Feeds

PGP use ruled relevant in child abuse case

Using crypto? You pervert

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Security for virtualized datacentres

A Minnesota appeal court has ruled that a trial judge was within his rights to allow police evidence about the presence of an encryption program on a defendant's computer to be admitted in a child abuse case. The ruling came as the Minnesota State Court of Appeals rejected an appeal by David Levie against his conviction for soliciting a nine-year-old girl into posing naked for digital pictures.

One of the grounds for Levie's appeal was that the "district court erred in admitting evidence of appellant’s internet use and the encryption capability of his computer". A forensic examination of Levie's computer by a retired police officer discovered it was loaded with PGP which "can basically encrypt any file". Under cross-examination, retired cop Brooke Schaub also said that the PGP program may be included on every Macintosh computer that comes out today.

Lawyers for Levie argued on appeal that his "internet use had nothing to do with the issues in this case" that "there was no evidence that there was anything encrypted on the computer" and that he "was prejudiced because the court specifically used this evidence in its findings of fact and in reaching its verdict".

The appeal court rejected these arguments, one of four strands in Levie's appeal. "We find that evidence of appellant’s internet use and the existence of an encryption program on his computer was at least somewhat relevant to the state’s case against him," the court ruled. Although it rejected Levie's request for a retrial it sent the case back to a lower court for resentencing, after conceding the legal basis of some aspects of the conviction were flawed.

The case, although never put before a jury, could establish the precendent that the use of an encryption programme might be admitted as evidence of criminal intent, as least in Minnesota. The attitude seems to be "if you have nothing to hide why do you need secrecy tools". ®

Related stories

PGP goes the whole hog of encryption
Zimmermann defends strong crypto against govt assault
Americans want Uncryption
UK police tackle mounting internet porn caseload
IT industry told to 'cough up' by child campaigners
New UK agency to target net paedophiles

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Special pleading against mass surveillance won't help anyone
Protecting journalists alone won't protect their sources
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Apple's iPhone 6 first-day sales are MEANINGLESS, mutters analyst
Big weekend queues only represent fruity firm's supply
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Bill Gates, drugs and the internet: Top 10 Larry Ellison quotes
'I certainly never expected to become rich ... this is surreal'
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
EMC, HP blockbuster 'merger' shocker comes a cropper
Stand down, FTC... you can put your feet up for a bit
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.