FC Round Up – The Case Against Snowden, DNA Tech Out of Date? and Hack, Hack and Hack

Hey hey! Remember me? No? I finished a law degree, so here is hoping I can post more stuff on here.  As a sign of good faith, here is a collection of interesting web bits:



Gathering Evidence ‘In The Cloud’

The use of cloud-systems for data storage carries with it some unique challenges for law enforcement. Attempts to investigate and gather evidence for digital crimes – particularly content offences like child pornography, raise several issues of jurisdiction, privacy and digital rights. Many challenges include:

  • Locating data – which could be across several jurisdictions and may be ‘dynamically’ stored across several servers in different locations. 
  • Separating data – as many cloud systems run VM-Ware in order to store multiple confidential accounts on one machine, gaining access to just one of these accounts without exposing confidential material of innocent users and possibly conducting an illegal search in the process.
  • Not pissing off Cloud Providers – who have an incentive to keep their servers running 24/7 and will avoid any negotiation with investigators which may result in their servers being seized or their operations interfered with.
  • Not pissing off consumers – who love privacy, although also do not read terms and conditions very often.

ArsTechnica has an interesting article on how cloud services contractor  Verizona has used a contract-out method to scan for and determine content offences on its servers. The provider began this technique in response to the PROTECT Our Children Act of 2008 which mandated that service providers report suspected child pornography. The provider uses a combination of “PhotoDNA”  technology supplied by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and  third-party to scan uploaded content.   Once collected, the provider is required to hand over evidence to law enforcement.

Neurolaw News

A collection of snippets from the inter webs on NeuroLaw:

For those interested in the topic of NeuroLaw I recommend David Eaglemont’s Initiative on Neuroscience and the Law as well as to check out the posts on the topic over at my old blog.

Health, Medicine and Bioethics News: Gene Patents, HIV testing and Forcing Parents to Vaccinate their Kids

So, I’m thinking of starting a separate blog devoted entirely to health law, medicine and bioethics – but until then here are some news bits from the cyberspace:

  • An Australian Federal Court has upheld a patent on the BRCA1 gene  linked to breast cancer. Despite Australia having laws against patenting naturally occurring processes., the court took the view that the isolation of the BRCA1 gene was a process of manufacture.   This is of considerable concern to researchers in the medical community.
  • For those who like reading cases (you sick bastards) here is a doozy which sprung from a claim by the partner of a man who tested positive for HIV, who later ended up contracting the virus. The actual claim by the partner against the doctors who conducted the original tests settled out of court, but fall out led to several cross-claims and disputes about degree of liability (case name: Idameneo (No 123) Pty Ltd v Dr Colin Gross [2012] NSWCA 423).


  • Another interesting case from last year is  Kingsford & Kingsford [2012] FamCA 889 – which determined whether the Family Court could order a mother to vaccinate her child. 

Sexy Webcam Scams

ZDNet has an interesting article on the blackmailing of Singaporean males by “women” in foreign countries who take photos or record the men masturbating / being other wise embarrassing during webcam sex.

This kind of scam is not at all rare, and would appear at least from my observation to be on the rise. There was an Australian case last year of man using a fake recording of a woman to force web cam using males on the other line to perform sexual acts – then he would threaten to use the recording if payment was not made (link on the way).

Countries Beef Up Their Cyber Security Creds: Japan, US, Australia

All courtesy of ZDNet:

  • US President Barack Obama signed an executed order yesterday, hinted in his State of the Union address, to crack down on cybercrime. Although, not everyone is convinced.
  • The Japanese Police Agency plans to compile a handbook on cybercrime investigations and create more specialist staff position. This follow their enactment of the Convention on Cybercrime last year.

The Legality of ‘Revenge Porn’ Websites

‘Revenge Porn’  is a genre of online pornography through which anonymous posters upload sexually explicit photos and videos of others without the consent of the person depicted. This genre can sometimes be blended with typical, often called  ‘amateur porn’ websites, but is now often found on dedicated sites of their own. This genre is most commonly associated with the now defunct site IsAnyoneUp.com , started by new media sleaze kingpin Hunter Moore.

But as always with the internet, when one site falls another rises to fill its place.

Wired UK has a piece on the owner of the website IsAnybodyDown.com (explicit, questionable legality), a site far more openly malicious than Moore’s. The owner (who doesn’t need web-celeb status via a mention) dismisses objections to his website of the revenge porn genre, calling it ‘entertainment’. That website, has a particularly harsh policy of requiring people depicted on the website to pay a $250 ‘service fee’ to have their photos removed.  This not an uncommon form of extortion found within the revenge porn genre which has led some commentators to explore the legal options for individuals depicted on such websites.

ArsTechnica has an article on the possible use of anti-extortion laws to take down websites, whilst Wired UK noted the use of copyright protections (if the person depicted had taken the photo themselves) which may provide some legal relief. Ultimately, the conclusion reached through this analysis is that existing laws fail to adequately protect victims of internet sleaze.

For my fellow Victorian Australians, it might be of some relief to note that you have an avenue for legal recourse.  Through a bit of questionable legal creativity many sites which harass individuals by uploading sexually explicit material can be taken down through the use of classification laws limiting the publishing of “objectionable material”.  This was the avenue used against the Benders Root Rate website (the name speaks for itself) and its creators who were prosecuted for publishing offensive material on an information network. The use of classification laws to prosecute these matters is of course misplaced and incredibly problematic on its own – having more than a whiff of censorship and having a wider generality then this author is comfortable with. I would love to know how the other states handle this emerging situation.

The  advantage of the Victorian laws work best because they do not require the ‘credible threat’ or mal-intention elements of harassment/extortion used in other jurisdictions.

Ultimately, some legal creativity is needed to ensure that sites like IsAnybodyDown.com are given the legal smack down they deserve, but do not rely on ‘objectionable material’ laws which are open to abuse.