Monday, June 8, 2015

Really...."Feds can charge you with obstruction of justice for clearing your browser history"

Sometimes I just love headlines.  My friends know I really like certain compound words for their individual parts.

Full article here

At face value, from this headline, I would think I can go to jail for clearing my browser cache, something I recommend you do on your personal computer, automatically every time you close your browser.

So what the heck is this news.  When reading any headline, one must remember the sweet wisdom of Pen & Teller.

First off, no one is going to jail for clearing their browser history.  You may be going to jail for something else and adding a longer jail time for destruction of evidence.  Huge difference.

Lets first understand the contexte.

FACT:  Stupid people do stupid things
FACT:  People who control money, often abuse this power
FACT:  People with power and control who abuse of it, often cover their tracks
FACT:  I look better after a few drinks

So if you are being hired and paid to drop off a bus load of kittens, and you "accidentally" kill one.  If your next action is to mop up the floor and cover it up, you're guilty of TWO things; kitten murder and destruction of evidence.

Why would it be fundamentally different when you work for a large, powerful organization that handles millions if not billions of dollars ?

Most trading companies will not allow you to bring your cellphone into the trading block, and taking a picture will get you escorted out and fired.  It's policy.

Perhaps I'm old school and feel that when your at work, you are there to work, not do personal stuff.  And I feel that a company policy in certain cases imposes that the tools made available be made so under terms that indicate that they are to be used for WORK and sometimes work only, and not to expect privacy.  These same policies should indicate that because of your high risk job tasks, you're simply not allowed to delete your browser history.  I'm actually ok with that.  I use my smart phone to do all my stupid things anyways.

So basically if what we have, is someone who was found guilty of fraud, and half a dozen other offenses, also being accused of covering it up.  I'm also ok with that.  

However, instead of making new laws for stupid things like this, I also strongly believe that we should have clear laws to protect Whistle Blowers.  I would go one step further, I would impose that ANY publicly traded corporation MUST have a TRULY anonymous AND documented way to voice concern directly to the board of directors.  This means that a registry of observations with regards to the security or lack thereof would exist, publicly available, for consultation.

Today, board of directors have one priority, set forth by the current legal framework:  Maximize immediate shareholder value.  This means we are forcing our corporation to take really bad decisions.  This is what really needs to change.

As for the situation with Mr Matanov, do we really feel like our freedoms are being directly attacked here?  Do we feel that we know ALL the facts?  I hardly doubt it.  Both people who agree with me, and the ones who don't have one thing in common, a precious lack of details.  Details that could help us be allowed to have an opinion.  The facts seem to indicate that Mr Matanov lied several times to the police.  Perhaps the only accusation being brought onto him is the only thing they could prove.  No one could or will ever know.

If your loosing sleep and feel that your under attack by this law, an entire pharmaceutical industry awaits.  What is indeed surprising is that Sarbanes Oxley, a law designed to thwart abuses in the financial sector, is being used outside of this realm for numerous other crimes.  In fact, I would bet good money it is MOSTLY used outside of the financial sector.  I have yet to see a respectable quantity of CEO's/CFO's/CIO's walking the plank.

If you want a good laugh, read the first paragraph of this judgement involving FISH and the destruction of evidence (Yates v. Unites States)

So how does one protect themselves from this sort of legally abusive perversion ?  You configure your browser to automatically clear your history.  The law stipulates that INTENT must be part of the equation (SOX Section 802).  So your intent is to ALWAYS protect your privacy, not destroy some investigators precious evidence under a specific situation.

Lets face it, the Feds can charge you for using your office shredder, or emptying your cars ashtray if evidence might have been involved.

So for my personal computer and its browser history, damned right I automatically delete my browser history, in fact before this law, the Bro-Code clearly stipulated clearing out my friends browser history in the event they drop dead.  Let's face it, most couldn't handle my browser history anyways, weaklings......

UPDATE:  My friend Denis Canuel pointed out that some browsers have a privacy mode.  Google Chrome has Incognito mode which simply does not keep a history of what you visit.  No need to purge what is not there!

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