Ivan Krstić <krs...@solarsail.hcs.harvard.edu> writes: > On Mar 3, 2009, at 1:53 PM, Perry E. Metzger wrote: >> If it is obvious to you and me that a disk has multiple >> encrypted views, then you can't expect that a court will not be able >> to understand this and take appropriate action, like putting you in a >> cage. > > Why do you think it'd be obvious to you and me that a disk has > multiple encrypted views? Contempt carries a burden of proof. If the > guy has two encrypted volumes, one with a bunch of hardcore adult porn > and the other with a bunch of kiddie porn, how does his unlocking the > first one give you a 'preponderance of evidence' that he's obstructing > justice or disobeying the court? It becomes a he-said-she-said with > the CBP agent, your word against his.
Again, you seem to be operating under the common geek misperception that courts operate like Turing machines, precisely and literally executing precisely defined legal concepts. They do not work that way. Courts work much more the way the high school vice principal who put you on detention for three weeks for throwing a snowball worked -- even though he didn't see you throw one, he just saw you were the only person in the general vicinity, even though it was all patently unfair since he had no "proof" by your lights. The law's idea of what sufficient evidence means is not what you, as a geek, think sufficient evidence means. For example, perhaps to you, "beyond a reasonable doubt" means something like "there is no way you couldn't be guilty", while to a court it means nothing like that -- it means that an ordinary person (that is, not a geek, not a professional defense attorney, not a mystery novel addict) wouldn't have serious doubts about guilt. Not no doubts -- just no serious ones. The law is used to people trying to weasel out of trouble -- people have been trying to weasel out of trouble since the year 100,000 BC. Criminals were trying far more elaborate schemes to get out from under trouble than you will ever think of back in ancient Mesopotamia. You're not going to find something new that impresses a real court. Take a real common case. Someone is mugged by two people. One of them shoots the victim and neither will say which of them did it. You, the geek who thinks the law is a Turing machine, assume that neither can go to jail for murder. "In the case of each criminal", you assume, "there is a reasonable doubt as to whether or not the other guy did it. 50/50 is a way reasonable doubt!" Well, that's not how the real legal system works. In the real legal system, the court will happily put both people in jail for murder even though there is only one bullet in the victim so only one person could have pulled the trigger. That's routine, in fact, never mind how "unfair" that seems to you. (The charge of felony murder exists precisely so that they don't need to know who pulled the trigger. As I said, they're used to people trying to weasel out of trouble.) "But but!" you scream, "there has to be a reasonable doubt there! Only one of them could have done it, clearly one person is in jail unfairly, they both have to go free!" -- well, that's the difference between you and a lawyer. The lawyer doesn't see this as unreasonable. The court system is not a Turing machine. Back to our topic: if the software can handle multiple hidden encrypted volumes and there is unaccounted for space and the volume you decrypt for them has nothing but pictures of bunnies and sunsets and hasn't been touched in a year, I think you're going to jail for contempt if the judge has ordered you to fork over the files. "But!!!" you insist, "they don't have proof that I'm doing something qua proof, they just a strong suspicion! Why, it could be anything in that giant pool of random bits on the rest of the drive! How do they *know* it isn't just random bits? How do they *know* I don't just look at bunnies and sunsets and haven't opened that partition in a year?" You only think that will protect you because you don't understand the legal system. You see, you're making this assumption that most people would call "assuming the judge is an idiot". Judges take a very dim view of people playing them for fools, just like high school vice principals, and again, the legal system is not a Turing machine. The judge's superiors on the appeals court will take a similar view because they were once trial judges and don't like when judges are played for fools either. So, the court is not going to pay the least attention to your elaborate claims that you just like storing the output of your random number generator on a large chunk of your hard drive. They really don't give a damn about claims like that. Actually they do care. They'll be pissed off that you're wasting their time. If you believe otherwise, go right ahead, but as I said, the jails are filled with people who have tried very elaborate strategies for avoiding prison only to discover courts don't care. The courts are used to people not wanting to go to jail and arguing all sorts of stuff. Believe the courts are Turing machines if you like, but I don't think anyone *rational* should go on that assumption. A rational person is not going to assume that they're going to get off based on an elaborate technological attempt to confuse the court. They won't. Perry --------------------------------------------------------------------- The Cryptography Mailing List Unsubscribe by sending "unsubscribe cryptography" to majord...@metzdowd.com