The Register Columnists

Mark Rasch

Contact Mail Follow RSS feed
For Sale sign detail

German hacker-tool law snares...no-one

On August 10, 2007, a new section of the German Penal code went into effect. The statute, intended to implement certain provisions of the Council of Europe Treaty on Cybercrime, could be interpreted to make the creation or distribution of computer security software a criminal offense. In the wake of the statute, numerous …
Mark Rasch, 07 Jun 2009
The Register breaking news

The Boston Trio and the MBTA

The annual DEFCON conference in Las Vegas in early August got a bit more interesting than usual when three graduate students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology were enjoined from giving a presentation by a court in Boston. The three - Zach Anderson, RJ Ryan and Alessandro Chiesa - intended to present both a paper and …
Mark Rasch, 26 Sep 2008
The Register breaking news

Cloud computing lets Feds read your email

When the new iPhone 3G went on sale last week, I was sorely tempted to wait in line for one. (I didn't - no patience.) One of the features of Apple's device that appeals to me is the new MobileMe service, where you can "access and manage your email, contacts, calendar, photos, and files at me.com," according to Apple. More …
Mark Rasch, 20 Aug 2008
The Register breaking news

Of laptops and US border searches

Recently, I was going through an airport with my shoes, coat, jacket, and belt off as well as with my carry-on bag, briefcase, and laptop all separated for easy inspection. I was heading through security at the Washington D.C., Ronald Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, or "National" as we locals call it. As I passed …
Mark Rasch, 24 Mar 2008
The Register breaking news

Recording industry puts stake in ground with Jammie Thomas case

On 1 October, 2007, Jammie Thomas - a single mother living in Brainerd, Minnesota - was sued in civil court for copyright infringement by the Recording Industry Association of America. Three days later, the jury returned the verdict; Ms Thomas was liable for willfully infringing the copyrights on 24 songs. The fine: $222,000. …
Mark Rasch, 12 Dec 2007
email symbol

No email privacy rights under Constitution, US gov claims

On October 8, 2007, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati granted the government's request for a full-panel hearing in United States v. Warshak case centering on the right of privacy for stored electronic communications. At issue is whether the procedure whereby the government can subpoena stored …
Mark Rasch, 04 Nov 2007
The Register breaking news

Websites could be required to retain visitor info

A series of legal events means that companies that have no business reason to retain documents or records may be compelled to create and retain such records just so they can become available for discovery. Companies routinely create, maintain and store electronic records. Some records are consciously created – like memoranda, …
Mark Rasch, 08 Aug 2007
Google

Don't be evil

A series of developments raise the specter that remotely stored or created documents may be subject to subpoena or discovery all without the knowledge or consent of the document's creators (pdf). I have been playing around recently with Google's Documents and Spreadsheets. What Google documents and spreadsheets allows you to do …
Mark Rasch, 25 Jun 2007
The Register breaking news

Your space, MySpace, everybody's space

It has recently been reported that Attorneys General from about a dozen US States, including Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Mississippi, Maryland, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania have demanded that News Corporation's social networking site MySpace voluntarily deliver a list of all sex offenders who …
Mark Rasch, 25 May 2007
The Register breaking news

The politics of email in the workplace

It's springtime in Washington, D.C. The cherry blossoms have bloomed, the tourists descended, and on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue a new "scandal" is erupting. In the Watergate era, there was the controversy about Rosemary Woods and the 18 ½ minute "gap" - a missing portion of a taped conversation of June 20, 1972. Now in …
Mark Rasch, 19 Apr 2007
The Register breaking news

How to find stolen laptops

Mark Rasch discusses the legal issues behind the discovery and recovery of stolen laptops that use LoJack-style homing devices to announce their location, and the location of the thieves, anywhere in the world. Bad things happen online. Trade secrets are lost or stolen. Personal information is compromised. Copyrights and …
Mark Rasch, 14 Mar 2007
The Register breaking news

Blanket discovery for stolen laptops

Comment Bad things happen online. Trade secrets are lost or stolen. Personal information is compromised. Copyrights and trademarks are infringed. Bloggers post confidential information, defamatory information, or just annoying information. Websites host stolen credit cards, hacking tools and techniques, or other things that you might …
Mark Rasch, 13 Mar 2007
The Register breaking news

Was Julie Amero wrongly convicted?

Comment Substitute teacher Julie Amero faces up to 40 years in prison for exposing kids to porn using a classroom computer, but the facts strongly suggest that she was wrongfully convicted. Many issues remain, from the need for an independent computer forensics investigation and the presence of spyware and adware on the machine, to bad …
Mark Rasch, 14 Feb 2007
The Register breaking news

iPhone trademarks: the real issues

Analysis Apple's iPhone announcement and Cisco's iPhone trademark lawsuit has brought the iPhone moniker into the spotlight. But other companies also own and use iPhone trademarks, and market and sell their iPhone products. Mark Rasch explains how US trademark law works and the real issues at play in this highly publicised trademark …
Mark Rasch, 24 Jan 2007
channel

All I want for Christmas...

Mark Rasch takes a step back and offers his holiday and New Year's wish list of all things security - items that should exist, be made available and be easy to use for everyone over the coming year. It is traditional this time of year for people to make lists of what they want for the holidays. You know, a Nintendo Wii, a PS3, …
Mark Rasch, 20 Dec 2006
channel

Vista's EULA product activation worries

The terms of Microsoft's End User License Agreement (EULA) for its upcoming Vista operating system raises the conflict between two fundamental principles of contract law. The first, and more familiar, is that parties to a contract can generally agree to just about anything, as long as what they agree to doesn't violate the law …
Mark Rasch, 22 Nov 2006
The Register breaking news

Employee privacy versus employer policy

Your organisation has a computer and internet use policy. Fine. It's been reviewed by corporate counsel, approved by senior management, and implemented over the years. The policy is comprehensive - it includes policies on expectations of privacy, employee monitoring, and the ownership of corporate electronic assets. Now, during …
Mark Rasch, 03 Nov 2006
The Register breaking news

Guidelines needed to protect anonymity

In early August, officials at America Online released information about searches being conducted by AOL members and users of the AOL search tool. This historical data was released onto the internet by several AOL officials to demonstrate how useful such data could be for tracking patterns, uses and interest of AOL members. The …
Mark Rasch, 30 Aug 2006
The Register breaking news

Email privacy in the workplace

Comment Even with a well-heeled corporate privacy policy stating that all employee communications may be monitored in the workplace, the legality of email monitoring is not as clear cut as one might think. Let's suppose you are an employer. You have a well-written and well distributed policy on privacy in the workplace. You expressly …
Mark Rasch, 02 Aug 2006
The Register breaking news

Windows genuine disadvantage

Comment A recent lawsuit filed against Microsoft should have all companies reexamining their privacy policies to determine what information they are actually collecting about customers and what they can possibly do with it. What would you call a computer program that surreptitiously installed itself onto your computer, collected …
Mark Rasch, 07 Jul 2006
The Register breaking news

Retain or restrain access logs?

Comment A recent proposal by the US Department of Justice that would mandate Internet Service Providers to retain certain records represents a dangerous trend of turning private companies into proxies for law enforcement or intelligence agencies against the interests of their clients or customers. When you use the internet, a certain …
Mark Rasch, 14 Jun 2006
The Register breaking news

Protection from prying NSA eyes

Comment From the US Fourth Amendment, the Stored Communications Act and US wiretap laws to the Pen-register statute, Mark Rasch looks at legal protections available to the telecommunications companies and individual Americans in the wake of the NSA's massive spying program. Imagine being the head of a major telecommunications company …
Mark Rasch, 17 May 2006
The Register breaking news

Forensic felonies

A new law in Georgia on private investigators now extends to computer forensics and computer incident response, meaning that forensics experts who testify in court without a PI license may be committing a felony. In the US television show "Medium," Patricia Arquette's character uses her "special psychic skills" to help solve …
Mark Rasch, 26 Apr 2006
The Register breaking news

This means Warcraft!

Comment A recent World of Warcraft case involved a WoW book by Brian Knopp that was being sold on eBay. It resulted in automated takedown notices by "lawyerbots" and shows how the legal process today can end up silencing legitimate uses of trademarks and copyrights. One staple idea of 1950s science fiction movies was of robots that …
Mark Rasch, 06 Apr 2006
The Register breaking news

Human rights and wrongs online

A government's position on censorship used to protect its citizenry is dictated by who they are. The well-popularised censorship of internet content in China by Google and other big players, and criticism of this by the US government, is really just the tip of the iceberg. On 15 Febrary, the United States Congress held hearings …
Mark Rasch, 15 Mar 2006