[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: "Confessing to a felony"

At 5:43 PM -0400 9/27/96, Black Unicorn wrote:
>On Thu, 26 Sep 1996, Timothy C. May wrote:

>His admission that he used the notebook.  Recovering the notebook and
>finding the software.  Interviewing the Customs agent working at the time.

His admission that he used _which_ notebook? Chain of evidence again.

Finding _which_ software?

(As for the Customs agent, I can assure you that my luggage has never been
checked upon either leaving the U.S. or entering the U.S. Even if U.S.
Customs could figure out who was working at the time I putatively entered
the country, and even if he remembered _me_, months later, just what
records would he have, and how would they stand up in court?)

Hearing me say I "exported crypto," a hearsay claim, and happening to find
one or more laptops at my home, weeks or months later, implies nothing. (To
make the point graphically, suppose the raiding party finds _several_
laptops or notebooks...do they assume _all_ were taken out of the country,
or do they pick the one with the most incriminating software on it? Answer:
Unless they can _prove_ one of them was used, and that it had not been
_changed_ since the putative event (highly unlikely), they cannot simply
_assume_ one of them was taken out.

(Seems to me to be an open and shut case. "Oh, _that_ laptop? That's not
the one I took to Europe."   "Oh, you say this laptop has PGP 5.9 on it?
So? I installed it last week. My trip to Europe was last summer.")

>Considering the headaches required for airline travel today, it's not like
>there aren't serious records abound.

Such as? I recall no inspections of my luggage, no inventorying of the
serial numbers of my laptops, no inspection whatsoever of my
magneto-optical drives (which were in my carry-on luggage, and not even
glanced at, in the box they were in). X-rays would not prove what was taken
in or out of the country, even if "x-ray escrow" were implemented (which it
is not, according to all reports I have heard, and based on some practical
limits on storage), I doubt the records of a trip, say, last summer (of
'95) could be retrieved and prove that a particular laptop was taken out.
Not to mention that the software allegedly taken out might have been on any
kind of media, none of them distinguishable with an x-ray machine.

>For crying outloud, he admitted to the world that he took the software
>out.  I put that in front of a jury and it looks just like the typical

"For crying out loud" is bluster, not legal argument.

>stupid bragging criminal.  Any defense about "I was just kidding" or "The
>message was forged" might be interesting, but it will sound like
>technical-mumbo-jumbo to a jury.  Yes, it would convince >ME< that was a

Legal proof is still needed. Given only a nebulous statement like "I
exported crypto in violation of the ITARs," or "I shipped PGP to Europe,"
is not enough for a case even to be brought to trial.

(If it reached trial, I would expect a defense attorney to move for
dismissal. Absent any evidence that a crime occurred, absent any proof
beyond the nebulous hearsay statement of a "braggart," there is simply no
basis for criminal action.)

"Stupid bragging criminals" may be common, but bragging is not in and of
itself illegal. There still has to be evidence of a crime.

"Produce the body."

(I can say I personally whacked Jimmy Hoffa. Absent other evidence, or the
body, or witnesses, does this mean I'll be found guilty? To use BU's
phrasing, "for crying out loud.")

--Tim May

We got computers, we're tapping phone lines, I know that that ain't allowed.
Timothy C. May              | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
[email protected]  408-728-0152 | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
W.A.S.T.E.: Corralitos, CA  | knowledge, reputations, information markets,
Higher Power: 2^1,257,787-1 | black markets, collapse of governments.
"National borders aren't even speed bumps on the information superhighway."