According To The Government, Clearing Your Browser History Is A Felony

from the obligated-to-hold-onto-everything-just-in-case-government-wants-to-see-it dept

The "do something" resulting from the Enron scandal was Sarbanes-Oxley. To date, the law has done very little to curb corporate fraud -- its intended target. But it has become a handy tool for prosecutors looking to stack charges against defendants far removed from the financial world.

We've discussed this at length before. One of the stipulations of Sarbanes-Oxley is the preservation of evidence. Failing to do so, or purposefully destroying records, can result in felony criminal charges. This, unfortunately, doesn't even have to be willful destruction. The law forbids the destruction of evidence, regardless of personal knowledge of ongoing investigations, or even if no investigation has even commenced.

In a hypothetical posed recently (containing a real-world example), finding yourself in possession of child pornography poses a serious dilemma. Possession is a crime, but so is destruction of evidence. Sarbanes-Oxley demands the preservation of evidence in "foreseeable" investigations, and child porn possession is one of those crimes no law enforcement agency ignores.

This aspect of Sarbanes-Oxley is being used again, this time in relation to the Boston Marathon bombing. A cab driver who was friends with the Tsarnaev brothers is now facing multiple charges, including lying to investigators about his relationship with the Tsarnaevs, as well as destruction of records under Sarbanes-Oxley, the latter of which carries a 20-year prison sentence of its own.

Khairullozhon Matanov is a 24-year-old former cab driver from Quincy, Massachusetts. The night of the Boston Marathon bombings, he ate dinner with Tamerlan and Dhzokhar Tsarnaev at a kebob restaurant in Somerville. Four days later Matanov saw photographs of his friends listed as suspects in the bombings on the CNN and FBI websites. Later that day he went to the local police. He told them that he knew the Tsarnaev brothers and that they'd had dinner together that week, but he lied about whose idea it was to have dinner, lied about when exactly he had looked at the Tsarnaevs' photos on the Internet, lied about whether Tamerlan lived with his wife and daughter, and lied about when he and Tamerlan had last prayed together. Matanov likely lied to distance himself from the brothers or to cover up his own jihadist sympathies—or maybe he was just confused.

Then Matanov went home and cleared his Internet browser history.
The last sentence is a criminal act, despite being something millions of people do every day. Some even utilize built-in options in their browsers that dump history and/or clear the cache upon exit. And yet, the law states that this is illegal, should a person ever end up under investigation for anything. That's how broadly the law is written.

It was used to bring additional charges against David Kernell, who hacked into Sarah Palin's email account. The actual hacking resulted in misdemeanor charges. The cleanup processes deployed by Kernell (clearing browser cache, running a disk defragmenter, deleting downloaded photos) were treated as felony obstruction of justice under Sarbanes-Oxley. When these actions occurred, Kernell wasn't under investigation. At best, it could only be assumed that an investigation would result once the hacking attempt was discovered.

Some may feel this interpretation of the law is perfectly acceptable. People who engage in questionable and/or illegal activity shouldn't be allowed to "cover up" their actions in this fashion. But this defense of Sarbanes-Oxley's abused data retention stipulations suggests something very unpleasant about the government's view of who serves who.
Hanni Fakhoury, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says the feds' broad interpretation of Sarbanes-Oxley in the digital age is part of a wider trend: federal agents' feeling "entitled" to digital data.
Under this law -- and given the prevailing law enforcement/prosecutorial mindset -- US citizens are almost expected to hold onto everything, just in case. The government feels it has the right to dig into your hard drive, browser history, etc. at whatever point it opens an investigation. And if you've "destroyed" any data prior to the examination of your electronic devices, you could face felony charges for performing simple computer maintenance.
As more and more data are stored online, the government wants and believes it deserves access to that data for policing purposes. But Fakhoury disagrees.

"The idea that you have to create a record of where you've gone or open all your cupboards all the time and leave your front door unlocked and available for law enforcement inspection at any time is not the country we have established for ourselves more than 200 years ago."
This law has been on the books for thirteen years now. It hasn't managed to rein in corporate malfeasance, but it's proving to be having a negative effect on citizens who've never scammed a shareholder in their lives.


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 7:59am

    Browser Setting, don't keep history now illegal.

    There, see, I knew I was breaking the law everyday, I just could not figure out how.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 8 Jun 2015 @ 8:01am

    What happen when?

    As a matter of habit, I've been configuring my browsers so they don't retain a web history at all (I also disable things like autcompletion, etc.) for many years now.

    What then? Nobody can make the argument that I took any specific action to "cover up" anything, but the end result is the same.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 8:14am

    In this case, the person they were investigating had already lied to police, so he was considered a suspect. Let's see, the suspect told police about the bombers, lied about facts regarding the bombers, then went home and deleted evidence from his computer?

    He got convicted for destroying evidence. AND THAT is a crime.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    The Infamous Joe (profile), 8 Jun 2015 @ 8:20am

    Re:

    The law forbids the destruction of evidence, regardless of personal knowledge of ongoing investigations, or even if no investigation has even commenced.

    Really *think* about that sentence. Any time you delete anything you are effectively rolling the dice on up to 20 years of your life. Someone you know could go missing tomorrow and you could become a suspect. What's this? You cleared your browser history just yesterday? Enjoy prison.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 8:20am

    Two things...

    The SOX law does nothing to curb financial fraud. It targets the little guy in corporate America to make sure he doesn't have access beyond his job duties and stuff like that. Any CEO and CFO with Word and Excel can still fake financial reports.

    Second, I threw away junk mail the other day, should I have kept it in case someone wanted to use it against me?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    RD, 8 Jun 2015 @ 8:21am

    Not a bug

    "This law has been on the books for thirteen years now. It hasn't managed to rein in corporate malfeasance, but it's proving to be having a negative effect on citizens who've never scammed a shareholder in their lives."

    This is not a *bug*, it is a *feature*. This is its *design*. It was never seriously intended to reign in any corporate or financial company.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 8:28am

    Does this mean Chrome's incognito mode is illegal?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 8 Jun 2015 @ 8:29am

    Why is it when corporations do something wrong, a new law is quickly passed that does nothing to slow down corporations but are gleefully used to put the screws to the smaller easier to catch fish who don't have in-house counsel pulled from the ranks of the agencies that are supposed to keep corporations in line?

    The game is rigged. Imagine the outrage if the World Series involved a professional team taking on a tee-ball team of 5 yr olds, but we accept this in our justice system. A massive well funded machine chewing people up so they can rest on their laurels of having protected "society" by putting out soundbites about sentences so far removed from human lifespan for acts that look like littering when compared to the dirty dealing done by corporations who never face anything or the occasional "we admit nothing" and here is 1% of what we earned yesterday so we can show our contrition.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    Yakko Warner (profile), 8 Jun 2015 @ 8:34am

    Re:

    Is it destruction of evidence if the browser doesn't write the history file in the first place?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 8:39am

    "Digital papers please!"

    Only your digital papers aren't just identity documents. They're your porn browsing history, your google searches for hemorrhoid treatments, dating sites for cheating spouses, etc.

    This is Cardinal Richelieu saying you have to retain all your words instead of just six written lines so that he can find something to hang you for if he ever wants to. 4th amendment be damned!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    PRMan, 8 Jun 2015 @ 8:50am

    Re: Re:

    Despite what Tim is saying, the cops already told him he was part of the investigation. At that point, he was on notice not to destroy evidence.

    He then went home and purposefully destroyed all the evidence by manually clearing his cache.

    I'm really not seeing the bogeyman that Tim is here.

    Is the law poorly written? Yes.

    Could it be used against an innocent person? Probably.

    Is that happening here? No.

    This is a classic mens rea scenario. He KNEW he was destroying incriminating evidence.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    The Infamous Joe (profile), 8 Jun 2015 @ 8:57am

    Re: Re: Re:

    The boogeyman is that the law was written to stop corporate fraud, but it's so broad that it can be used elsewhere.

    Also, in the article it's noted that the law is used on *real world objects* and not just data:

    This past February the Supreme Court somewhat narrowed the scope of Sarbanes-Oxley in the case of Yates v. United States. The feds had charged a commercial fishing captain under the same record-destruction law for throwing a batch of undersized fish overboard after a federal agent had instructed him not to. The Court ruled that applying Sarbanes-Oxley to the dumping of fish was too far afield from the law's original corporate-crime purpose. Another Tsarnaev associate, Azamat Tazhayakov, who helped throw Tsarnaev's backpack full of fireworks into a dumpster, may see his conviction overturned because of the Yates decision.

    While I'll give you that the guy is a grade-A moron for lying about such easily-verifiable things, *and* then going home and trying to hide more things.. that doesn't draw away from the fact that this law is still being used in legal arenas it wasn't designed to be used in.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 9:23am

    You can't fix stupid.

    "Later that day he [Matanov] went to the local police."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Michael, 8 Jun 2015 @ 9:28am

    Re: What happen when?

    The end result, as you said, is the same. So, based on the Aereo ruling, I'm pretty sure the US government is going to be able to prosecute you for felony duck poaching or something whenever they decide they don't really like you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Michael, 8 Jun 2015 @ 9:32am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Despite what Tim is saying, the cops already told him he was part of the investigation. At that point, he was on notice not to destroy evidence.

    A couple of things here. First, being questioned by police officers is not much of an indicator that you are "part of" an investigation.

    Second - and I know this is starting to move off-topic, but isn't anyone else uneasy about the fact that the police are using laws like this to prosecute people for lying but we have case law that clearly states that it is acceptible for the police and prosecuters to be lying to suspects?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 9:35am

    Re: What happen when?

    I believe Sarbanes-Oxley takes into consideration data retention policies -- meaning, if you have a policy in place to handle data in a certain way irrespective of the actions you take, and it is documented, then data lost as a result of these policies does not constitute a crime.

    Otherwise, a LOT of people working for the government, for example, would be doing 20 years right now.

    So the trick is to ensure you have a recorded data retention policy and you stick to it.

    I find this interesting though, as I thought Sarbanes-Oxley only applied to public companies, not private individuals. I guess I'll have to re-read it in this light.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 9:35am

    Re: Re: Re:

    He KNEW he was destroying incriminating evidence.
    You are utterly fucking insane.

    Clearing temporary browser state (cache, history, etc.) is a long-standing recommended procedure when troubleshooting a broad class of browser-related problems. If somehow you don't know this, then it's not hard to dig up documentation from the browser vendors taking you through the procedure step-by-step.

    You have taken a routine procedure and imputed a culpable intent behind it——on nothing more than your say-so.

    You are utterly fucking insane.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 8 Jun 2015 @ 9:37am

    The Next Big Step in Computing is a Step Back

    Cloud-driven software like Siri and Cortana will increasingly become our personal assistants. Cortana is baked into the browser, email and other apps in Windows 10. Thankfully with the ability to erase the data it collects.

    IBM's Watson quickly and correctly answering questions on Jeopardy is considered a milestone in computing. The next big step is Siri or Cortana appearing in from of Congress, giving a long string of Ronald Reagan or Alberto Gonzales style "I don't recall" answers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 9:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The law is used as an additional charge in most cases instead of as a law on its own. It is thus more of an "aggravating circumstance" that can be slapped onto most other laws. For that use the punishment - like in this case - can be larger than for the actual offense it is slapped onto and that is very problematic from a legal certainty standpoint since its broad formulation makes it very easy to add even for minor transgressions.

    Usíng it here and having it overrule a misdemeanor with a felony for what is an "aggravating circumstance" and even having additive punishment is very bad practice from both a prosecutorial discretion (proportionality of punishment) and a law-writing standpoint (Almost useless as an independent crime).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 9:40am

    So following this logic wouldn't that make Google, Apple, MS, etc guilty of aiding and abetting the destruction of evidence? After all, they make the commission of such a heinous act trivial for even an unsophisticated user. Clearly whichever company created the browser willfully chose to associate itself with the acts of evidence destruction and obstruction of justice. And while the browser itself may just be a tool capable of being used for good or for ill the cache clearing obviously has no legitimate purpose and they should be just as liable as a car manufacturer that adds a pedestrian sensor that only aids drivers seeking to run over pedestrians rather than avoid them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Scott R., 8 Jun 2015 @ 9:54am

    So, if I've set my browser to flush cookies/history/etc every single time I shut my browser down (which is an option for the browser that I use)... is this habit or a subversive attempt to thwart the American government??

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 8 Jun 2015 @ 9:58am

    Maybe he got paranoid...

    ...having finally realized that by being too cooperative with the investigation, he'd inadvertently become a suspect.

    Frankly, I might be so paranoid as well, and as soon as some law enforcement investigator looked at me for more than a cursory second, I'd want to burn my entire recent history in case they pin me for felony duck poaching.

    I hear that they really don't give a duck's ass who they fill up the prisons with, so long as they're teeming with convicts.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 9:58am

    Re: Re: What happen when?

    So now private citizens have to have a written data retention policy?

    Does that mean after Citizens United that people are to be treated more like corporations as well as corporations being treated more like citizens.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. icon
    MarcAnthony (profile), 8 Jun 2015 @ 10:00am

    Anticipatory relevance and psychic powers

    The law makes sense for corporations and business records, but it's absurd to apply it to citizens. Prior to a legal action, a computer only contains data—not "evidence." Unless you have precognitive skills, anticipating what may or may not be relevant among the minutiae of that data is impossible.

    I agree that the guy shouldn't have lied, although it seems that he went to the cops and answered their questions of his own accord, so perhaps they were unintentional misstatements. The article indicates that he was prosecuted for clearing his cache not because he had any part in terrorism, but because of alleged "sympathies" for jihad, which sounds a lot like the government is either going after thought crimes or that it has some ESP of its own, considering that, by their own admission, there was no evidence of that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 10:13am

    Clearing temporary browser state (cache, history, etc.) is a long-standing recommended procedure when troubleshooting a broad class of browser-related problems.

    Seriously? He was being questioned by police. The fact that you say clearing your browser cache fixes browser-related problems is one thing. However, the man involved in this wasn't troubleshooting a browser-related problem. He was deliberately purging incriminating evidence on his computer before the authorities could gain access to it.

    Also, overwriting your hard drive space so that data is irretrievable could also land you in trouble. What this suspect did, what he was convicted of, was destroying evidence, and that was what he was convicted of.

    What the suspect did was deliberate since he wasn't just troubleshooting browser-related problems. Also, he deleted incriminating videos he had on his hard drive.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 10:20am

    Tossing grocery receipts is a SOX violation

    If you go to the grocery store, and the checkout girl —sorry, self-serve scanner— hands you a receipt for your purchase... and if you then throw that receipt in the trash... you may have just committed a federal felony.

    That grocery receipt is a business record. If you destroy it, you can go to jail under SOX.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 10:21am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I'm sorry. I was going to provide a response to this, but then I came across this clause of federal law:

    "In a prosecution for an offense under this section, it is an affirmative defense, as to which the defendant has the burden of proof by a preponderance of the evidence, that the conduct consisted solely of lawful conduct"

    and my brain shut down.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 10:22am

    lessee, now.

    if the govt gets a harebrained idea that i've done something wrong and there's no history to prove them wrong since i delete innocent history on a routine basis, then i'm both guilty of the original crime since there's no evidence and i'm guilty of destroying the evidence that would prove me right.

    slammer slammer.

    this is not the world i was born into.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 10:26am

    Re:

    You are are a nutcase. There's not really a whole lot of point in talking to you.

    I'd rather spend my time chatting up some of the homeless people on the streetcorner—their gibberish sometimes gives me an idea that there might be an intellect hidden under the crazy.

    Have a nice day.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 10:26am

    Re:

    However, the man involved in this wasn't troubleshooting a browser-related problem. He was deliberately purging incriminating evidence on his computer before the authorities could gain access to it.


    How do you know? How do you know he didn't clear his cache every week or every month? I doubt the computer actually keeps a record of previous cache clearings anywhere.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31. icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 8 Jun 2015 @ 10:36am

    Re: Re: What happen when?

    My data retention policy is: I make data retention decisions on a case-by-case basis, depending on how I feel at the moment.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 10:36am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "...isn't anyone else uneasy...?"

    "Uneasy" constitutes a nearly Churchillian level of understatement.

    More terrifying yet, "lying," i.e., not speaking strict truth in all particulars without exception, on the part of non-cop types, can be accidental, unintentional, or even flatly fabricated by the misrecollection or outright inimical intent of a police officer, and non-cops can be held entirely liable for the full consequences as though they had intentionally lied.

    Practice the statement, "On advice of counsel, I do not answer questions, and I do not consent to searches." Practice until it flows trippingly and automatically from the tongue.

    Never talk to cops without counsel present to advise - really, never.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 10:37am

    Re: Tossing grocery receipts is a SOX violation

    Technically it requires some federal involvement and intent to thwart that federal involvement. But it's easy to get federal law involved somehow (say, a trademark violation) and intent is subjective.

    And you say "jail". Try "20 years in federal prison". They're not quite the same thing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 10:58am

    how can you prove he deleted it ...if it doesn't exist.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35. identicon
    dr evil, 8 Jun 2015 @ 11:14am

    maybe Hillarys email server destruction/deletion

    should be prosecuted under this broad intrepetation? slam dunk, they already confessed!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36. identicon
    David, 8 Jun 2015 @ 11:23am

    Re:

    It's called 'Regulatory Capture', where the new regulation doesn't restrict the current large actors, but blocks or hinders new, smaller actors from being competitive.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37. icon
    Eponymous Coward (profile), 8 Jun 2015 @ 11:35am

    Re: Re:

    Double plus aggravated charges for refusal to create evidence.

    God help you if they discover a USB stick loaded with Tails/Tor.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38. icon
    Eponymous Coward (profile), 8 Jun 2015 @ 11:41am

    Re: maybe Hillarys email server destruction/deletion

    This scenario is one of very few that could lead to actual SOX reform. Lord, if this bit someone near the top of the power pyramid, I'd laugh for days.

    Emailing Rand Paul now...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 11:43am

    Easy solution, format your computer every day, or restore your drive from a factory (or pre-made) image every night.

    Or is that illegal now?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40. identicon
    That One Other Not So Random Guy, 8 Jun 2015 @ 11:43am

    "The idea that you have to create a record of where you've gone or open all your cupboards all the time and leave your front door unlocked and available for law enforcement inspection at any time is not the country we have established for ourselves more than 200 years ago."
    -
    But its the post 911 world we have allowed to evolve. Cuz... ya know... Terrorists.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 12:15pm

    Re: Re: Re: What happen when?

    You touched on the very crux of the problem.

    The entire idea behind a corporation not having the same rights as a private individual is to specifically wrangle rights away from citizens. This is part of the 3rd party doctrine. If you deal with a 3rd party then you have no control over your data at that point. If you want your privacy then you cannot be allowed to participate in society.

    As you can see here, a law written for business is being abused to target non-business entities.

    People have long failed basic understanding of the Constitution, but hey, if you think it is constitution to take guns away from criminals that have served their time then you don't have a right to complain if the rest of your rights are removed either. The same logic that say you can remove someones rights because they are a felon is the same logic that says Rose Parks should have sat at the back of the fucking bus like a good little bitch.

    Stand up for your rights or you WILL GO DOWN! Just keep voting in the likes of Bush and Obama... just keep doing it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42. identicon
    Rekrul, 8 Jun 2015 @ 12:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    or that use the punishment - like in this case - can be larger than for the actual offense it is slapped onto and that is very problematic from a legal certainty standpoint since its broad formulation makes it very easy to add even for minor transgressions.


    And that's the whole problem. Prosecutors aren't interested in justice. Half the time they aren't even interested in whether the person is actually guilty. All they care about is winning at all costs. They will use every trick at their disposal, including tacking on as many additional charges as they possibly can.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 8 Jun 2015 @ 1:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    So guilty until proven innocent, gotta love the 'justice' system. /s

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 2:37pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: What happen when?

    You sir are the Fritz Zwicky of Constitutional rights.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 2:42pm

    Re: Re:

    " What's this? You cleared your browser history just yesterday? Enjoy prison."

    BS! I just pay $ 1mil and Im all good like in the good old days. Well, old... the rich never went to prison but I hope you get what I mean.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 3:38pm

    Re: Re: What happen when?

    "Otherwise, a LOT of people working for the government, for example, would be doing 20 years right now."

    Two words: Selective enforcement.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 3:42pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "Despite what Tim is saying, the cops already told him he was part of the investigation."

    Source, please.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48. identicon
    Re:, 8 Jun 2015 @ 3:45pm

    Re:

    Do you know that the suspect did not delete or clear his caches on a regular basis? Have citation for his "normal" actions in this area?

    I'm with John Fenderson, I set everything to clear at close and use several stand alone programs to wipe data daily. It is just good common practice to clear all of the crap collected from the internet on a regular basis to keep the computer running smoothly....

    >In this case, the person they were investigating had >already lied to police, so he was considered a suspect. >Let's see, the suspect told police about the bombers, lied >about facts regarding the bombers, then went home and >deleted evidence from his computer?
    >
    >He got convicted for destroying evidence. AND THAT is a >crime.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 3:45pm

    Re:

    "However, the man involved in this wasn't troubleshooting a browser-related problem. He was deliberately purging incriminating evidence on his computer before the authorities could gain access to it."

    Source, please.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50. icon
    nasch (profile), 8 Jun 2015 @ 3:51pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Practice the statement, "On advice of counsel, I do not answer questions, and I do not consent to searches."

    Or if you don't have a lawyer, omit the first part. And if the cop asks why you won't answer questions, repeat the mantra.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 4:21pm

    Then internet users should use private browsing all the time so they don't have nothing to clear.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 5:08pm

    Re:

    And English users should avoid double-negatives so their meaning isn't not clear

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 5:26pm

    Full Disk Encryption

    It's great deniability as long as the machine is powered off before it's seized.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54. icon
    madasahatter (profile), 8 Jun 2015 @ 5:45pm

    Re: What happen when?

    The issue is you did not preserve evidence according to the good comrades at DOJ. According to them you and just about anyone on the Internet deserve a few years in the Gulag (federal prison)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55. icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 8 Jun 2015 @ 6:24pm

    Destroying evidence...

    ...to what crime?

    You commit six felonies a day on average, so it's probably a good idea to keep your browser history clear, because if they want to bust you for something, they will.

    He may have totally been a fellow terrorist conspirator, and he may not, but what was probably true is that he was guilty of something. Not something that you or I would think of as a crime, but certainly something that could land him in prison for a long long time.

    And the dark eye of authority had already turned in his direction. I expect that the police have already decided they're going to put him a way and now it's just a matter of figuring out for what.

    Interestingly, if you do clear your browser history regularly, it's a lot easier to detect when someone, say a police technician, has planted something incriminating in your browser history.

    I think that he had every cause to clear his data, and I think that it's a foul turn of law that it was somehow a crime for him to do so.

    I wonder how many years he'll get for it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  56. icon
    JMT (profile), 8 Jun 2015 @ 6:43pm

    Re:

    I'm really curious to know what you would've done if you were questioned by the police and decided you didn't want them to see what was on your computer if they decided to look. You seem quite outraged by this guy's behavior, but would you have just left it all there? Really?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  57. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 7:38pm

    Re: Destroying evidence...

    ...to what crime?


    There doesn't have to be a crime, so long as there's an investigation. Or a contemplation of an investigation. Or it could be merely an administrative matter. Really, anything at all. Here, I'll show you...

    You commit six felonies a day on average, so it's probably a good idea to keep your browser history clear


    You just admitted to clearing your history based on the contemplation of an investigation. That's 20 years for you. It doesn't matter that the FBI was not investigating you or that you are, to their knowledge, innocent of any other crimes. You contemplated that they could investigate, and deleted your history. That's all it takes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  58. icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 8 Jun 2015 @ 7:50pm

    Re: Re: Destroying evidence...

    In other words it's a thought crime.

    One with much more likelihood than Roko's Basilisk.

    Of course, it's one more example of how the Department of Justice has no ethical authority by which to condemn and incarcerate suspects. It is only due to the force they wield that we regard their law.

    Like every other racketeering syndicate.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  59. icon
    toyotabedzrock (profile), 8 Jun 2015 @ 9:41pm

    You have a bad habit of declaring every law as evil because a prosecutor misuses it. You are suckling on right wing libertarian blogs that tend to leave out important facts.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  60. identicon
    FM Hilton, 8 Jun 2015 @ 9:43pm

    Another prison sentence

    So now we learn that clearing your computer's cache, and history is illegal.

    Next they'll be making sure you can't have ad-blockers, No Script, or any other anti-trojan, malware device in your browser because it's easier to track/hack you.

    This is getting tiresome. Wake up first thing in the morning, you've probably already committed 3 felonies to start the day.

    By nighttime you've probably committed 3 more-all without your knowledge.

    All by the sheer fact of living in the US, where "we take freedom seriously", sometimes.

    I wonder when we turned into a nation of suspected felons.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  61. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jun 2015 @ 12:36am

    Selective enforcement.

    Just like the times of late papa Выши́нский of Комитета информации (Give me a man and I will find the crime).

    Oh, well, imitation is the highest form of flattery.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  62. identicon
    jack, 9 Jun 2015 @ 3:19am

    Re: Re:

    5th amendment would wipe that argument by the government out the window,

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  63. icon
    Richard (profile), 9 Jun 2015 @ 4:18am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: What happen when?

    but hey, if you think it is constitution to take guns away from criminals that have served their time then you don't have a right to complain if the rest of your rights are removed either.

    Best proof ever that the 2nd amendment was a mistake.
    Basically - because it is unsustainable* - it opens the door to the removal of all the other rights.

    * and it IS unsustainable. When it was written the types of arms that were available were far less lethal than what we have now.

    Thus there is an inevitable restriction on the 2nd amendment. No one in their right mind would suggest that private individuals should be allowed to have tactical nuclear weapons - yet the 2nd amendment - taken at face value - would allow that and there are plenty of wealthy people who could afford it. Thus the second amendment has not been taken at face value of many years and consequently the door is open to trashing all the other constitutional rights as well.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  64. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jun 2015 @ 4:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: What happen when?

    It is not unsustainable, not sure how you arrive at that twisted conclusion. But if you think the government is overstepping its bounds now, go ahead and disarm the people and see what happens.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  65. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jun 2015 @ 4:57am

    didn't just Hillary wipe her email server?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  66. icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 9 Jun 2015 @ 11:13am

    Um, the lethality of arms is irrelevant to the people's access to them

    No matter what terrible monstrosities to which the military or intelligence sector has, frankly, the people of the US should also have access to them.

    To be sure, it's not like our representatives or the agencies have been particularly responsible or careful in their use of their high-tech war toys.

    I say give the people their chance or abolish the arms entirely.

    To be fair, this argument is a bit misleading. Very few private interests are going to be able to afford, say, a predator drone or a fuel-air bomb (and a plane big enough to drop it), and those that can would hardly want one, since you don't spend that kind of money without expecting some utility. So a law that gave civilians all access to all military weapons wouldn't change much in the US.

    As for nukes, they are pretty much useless and require the care and feeding equivalent of a two-year-old.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  67. icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 9 Jun 2015 @ 11:24am

    An afterthought on nuclear weapons

    Is they are also regulated by some far reaching international treaties. If you are not a government agent and have access to a nuclear weapon, you answer to not just the United States, but also the international community.

    Were a nuclear weapon to go off anywhere, not only would the alleged owners be responsible, but so would the nation itself for letting it happen, and were any retaliatory force to decide that a nuclear reprisal was appropriate, well, there'd be a lot fewer safeguards.

    So yeah, there are forces above and beyond those that defend / govern the second amendment that come into play when nukes are involved.

    The nuclear disarmament treaties in play are what give the international community confidence that Iran really does have no interest in nukes (nor did Iraq in 2003 for the exact same reasons). North Korea developed a bomb (which failed) only because it knew it wasn't going to go to war in the foreseeable future, and appearing to be a threat is how NK gets its foreign aid.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  68. identicon
    jamneli, 9 Jun 2015 @ 2:06pm

    Selective usage

    Why haven't any government representatives be held to this standard. Its always the lack of evidence that clears them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  69. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jun 2015 @ 8:17pm

    Under that argument, networks that use PCRDist would be violating the law. If CSU Sacramento still uses it, they could theoreticly be liable


    When I was there in the 1990s, they lets bring and install software from home if needed, but PCRDist would be run on the machines at night to remove any software that students installed during the day, to avoid any problems with software licensing.

    What this program did was to re-image the disk, which would also clear browsing history.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  70. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jun 2015 @ 4:46pm

    Re: What happen when?

    You sound like a troublemaker, ROOM 101!!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  71. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jun 2015 @ 6:23pm

    Re: Re:

    I won.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  72. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Jun 2015 @ 4:19pm

    Re: Re:

    Have fun coming to get me ass-hats.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  73. icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 12 Jun 2015 @ 5:32pm

    If a prosecutor misuses a law and sells the judge on its use...

    ...then by definition it's a bad law.

    Perhaps the spirit of the law is worthwhile. Perhaps the law addresses an issue that needs to be addressed, but the fact that the law is being abuse demonstrates how it is prone to abuse.

    Therefore it's a bad law. Therefore it needs to be rewritten or changed, since bad things are happening due to the law as it stands.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  74. identicon
    anonymous, 14 Jun 2015 @ 12:01pm

    Overthrow the National Bureaucracy

    Geniuses arise and destroy every item of data in the world's most despotic government, including every Federal Employee's payroll account.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  75. identicon
    anonymous-2015-06-23, 23 Jun 2015 @ 7:07am

    So, prosecute me!

    If the only thing they have on me is "clearing my cache" and they still want to prosecute, I'd say, "I'd like my court-appointed attorney to be Alan Dershowitz."

    Of course I'm indigent. If Whitey freakin' Bulger can be indigent and have the government pay millions for his legal team, I'm sure Mr. Dershowitz wouldn't even need a "team" to prove such violations of the 4th and 5th amendments this law is.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  76. icon
    sorrykb (profile), 4 Jan 2016 @ 11:56am

    Re: What happen when?

    As a matter of habit, I've been configuring my browsers so they don't retain a web history at all (I also disable things like autcompletion, etc.) for many years now.

    What then? Nobody can make the argument that I took any specific action to "cover up" anything

    But you've just confessed. Felon!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  77. identicon
    MisterAnon, 10 Sep 2016 @ 5:50pm

    This isn't as bad as it sounds.

    Despite the claims made in this article, the fact is that every usage of this law has been in a case where a person has knowingly destroyed evidence of either their own wrongdoing or the wrongdoing of a friend. You aren't allowed to destroy evidence of your own crimes, and also no matter how much you like your friend you aren't allowed to destroy evidence to try to get them out of legal trouble. Even without this controversial new law, These people still would have been convicted of the crime of "destruction of evidence", which is a law that has been around for a LONG time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  78. icon
    nasch (profile), 11 Sep 2016 @ 7:27am

    Re: This isn't as bad as it sounds.

    Despite the claims made in this article, the fact is that every usage of this law has been in a case where a person has knowingly destroyed evidence of either their own wrongdoing or the wrongdoing of a friend.

    So maybe it hasn't been abused yet. That doesn't mean it's a good idea.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  79. identicon
    Hassam sallam, 23 Jan 2017 @ 11:44pm

    Re: Browser Setting, don't keep history now illegal.

    It's silly. I mean, every pop-up window that promises you sex with your neighbor's wife is now evidence?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  80. identicon
    clint, 9 Feb 2017 @ 12:13am

    Computer disk makers are letting this law go to waste!

    Computer file systems should be required to be redesigned to never overwrite non-operating-system files and not allow formatting or repartitioning if a user file has ever been written to the disk. The Politician's who wrote Sarbanes-Oxley just didn't think things through thoroughly. Bunch of dummies. The disk manufacturer's marketing departments should lend a hand in justifying a correction to the law :) There would finally be a reason to put 8TB or larger drives in every computer sold!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  81. identicon
    shiela campbell, 16 Apr 2017 @ 5:36pm

    Re: Browser Setting, don't keep history now illegal.

    This seems funny. I always do it to improve browsing on my PC and now it is a crime??? Funny how politicians want to control everything. I hope vpns will stay out of this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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