Computer Ethics, Summer 2017
Corboy 302, Tuesdays and Thursdays
Class 5 Readings
Read Baase chapter 2 on privacy
The main course notes are in the Notes Organized by Topic
section on the main web page. Reading assignments, comments on the class
discussion and occasional special notices are in these week-by-week notes.
Supreme Court will hear Carpenter v United States
Timothy Carpenter was allegedly the mastermind behind a series of armed
cellphone-store robberies. But Carpenter himself was never at the scene. The
police arrested one suspect who agreed to turn over his phone. The police
then used the contact information to develop a list of suspects; they then
obtained a subpoena (but not a warrant) for historical nearest-tower records
of those phones and these records placed Carpenter in the vicinity of
several of the robberies.
The legal question is whether a subpoena is sufficient for these kinds of
records, under the Stored Communications Act, or whether a warrant is
Note that this is not about GPS: many magistrate judges seem to
feel that a subpoena is sufficient for future (but not
historical?) nearest-tower records, but that GPS records require a warrant.
Reality Winner caught via printer dots
Reality Winner was arrested recently for leaking documents to The
Intercept. Winner printed out the documents and sent them in, and The
Intercept then scanned and released them.
The Intercept was founded after the Snowden revelations by Glenn Greenwald,
Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill for the purpose of writing exposés about
government misbehavior that is revealed through leaked disclosures.
Winner's problem was that the printer she used printed tiny yellow dots that
served to identify the printer and the time of printing. The dots are
(barely) visible in the grey area at the top of the image here: https://prod01-cdn07.cdn.firstlook.org/wp-uploads/sites/1/2017/06/nsa-russia-hacking-election-4-1496690298.jpg.
Knowing where and when the document was printed, it was easy for the NSA to
tie the printing to Winner. (The NSA may have been able to identify her
anyway, simply because she printed the document at work, and the list of NSA
workers who did that was pretty short.)
Technical dot details are at blog.erratasec.com/2017/06/how-intercept-outed-reality-winner.html.
General information is at washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/contractor-charged-in-nsa-document-leak-case/2017/06/05/41144b0e-4a37-11e7-a186-60c031eab644_story.html.
What Winner should have done was to send the original pdf files.
Maybe those would have been harder to sneak out?