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You can be Prosecuted for Deleting Your Browsing History!

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You Can Be Prosecuted for Clearing Your

Browser History

Wedn esda y , 0 3 Ju n e 2 0 1 5 0 0 :0 0

By Juliana DeVries (/author/itemlist/user/51 003), The Nation (http://www.thenation.com/article/208593/youcanbeprosecutedclearingyourbrowserhistory#)

| Report

As more and more data are stored online, the government wants and believes it deserves access

to that data for policing purposes. (Photo: HTTPS (http://www.shutterstock.com/pic2137

48822/stockphotohttps.

html?src=mPSHjGFg4gwaKIDqzP_

Zg119)

via Shutterstock)

Khairullozhon Matanov is a 24yearold

former cab driver from Quincy, Massachusetts. The

night of the Boston Marathon bombings, he ate dinner with Tamerlan and Dhzokhar Tsarnaev

at a kebob restaurant in Somerville. Four days later Matanov saw photographs of his friends

listed as suspects in the bombings on the CNN and FBI websites. Later that day he went to the

local police. He told them that he knew the Tsarnaev brothers and that they’d had dinner

together that week, but he lied about whose idea it was to have dinner, lied about when exactly

he had looked at the Tsarnaevs’ photos on the Internet, lied about whether Tamerlan lived with

his wife and daughter, and lied about when he and Tamerlan had last prayed together. Matanov

likely lied to distance himself from the brothers or to cover up his own jihadist sympathies—or

maybe he was just confused.

Then Matanov went home and cleared his Internet browser history.

Matanov continued to live in Quincy for over a year after the bombings. During this time the FBI

tracked him with a dronelike

surveillance plane that made loops around Quincy, disturbing

residents. The feds finally arrested and indicted him in May 2014. They never alleged that

Matanov was involved in the bombings or that he knew about them beforehand, but they

charged him with four counts of obstruction of justice. There were three counts for making false

statements based on the aforementioned lies and—remarkably—one count for destroying “any

record, document or tangible object” with intent to obstruct a federal investigation. This last

charge was for deleting videos on his computer that may have demonstrated his own terrorist

sympathies and for clearing his browser history.

Matanov faced the possibility of decades in prison—twenty years for the recordsdestruction

charge alone.

Federal prosecutors charged Matanov for destroying records under the SarbanesOxley

Act, a

law enacted by Congress in the wake of the Enron scandal. The law was, in part, intended to

prohibit corporations under federal investigation from shredding incriminating documents. But

since SarbanesOxley

was passed in 2002 federal prosecutors have applied the law to a wider

range of activities. A police officer in Colorado who falsified a report to cover up a brutality case

was convicted under the act, as was a woman in Illinois who destroyed her boyfriend’s child

pornography.

Prosecutors are able to apply the law broadly because they do not have to show that the person

deleting evidence knew there was an investigation underway. In other words, a person could

theoretically be charged under SarbanesOxley

for deleting her dealer’s number from her phone

even if she were unaware that the feds were getting a search warrant to find her marijuana. The

application of the law to digital data has been particularly farreaching

because this type of

information is so easy to delete. Deleting digital data can inadvertently occur in normal

computer use, and often does.

In 2010 David Kernell, a University of Tennessee student, was convicted under SarbanesOxley

after he deleted digital records that showed he had obtained access to Sarah Palin’s Yahoo email

account. Using publicly available information, Kernell answered security questions that allowed

him to reset Palin’s Yahoo password to “popcorn.” He downloaded information from Palin’s

account, including photographs, and posted the new password online. He then deleted digital

information that may have made it easier for federal investigators to find him. Like Matanov, he

cleared the cache on his Internet browser. He also uninstalled Firefox, ran a disk

defragmentation program to reorganize and clean up his hard drive, and deleted a series of

images that he had downloaded from the account. For entering Palin’s email,

he was eventually

convicted of misdemeanor unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer and

felony destruction of records under SarbanesOxley.

In January 2012, the US Court of Appeals

for the Sixth Circuit found that Kernell’s awareness of a potential investigation into his conduct

was enough to uphold the felony charge.

At the time Kernell took steps to clean his computer, he does not appear to have known that there

was any investigation into his conduct. Regardless, the government felt that they were entitled to

that data, and the court agreed that Kernell was legally required to have preserved it.

Hanni Fakhoury, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says the feds’

broad interpretation of SarbanesOxley

in the digital age is part of a wider trend: federal agents’

feeling “entitled” to digital data.

Fakhoury compares the broad application of SarbanesOxley

in the digital realm to the federal

government’s resistance to cellphone companies that want to sell encrypted phones that would

prevent law enforcement from being able to access users’ data. When the new encrypted iPhone

came out, FBI Director James Comey told reporters that he didn’t understand why companies

would “market something expressly to allow people to place themselves beyond the law.”

“At its core,” Fakhoury says, “what the government is saying is, ‘We have to create a mechanism

that allows everybody’s [cellphone] data to be open for inspection on the offchance

that one day

in the future, for whatever random circumstance, we need to see that data.’”

Similarly, Fakhoury says the government’s underlying theory in cases like Kernell’s is, “Don’t

even think about deleting anything that may be harmful to you, because we may come after you

at some point in the future for some unforeseen reason and we want to be able to have access to

that data. And if we don’t have access to that data, we’re going to slap an obstruction charge that

has as 20year

maximum on you.”

As more and more data are stored online, the government wants and believes it deserves access to

that data for policing purposes. But Fakhoury disagrees.

“The idea that you have to create a record of where you’ve gone or open all your cupboards all the

time and leave your front door unlocked and available for law enforcement inspection at any

time is not the country we have established for ourselves more than 200 years ago.”

This past February the Supreme Court somewhat narrowed the scope of SarbanesOxley

in the

case of Yates v. United States. The feds had charged a commercial fishing captain under the

same recorddestruction

law for throwing a batch of undersized fish overboard after a federal

agent had instructed him not to. The Court ruled that applying SarbanesOxley

to the dumping

of fish was too far afield from the law’s original corporatecrime

purpose. Another Tsarnaev

associate, Azamat Tazhayakov, who helped throw Tsarnaev’s backpack full of fireworks into a

dumpster, may see his conviction overturned because of the Yates decision.

But it appears that, at least for now, cases like Matanov’s and Kernell’s are still fair game. The

Supreme Court did not answer the pressing question of how broadly federal prosecutors are

allowed to use SarbanesOxley

in the digital age. Can you be prosecuted for deleting a potentially

incriminating tweet? For uninstalling Firefox? For clearing your browser history? How much of

their digital data should citizens have to preserve in case law enforcement wants to take a look?

In March, Matanov pleaded guilty to all four counts of obstruction of justice. When he entered

his plea, he told Judge William G. Young that he maintains his innocence but fears a decadeslong

sentence were he to go to trial. His plea agreement with prosecutors calls for a 30month

sentence—still a harsh punishment for little more than deleting videos and clearing his browser

history. Matanov’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for June.

“The whole case is mystery,” Matanov has said. The “FBI is trying to destroy my life.”

This story originally appeared in The Nation.

Copyright © 2015 The Nation 2015 distributed by Agence Global.

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hmmm this is an interesting bit of news. ill have to monitor this on other sites. but this would be considered a violation of one's own rights.. no?

 
 
 

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Compare this to Hilary Clintons actions concerning E Mails. Now ask yourself do you really think that America has anything more than  apartheid system that favors certain interests? How about them bankers that never get even a slap on the wrist. Or letting war criminals  in to demand America fight wars in their interests.I think this sucks. I think what this nation has become sucks. I think it all began when a sucky little bunch of scumbags used nukes and attacked America on 9/11. I think that the Patriot act sucks I know that what it did to America sucks. I also know that this act that replaces it sucks even more because it is what those suck ass punks that attacked us wants.

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I can't say I'm surprised, really.

I mean, stacking rocks is now worthy of arrest in Boulder, CO. :vb_wtf:

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