they are, I don't know, I should honestly look into it, I am not as familiar with wiretapping laws as I am with standard physical warrents/search/seziure/etc).

Also, the argument over searchign one house (taping one IP) vs an entire street (an IP Block) does not work all that well.

The idea is that they have a court order for the ISP to turn over the IP, however for some reason (I can't come up with a hypothetical that covers it) the ISP can (not will) NOT give out the IP. At that point they would be alowed to do a 'full pipe' search (however, even if this is legal, I still think that the datamining should be limited in scope).

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (1)

QCompson (675963) | more than 7 years ago | (#17816236)

Also, the argument over searchign one house (taping one IP) vs an entire street (an IP Block) does not work all that well. The idea is that they have a court order for the ISP to turn over the IP, however for some reason (I can't come up with a hypothetical that covers it) the ISP can (not will) NOT give out the IP. At that point they would be alowed to do a 'full pipe' search (however, even if this is legal, I still think that the datamining should be limited in scope).
I'm confused as to why that argument does not work all that well. Are you saying that if the police suspect someone in a neighborhood of having committed a crime, but for some reason they cannot narrow down the exact house, only the zip code, then they are therefore allowed to search every home in that zip-code?

Mod parent up! (1)

PadRacerExtreme (1006033) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814828)

I don't have any mod points :(

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (0)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814882)

While I agree that collecting "side evidence" from a "full pipe" exam is wrong, and probably inadmissible in court, it is NOT "Unconstitutional".
How is that? All Federal law in the US is derived from the Constitution by interpretation; if something is inadmissible in court, it is because it runs contrary to the modern interpretation of the Constitution.

If it's inadmissible in court, it is Unconstitutional by definition.

There's this thing called the Bill of Rights, which enumerates specifically some of the rights that the Federal government cannot violate. Included in these is the fourth amendment to the Constitution, which prohibits such activity, as has been previously ruled on by the US Supreme Court (who happens to have the responsibility to do so, as defined by, again, the Constitution).

Sorry for the sarcasm, but unwarranted search is indeed Unconstitutional.

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (1)

Thansal (999464) | more than 7 years ago | (#17816330)

Umm, govn't can create laws that FURTHER limit their powers.

Silly Example:
Warrents are provided for in the constitution.
The legislative branch could pass a law that states "Warrents may be issued at any time, however they may only be executed on mondays". This law is not unconstitutional (silly, but not unconstitutional), and thus any evidenced gained from a warrent executed on Tuesday would be inadmissible in court, however it would not be unconstitutional.

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814618)

No, it isn't fair, it's unconstitutional. Any evidence gained in this way should not be admissible in court or be allowed to be used to gain further evidence.

Okay - reducto ad absurdum time.

Someone who lives with me robs a bank. The police find out who it was, and get a search warrent, and storm the place. As it turns out, they also find the body of someone I've murdered. The search warrant has nothing to do with the murder. In fact, nobody suspected I was a serial killer. Should the dead body and the testomony of the officers who saw it be inadmissable as evidence since the search warrant only covered the bank robbery?

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (1)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814684)

I'm sorry, but your analogy is flawed. As this is Slashdot, any analogy must involve cars in order to be valid. Try this one:

While driving on a public highway, you come up to a checkpoint where they are looking for an escaped felon. You do not consent to a search, but they search your car anyway, without your consent. They find a body in your trunk. Should that evidence be admissible?

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (1)

SaDan (81097) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814838)

How about, you're driving down the highway, past a couple patrol cars on the side of the road. The patrol cars are watching traffic, looking for a vehicle matching the description in an AMBER alert.

You're obviously speeding, and one of the officers clocks you. You get pulled over, and get a ticket.

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814936)

But they're entitled to sit and watch traffic anyway. There's no expectation of privacy on a public road. There is in your own private human slaughterhouse.

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (1)

sjs132 (631745) | more than 7 years ago | (#17815832)

Then why should there be expected privacy on the internet?

They are not MY pipes being sifted though, they are the ISP's, and most ISP's have a TOS that details things your not supposed to do with WIDE range paramters... If your illigal activities are on the internet, isn't that the same as the "Information Super Highway"

The way I see it is that you are only secure as much as you make yourself. What does that mean? Simple, DONT commit to media (_ANY_) anything you would be considered damning evidence. ie, talk to people in person... Don't use Phones. Talk to people in Person... Don't MAIL or Email instructions, notes, ideas, etc.. Don't STORE evidence that could be used against you on a computer... or ANY media (CD, Tape, Paper, etc)

In Short.. Keep all your little dirty dark secrets inside your own little head. Until they can meathack you, you'll be safe.

How many folks hear the story of the man robbing the bank puts a note on the back of his pay stub, etc... Or a Pedo that filmed himself having sex with victems to enjoy later, then found by police... or the politician who says she was co-erced into something only to have ealier tape out later with an personal explanation of exactly how she thought about the process in details that catch her in a lie...

Ok, and I guess #1 should be don't post to slashdot... BTW, None of these thoughts presented here are private, and may be viewed by millions on the internet at any time.

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17815076)

No.

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (1)

spikedvodka (188722) | more than 7 years ago | (#17815588)

Yes it is admissible if
a) the body was in plain sight
b) they find the body looking in place that is "Reasonable" for the search warrant on hand.

However... once they find the Dead body, the entire house becomes a crime scene, and all bets are off

Oh Yeah... IANAL

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (4, Informative)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814908)

No, it isn't fair, it's unconstitutional.


No, it's not. It's called the plain view exception and has been found to be completely constitutional. I refer you to this page [cybercrime.gov] from the Justice Department (ok, no snickers) which references Horton v. California, 496 U.S. 128 (1990).

The relevant part is as follows:

To rely on this exception, the agent must be in a lawful position to observe and access the evidence, and its incriminating character must be immediately apparent.

How this exception would apply in the current situation will be up for debate but the exception of an officer finding evidence of another crime, while executing a search warrant for a different crime, is fully constitutional. For a further reading of just this subject, see Danny Weitzner's comments [w3.org] with a much more detailed discussion of the plain view exception.

What, you expect the cops to ignore the dead body missing its arms lying in the back room because they were only looking for the stash of cocaine in the house?

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (4, Insightful)

QCompson (675963) | more than 7 years ago | (#17816154)

What, you expect the cops to ignore the dead body missing its arms lying in the back room because they were only looking for the stash of cocaine in the house?
I think you are way off base. This seems more akin to having the police executing a warrant on the wrong house and finding a stash of cocaine. Which would be thrown out of court.

the agent must be in a lawful position to observe and access the evidence
Here is the problem. Is it lawful (constitutionally permissible) to search through many innocent people's private information in order to find who they are looking for? If a cop suspects that someone in your neighborhood is dealing cocaine, is it legal for them to search through every house, busting all unintended targets for any illegalities along the way? Police are supposed to narrowly tailor their search for suspects.

     

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (1)

FlopEJoe (784551) | more than 7 years ago | (#17815074)

Saying "if you were doing something wrong, you deserved it" is the same as saying "if you aren't doing anything wrong, you have nothing to hide."

Not really. In the first case the person is doing something wrong and in the second case they aren't.

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (1)

irc.goatse.cx troll (593289) | more than 7 years ago | (#17815286)

"If the FBI has a tap on your neighbor's phone, they can't tap your phone and listen to your conversations too just because they happen to be in the neighborhood.
"

Considering how easy it would be to plug a cordless phone into your neighbors house, or just run a wire.. It's kind of scary but I could see the fbi justifying tapping a neighborhood like that.

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (1)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | more than 7 years ago | (#17816190)

Your strawman doesn't apply... The issue is when the warrant's target IP cannot be isolated. For your phone example, what if you and your neighbors are on a party line? The FBI has the warrant to listen to your phone, but because of the way you're still using your phones, they have no choice but to listen to the SAME LINE that carries the conversations of your neighbors. Perfectly legal, and completely reasonable. The ISP is the party line; if the ISP - under a court-issued warrant - cannot break out your specific IP traffic for technical reasons, then the FBI gets to listen to all traffic to find your information.

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (2, Interesting)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814540)

I cannot in vision any scenario in which an ISP is incapable of isolating a single customers traffic.

At the most basic level the physical connection could be intercepted.

Thus they are not making a reasonable effort to minimize the scope of the tapping and are breaking the law.

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814668)

Freenet and Gnutella? In such cases, you may not trying to nab the ISP's customer, but a user of a virtual network the customer resides as a node on.

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (1)

phayes (202222) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814946)

I cannot in vision any scenario in which an ISP is incapable of isolating a single customers traffic.

Then "envision" a small ISP without the resources needed to setup the requisite surveillance connected to a larger ISP which can lets the feds sniff the whole pipe to the smaller ISP.

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (1)

terrymr (316118) | more than 7 years ago | (#17815346)

They don't have "tcpdump -w " ?

Maybe they shouldn't run an ISP on windows then.

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (1)

terrymr (316118) | more than 7 years ago | (#17815466)

should have previewed ... lost some of my parameters to tcodump - but the point is still the same.

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (1)

madirish2600 (149913) | more than 7 years ago | (#17815956)

I think this sort of scenario might involve circumstances where law enforcement know that a certain (dynamic) IP has been used over time to commit a crime, but by the time they get to the ISP any logs are lost or unusable (say the criminal is using wireless connections with other users). I can see the police having a tough time figuring out who the 'customer' is in these cases.

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814552)

If you're doing something wrong

Yes, because obviously if I'm having a discussion about the latest terrorist attack and because the feds only pick up parts of the conversation about bombs and killing people due to their "grab everything, data mine for anything that looks criminal" practice, I must be a terrorist.

What this means is that there are circumstances when ISPs cannot isolate IP addys or individuals

Is that so? Personally, I find that rather amazing, how would such an ISP manage to bill anyone?

And that means we the people will have to have the particulars behind such cases when this method is employed, in full detail. Do you think we'll get it?

No.

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814716)

What of the case where a suspect is bouncing traffic off of an ISP's customer, and that customer isn't the target? If an ISP doesn't have the tools to dynamically parse Gnutella or SOCKS traffic, or decrypt Freenet traffic, it's conceivable that they won't have the information law enforcement is looking for.

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814938)

What of the case where a suspect is bouncing traffic off of an ISP's customer, and that customer isn't the target? If an ISP doesn't have the tools to dynamically parse Gnutella or SOCKS traffic, or decrypt Freenet traffic, it's conceivable that they won't have the information law enforcement is looking for.

First off, if the traffic is encrypted (freenet/tor) then tapping all the traffic for everyone isn't going to solve a whole lot.

Secondly, if the traffic is coming from a client's misconfigured proxy like socks, then by sniffing strictly traffic involving that address should be all that's needed to determine the next address to tap.

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (2, Insightful)

ricebowl (999467) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814568)

While I'm not inherently subject to these laws/conditions, living in the UK, I can't see that they're in any way fair or balanced. If it's not possible to isolate the IP traffic of one particular individual I can't see that it's fair to violate the privacy of everyone else that happens to be in that pipe. I seem to recall reading that law/criminal justice is based on the presumption of innocence (naive, perhaps, but it seems to be the predicate...I could be wrong, of course, given current developments).

Whether I'm doing anything illegal or otherwise I don't expect to be subject to surveillance simply because someone else in the pipe I share is suspected of doing something. If it's not possible to isolate the suspect from the crowd then surely the surveillance is too broad.

Plus, as an aside, until I'm able to see the means by which such monitoring is over-seen then I don't necessarily trust those with the relevant authority to act on my behalf to protect my privacy.

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (1)

wrp103 (583277) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814682)

One concern is how long do they retain this information, and how much of the "full pipe" do they save? If they isolate the information they are looking for, and then discard the rest, then that is fine. I can even see an argument for keeping additional data in escrow, in the event that further research is necessary.

However, if they retain the data and then perform new searches, then (IMHO) they are crossing the line. Considering what has happened in the past, there are reasons to be suspicious of their activities.

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (5, Insightful)

Ctrl-Z (28806) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814718)

This extends the police's right to examine a crime scene, only. They have to be looking for someone, for a particular case and anything they find is bound to the rules surrounding that action.

If you're doing something wrong, and they happen to catch you because they were looking for someone else -- then you shouldn't have been doing whatever it was you were doing.

That's fair.
I agree that the summary is misleading, sensationalized even, but I don't agree that it is fair. I think a fair, if fictional, analogy in this case would be if police had a warrant to search a house in my neighbourhood looking for evidence of a crime, but since they only knew what block the house was on, they were permitted to search all the houses on my block. In that case, only evidence which actually applied to the crime being investigated should be usable. Suppose that I am a criminal, unrelated to the criminal activity that the police are investigating. They search my house and find some evidence that they weren't looking for. It doesn't seem fair for that evidence to be admissible in court, and I think they should require a new warrant to search for that evidence in a separate investigation. In that case, the investigators actually lose because I would have a chance to destroy the evidence before the second warrant is produced. In the Internet case, people don't even know when their traffic is being watched.

The rules don't change just because someone in your neighbourhood or netblock may have committed a crime that is being investigated by the FBI, and that is the danger here. Just because I'm not a criminal doesn't mean that I want authorities snooping through my garbage. I know we're already far down the slippery slope, but we need to hold on to whatever freedoms we have left.

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#17815056)

It doesn't seem fair for that evidence to be admissible in court, and I think they should require a new warrant to search for that evidence in a separate investigation.


Furthermore, they cannot use evidence gathered in the inadmissible investigation as justification for the warranted search of your property, unless that evidence was in plain sight from a public area.

I think the quasi-legal (IANAL) argument for justifying the admissibility of incidentally garnered evidence of a crime not covered by the original warrant in a full-pipe search is that the evidence is the technological equivalent of being in plain sight.

In that case, the investigators actually lose because I would have a chance to destroy the evidence before the second warrant is produced.
Not really in a case like this, since the data they are analyzing is not held by you, it's held by your ISP.

I totally agree with you re: the OP and their claim that it's fair if you're incidentally caught doing something wrong during the course of another investigation. It's not just about doing something "wrong," it's about doing something "criminal". What I fear is some kind of political activity being defined as a criminal act (you know, like protesting outside of a "free speech zone" during election season).

Stop! Analogy police! (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17815136)

Suppose that I am a criminal, unrelated to the criminal activity that the police are investigating. They search my house and find some evidence that they weren't looking for.

But that's not a good analogy. First, let go of the notion of the police not knowing what house someone/thing is in, and yet somehow getting a warrant anyway - that's not going to happen. To make your analogy mean anything, a judge would have to issue a search warrant for your whole neighborhood. On the other hand, you have the very real possibility of multiple people using an access point or proxy. If you want your analogy to work, try this:

The police know that someone is running a gun smuggling operation out of a neighborhood that is served by one road. They don't know who, or which house, but they know that perhaps the vehicle being used has to be large enough to carry a certain payload, or leave a certain type of tire track, etc. So, the issue is considered serious enough to set up a roadblock. When they see a vehicle that matches the sought-for description, they've got probable cause for a search. And then you drive along with a bail of marijuana or a stack of kiddy-pr0n in the back seat of your car in plain view. There's plenty of precedence about how plain-view observations by a law enforcement officer who is in reasonable pursuit of something else don't violate search-and-seizure mandates. I think that bumping into packets carrying your illegal gambling operation's traffic while doing the narrowest search that the ISP can allow doesn't make your illegal gambling traffic off limits from prosecution.

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (2, Informative)

Daemonstar (84116) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814824)

One of the problems with searching an Internet pipe is that the conventional methods and doctrines for search warrants don't apply easily or at all (i.e.: plain view doctrine). Search warrants have to be specific as to what the officers are looking for.

Example: if the search warrant is for a TV, and the officers look in a desk drawer and find kiddy porn, they can't take it. Now, what will probably happen is some of the officers will stay there (or close by) while another tries to get another warrant (with probable cause) for the material. It will all depend on whether the judge believes they had a right to be opening the desk in the first place; even if the search warrant is issued, it will definately be challenged by the defense in court. Subsequent grants for search warrants will also be scrutenized by previous requests for search warrants by the officer as well (i.e.: if Officer Joe has a history of leaving out details, writing poorly, or making frivilous requests in search warrants, they will likely be denied by the judge until the officer can get it right).

Just because the officers find evidence of some other crime while executing a search warrant, it doesn't necessiarly mean that that will be able to keep the evidence of the other crime (it depends on probable cause, whether the officer has a right to the evidence, and other court-established doctrines).

Why it's unfair (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17815060)

Is because the government already have too much power. This scenario is one way to ask for more power.

Another reason for it being bad is that you have no clue what the government would think illegal and you have no veto over any new laws.

E.g. medicinal marijuana. Or breaking a copy protection scheme.

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17815086)

What this means is that there are circumstances when ISPs cannot isolate IP addys or individuals, then it's ok to sniff the whole pipe. Why not?
They can't isolate it because the ISP [com.com] is not the ISP of the customer and/or because they are recording everything they can and then searching and if they latch on to something they think is important they snag an ex post facto search warrant for data they have already seen. Google FISA

Why should the cops have to pussyfoot around BS red tape just to do their jobs?
The fourth amendment maybe? Before you argue the internet is public remember that when this arguement started with wiretaping cases that there was, and is, such thing as a party line [wikipedia.org] and no, not as in voting in Congress or the Senate. A bit more application of the wire laws to the internet would be a good thing in many cases, imagine hitting spammers with a harassment lawsuit or a charge similar to what you can do if your companies' fax is spammed? Besides, we are not talking about your local police here, we are talking about the FBI who is doing this as part of the DHS supposedly to protect us from terrosists but in the process they are becoming terrorists much as they did under J. Edgar Hoover. And local police sure shouldn't be given this kind of ability, we have seen far too much of their abilities to totally misinterpet what they find on a computer.

This is a matter of Liberty and if you give any government a bit and they will try to take a GB. We need to stop the erosion of our rights!

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (1)

bigpat (158134) | more than 7 years ago | (#17815304)

What this means is that there are circumstances when ISPs cannot isolate IP addys or individuals, then it's ok to sniff the whole pipe. Why not? Why should the cops have to pussyfoot around BS red tape just to do their jobs?
It is called a wiretap for a reason. There is no technical reason why the actual wire or cable going to the actual house or business couldn't be tapped directly, by connecting some hardware to the line just as they used to. This new technique is about convenience not necessity.

Quite frankly, I want individual wiretaps to require at least some individual physical effort and expense so that police have to make the decision of whether it is worth it or not.

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (1)

It doesn't come easy (695416) | more than 7 years ago | (#17815520)

Firstly, wrong is in the eye of the beholder. Illegal is formally defined by law, although lately the definitions seem to be less precise than they should be. If the beholder has power over you, their definition of wrong can be deadly. Secondly, this is the FBI (i.e. federal government) we're talking about. So how long do they keep the data? Do they get rid of any data that ISN'T related to their target? And even if they say they do, can you TRUST that they do (consider while you formulate your answer the recent illegal spying activity the White House has been caught doing)? Lately the federal government has used up nearly all of their public trust in my view. And as my dad always said, trust once lost is very very difficult to regain.

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (1)

madirish2600 (149913) | more than 7 years ago | (#17815858)

This is the sort of misguided logic that eats away at people's privacy rights every day. The logic basically goes like this:

The police must monitor ALL communication in order to be able to monitor ONE communication. Due to the restrictions of a subpoena, even if they find evidence of other wrongdoing they are not allowed to pursue it. In any case, you shouldn't care if the government monitors your communication if you aren't doing anything illegal.

The problem with this logic is that the people reviewing your communications are real people. If you wouldn't mind taking a private email from you to your wife and just leaving it on the street for someone to read then you shouldn't have a problem with some government bureaucrat reading it. However, if you have some communications that you consider private - things that you don't want other people to know, then you should have a big problem with this.

The problem with the logic that it inconvenient for law enforcement to respect privacy rights of citizens in pursuit of criminals justifies law enforcement oversight regardless of privacy rights. You're authorizing the government to surveil all of us in the interest of catching a minority of us doing something wrong. Personally that isn't a right I've resigned or a responsibility I've assigned to our government. Government is supposed to serve the people, not monitor them.

Even though law enforcement isn't supposed to act on information they gain outside of the scope of a subpoena, they shouldn't have any right to listen in on conversations they have no right to. If a law enforcement agency can't locate a specific IP why should that burden be passed to all the users on a block of IP's? Why shouldn't the ISP be responsible for more careful monitoring or logging? Why shouldn't the agency be required to deploy reliable means of locating that IP? Why shouldn't the government pay to install more sophisticated monitoring? Basically, why should the price of pursuit be the privacy of an uninvolved third party without their consent?

Rule 1: Don't tread on me (1)

schwaang (667808) | more than 7 years ago | (#17816202)

If you're doing something wrong, and they happen to catch you because they were looking for someone else -- then you shouldn't have been doing whatever it was you were doing.
Whether you are doing something wrong is not the point. The point is that having police search your house because they're looking for someone else in the general area tramples your rights. That search is oppressive in and of itself.

A full-pipe search is like a house-to-house search in that respect. It is justified in only the most extreme circumstances.

Re:Fair enough -- as long as they follow the rules (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 7 years ago | (#17816242)

Why should the cops have to pussyfoot around BS red tape just to do their jobs?

Because they've been shown to abuse their powers in the past when their capabilities were less constrained. There are very good reasons for that red tape, as we will discover (again) should it ever be removed.

full pipe? (0, Offtopic)

superwiz (655733) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814446)

May be they think it's a truck.

depends.... (5, Interesting)

Scudsucker (17617) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814508)

If they only keep evidence found on the target (providing of course that they have a warrant of course) it might not be so bad. But somehow I doubt that will be the case though...say you and your neighbor both use municipal wireless, and your neighbor is into kiddie porn. The FBI collects all the traffic from your access point, and busts your neighbor for the kiddie porn - but also nails you for copyright infringment for downloading music or movies.

Re:depends.... (1)

PadRacerExtreme (1006033) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814644)

but also nails you for copyright infringment for downloading music or movies.

Which is immediately thrown out of court because the warrant was for your neighbor's traffic not your traffic.

Re:depends.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17814734)

How can you say that laws should be designed so people breaking them can get away with the crime?

Re:depends.... (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814862)

"[...] but also nails you for copyright infringment for downloading music or movies."

Fortunately, you can avoid this situation by not infringing on copyrights...

...on your own connection, that is.

Re:depends.... (1)

cain (14472) | more than 7 years ago | (#17815996)

If they only keep evidence found on the target...

The problem comes before they decide to keep or throw away the evidence though. In order to know if it is what they are looking for, they have to search it, even if it's only a grep. The 4th amendment states that "unreasonable searches and seizures" are illegal. And by definition if they identify that your traffic is not what they are looking for, they must have searched it and, most likely, searched it without a warrant.

Ummm...aren't they already? (1)

stubear (130454) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814512)

"...In situations where isolating a specific IP address for a suspect is not possible,..."

They have minimized the amount of data required to collect to preform their surveillance by limiting the block of IPs.

OMG! I HAF TO ACT FAST! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17814538)

"Liberty would trade temporary safety deserve neither" -BILL FRANKLIN MOD INCITEFULL

Meanwhile (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17814548)

. . . Islamofascists are targeting women and children, executing homosexuals, and enslaving women.

But the FBI doing its job is what we need to be outraged about.

I predict the fall of Western Civilization within fifty years.

Best teach your kids which way to pray to Mecca, assholes.

Re:Meanwhile (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17814728)

. . Islamofascists are targeting women and children, executing homosexuals, and enslaving women.
But the FBI doing its job is what we need to be outraged about.
I predict the fall of Western Civilization within fifty years.
Best teach your kids which way to pray to Mecca, assholes. /////////////////////
Slow that knee down there boss.
The FBI ABUSEING its powers as it has consistently through out its history is what people are objecting to.
You know....freedom? That means free from a police state as well.

You know what ?
Fuck it bring it on. I am out of the way.
Lets get the civil war started. First as I remember my history we need to fall into a dictatorship then a police state. for 20 years or so then a revolution.
I am out of the way so go ahead kick it off.
Ya know the funniest thing about this is that some people think I am trolling.
That is the best thing about speaking your mind.

Re:Meanwhile (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17814822)

So the choice is one between home-grown, all-American fascism, and Sharia law? Bullshit I say. There must be a middle ground, where laws are fair and bind the actions of everyone, including those in authority.

Re:Meanwhile (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17815972)

nah. history proves otherwise you ignorant fool.

1. Isreal is Gods chosen nation
2. Muhammad is a false prophet.
3. Every nation and empire that has tried to eliminate or curse the Jews has fallen.

Better learn to pray to the God of the Jews otherwise you face the certian and eternal lake of fire. Blowing up kids and claiming it is of God when in fact it is of Satan... Yeap, your doomed.

Someone help me understand (2, Interesting)

arkham6 (24514) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814560)

I am trying to think of a technical limitation where they could not be able to isolate an IP, or more specificaly, a MAC address. Can someone point out some? Maybe between two border routers or something?

Re:Someone help me understand (3, Informative)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814784)

Many ISPs in the U.S. use an IP addressing scheme called "Multinetting" (I'm not certain if that's the correct term, it's just the one I learned for it) Whereby they create multiple virtual IP networks behind one router. This allows them to dynamically expand their network without having to deploy thousands of high-end routers for their network as they expand. As most ISPs also dynamically assign IP's in their network, this allows them great flexibility of network topology.

The downside is that it's somewhat difficult to tie an IP down to a specific MAC address. Most times the best you can do is find the block (or blocks) of IP's assigned to a given area. For example: let's say that the FBI has a hostname, but no IP. The hostname will often have the region or township name in it. If the FBI provides that to the ISP, the ISP will be able to say "That area uses these IP blocks." and then the FBI would have to monitor ALL those blocks to try and separate the suspect's individual IP from all the other innocent people's IPs.

The really tricky part is where the Subpoena comes in. If it's really general IE: it allows them to monitor for "suspicious activity", then it could be used as a virtual dragnet, pulling in lots of people unrelated to the original investigation. However, Judges understand this and will usually issue a very specific subpoena so that they can avoid such a "dragnet" situation.

Re:Someone help me understand (2, Funny)

MentlFlos (7345) | more than 7 years ago | (#17815354)

For example: let's say that the FBI has a hostname, but no IP. The hostname will often have the region or township name in it. If the FBI provides that to the ISP, the ISP will be able to say "That area uses these IP blocks." and then the FBI would have to monitor ALL those blocks to try and separate the suspect's individual IP from all the other innocent people's IPs.
...or they can just use nslookup

Re:Someone help me understand (2, Insightful)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814832)

Proxy servers and virtual networks like Gnutella and Freenet. You'd need special tools to parse and analyze such data, and your suspect may only be bouncing traffic off of the ISP's customer.

Re:Someone help me understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17815266)

Hmmm, I have no idea..

Re:Someone help me understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17816144)

ummm. google NAT, BotNet, Open Proxy

just a few but that ought to give you an idea of the challenge they face.

Re:Someone help me understand (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 7 years ago | (#17816318)

I am trying to think of a technical limitation where they could not be able to isolate an IP, or more specificaly, a MAC address. Can someone point out some? Maybe between two border routers or something?

That's easy. They know that someone accessed kiddie porn at www.illegalunderagekids.com from 12.1.1.15 at 12:31 p.m. on June 1 2006. Of course, they look up the class-A for 12.0.0.0 and find that it belongs to AT&T. They send over a warrant/subpoena for the name of the person on that IP at that time, and AT&T states it is a DHCP pool for DSL users and they do not keep records back that far.

So, the FBI has a location (the specific AT&T router) where the traffic will pass from the user. They have some limited browsing patterns from the user. But they do not have an IP or a MAC for that specific user. That seems to fit your question with a description of how they can know a crime has been committed, what router/IP block it runs through, but yet can't identify an IP or MAC. I can come up with more, but working for an ISP, we run into that all the time, but the FBI has never plugged into any of our gear directly.

How long till they want to regulate wireless (3, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814672)

It's easy to find people who have unsecured wireless. Those cheap routers don't keep detailed log information about who is connecting to them. It's a law enforcement nightmare and I'm surprised that the FBI hasn't gotten very gungho about punishing people for not securing wireless connections. We're reaching a point where it can be all but impossible [codemonkeyramblings.com] to determine whether or not the person is guilty of a crime until the humiliating arrest and prosecution. In some cases it's trojans, others it could be open wireless. Law enforcement still hasn't grasped the delicacy of the situation. You can tell from their tactics. If they did, they'd understand how easy it is today for computers to be hijacked such that there is no way to plausibly determine prima facie who really is doing it, even if they have the IP address it seems to be coming from.

Re:How long till they want to regulate wireless (1)

mmell (832646) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814910)

Taking your logical argument one step further, even secured wireless routers are vulnerable.

I have an old class-b wireless router; it'll only do 128-bit WEP. My new class-g wireless router'll do WPA, but that's been broken as well (a friend of mine demonstrated that to me just this last weekend).

Both my wireless routers (in two different residences, BTW) are set to "wide open" nowadays. I figure "why bother?", when script kiddies like my buddy can just download the latest and greatest crack to break my encryption in minutes. Of course, I've removed the antennae; my machines (in the house) get "fair" signal strength, but I'm sure to get at my wireless routers from outside will require a cantenna.

Re:How long till they want to regulate wireless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17815432)

Mine also only does WEP. I decided to turn off the built-in security completely, since it is useless, and I'm using OpenVPN to secure the connection instead. This means that it acts like an open wireless hotspot, but in fact it will only provide Internet access if you have a private key to VPN onto my LAN. Might be worth considering doing this, it's not hard to set up and will give any script kiddie pause for thought!

Re:How long till they want to regulate wireless (2, Funny)

Cheesey (70139) | more than 7 years ago | (#17815256)

Indeed. It seems to me now that shutting down all insecured wireless is an essentially impossible task. It's so widespread. Most people don't know that they should even consider securing their access points, let alone how to actually do it. Even if there was a major campaign to get everyone to close up their access point, many people would assume that it didn't apply to them, or they'd do it badly (e.g. with WEP), or they would turn it off after having trouble using it themselves.

So if anyone ever wants to use the Internet anonymously, they can. This is not a bad thing. But it does make the FBI's actions pointless: any intelligent terrorist, pedophile or liberal is going to use an unsecured access point to evade detection. Or a service like TOR, which is specifically designed to allow you to avoid your oppressive government, whether it be Chinese or American.

Re:How long till they want to regulate wireless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17816126)

Most people don't know that they should even consider securing their access points, let alone how to actually do it.

Also, some people may have secured their access point and something could have failed in the access point and caused it to reset to defaults on its own (with no human action causing it) and lose its settings and end up wide open again.

Let's check the Documentation... (4th Amendment) (4, Informative)

mikelieman (35628) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814748)

"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."

Well, since sniffing the whole pipe on it's face violates:

"Particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized".

I would say, that once again, the FBI is overstepping it's lawfully delegated powers.

In other news, the sky is blue...

Re:Let's check the Documentation... (4th Amendment (3, Interesting)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 7 years ago | (#17816172)

Well, since sniffing the whole pipe on it's face violates:
"Particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized".


How does it violate it?
What to be searched is described: All of the class C that the suspect can get a DHCP address from.
The person is explicitly identified, even though often John-Doe'd because the identity isn't yet known.
The things to be siezed are explicitly listed: All packets from John Doe.

It fits the definition under the Constitution as you listed. What the issues are are irrelevant to that part. The FBI is required to not get more than they must. If there is a practical way to get just the person they are looking for's packets, then they are breaking the law. If there isn't a technically available solution, then they are within the law.

Of course, you can also debate whether John Doe warrants/subpoenas are legal, but that too seems to be a separate issue from what you brought up.

What if "full pipe" was instead "apartment complex (2, Interesting)

monkeyboythom (796957) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814756)

Cops suspect illegal activity, say drug ring, but they do not know which apartment it is. Do the police have the right to search every apartment in the complex to find illegal activity? And what if they come to my apartment and find that I have a computer. Can they seize that to see if I am doing anything illegal in their search for the drug ring? No. Laws and the Constitution are two separate entities. Congress and states cannot make laws that abridge the freedoms set forth in the Constitution.

Re:What if "full pipe" was instead "apartment comp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17815130)

Congress and states cannot make laws that abridge the freedoms set forth in the Constitution.
New here, are you?

Re:What if "full pipe" was instead "apartment comp (1)

null etc. (524767) | more than 7 years ago | (#17815408)

Congress and states cannot make laws that abridge the freedoms set forth in the Constitution.


Sure they can. It's the job of the Supreme court to overthrow such laws, once made. And it will only get to the Supreme Court if someone brings it there, and even then it's not always guaranteed.

Re:What if "full pipe" was instead "apartment comp (1)

damienl451 (841528) | more than 7 years ago | (#17816050)

Can't we just say that the constitution is a living document that has now "evolved" to permit such searches because the framers could not have envisioned the particular situations in which this kind of searches should be allowed? Face it people : the constitution has already been misused to such an extent that it has almost become worthless...

Tradition (1)

TodMinuit (1026042) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814860)

As is tradition when the Government increases their spying efforts, it's time to listen to The Conet Project and then watch Enemy of the State while wearing a tin foil hat and eating a bucket of fried chicken.

John Doe Warrants? (1)

karlandtanya (601084) | more than 7 years ago | (#17814964)

Aren't there mechanisms in place to deal with this?

In a situation where FBI has probable cause to believe a crime has been committed, they should still have to present their evidence to a judge and get a warrant.
If they don't know who is committing the crime, but they have specific cause, they can provide a specific description of what they're looking for and get a john doe warrant.

Let them rifle through the whole pipeline. But they can't use anything not on the warrant--including for the purpose of getting another warrant.

I suspect that in practice, LEAs try to game the system and get a warrant for anything interesting they might find. It's the judge's job to say "no, you're fishing". And if she's wrong, it's another judge's job to throw out the evidence.

Well, that's what I learned from "Law and Order"--any real lawyers out there?

Re:John Doe Warrants? (1)

irc.goatse.cx troll (593289) | more than 7 years ago | (#17815544)

Well, that's what I learned from "Law and Order"--any real lawyers out there?
I'm no lawyer, but my watching of "The Practice" confirms your assumption.

Re:John Doe Warrants? (1)

greoff (650462) | more than 7 years ago | (#17816068)

You are asking the wrong question given the stellar history on this matter.

The right question is 'does any mechanism really matter anymore?'

So, the FBI gets a warrant to go look for horrible person A suspected of crime A (say speeding across state lines). They throw their giant net into the water by sniffing the whole pipe then wait.

When they pull up the net, they come up with this:

Nothing related to person A.
Unrelated evidence of person B breaking law B (say downloading copyrighted software)
Unrelated evidence of person C breaking law C (say swapping credit card information)

Now, legally this evidence against B and C is not 'technically' usable, so we need to get around that bothersome problem and 'discover' evidence through a 'proper' investigation...

They fire up their favorite email program and fire off some emails:

Hey, person B, check out this cool new software download site
Hey, Person C, check out this cool new site listing credit cards

Now, these people are not too bright and respond.

Fantastic, the 'clean' sting operation has worked perfectly.

Time to go get more warrants for B, C.. and be sure to never mention why we thought to suspect them... and also be sure to make sure we can tap more full pipes.

The names for B and C just showed up during a 'routine' sting operation.

How did we know to include them in our clean sting operation? How dare you question my authority... oh. I mean... that is a national security secret... we are at war... can't let the terrorist... oh good, your eyes glazed over...

Oh yeah... I almost forgot... We are after that godless terrorist speeder... throw that net back into the water.

I dont care (0)

Josh Ovki (1054622) | more than 7 years ago | (#17815012)

I dont care if the FBI or MI5 or whoever is monitoring what goes on in my street, if I have a terrorist cell living next door to me too right they can pull all the traffic that is going down this street. If they find out im downloading illegal music do you really think they will be bothered by it... its not the terrorist information they are looking for. Its like if the police where raiding an apartment block on a guns raid and go into one house, and find someone smoking a joint they realy are not going to put on hold there aim to stop this person. My question for the people that dont like this idea is, WHAT are you downloading or looking up that is so bad that the FBI will look at your case and not the person they are mainly looking for?

Re:I dont care (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#17815188)

WHAT are you downloading or looking up that is so bad that the FBI will look at your case and not the person they are mainly looking for?


Civil disobedience? Political activity such as information relating to organized demonstrations that run counter to the interests of the ruling party?

Keep in mind that the FBI has consistently overstepped its bounds in monitoring civil political activity -- just recently we saw that they've been keeping illegal files oin political activists.

Re:I dont care (4, Insightful)

computational super (740265) | more than 7 years ago | (#17815302)

Here's how I think about that... about 230 years ago, folks living in a British colony that didn't have that sort of legal protection were willing to fight and die for the right to have it (it was the fourth thing on their list, actually). I'm guessing that there's probably something pretty upsetting about random, unwarranted searches and seizures that propelled them to feel so strongly about it. Of course, the way things are going, I won't have to guess much longer - it will be readily apparent to all of us pretty soon what it feels like to live in a world where the cops can kick in your door on a whim and take whatever they feel like taking.

Re:I dont care (1)

El Fantasmo (1057616) | more than 7 years ago | (#17815576)

Your position in sumation: If you have nothing to hide... Counter point: Someone may have something to hide. It's not illegal but certainly taboo or immoral in their greater community, ie. Wickans, DBSM, true paternal identity, etc. I know a guy who works for a police department. Hel tells us all sorts of stuff about poeple that isn't "normal," but it's certainly not illegal. Oh the irony that is J. Edgar Hoover. (the potential cross dressing thing)

Re:I dont care (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17816082)

My question for the people that dont like this idea is, WHAT are you downloading or looking up that is so bad that the FBI will look at your case and not the person they are mainly looking for?
You must be new here. Stick around a while and maybe you will learn something. Read some other Slashdot articles on the subject while your at it, this question been answered many times here. Read the Constitution [usconstitution.net] but first maybe you should read Common Sense [ushistory.org] by Thomas Paine and writings by other founding fathers starting with Thomas Jefferson. Your question indicates you need to. Not trying to be insulting, but as Thomas Jefferson once said Educate and inform the whole mass of the people... They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty. [brainyquote.com]

From the other Slashdot articles one of the things you might find out is that many people don't know what their computer is downloading or uploading. Could yours be one of them? Should your grandfather be responsible for malware on his computer downloading/uploading child porn that got added to his computer because he opened an email? For all we know he maybe running a message server for terrorists, completely without his knowledge or permission.

My Thoughs (1)

deKernel (65640) | more than 7 years ago | (#17815090)

I am personally torn here for several reasons. First off, I hate seeing this type of program in place whether it is Bush or Clinton. Parties don't matter here, it is the principle. The upswing is that it is only used under certain circumstances and those being when a) a court order is issued and b) the ISP for some reason can't isolate the user c) only the probable segment is sweeped and not the whole pipe like the heading leads to.

If any abuses are found, then I would say that the program needs to be shutdown immediately.

Government always respects its limits... (1)

dmcooper (899820) | more than 7 years ago | (#17815338)

Right. I have no faith whatsoever that information contained in any sweeping database will be utilized only as the initial purpose indicates.

Before long, the government will want to justify some "for the children" measures such as receiving information of everyone who searched for pornography online in an effort to investigate "child pornography" by building a database of people who view pornography in general.

What about the person who writes a scathing critique of the administration or who runs for public office and who has a bunch of dirt collected online that just shows up by a query to this database?

I can be honest and say that the government most likely doesn't care about what you do - unless you get in their way, or unless you become a threat in some way to the existing power structure. While they may search for some law you have broken, they may 'incidentally' find other information on you that is not illegal but can be used as fodder in the media.

I can see no justification for this system that outweighs freedom and responsibility in this country. The Federal Government should stick to its Constitutional mandate and let the states run their own business affairs.

Obligitory response (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17815594)

B-b-b-b-b-but terrorists!!!!

Distinguishing public vs private (4, Interesting)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 7 years ago | (#17815664)

Just for reference:

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.

The value behind the words is pretty clear, or at least it is when you look at the words in terms of 18th century technology. In the big room, things are public. You can't assert privacy in the town square. But separate from that, are our personal domains that no one else should be able to enter without our permission; a man is king of his castle. If you're there without permission, you're trespassing. And the 4th Amendment says that government is a special case, that it can enter your space without your consent without it being trespassing, but this requires court oversight. Without that check in place, it is trespassing.

In 1789, it was really easy to tell the difference between public and private, only requiring basic common sense.

You don't even have to be an intelligent human to understand this. Even some really dumb animals know how to enforce ownership of their turf. It's that basic and easy.

When phone networks came, it got kind of blurry. I guess Congress and the Courts have made up their mind about that, generally taking our side (i.e. requiring warrants for wiretapping) but the reality isn't all that clear. No matter how you look at it, those phone wires are not just in your house and the house of the person you're talking to. The wires are in public. When we demand privacy on wires that pass through public, radio signals that go everywhere, etc, we're doing something very artificial. That doesn't mean it's wrong or an unreasonable demand; really, it's ok to assert our will over nature. But going beyond Natural Law isn't as easy as it looks, and the issues can explode with complexity.

When you get to the Internet, it's even harder. Anyone who knows anything about the Internet, knows that you really don't have a reasonable expectation of privacy. We desire privacy? Well, of course! But having an "expectation" is foolishly unrealistic. There are too many people who have access to your plaintext. You don't even know who they are! How can you expect respect and accountability from someone you can't even identify, doesn't have any sort of business relationship with you, etc? It's naive.

Contrast that to the situation of someone looking at papers on your desk at home. Nobody gets into your home without your knowledge or permission, so if someone even has the ability to violate the security of your effects and papers, it's because either you granted permission for them to be there, or because they're trespassing. Well, when you send a packet of plaintext out onto the Internet with blind faith that the routing protocols will somehow get the packet to its destination, you're granting permission for someone (you don't even know who) to at least have enough access to the packet to be able to get the job done. You might say you didn't grant permission for them to read your love letter, but you sure as hell did grant them just about everything short of that -- you very explicitly give them the opportunity. This is very unlike the situation with a love letter sitting on your desk at home.

Everyone knows this, and they've known this for a very long time (thus anyone who uses the words "Bush Administration" in this discussion shouldn't be taken seriously). Tech-heads made up their minds decades ago: you can't expect privacy, unless you take matters into your own hands, by encrypting. If you don't listen to tech-heads on this, you're a fool.

We don't have a reasonable expection of privacy, if we don't encrypt. It's that simple.

But we can still set policy; we can defy nature. We can say that even though privacy isn't realistically expected, the government is required to act as though it is. We can do this, because the government (theoretically) is us, and surely we can regulate ourselves. So even though you have granted a bunch of strangers access to your unencrypted love letters, even though you essentially give the whole world the ability to violate your privacy, we're going to make an exception: government has to pretend the information isn't public.

Ok, that's fine. But just remember that you are pretending, you aren't living in reality, you are defying nature and common sense, and there are going to be weird unintuitive consequences.

Good luck getting rid of it (2, Insightful)

netcrusher88 (743318) | more than 7 years ago | (#17815782)

Here's why: the FBI probably uses this technique, in some cases, to track down child porn. True, most cases these days are probably copyright infringement cases demanded by the industry, but given today's power-hungry government and legislators who think their primary mandate is to keep their office, all the FBI has to do is say that they use it to combat child porn and no one but the district court or higher will touch it - and that takes months or years.

You may ask why I say this. Wikipedia COPA, COPPA, CIPA, Communications Decency Act (the parts that the courts struck down). Claim you're protecting children and you can get away with anything. Now, I'm not saying these laws are a bad thing - they're well-intentioned, but badly thought out and the difficulties of doing what they demand on the Internet were not considered.

Questionably Legal? (0, Troll)

MadnessASAP (1052274) | more than 7 years ago | (#17816118)

Don't you mean questionably illegal? Supposedly one is innocent until proven guilty....

Oh wait this in USA? Sorry my mistake carry on.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...