Judge Admits She Was Wrong To Order Playstation Jailbreaker To 'Retrieve' Code From Elsewhere

from the good-for-her dept

A few weeks ago, we noted the problem of judges who don't understand technology in highlighting how the judge in the case concerning the Sony PS3 jailbreak had ordered that George Hotz (Geohot) "retrieve" the jailbreak code that had been distributed. As we pointed out, you can't retrieve code that out's there on the internet. It's not a physical good. The comments on our original article had some claims from some of our usual critics, claiming that our statement that the judge had asked for the impossible was "FUD" and not accurate, and even accused me of intentionally misleading readers here.

Well, it appears that the judge has reconsidered, and actually agrees with me and apologized for the original order:
The judge also backed off on an order that Hotz "retrieve" the code from anybody who he may have forwarded it to.

"It's information. It can't be retrieved. It's just not practical," Illston said. "What would they do, Xerox it and mail it back?"

Illston said she changed her mind because she was not clearly aware of the details in her earlier order.

"This kind of got away from me and I apologize for that," she said from the bench.
That said, the article does still highlight how she has allowed Sony to comb through Hotz's computers looking for any information "that relates to the hacking of the PlayStation." Hotz's lawyers had protested this, and the judge said that it's standard to search through the entire contents of someone's computer to find things like child porn, to which his lawyer noted that "we're certainly not dealing with child pornography," but the judge didn't bite. Despite concerns from Hotz's lawyer, the judge told them "That's the breaks."


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    Overcast (profile), Feb 11th, 2011 @ 10:42am

    Wow, a judge.. that admitted they were wrong. Perhaps that's the real news here, lol.

    I'm curious with this whole concept - about how long it's going to be before it's illegal to have clothes altered or against a 'EULA' to alter clothes you have purchased.

    Because it makes about as much sense as it being illegal to mod a console..

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 10:47am

      Re:

      Now if Mike Masnick can learn that, we would really have something :)

       

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      Jay (profile), Feb 11th, 2011 @ 11:22am

      Re:

      "I'm curious with this whole concept - about how long it's going to be before it's illegal to have clothes altered or against a 'EULA' to alter clothes you have purchased."

      There IS that fashion copyright thing working through congress....

       

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      Jeff Rife, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 1:16pm

      Re:

      I'm curious with this whole concept - about how long it's going to be before it's illegal to have clothes altered or against a 'EULA' to alter clothes you have purchased.

      That brings a whole new meaning to the term "fashion police".

       

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    Marcus Carab (profile), Feb 11th, 2011 @ 10:43am

    Clearly this judge just blindly agrees with whatever the Cult of Masnick says.

    Amiright ACs?

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 10:59am

      Re:

      Clearly Mike's FUD spreading powers are so great that they have influenced the judge into doing the wrong decision!

      This must be the Mikee effect in action.

      :)

       

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      GeneralEmergency (profile), Feb 11th, 2011 @ 2:30pm

      Re:

      All Hail Masnick!

      All Hail Masnick!

      We are his obedient Blog minions!

      All Hail Masnick!

      All Hail Masnick!

      (For threads trimmed from the hem of Mike's Khaki's, email me. Supplies are limited. Makes a great gift!)


      All Hail Masnick!

       

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    AdamR (profile), Feb 11th, 2011 @ 10:49am

    I may have missed something here but did they seize his computer(s)? If they didn't whats to stop him from cleaning stuff out or just handing another system minus things he feels have no business looking at.

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 10:56am

      Re:

      From here, via Wired:
      http://www.gamepolitics.com/2011/02/10/george-hotz-must-let-sony-inspect-hard-drive

      "At first, the judge said ďThatís the breaks," but later clarified that Sony's search would be limited:

      'Here, I find probable cause that your client has got these things on his computer," she said. "Itís a problem when more than one thing is kept on the computer. Iíll make sure the order is and will be that Sony is only entitled to isolate Ö the information on the computer that relates to the hacking of the PlayStation.'

      The judge ordered Sony's attorney and Kellar to work out the time and place where Hotz would allow Sony to sift through his computer and ordered him not to delete or modify any files connected to the jailbreak."

       

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 11:18am

        Re: Re:

        "and ordered him not to delete or modify any files connected to the jailbreak."

        That is good, since it allows him to delete everything else and thus not risk exposing his private, but unrelated to this case, data.

         

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        AdamR (profile), Feb 11th, 2011 @ 11:28am

        Re: Re:

        Still makes no sense to me. Who knows how many computers he has or where he might store the information. Sounds to me Sony is on a fishing expedition to try root out others.

         

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          Joe (profile), Feb 12th, 2011 @ 4:23am

          Re: Re: Re:

          That's exactly what the whole lawsuit is about. They want to make an example of him but they _really_ want the fail0ver guys.

           

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            Christopher (profile), Feb 13th, 2011 @ 10:18am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Agreed. Personally, I would rather that the judge stomped on this right away, and said that the search was not necessary because we are not dealing with something that can lead to criminal charges.

            Hell, the guy has ALREADY said that he is connected with the jailbreak.... this seems like a fishing expedition to try and find out who else was involved.

             

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        Gwiz (profile), Feb 11th, 2011 @ 12:55pm

        Re: Re:

        The judge ordered Sony's attorney and Kellar to work out the time and place where Hotz would allow Sony to sift through his computer and ordered him not to delete or modify any files connected to the jailbreak."

        What I don't get is why a party to lawsuit gets to do the forensic work on the computer. It seems that a neutral, third party would be much more unbiased. And before AJ or someone slams me on this, it's probably technically legal - it just doesn't seem just.

         

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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Feb 11th, 2011 @ 10:49am

    Why oh why

    Why are judges allowed to pass judgments upon things they clearly do not understand?

    Isn't that kind of like visiting the pet store and asking the gal who maintains the aquariums to help you diagnose the funny noise your car is making?

    _sigh_ Anyhow, anybody know where I can download a pizza?

    ; P

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 10:54am

      Re: Why oh why

      If you find out where to download that pizza let me know. A pizza sounds good right now.

       

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        Steve, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 11:02am

        Re: Re: Why oh why

        I've got a great 3D printer that uses flour as a building material and water as a bonding agent.

         

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          :Lobo Santo (profile), Feb 11th, 2011 @ 11:14am

          Re: Re: Re: Why oh why

          Nice... If we can put the output tray of that printer on a conveyor belt that feeds to a pizza sauce spreader, and then a cheeser, and finally a topperator before trundling it on thru an oven and we're in business!

           

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            Hephaestus (profile), Feb 11th, 2011 @ 11:38am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Why oh why

            For the sauce I have a CNC Mill with a sprayer head I can swap in. I just need to drill out the nozzle to a larger Diameter so the sauce wont gum it up.

            The cheese I can't help you with ...

             

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            teka (profile), Feb 11th, 2011 @ 8:23pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Why oh why

            rather then a milling output, i would suggest an automated mixer that can accept pre-measured dough components, then tip the completed material onto the pizza tray moving through the line. This could be replaced with a system that retrieves a pre-made dough ball, or even a pick-and-thaw dispenser that thaws par-cooked dough.

            For shaping i would suggest a press-style mold. Lock the pizza pan into place on the line, apply pressure with a properly shaped disc to stamp an optimum shape. Automated application of non-stick oil before pressing would help.

            Printbed sauce application system would be interesting. Even more if it could handle 2 or 3 input lines, allowing artistic swirls of marinara, alfredo sauce and/or peppery olive oil or pesto. Imagine an evolutionary algorithm slowly developing the perfect flavor! Cheese application might be possible with the same system, though odd pelletizing or compounding might ruin.

            A delta-robot with a vac' gripper might be a better choice, allowing rapid placement of items like sliced cheeses, discs of pepperoni and/or sausage. Optional is a low-power CO2 laser and aiming array in conjunction with the feed-tube for the pepperoni, allowing the addition of monogrammed meat product.

            Final is a pass-through oven, and i think developments in the pizza industry are pushing these to be smaller and faster all the time..

            So.. um.. where was i..


            It is good that the judge eventually retracted this demand.
            And .torrent = .pizza

             

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          Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 4:27pm

          Re: Re: Re: Why oh why

          I hold 17 patents on pizza printing and I demand that you cease and desist.

           

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 10:55am

      Re: Why oh why

      I wouldn't risk it. If the pizza company gets in legal trouble, it's possible they'll have to come retrieve the pie from you...

       

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      The eejit (profile), Feb 11th, 2011 @ 10:57am

      Re: Why oh why

      Hey, at least this one admitted fault - not like certain other players in the world, eh?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 10:57am

      Re: Why oh why

      "Anyhow, anybody know where I can download a pizza?"

      What are you? A Pizza Pirate?

      Thief!

       

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    John Doe, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 10:56am

    Sa wat?

    Since when does a non-law enforcement entity get to do searches? Is that legal? I cannot see any legitimate reason where a private person/organization gets to search another persons/organizations computer. Who is to say that what they "found" on the computer wasn't planted?

     

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      Mike42 (profile), Feb 11th, 2011 @ 11:10am

      Re: Sa wat?

      Good point. This is a civil suit against an individual, so why is the judge using methods from a criminal proceeding? (child porn, in this case) Also, the XBox case was dismissed. Why is this one proceeding? Because it's a different brand of console?

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 4:32pm

        Re: Re: Sa wat?

        It was the government that dropped the case, though, and they only backed out because they screwed up. The judge didn't make a ruling on it, so we don't have a precedent.

         

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    average_joe (profile), Feb 11th, 2011 @ 11:04am

    The comments on our original article had some claims from some of our usual critics, claiming that our statement that the judge had asked for the impossible was "FUD" and not accurate, and even accused me of intentionally misleading readers here.

    You certainly are being vindicated here. I'm happy to admit it: I was wrong. I apologize for calling it FUD.

     

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      Almost Anonymous (profile), Feb 11th, 2011 @ 11:08am

      Re:

      Holy crap.

      You've just restored the teeniest tiniest littlest bittiest of my destroyed faith in humanity. Thanks for that.

       

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      Gwiz (profile), Feb 11th, 2011 @ 1:10pm

      Re:

      But...but....judges never make mistakes. They know all the laws and everything else...they couldn't possibly rubberstamp an order without reading it. Especially the ones with prior restraint issues involved...never...ever....

      Just teasing ya here, AJ. We will have to wait to see how the domain name seizures pan out...

       

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    Eric, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 11:10am

    IT person who works w/ the law

    As a person who's done several searches for porn for a Judge I can tell you that Judges can pretty much order whatever they please, it's really quite scary and amazing.

    When doing our searches we would make a sector by sector ghost of the original drive and then seal that and put it away in a evidence locker, to show proof of no tampering.. ie adding things or deleting things.

    It doesn't matter if you find that the guy killed someone on the computer, you can only present forth what the Judge ordered you to look for. It's not like, "HA, we got him for something else too." In the cases I worked, the person was in the court room when the order of the computer search was done and a police officer escorted the person to his house to retrieve the computer.. to make sure it wasn't tampered with.

     

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      John Doe, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 11:14am

      Re: IT person who works w/ the law

      Note to self - encrypt hard drive.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 11:24am

        Re: Re: IT person who works w/ the law

        You may want to look into having a lightswitch next to the front door turn off power to the wallsockets that powers yer computer too.
        Quite handy when the police comes knocking on yer door (assuming you have encrypted your drives).

         

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          Hephaestus (profile), Feb 11th, 2011 @ 11:41am

          Re: Re: Re: IT person who works w/ the law

          "You may want to look into having a lightswitch next to the front door turn off power to the wallsockets that powers yer computer too."

          Naw, just a whopping big electromagnet on the harddrive.

           

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        Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 11:24am

        Re: Re: IT person who works w/ the law

        Here's another recent example of why this is a good idea:
        I had a SSD partially die on me at home. The drive was not encrypted, but I had to send it back to the manufacturer to receive a new one. I didn't want them to have my data, but I couldn't access the drive long enough to wipe it within Windows, or even a Linux live CD.

        So I brute forced it to repeatedly reboot the system, encrypt random portions of the drive until it died, then reboot and continually write random shit to the drive for 24 hours. I have no idea if they'll be able to get any of the data, nor if they care, but I encrypt everything now, there's no reason not to.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 11:22am

    Note to self - go to jail for not giving up the password to my hard drive even though there isn't anything incriminating on it.

     

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      John Doe, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 11:58am

      Re:

      Is this really the case? Seems that you would have a 5th amendment right not to give up the password.

       

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      Ben, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 12:09pm

      Re:

      Boot from 4GB microSDHC
      /boot /
      /ROOT /HOME on 16GB microSDHC
      Encrypt 16GB
      2 Hollow coins (available on Internet)
      keep in
      change jar
      change tray
      plastic bag, backyard
      BIOS boot order
      SD
      CD
      HD

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 4:36pm

      Re:

      You can create hidden partitions - they look like random data, so they're indistinguishable from free space. If they even figure out you have one at all, then you can worry about what kind of trouble you're in for not being forthcoming....

       

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        Joe (profile), Feb 12th, 2011 @ 4:27am

        Re: Re:

        She didn't tell him to be forthcoming about what's on his computer, she just told him to turn it over and not delete or alter anything related to the case. If they can't find what they're looking for, it's on them. ;)

         

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    a-dub (profile), Feb 11th, 2011 @ 11:23am

    We really need to have better protections for computer searches. Someone correct me here, but if a warrant is issued to search a home for item X, and they discover an illegal item Y, then item Y cannot be collected until another warrant is issued...is that correct?

    They cant just search a persons house for anything incriminating, it has to specific, correct? If so, why are they able to search his computer for anything when they are specifically looking for sony ps3 info.

     

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      btr1701 (profile), Feb 11th, 2011 @ 12:41pm

      Re:

      > if a warrant is issued to search a home for
      > item X, and they discover an illegal item Y,
      > then item Y cannot be collected until another
      > warrant is issued...is that correct?

      Nope. If I have a warrant to search for counterfeit currency and while doing so turn up a kilo of cocaine, I can legally seize that as well.

      There is a restriction that only allows the police to search places where the items on the warrant can reasonably be located. So if I have a warrant to search for a shotgun, I can't look in the drawers of a person's desk or inside their DVD cases, because a shotgun couldn't physically fit in those places.

       

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 3:09pm

        Re: Re:

        Further, even if you allow the police to enter you home without a warrant, and a shotgun is in plain sight, they can take action as a result.

        If the court says "check the computer for files related to the hack", that could include pretty much any user generated file, as the data could be stored as a program, as a text file, as a spreadsheet, or heck, as an image (or images proving "the hack"). So if he happens to have other less than legal stuff in those sorts of files, the potential is that the police will see it.

        Let's just say if you don't want the authorities raking around your computer, don't do something that gives them legal reason or probably cause to do so.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 11:26am

    The comments on that other thread are hilarious, in light of this new development.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 11:32am

    Stupid judge. No wonder why these retard judges can't realize that Sony sold the product under the pretext that you can run Linux on it and later changed their mind and hence should be fined for false advertisement. Our kangaroo courts blindly do what big corporations want them to do with no thought whatsoever and they wonder why they end up looking stupid for not knowing what they're doing.

     

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      Jose_X, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 1:18pm

      Re:

      So you disagree with the decision to revise the order?

      Why are people complaining about a judge that made a mistake and recognized it?

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 4:38pm

        Re: Re:

        Because it's a mistake on the magnitude of "series of tubes". It's so unfathomably ignorant that a judge of that kind shouldn't preside over a technology case at all.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 6:26pm

        Re: Re:

        "So you disagree with the decision to revise the order?"

        No. I disagree with the decision to blindly make such a stupid order without knowing what she's doing to begin with and with the fact that she so blindly sought to serve the corporate interest that she couldn't even be bothered to understand her decisions. She reversed the order only because, due to the dynamics of the situation, she had no choice, but to the extent that it was in her power, she only sought to serve the corporate interest with no regard for law, the public interest, or the fact that Sony falsely sold the product with the claim that people can install Linux on it and that it's fraudulent for them to later tell people that they can't. The judge didn't care about upholding the law, she only cared about serving the corporate interest even if it means doing so blindly.

         

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 11:34am

    This guys lawyer is a lightweight. Fighting a company like Sony over a case like this is the big time.

    I wish copyminimalists in the US would organize themselves properly. Set up a legal aid fund, appoint a panel of specialists to review cases on merit, and fight a couple each year, to the limit. Throw big lawyers and big money at it. If you see the level of stupidity exhibited by some judges, I wouldn't be surprised they base their decisions on which of the lawyers has the most expensive suit.

    It's high time you guys drew a line in the sand and told the corporations, this far and no further.

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2011 @ 7:38am

      Re:

      I wish copyminimalists in the US would organize themselves properly.

      They can't afford to - they gave everything away, so all their hard work didn't turn into money that they can use to find legal action. :)

       

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    Ima Fish (profile), Feb 11th, 2011 @ 11:34am

    "claiming that our statement that the judge had asked for the impossible"

    I don't know if you're referring to me... but what I said was that you wrongly blamed the judge for the idiocy. Judge's don't write orders, they sign them. The write opinions, but there was no written opinion in this case.

    The person who came up with the asinine idea to "retrieve" the code came from Sony's lawyer, not the judge.

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 11:36am

      Re:

      Judge's don't read orders, they sign them

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 11:37am

      Re:

      It's still the judges stupidity for blindly siding with big corporations with no thought whatsoever. What does this say about our court system and who controls it?

       

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      Any Mouse (profile), Feb 11th, 2011 @ 6:21pm

      Re:

      And you're saying the judge should hold no responsibility for what they sign. Which makes you look the tool. Judges have a lot of power, and there's a lot of responsibility that comes with that. We need to expect them to read and understand what they are signing, not just blindly put pen to paper, so yes. The judge /is/ to blame.

       

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 11:36am

    "Illston said she changed her mind because she was not clearly aware of the details in her earlier order."
    The way that's said makes me think she didn't even come up with it. Damn, I could get away with that at work.
    "Why would we install the control system that way?!"
    "I was clearly not aware of the details in my earlier order"

     

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    identicon
    Judge, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 11:59am

    "Note to self - encrypt hard drive."

    Note to suspect, you are ordered to decrypt hard drive

     

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      Chris Rhodes (profile), Feb 11th, 2011 @ 12:23pm

      Re:

      TrueCrypt allows you to create a volume for plausible deniability. If you put in one password, it takes you to your real desktop. If you put in a different one, it takes you to a separate desktop where (presumably) you store nothing incriminating.

      If they make you give up your password, you give up the one that goes to nowhere.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TrueCrypt

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 4:40pm

      Re:

      You can create hidden partitions which are indistinguishable from free space (random data). They have to figure out it exists at all, first.

       

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        G Thompson (profile), Feb 11th, 2011 @ 10:05pm

        Re: Re:

        Hidden partitions show up as partitions that are hidden within the MBR and are actually part of the GUID Partition Table (GPT).

        In fact a Hidden Partition is just a type of partition, nothing different about it.

        If you are talking about specific Image files that reside within a partition they show up as files anyway and can be easily read and analysed as Disk Images and are part of the standard diagnostic search performed by any competent forensic investigation.

         

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 12:58pm

    You will give the keys of your house in the moon to Mr Bla next Monday

     

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    thamios, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 1:24pm

    About going through his laptop... can you say unlawful search? Something tells me we'll hear of this guy in another lawsuit... on the "good" side this time.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 1:40pm

    What does Sony actually expect to find? Other people to sue I guess? The code and break itself is in the wild on the internet they aren't going to find anything else that isn't out already I would guess. Why should a non-US based company get to seize any US citizen's computer and sift through it?
    Especially now that they have blogged their own key? Can't wait to see the US when Idiocracy becomes reality. We are so heading there.

     

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      Yeah Right, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 3:23pm

      Re:

      Well, it's harassment, plain and simple. Sony's just being nasty and having the guy's stuff confiscated. Probably gets it back a couple of years down the road.

      This stuff only happens to small fry. Corporate fascism, that's what it is.

      Imagine it being the other way round. Someone brought a class action suit against Apple over iPhone privacy last week. Just imagine the judge ordering all Cupertino hardware seized for evidence gathering.

      Think about it.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 1:46pm

    I stop buying Sony. Any kind of material.
    I am for freedom of speech.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 1:46pm

    I stop buying Sony. Any kind of material.
    I am for freedom of speech.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 1:46pm

    I stop buying Sony. Any kind of material.
    I am for freedom of speech.

     

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    Ryan Diederich, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 2:37pm

    Imagine...

    Imagine you go to open the hood of your car to put in oil for instance. But you cant get the hood open, it doesnt even look like it CAN open.

    Flabergasted, you call the maker, and they inform you that whats under the hood is secret, and that you cant see it. It only opens with special tools that only they have.

    They tell you that you need to send it to them for the mantainence, and that it will take 2-6 weeks, and they arent liable for loss or damage of your car.

     

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      Marcus Carab (profile), Feb 11th, 2011 @ 4:13pm

      Re: Imagine...

      ...and then when you ask why it's like that, they say "because it's possible you will open the hood to make illegal modifications"

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2011 @ 4:42pm

      You Wouldn't Download A Car

      I genuinely expect this to happen when the age of 3D printing really hits it stride

       

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    Geo, Feb 12th, 2011 @ 1:00am

    The Judge should be found incompetent

    The judge should be found incompetent of how computers work, and step down from this case. The facts supporting this are clear. Geo will not receive a fair trial from this judge.

     

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