Sat, 18 Jun 2011

Security Issues at Home

*Originally published in the June 15th Issue of FidoGazette

Time to Surround Your Driveway with Fencing?

by Janis Kracht, 1:261/38

It used to be that when one thought about fencing your yard, it was enough to figure in the cost of the perimeter of the yard, or at the least surrounding your pool (as a safety measure for children)... not so these days is seems. And as is often the case in our society, it's those-guys-with-$$ who can afford expensive fencing who will be exempt from a recent ruling regarding attaching a tracking device to your car (I know how much the chain-link fence we put in for our labrador retrievers cost us.. over $3000.00, about 7 or 8 years ago..)

We've been hearing about safety and security on our systems thanks to Richard Webb's ToolBox series. Given that, I thought some of you might be interested in one of my favorite sites regarding security.

I subscribe to a security newsletter, the "CRYPTO-GRAM" published and written by by Bruce Schneier. He's an internationally renowned security technologist and author. He's been described as a "security guru," bringing security issues to the world in a clear and understandable way. As his page states, "When people want to know how security really works, they turn to Schneier."

You can read his newsletters or subscribe to his newsletters here:

In the latest issue, Mr. Schneier points out, as Richard has already mentioned in his ToolBox series, that a recent ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirms that it's legal for law enforcement to secretly place a tracking device on your car without a warrant, even if it's parked in a private driveway.

An article that Mr. Schneier links to at http:/ tracking-is-legal/ (wraps) states the ruling, which sets precedent for Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, holds that "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures" doesn't apply to driveways.

From that article written by Jim Garrettson:

'This decision upsets years of legal precedent establishing "curtilage" (legalese for the property surrounding a house) as protected under the Fourth Amendment, and represents an officiously narrow interpretation of the "open fields doctrine" test established in United States v. Dunn in 1987. In that case, DEA agents tracked a large shipment of chemicals used to manufacture drugs to Mr. Dunn, a meth lab operator. Agents crossed his fence, looked through the barn window, found the meth lab, executed a search warrant and convicted Dunn of conspiracy to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine.

The prosecution argued that, as per Hester v. United States, Fourth Amendment protection does not extend to the "open fields." Dunn argued that the case didn't concern an "open field"; it concerned a barn surrounded by barbed wire. Dunn's conviction was thrown out by the Supreme Court, and established the four-point test of whether curtilage privacy protections apply.

From the ruling, "curtilage questions should be resolved with particular reference to four factors: the proximity of the area claimed to be curtilage to the home, whether the area is included within an enclosure surrounding the home, the nature of the uses to which the area is put, and the steps taken by the resident to protect the area from observation by people passing by."

In the majority opinion, the Ninth Circuit Court ruled that since Pineda-Moreno's driveway wasn't enclosed and was open to passersby like delivery men and neighborhood children, it didn't pass the Dunn test for curtilage. Never mind that in the Dunn opinion, the majority writes "we do not suggest that combining these factors produces a finely tuned formula that, when mechanically applied, yields a "correct" answer to all extent-of-curtilage questions."

This strict application of precedent really means that only people who can afford to fence off their driveways have a reasonable expectation of privacy, as pointed out by Chief Judge Alex Kozinski in his dissenting opinion. Though he was appointed by Reagan and remains a vocal conservative in the predominantly liberal Ninth Circuit, his dissenting opinion makes him sound like a hardline leftist.

"There's been much talk about diversity on the bench, but there's one kind of diversity that doesn't exist," he wrote. "No truly poor people are appointed as federal judges, or as state judges for that matter."

But the Ninth Circuit doesn't make precedent for the whole country, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia recently ruled that extended tracking via GPS requires a warrant. But, since conflicting precedent has now been set on the West Coast, this issue is bound for the Supreme Court. Hopefully, they'll side with the rights of the people.'

I didn't expect much...

posted at: 22:16 | path: /security | permanent link to this entry | 3 comments | "

Posted by janis kracht at Fri Jun 24 12:36:15 2011

This is a test of the new pyblosxom comments.

Posted by janis kracht at Sat Jun 25 10:05:34 2011

Test #2, pyblosxom comments

Posted by Janis Kracht at Sat Jun 25 23:37:33 2011

<green>test green</green>
<blue>test blue</blue>