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back to article Porn breath tests for PCs heralds 'stop and scan'

Technology that claims to pick up traces of illicit images on PCs has attracted the interest of Australian cops. The software, developed in an Australian University, might eventually be used to screen PCs for pr0n during border inspections. Compared to breath test tools used by the police in a different context, the software - …

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Happy

Netbooks are the way to go, apparently...

Thank goodness my Netbook doesn't have a CD drive - oh - wait - this is going to drive Netbook sales through the roof :)

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Nice idea but....

When it mounts my ext3 filesystem which is over the mount count limit will it automatically run the e2fsck on it? If so, then could that not potentially modify my file system?

What about my encrypted partition? I mean all sensitive laptops should be using encryption for data anyway these days, we all know enough systems have been left on the bus/train etc. so this is the minimum a responsible user/admin would implement.

OK, while this may catch the very lowest common denominator of users, the seriously evil guys will still come out looking squeaky clean.

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Flame

Disgusting!

Utterly disgusting that authorities across the world feel the need to pry into our lives without any kind of reasonable suspicion first. I wonder if this software will be able to magically work out the difference between legal porn / child porn and of course digital copies of works of art (some of which today would be considered illegal by most)

Ahh yes but of course its the typical scenario of an IT provider decided to stick their snout into a gov's trough by lying and overstating how good and powerful their solutions are and damn all of us little people.

A stop&search culture for laptops / computing devices eh? can we all say 'over-reaction' or 'excessive powers' ?? Can we? I bloody well hope so!

/one ticket off this world, any passing craft will do. Species & destination irrelevant. Available to leave immediately

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Black Helicopters

Canadian border control

I had an experience in Ottawa airport (from NYC) where they asked to look at my laptop. I worked for a major security company and they recognised who we were. My stinkpad blue screened (too much pr0n?) and my colleague duly got his machine out and showed them the content we were delivering to the major telco partner there. I went through immigration, he was pulled to one side and they flipped through every photo on his laptop. I'm all for a paedophile cull, but allowing border control to "scan" the machine is too intrusive. What else can it "scan" for - the conspiracy theorist may also ask what it leaves behind on the machine... But as I'm not one, I'll leave it to someone else... :)

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Black Helicopters

Netbooks anyone ?

"The software runs off a Linux-bootable CD that can be put into the CD-ROM drive of a PC to load up a separate environment without affecting anything already on the PC. Copies of potentially interesting evidence are written to a DVD- writer attched to a computer."

So how are they going to use this on a netbook with no optical drive and its ports locked down eh ?

Another manifestation of the "epic fail by puritardism" syndrome ...

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Slippery

Sounds like some slippery-slope software. Could be adapted to financial documents? Seems like it's only a step away from thought-policing.

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Coat

spot the subtle skin reference

> "It is not digging down into the hard drive to find anything that has been deleted. It is just what is topically available."

Did a dermatologist write that line, or a computer expert. Just sayin'.

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Black Helicopters

Future developments

Is the Anti-terrorist version far away?

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Can you spell T R U E C R Y P T ?

FFS - why not just use TrueCrypt to create an invisible, encrypted folder? Or Just Vista BitLocker? Or keep the naughty stuff on a USB stick in your hand luggage?

I'm really getting pissed off with this sort of thing...

IT WON'T FUCKING WORK!

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Evidence obtained by a tool is admissible in court

I've corrected the typo for you...

I bet the Oz cops will love being able to scan through everyone's naughty pics.

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Ah Butt

What about the micro SD card stuck up my ass !

Yet more paranoid Australian government stupidity. What a waste of a research grant that could have been spent on something more useful such as why are ping pong balls round.

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dammit

so next time i visit australia, i have to first delete the pictures of my girlfriend peeing on me?

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Paris Hilton

Deniable Encryption

"Yes officer, you may look at my hard drive. Yes officer, here is 'the' encryption key."

And this quote springs to mind

"The more you tighten your grip, the more systems will slip through your grasp"

Paris, as well, err, IT angle?

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Umm...

But I have set a BIOS password. I've disabled booting from the optical drive. I use an encrypted file system. As a rule, I don't keep confidential client data on my laptop - I connect to a VM on my server via a VPN using VNC - but it does happen occaisonally, for a short time.

What is Mr. Plod going to do with me? Oh, and my non-disclosure agreements?

Next time I go to Oz, I think I'll take a solictor with me.

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Australia in the news

Censuring the internet, searching for immoral pictures on laptops at borders and so on. I guess, if the Australian people want some freedom, China isn't that far away, right?

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Anonymous Coward

Why Universal?

2 things:

1 - Why Universal involved? Warner Bros owns the rights to Lets Go Crazy not Universal

2 - That little carpet rat isnt fit to dance to Prince (read the reviews from his shows in London this year) so why do i want to see that sort of dribble on Youtube

Can I sue her for making me think I was going to watch Prince dancing to Lets Go Crazy?

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Paris Hilton

Can anyone say Truecrypt?

Me thinks Truecrypt might suddenly become very popular on all laptops/desktops/servers!

posting A/C so noone knows what to look for on my laptop!

Paris for obvious reasons

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Paris Hilton

Porno-Crypto?

I've been saying for a long time that the next Internet killer-app will be one that better encodes fleshtones.

Perhaps I should revise this to "one which better encodes *and conceals* fleshtones" ?

Paris, because she provides the reference-data for testing said app.

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Paris Hilton

Hmmm

>The application is designed to be easy to use by law enforcement officers, even those with few computer skills.

>The software runs off a Linux-bootable CD that can be put into the CD-ROM drive of a PC

Wonder what the simpleton law enforcement officers would do with an EEE PC?

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Boffin

My laptop's CDROM?

My laptop doesn't have a CDROM. The new laptop I recently ordered doesn't either. Does this mean that it's okay for me to have child pron on it down under? I have my BIOS set not to boot off USB, so they'd have to change a setting in order to boot off a USB CDROM. Once they've changed something, can they still prove that they didn't put the files there?

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Paris Hilton

I forsee...

I foresee a rise in the use of 'plausible deniability' encryption software for any sales guys who take their collection with them for use in hotels around the world. Especially if this task is being delegated to front line guys with click&point interfaces - they're not going to know their breasts from their elbows.

Paris, because they'll have seen all her pics more often than they catch drugs.

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Alert

bootable CD?

so say for example you have a laptop without a cd/dvd drive? or one thats set not to boot from it?

obviously if its a setting they can just be a typical pain, but if the machine hasn't got one (macbook air?) what then? do they outlaw them?

since then only outlaws will have macbook airs.

or will it be viewed like having encryption software as a sign of guilt int he eyes of the law?

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Happy

Bitlocker anybody?

If I fly and they use this at the border ... and I use bitlocker will I automatically be a suspect? I guess I will need to remember the heinous bitlocker key to provide to border control - this will make flying even more interesting – queues of geezers trying to remember their encryption keys.

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Only bad side is........

If the wrongdoer has a non standard OS installed that is not made by apple or microsoft or of the many linux flavors.

These rare operating systems are rare and are so new or support dropped or just abandoned I doubt if a bootable CD could read anything off of the hard drive.

Even so they could also boot from a CD/DVD and use it as the main OS leaving the hard drive spotless and minty clean. So this bootable CD faire will only catch the lowly educated or stupid.

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Heart

Ha ha ha ha ha

Given that I've never been able to boot from CD on any of my laptops, it appears I will be able to traffic filth down under with impunity. Another triumph for the IT pork barrel. If they add in a feature which searches text files for the word "bomb" they'll make millions out of us and the Yanks.

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What about encryption?

Lemme see... a dumb tool given to untrained coppers... what could go wrong?

Methink this tool is never going to catch any crim, because they probably encrypt their nasty KP snuff terrist vids. On the other hand, any punter with a few pics of their kids might be suspect. And dog knows what is going to happen when the untrained pigs will see the red light flashing...

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Eh?

"easy to use by law enforcement officers, even those with few computer skills"

What? There's another kind?

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Alert

Re: Bitlocker anybody?

Plausible deniability: "This is a corporate laptop with full-drive encryption set up by the IT department. I have not been told the pass code nor am I authorized to receive such a code until I am in my final destination." Not even a court order can force someone to divulge something one *never knew*.

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Hmmm

On the surface, with the negative and fear here, it sounds like people expect this would "catch you".

I say go for it - I loathe kiddie-pron, and as a father of 2 daughters, would fully support all attempts to curb abuse of kids.

The program is a simple concept, and I feel a good balance. It creates a hash of each file, and compares that to a hash of *KNOWN* kiddie-pron pictures. No match, clean PC. No human looks at any files. If the file matches, it snapshots the area for a court order.

I, for one, would like to see a way for regular folks to run these programs - I do NOT want any kiddie stuff, but could imagine that with past years of copying files from people, there is a chance any of us *ACCIDENTALLY* have one or more. Give us a chance to say "delete all illegal stuff, please".

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J
Joke

So that's what...

So that's what Jobs was going for when they designed the Macbook Air, I see it now...

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Stop

One Word

Encryption.

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Anonymous Coward

Impossible to distinguish between legitimate and illegal imagery

What happens when the software scans your machine and finds all the pictures of your small son or daughter playing semi-naked in the garden paddling pool - does it immediately raise the alarm and your entire personal photo album gets perused by a bunch of sweaty border control officials?

Do you then have to prove your innocence, that you are infact the mother/father of the depicted children (which could be hard if you're 1000s of miles away from home) at which point you get hauled off to a dark cell somewhere and strip searched...

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IT Angle

RE: This won't work

For use in child porn checks it probably will - for the most part, paedos tend to be lazy and like everything to be easily at hand. I mean, seriously, some of them have rows of labelled CD's next to the PC (seriously - I unfortunately know).

For the rest of us, privacy is a ten minute job.

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Simple shell script?

So basically it's just a Linux Live CD which does a find . -name *.jpg and displays them in a paginated list?

Hardly super-secret stuff...

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Altogether now...

But it won't catch the IT savvy, just poor old Joes who know nothing about computers. Yep it's one of those stories.

I find the empasis on border controls to be somewhat laughable. If you want to get some hard porn into the country why not use that little thing we have called the internet. Surely nobody would be so silly as to carry a laptop loaded with illegal porn through customs? And since they've advertised this technology won't the idiots who do want to do so just start using mules like drug traffickers do?

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Paris Hilton

Could be interesting

Buy a laptop that has two HDDs, unscrew cover - remove the connection to one, install fresh OS on other - at customs sure officer, feel free to run scanner on laptop.

Get to where going and unscrew cover and plug in other disk and run from that disk

PH - well if she wants to search/be searched :)

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Anonymous Coward

'Topically Available'

Remind me to clear the cache before visiting Oz then.

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Australian?

Australian, eh? Hmmm - sits very well with previous items about the "authorities" over there wanting to censor the internet, doesn't it? Can't see this working.

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Anonymous Coward

evidence

if this is admissible as evidence then the police can lock up anyone they feel like.

Plod who knows nothing about computers attaches external device to a turned off pc and puts in a CD he has to hand....then claims that the files on the external device were from your computer and existed there before he tampered with it. I'm asusming that they'll just keep using the same bootable CD until it fails and of course you'd hope they use a sealed certified clean DVD in the external drive, not just pick one up from a pile.

Given someone wants to license this I'd have to assume it's copyrighted/patented or whatever code and not open source, which makes me wonder how you'd challenge it in court.

If it's simple to use it doesn't mean you don't still need good procedural methods for using it to meet the criteria for admissible evidence and dumb people are the flaw in the procedure.

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Pirate

Spread for file scan please

Does this software penetrate the porn smuggler's security: memory stick, condom, up the a**e type security?

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Black Helicopters

Oh dear.

So Johnny Peado-terrorist has a USB Flash drive, He has Truecrypt on his laptop, Given this program is "just" looking for images, and they aren't going to take a look at your flash drives then all he has to do is go through border control insert flash drive, apply his encryption key. It doesn't matter if they want to have a look at the Flash drive either, because this program won't find anything of suspicion on there either.

When will people learn.

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Anonymous Coward

How would it read a Mac's hardrive?

I don't understand how it would read a HFS+ formatted hardrive on a Mac OS based machine. Apple's file system's proprietary and they do not licence it to third parties.

So, anything that uses it other than a mac, is effectively going to be breaching Apple intellectual property rights.

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@Glen Graham

> On the surface, with the negative and fear here, it sounds like people expect this would "catch you".

Have you ever heard the words "False Positive"...?

More to the point, have you ever heard the words "Presumed innocent unless proven guilty"?

> I say go for it - I loathe kiddie-pron, and as a father of 2 daughters, would fully support all attempts to curb abuse of kids.

I doubt there is anyone posting on here who approves of child pornography, however might I remind you that the person most likely to abuse your two daughters is *YOU*!

Obviously, then, the best way to give your daughters protection against abuse is to remove them from your house since you cannot be trusted not to abuse them.

I'm sure you'd support this attempt to curb the abuse of kids...

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Ian
Black Helicopters

Won't work

Our company has all machines set to not boot from CD. The BIOS is password protected and employees (other than IT Security) do not know the password. When the machine is running the employees also only have access to their own user space. USB is also disabled. Would these employees through their inability to co-operate with Border Security automatically be labelled as terrorists and given the full once over?

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Epic Fail

To the person who instigated this lame project,

I hope you are reading this. Kudos on your intentions - stamping out child pr0n and abuse etc... These are all very noble. But you fail at thinking it thru'.

This is stupid, for the myriad reasons mentioned.

1. IMPLEMENTATION

Netbooks with no optical drives (do you think even if usb optical drives were supplied the overworked people at customs could figure out how to boot the machine or mount it in a reasonably decent practical timeframe).

machines with non-standard OS's - as above. Who's to say that linux live CD will work.

Encryption

Non x86 machines. as above. They do exist. I swear.

What happens if the scan process mucks up your hard drive?

These are all issues I believe that limit this invasive and potentially damaging (to your data) means of 'scanning'.

**** How slow do you expect queues at customs to go?

**** How much grief will it cause the average innocent Joe Q Public travelling with a laptop?

This is just it, dear sir, I hope you are reading this, I don't think you bloody well understand the situation.

Plus it really will not catch the people really smuggling stuff like that as I would expect they would not carry it on their hard drives in the first place.

2. PRIVACY

Your noble intentions are muddied by invasion into privacy of the individual

Where does one draw the line?

You travel, you get everything potentially private at risk of being copied by the customs. Journals, corporate data, personal information. Identity theft anyone?

The implications are staggering.

Slippery slope argument as this is, one could argue along the lines of the philosophy your approach entails, scanning HEADS (consciousnesses, souls whatever) were it technically feasible or possible, would not be beneath you.

So I suggest, dear sir, dear brilliant innovator, you go examine your own @#@$ head before you come up with some lame-brained scheme like this.

Do not con the unwitting powers-that-be ie Customs that this is a SOLUTION for all the above reasons.

Make no mistake.

This is a PROBLEM.

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Targeted users

I can see it now.

Customs "Hello welcome to Australia. "

Thank you

Customs " Lets see you just came from Thailand, step this way. Give me your computer "

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Stop

It always starts with the pr0n...

Ehh Hitler also used Pr0n as an excuse to get into anyone's home that didn't agree with the Gov. and take them away. An easy excuse that sounds good just to get in the door to go on a fishing expedition to weed out dissenters. Opression always starts there.

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Border Controls

Border controls trump privacy (at least in the US). There is nothing preventing me from having a freely downloadable Nova documentary that is in fact a truecrypt partition containing a gig or so of anything I want.

However, most pedo's don't think they will be caught, and don't hide the stuff very well.

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Anonymous Coward

And its their business because?

HOW IS THIS ANY OF THEIR FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFUCKING BUSINESS!!!!!?????????????

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