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IT threat evolution Q2 2017

The threat from ransomware continues to grow.

Between April 2016 and March 2017, we blocked ransomware on the computers of 2,581,026 Kaspersky Lab customers.
In May, we saw the biggest ransomware epidemic in history, called WannaCry.
Tasteful mix of classic levels, new ideas bolstered by amazing design, tight controls.
Today, a dangerous new trend is emerging: steganography is increasingly being used by actors creating malware and cyber-espionage tools. Most modern anti-malware solutions provide little, if any, protection from steganography, while any carrier in which a payload can be secretly carried poses a potential threat.
As the buzz over the Internet of Things (IoT) ripples across industries, companies from small startups to industry behemoths rush to launch their IoT products.

The dramatic advances in Internet infrastructure, cloud computing, connection bandwidth, and mobile devices over the years have all helped make IoT real.

Given the abundance of the ever evolving computing technologies, there are many choices of computational models and platforms for the design and implementation of an IoT product.Dating back to the 1970s, the actor modelnbsp;didn't gain too much attention until recently. The model revolves around a universal primitive called actor for concurrent and distributed computation.
It provides an idiomatic alternative to the more conventional concurrency model that relies on synchronization of shared mutable state using locks.
In particular, the message-driven style of non-blocking interactions via immutable messages among actors meshes well with contemporary programming approaches on complex distributed platforms.To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here
Civilization has ended.

Deliveries have not.
A recent small-brained, early-looking hominid shakes up the family tree.
Hybrid system merges an amazing portable experience with a middling TV console.
The concept of a connected car, or a car equipped with Internet access, has been gaining popularity for the last several years.

By using proprietary mobile apps, it is possible to get some useful features, but if a car thief were to gain access to the mobile device that belongs to a victim that has the app installed, then would car theft not become a mere trifle?
Law professor Ahmed Ghappour on tech, borders, and national security.
Enlarge / Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates (pictured here in 2015) announced the change in the photo array guidelines in January 2017.Washington Post / Getty Images News reader comments 16 Share this story The Department of Justice has instituted new guidelines regarding identification in photo arrays of suspects, making the procedure more scientifically rigorous. Notably, these changes include a “blind” administration—where the person giving the exam doesn’t actually know who the actual suspect is—and recording the identification session. The new guidelines, which were released last Friday, state: There are times when such "blind" administration may be impracticable, for example, when all of the officers in an investigating office already know who the suspect is, or when a victim-witness refuses to participate in a photo array unless it is administered by the investigating officer. In such cases, the administrator should adopt "blinded" procedures, so that he or she cannot see the order or arrangement of the photographs viewed by the witness or which photograph( s) the witness is viewing at any particular moment. These guidelines apply specifically to federal agencies including the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Agency, and not to local law enforcement. However, some local law enforcement agencies have already begun to adopt such policies, including Dallas and Baltimore. In December 2013, the International Association of Chiefs of Police made similar recommendations in conjunction with the Innocence Project. The DOJ’s 2017 revision comes 18 years after the last time federal law enforcement addressed photo array procedures and noted that “research and practice have significantly evolved since then.” The DOJ specifically noted that the National Academies of Science published a lengthy study on the topic in 2014, taking into account contemporary research. In that 2014 paper, the NAS also recommended that all photo array identification sessions be recorded where possible. As the DOJ summarized: A witness's identification and assessment of certainty cannot be easily challenged if law enforcement agencies electronically record the identification procedure and the witness's response. Electronic recording preserves the identification process for later review in court and also protects officers against unfounded claims of misconduct. Video-recording is helpful because it allows fact finders to directly evaluate a witness's verbal and nonverbal reactions and any aspects of the array procedure that would help to contextualize or explain the witness' selection. As of 2013, approximately one-fifth of state and local law enforcement agencies had instituted video-recording of photo arrays. “Eyewitness identifications play an important role in our criminal justice system, and it’s important that we get them right,” said Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates in a statement last week.
EnlargeThomas Hawk reader comments 65 Share this story Anyone who has ever watched an American crime movie or television show can practically recite the Miranda warning by heart, even if they don’t know its official name. You have the right to remain silent.

Anything that you say or do can be used against you. You have the right to an attorney.
If you cannot afford one, one will be provided to you.

Do you understand these rights as I have read them to you? The basic idea behind the Miranda warning is to provide someone being arrested with information about their constitutional rights against compelled self-incrimination (Fifth Amendment) during a custodial situation and to reassure them of their right to an attorney (Sixth Amendment). This warning stems from a 1966 Supreme Court case, Miranda v.

, where a kidnapping and rape suspect, Ernesto Miranda, confessed to the crime without the benefit of a lawyer and without being fully informed of his rights to not self-incriminate.

Today, all American police officers must recite some version of the Miranda warning while taking someone into custody due to the Supreme Court’s landmark 5-4 decision. In the half-century since the Miranda decision, a lot has changed.

For one, many of us carry smartphones containing a rich trove of personal data in our pockets that might interest law enforcement.
In fact, it wasn’t until 2014 that police officers nationwide were specifically ordered not to search people’s phones without a warrant during an arrest. In 1966, no one envisioned a world where we carried powerful computers in our pockets, so it's time for an update to the Miranda warning.

A modernized version would need to make clear not only that anyone can refuse to speak, but that speaking might involve inputting a passcode to open up a phone.

After speaking with several legal experts, here’s our "digital Miranda," based on our best understanding of current law. You have the right to remain silent.

This right includes declining to provide information that does not require speaking, such as entering a passcode to unlock a digital device, like a smartphone.

Anything that you say or do can be used against you.

Any data retrieved from your device can also be used against you. You have the right to an attorney.
If you cannot afford one, one will be provided to you.

Do you understand these rights as I have read them to you? We recognize that this revised Miranda warning has no actual force of law.
It’s simply meant as a way to think about encryption, constitutional rights, and contemporary interactions with police. Remember, you only get Mirandized during a “custodial situation” Chris Yarzab/Flickr Back in 2014, the court unanimously found in Riley v.

 that law enforcement must get a warrant before searching mobile phones during an arrest. Prior to Riley, at least some law enforcement officials were searching some suspects’ phones on the grounds that data on the phones could be used to aid their investigations. Writing for a rare unanimous court, Chief Justice John Roberts argued dismissively against the government, saying that searching a phone was not at all like searching a wallet. “That is like saying a ride on horseback is materially indistinguishable from a flight to the moon,” he concluded. Riley showed that the Supreme Court has started to think in fundamentally new ways about privacy in relation to the digital devices that are almost always with us.
So, then, we wondered, would most people even think to challenge law enforcement when asked to unlock their device, whether during an arrest, or otherwise? In fact, just after the Riley decision in 2014, a California Highway Patrol officer asked a woman to unlock her phone and hand it over during a traffic stop on suspicion of a DUI.
She complied.
It’s worth noting that as this was just a traffic stop, which is not generally considered to be a “custodial situation.” She did not need to be given a Miranda warning, either. Recall, Riley only dealt with a very specific situation: requiring a warrant incident to arrest. The officer, Sean Harrington, found semi-nude pictures on the woman’s phone, which he then sent on to himself and shared with his buddies. (Harrington has since left the CHP, was prosecuted, took a plea deal, and is currently on probation.) We guess that most people wouldn’t know about Riley, nor many of their other constitutional rights and how they apply in the modern world. Most people probably would follow whatever instructions, whether legal or not, given to them by an (ideally well-intentioned) officer of the law. (To be clear, we’ve yet to find an example where evidence was tossed in a case because an officer blatantly ignored Riley.) When in doubt, ask for a lawyer and stay quiet One of the key elements of understanding post-Miranda criminal procedure is that suspects don’t always have to be read their rights. Miranda only kicks in during what’s called a “custodial” situation, typically an arrest. (A 2009 article from PoliceOne.com describes “how to talk to suspects without Mirandizing.”) When we asked around, Orin Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University, was quick to point out that there is a post-Miranda Supreme Court decision that involves what’s known as a “consent search.” In this 1973 decision, in a case known as Schneckloth v.

, the court found that a search is still allowed where consent is granted, even if the defendant is not expressly informed of his or her constitutional rights to refuse such a search. In that case, Sunnyvale, California, Police Officer James Rand pulled over a car containing six people at 2:40am on a traffic stop for a broken tail light. When Office Rand asked the men to produce identification, only one, Joe Alcala, complied. Rand asked him if he could search the car, and Alcala agreed.

The search yielded stolen checks in the car. One of the passengers, Robert Bustamante, was eventually charged with possessing stolen checks.

The men challenged the search, and eventually, the Supreme Court found that the men were under no legal obligation to consent to a search. Moreover, the officer did not have to inform the men of their rights until one of them had been arrested. Similarly, the woman who had the unfortunate interaction with the CHP officer in 2014 was under no obligation to unlock her phone, much less hand it over. Harrington didn’t have to read “Jane Doe” a Miranda warning—she was not under arrest.

As many cops know, criminals often will still talk even after they are Mirandized. “The nice thing about Miranda is that it doesn’t require [police] to say too much,” Mark Jaffe, a criminal defense lawyer who specializes in computer crimes, told Ars. (Jaffe has represented defendants in cases that Ars has written about, including Matthew Keys and Deric Lostutter.) Jaffe explained that many law enforcement officers want a clear, bright line like Miranda, as to what is acceptable in certain situations. But what about a scenario where law enforcement simply comes knocking at your door, asking that you help out? What rights do you have in such a non-custodial setting? In February 2016, a woman in Glendale, California, was ordered to depress her fingerprint on a seized iPhone. Months later, in May 2016, federal law enforcement officials, also in Los Angeles County, were successful in getting judicial approval for two highly unusual searches of a seized smartphone at two different Southern California homes, one in Lancaster and one in West Covina, about 90 miles away.

The signed warrants allowed the authorities to force a resident reasonably believed to be a user to press their fingerprints on the phone to see if it would unlock. (Under iOS and Android, fingerprints as passcodes only work for 48 hours, after that timeframe, the regular passcode is required.

Court records show that the warrants were presumably executed within that 48-hour window.) While there is no evidence that any of the residents attempted to challenge this order in court, it seems that someone could have. Presumably a person could have refused, possibly risking contempt of court and even the use of physical force to get a fingerprint onto the phone. “You shouldn’t resist a police order, you should lodge your dissent, and you should ask and clarify that they’re asking you to do it,” Alex Abdo, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, told Ars. “But you should comply—as a lawyer that’s the advice you’re going to have to give.” Kerr didn’t think that a Lancaster-style situation would be considered custodial, and so wouldn’t trigger Miranda.
In other words, given the court’s holding in Schneckloth, our revised Miranda warning wouldn’t matter anyway. This seems reasonable—there are plenty of situations where many people might want to be helpful to police. Plus, we generally want police to be able to solve crimes.

But not everyone may be so forthcoming or trusting of police. Jaffe even proposed a short verbal warning that law enforcement could use as a Miranda-style warning in non-custodial situations: “I would like to search your car/house/phone. Please understand I don’t have a warrant to do so.” Supreme Court has yet to rule Being enticed or even compelled to hand over passcodes or fingerprint-enabled passcodes gets to the heart of the “going dark” problem. Law enforcement says that modern “unbreakable” encryption frustrates lawful investigations aimed at tech-savvy criminals who refuse to unlock their data. As Ars has reported before, under the Fifth Amendment, defendants cannot generally be compelled to provide self-incriminating testimony (“what you know”).
In 2012, the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a defendant (“John Doe”) accused of possessing child pornography. “We conclude that the decryption and production would be tantamount to testimony by Doe of his knowledge of the existence and location of potentially incriminating files; of his possession, control, and access to the encrypted portions of the drives; and of his capability to decrypt the files,” the court wrote. The government did not pursue the issue further.

For now the 11th Circuit ruling, which covers Alabama, Florida and Georgia, remains the highest court to have directly addressed the subject. But that doesn’t mean that other judges see it this way, and some have ordered forced decryption. Shortly after the 11th Circuit ruling, a judge ordered a Colorado woman to decrypt her laptop computer so prosecutors could use the files against her in a criminal case.

The case, in which the judge also found that the woman's Fifth Amendment privilege against compelled self-incrimination was not violated, ultimately settled itself without her having to cough up the password and decrypt her computer for the authorities. More recently, a former Philadelphia police sergeant, referred to in court documents as yet another John Doe, still remains in custody for refusing an April 2016 court order to decrypt hard drives that authorities believe contain child porn.

That case is currently pending before the 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals, and a decision could come at any time.
In court filings, Doe’s lawyers largely relied on the 11th Circuit’s decision. But, giving a fingerprint (“what you are”) for the purposes of identification or matching to an unknown fingerprint found at a crime scene has been allowed.
It wasn’t until relatively recently, after all, that fingerprints could be used to unlock a smartphone.

The crux of the legal theory here is that a compelled fingerprint isn’t testimonial, it’s simply a compelled production—like being forced to hand over a key to a safe. In the Lancaster court filings, nearly all of the cases that the government cites predate the implementation of fingerprint readers, except for a 2014 state case from Virginia.

As Ars reported at the time, a Virginia Circuit Court judge ruled that a person does not need to provide a passcode to unlock their phone for the police.

The court also ruled that demanding a suspect provide a fingerprint to unlock a phone would be constitutional. However, the Virginia state case, while interesting, has little legal relevance to ongoing federal cases across the country. “I’m not sure that I would ever provide my passcode if it would incriminate myself,” Brian Owsley, a law professor at the University of North Texas and a former federal magistrate judge, told Ars. “What’s the max that you’re going to face for refusing to obey a court order? If you’re facing life sentence without parole you’re better off being obstinate—it’s not the job of the accused ever to make the job easier for the prosecution.” What is custodial, anyway? Enlarge Marc Falardeau Situations where law enforcement demands passwords in what they believe are noncustodial situations are surely set to become standard practice, if they haven’t already. On a cold February morning earlier this year, no less than 10 armed officers from various law enforcement agencies, all wearing body armor, showed up to execute a search warrant on Justin Ashmore’s two-bedroom apartment in Arkansas. According to Ashmore’s lawyer, Carrie Jernigan, her client answered the door in his underwear. He was held to the side of the room as the search began.

Ashmore was then led upstairs to his bedroom to stay out of earshot of his eight-year-old son, who was also in the apartment and questioned. One of the federal agents began peppering Ashmore with questions and statements like: “Tell me why we are here today?” and “Don't play stupid, you know why we are here.” Ashmore initially thought perhaps it was because he had a small amount of marijuana in his freezer.

The questioning agent told him he didn’t care about the weed. As the interrogation went on, the agent eventually came out with it: “Tell me about the child porn movies you have been downloading.” According to the government, this was roughly when Ashmore confessed. As Jernigan wrote: At no time upstairs was Defendant Ashmore ever advised of his Miranda warnings or ever told he was free to leave.
In fact, he was denied his ability to leave.

Defendant Ashmore was also told he had to give the agents all passwords to all his electronic devices or it may be a very long time before he sees his own son again, to which he complied and gave the agents the information. In their own filings, prosecutors dispute many parts of Jernigan's account. "When interviewing Defendant, Special Agent Cranor and TFO Heffner did not use strong arm tactics and deceptive stratagems during questioning," they wrote, adding: "The agents advised Defendant that they were there to serve a search warrant regarding child pornography downloads at his residence and did not ask him to guess as to why they were there." The government argued that this scenario was not custodial, and so Ashmore did not have to be read his rights. According to the US District Judge PK Holmes’ December 2016 13-page opinion, it wasn’t until after Ashmore confessed to having the marijuana that he was Mirandized, at which point he allegedly confessed a second time to having downloaded child porn. Judge Holmes further explained that because the defendant had not been adequately given a Miranda warning before he gave up the password to his cellphone and computer, that his two alleged confessions and the two passwords to his devices should be suppressed. “The Government’s position is effectively that because officers never Mirandized Ashmore for his alleged confession related to child pornography, they could not have circumvented Miranda on purpose,” Judge Holmes continued. “Having listened to their testimony and observed their demeanor on this point, the Court does not believe the officers’ testimony and finds that they deliberately avoided giving Ashmore a Miranda warning.” But, in this case, Judge Holmes concluded, the data found on those devices would be allowed to be presented as evidence during trial as the warrants were valid. Plus, police would have been able to access them anyway as the computer hard drive was unencrypted and Ashmore’s Samsung Android’s passcode could have been circumvented easily.
In legal terms, this is known as the “independent source doctrine [which] is an exception to the exclusionary rule.” For now, Ashmore is set to go to trial January 17, 2017 in Fort Smith, Arkansas. "Agencies are given tools to use to investigate crimes and they should entirely be allowed to use those tools," Erik Rasmussen, a lawyer and former Secret Service special agent who focused on computer crimes, told Ars. "It changes all the time, because the adversaries change all the time."
EnlargeCary Bass-Deschenes reader comments 3 Share this story As a tumultuous 2016 draws to a close, one case distilled contemporary law enforcement, terrorism, encryption, and surveillance issues more than any other: the case popularly known as “FBI vs.

Apple.” The ordeal began on February 16 when a federal judge in Riverside, California, ordered Apple to help the government unlock and decrypt the seized iPhone 5C used by Syed Rizwan Farook.

Farook had shot up an office party in a terrorist attack in nearby San Bernardino in December 2015. Specifically, United States Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym mandated that Apple provide the FBI a custom firmware file, known as an IPSW file, that would likely enable investigators to brute force the passcode lockout currently on the phone, which was running iOS 9.

This order was unprecedented. Apple refused, and the two sides battled it out in court filings and the court of public opinion for weeks. But the day before they were set to argue before the judge in Riverside, prosecutors called it off.

They announced that federal investigators had found some mysterious way to access the contents of Farook’s phone, but provided hardly any details.
In April 2016, Ars reported that the FBI paid at least $1.3 million for a way to access the phone.

But getting into the phone seems to have resulted in little, if any, meaningful benefits. The underlying legal issue remains unresolved.
In May 2016, FBI Director James Comey noted that the government would likely bring further legal challenges in the near future.

The law is clearly struggling to keep up with the current realities of encryption.

These issues impact not only national security cases, but also more run-of-the-mill crimes. In short, many of the most profound questions of our time have yet to be resolved.

These include: what measures can the government take in order to mitigate encryption? What tools can the government employ in order to conduct legitimate investigations? Can a person or a company be compelled to hand over a password or fingerprint to unlock a phone or create new software to achieve that end? In years past, Ars has tried to predict what privacy-related cases would reach the Supreme Court.

Given that our track record has been abysmal, we’re going to take a slightly different approach this year.

Today, we’ll update the five surveillance-related cases that we thought would become huge in 2016.

Tomorrow, we’ll expand our outlook to include other important legal cases still ongoing in 2017 that touch on important tech issues. Not exactly an angel on top Case: United States v. MohamudStatus: 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals rejected appeal in December 2016 As with last year, we’ll begin with the story of a terrorism suspect who was convicted of attempting to blow up a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon, in 2010.

That case involved a Somali-American, Mohamed Osman Mohamud, who became a radicalized wannabe terrorist. Mohamud believed that he was corresponding with an Al-Qaeda sympathizer, and he was eventually introduced to another man who he believed was a weapons expert.

Both of those men were with the FBI. Mohamud thought it would be a good idea to target the ceremony on November 27, 2010. He was arrested possessing what he believed was a detonator, but it was, in fact, a dud. Earlier this month, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an effort to overturn Mohamed Osman Mohamud’s conviction on the grounds that the surveillance to initially identify the suspect did not require a warrant. Mohamud went to trial, was eventually found guilty, and was then sentenced to 30 years in prison. After the conviction, the government disclosed that it used surveillance under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act to collect and search Mohamud's e-mail.
Seeing this, Mohamud’s legal team attempted to re-open the case, but the 9th Circuit disagreed. As the 9th Circuit ruled: "The panel held that no warrant was required to intercept the overseas foreign national’s communications or to intercept a U.S. person’s communications incidentally." From here, Mohamud and his legal team could ask that the 9th Circuit re-hear the appeal with a full panel of judges (en banc), or they could appeal up to the Supreme Court.
If either court declines, the case is over, and the ruling stands. Slowly turning wheels of justice Case: United States v. HasbajramiStatus: Appeal pending in 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals Similar to Mohamud, another notable terrorism case revolves around Section 702 surveillance.

As we reported at this time last year, Hasbajrami involves a United States person (citizen or legal resident) accused of attempting to provide support for terrorism-related activities.

According to the government, Agron Hasbajrami, an Albanian citizen and Brooklyn resident, traded e-mails with a Pakistan-based terror suspect back in 2011.

The terror suspect claimed to be involved in attacks against the US military in Afghanistan.

After he was apprehended, Hasbajrami pleaded guilty in 2013 to attempting to provide material support to terrorists. After he pleaded guilty, the government informed Hasbajrami that, like with Mohamud, it had used Section 702 surveillance against him, and the case was re-opened. Many cases that have tried to fight surveillance have fallen down for lack of standing. Hasbajrami’s case is different, however, because he can definitively prove that he was spied upon by the government. As his case neared trial in mid-2015, Hasbajrami pleaded guilty a second time.

But shortly thereafter, he moved to withdraw the plea again, which the judge rejected.
So the case progressed to the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals. Earlier this year, when we expected to see Hasbajrami’s first appellate filing, his new lawyers filed an application with the judge.

They asked that the case be held “in abeyance,” which essentially puts a kind of stay on the appeals process.

The 2nd Circuit agreed. The reason? Because US District Judge John Gleeson, then the judge at the lower-court level, issued a classified opinion “which directly relates to and impacts the issues to be raised on appeal.” United States v. Hasbajrami was delayed when Judge Gleeson stepped down from the bench in late February. While Judge Gleeson’s opinion was released (in a redacted form) to the defense attorneys, by September, defense attorneys argued again in filings to the new judge that they possess adequate security clearance and should be given access to this material, unredacted. As they wrote: In that context, the government repeatedly fails—in its argument as well as the authority it cites—to distinguish public release of the redacted portions from providing security-cleared defense counsel access to that material. Here, all Mr. Hasbajrami seeks is the latter.

Thus, the dangers of dissemination beyond to those already authorized to review classified information simply do not exist, and the government’s contentions with respect to national security serve as a red herring. The most recent entry in either the appellate or district court docket is an October 31 filing.
In it, defense attorneys inform the 2nd Circuit that they are still waiting for Chief US District Judge Dora Irizarry to rule on receiving the unredacted version. One of Hasbajrami’s attorneys is Joshua Dratel.

Dratel is famous for having defended (and still defending) Ross Ulbricht, the convicted mastermind behind the Silk Road drug marketplace website. The Free Encyclopedia Case: Wikimedia v. NSAStatus: Appeal pending in 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals Of course, Section 702 is just one of many ways the government is conducting surveillance beyond its intended target. Wikimedia v. NSA is one of several cases that has tried to target the “upstream” setup that allows the NSA to grab data directly off fiber optic cables. Wikimedia, which publishes Wikipedia, filed its case originally in March 2015.
In it, the company argues that the government is engaged in illegal and unconstitutional searches and seizures of these groups’ communications. But, in October 2015, US District Judge T.S.

Ellis III dismissed the case. He found that Wikimedia and the other plaintiffs had no standing and could not prove that they had been surveilled.

That action largely echoed a 2013 Supreme Court decision, Clapper v.

Amnesty International
. The plaintiffs filed their appeal to the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals immediately.
In their February 2016 opening brief, which was written by top attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union, they argue essentially that Wikipedia traffic had to have been captured in the National Security Agency’s snare because it’s one of the most-trafficked sites on the Internet. They wrote: In other words, even if the NSA were conducting Upstream surveillance on only a single circuit, it would be copying and reviewing the Wikimedia communications that traverse that circuit.

But the government has acknowledged monitoring multiple internet circuits—making it only more certain that Wikimedia’s communications are being copied and reviewed. Moreover, the NSA’s own documents indicate that it is copying and reviewing Wikimedia’s communications.

Taken together, these detailed factual allegations leave no doubt as to the plausibility of Wikimedia’s standing. The government, for its part, countered by saying that the 4th Circuit should uphold the district court’s ruling. Why? Because, as it argued in April 2016, Wikimedia’s argument is largely speculative. ... the facts do not support plaintiffs’ assumption that Wikimedia’s communications must traverse every fiber of every sub-cable such that, if the NSA is monitoring only one fiber or even one sub-cable, it still must be intercepting, copying, and reviewing Wikimedia’s communications. Beyond that, the government continued, even if Wikimedia’s communications were intercepted, the plaintiffs have not demonstrated how they have actually been injured, because a large portion of the NSA’s interception is done by machine. The government continued: Indeed, plaintiffs’ complaint generally fails to state a cognizable injury because, whatever the nature of the particular communications at issue, plaintiffs have made no allegation that interception, copying, and filtering for selectors involve any human review of the content of those communications. The two sides squared off at the 4th Circuit in Baltimore on December 8, 2016 for oral arguments.

A decision is expected within the next few months. Fast food, fast crimes Case: United States v.

Status: Decided en banc at 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals, cert petition filed to Supreme Court This case was a big hope for many civil libertarians and privacy activists.

An appeals court had initially rejected the thorny third-party doctrine and found that, because the two suspects voluntarily disclosed their own location to their mobile carrier via their phones, they did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy. But in May 2016, the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals, in an en banc ruling, found in favor of the government.

The court concluded that police did not, in fact, need a warrant to obtain more than 200 days' worth of cell-site location information (CSLI) for two criminal suspects. As the court ruled: The Supreme Court may in the future limit, or even eliminate, the third-party doctrine.

Congress may act to require a warrant for CSLI.

But without a change in controlling law, we cannot conclude that the Government violated the Fourth Amendment in this case. This case dates back to February 5, 2011 when two men robbed a Burger King and a McDonald’s in Baltimore.

Ten minutes later, they were caught and cuffed by Baltimore City Police officers.

Eventually, Aaron Graham and Eric Jordan were charged with 17 federal counts of interstate robbery, including a pair of fast food robberies and another one at a 7-Eleven.

They also received charges for brandishing a firearm in furtherance of the crime. A Baltimore City Police detective first sought and obtained a search warrant for the two cell phones recovered during a search of the getaway car. Prosecutors later obtained a court order (a lesser standard than a warrant) granting disclosure of the defendants’ CSLI data for various periods totaling 14 days when the suspects were believed to have been involved in robberies.

The government next applied for (and received) a second application to another magistrate judge for a new set of CSLI data, covering a period of July 1, 2010 through February 6, 2011 (221 days). In August 2012, Graham and Jordan were found guilty on nearly all counts.

They were sentenced to 147 years in prison and 72 years, respectively. Meghan Skelton, Graham’s public defender, has filed an appeal with the Supreme Court, which has not yet decided whether it will hear the case. Who is the Dread Pirate Roberts? Cases: United States v. Ulbricht and United States v.

Status: Appeals pending in 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals, 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, respectively While Section 702 surveillance and cell-site location information are important, there was one defendant who was defeated largely by snatching his laptop out of his hands: Ross Ulbricht.

The young Texan was convicted as being Dread Pirate Roberts, the creator of the notorious online drug market Silk Road. Later on in 2015, Ulbricht was given a double life sentence, despite emotional pleas from himself, his family, and friends for far less. 2016 kicked off with Ross Ulbricht’s formal appeal to the 2nd Circuit.

Ars described it as a “170-page whopper that revisits several of the evidentiary arguments that Ulbricht's lawyer made at trial.” These included theories that Ulbricht wasn’t Dread Pirate Roberts, and it attributed digital evidence found on Ulbricht’s computer to “vulnerabilities inherent to the Internet and digital data,” like hacking and fabrication of files.

According to the appeal, these “vulnerabilities” made “much of the evidence against Ulbricht inauthentic, unattributable to him, and/or ultimately unreliable.” Plus, corrupt federal agents Shaun Bridges and Carl Mark Force tarnished the case against Ulbricht, claimed his lawyer.

That lawyer is Joshua Dratel, who makes his second appearance on this list. The government responded with its own 186-page whopper on June 17, 2016.

After a lengthy recap of the entire case, United States Attorney Preet Bharara opened his arguments with a notable flaw in Ulbricht’s logic: But nowhere, either below or here, has Ulbricht explained, other than in the most conclusory way, how the corruption of two agents—who neither testified at his trial nor generated the evidence against him—tended to disprove that he was running Silk Road from his laptop. In short, the government argues, Ulbricht was caught red-handed, and the appeals court should uphold both the conviction and the sentence. The following month, federal prosecutors in San Francisco unsealed new court documents that make a strong case that former agent Bridges stole another $600,000 in bitcoins after he pleaded guilty. By August 2016, Bridges’ lawyer Davina Pujari filed what she herself said was a “legally frivolous” appeal to the 9th Circuit on behalf of her client, and she asked to be removed from the case.

Bridges’ case remains pending at the appellate level, and no oral arguments have been scheduled. (Pujari is still Bridges’ lawyer for now.) Bridges remains a prisoner at the Terre Haute Federal Correctional Institute in Indiana, where he is scheduled for release in 2021. Later in August, Ars chronicled the saga of how a San Francisco-based federal prosecutor joined forces with a dogged Internal Revenue Service special agent to bring Bridges and Force to justice. Meanwhile, Ulbricht’s lawyers, led by Joshua Dratel, faced off at the 2nd Circuit against federal prosecutors on October 6, 2016 to challenge Ulbricht’s conviction and sentence.

The court is expected to rule within the next few months.