back to article Drug-addled scooter twock teen hit with bizarre crypto ban

A 15-year-old Californian caught with a stolen scooter while high on drugs has been banned from using encryption - despite the lack of any computer crime element to his alleged offences. In fact, there was actually no computer involved in the commission of the crime at all. The teenager, who can't be named for legal reasons, …


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  1. Adam Salisbury

    Well Shirley...

    ...He can plead infringment of his 1st Admendment rights again, just as he did to oveturn the social networking ban and by using a similar arguement to the one that saw the malware clause amended.

    I'd argue that some systems require compulsory encryption measures (online banking goverment websites etc) and his inabilty to use them would be a curtailment of his freedoms (or something!)

  2. Code Monkey

    "providing he can find a really insecure computer"

    There's an old Win98 box in the office that he'd be welcome to.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      ... by the inverse law of computer obscurity, that's probably one of the most secure PCs he could use. I doubt there are any script kiddies still using Win9x exploits in the field.

    2. Nick Sadler

      No good. Win98 has IE4

      Which has SSL support, which uses... ...encryption. Maybe he could use FreeDOS and Lynx?

      1. Tom Chiverton 1


        Lynx has SSL support to...

  3. Cameron Colley

    So now he's even more restricted?

    Because now he can't even use a computer for school work (since they removed the bit where that's allowed) and most computers he'll come across will have crypto on them.

    Someone ought to sack this judge until he either stops getting involved in things he obviously knows fuck-all about, or passes a basic IT course.

  4. John G Imrie

    No encryption

    Well that's his DVD collection screwed then.

  5. Cunningly Linguistic
    Paris Hilton

    On the bright side...

    ...the ne'er--do-well could have got some rum, sodomy and the lash for his criminal hijinx.

    Hang 'em all I say.

    PH because I'm pretty sure she's experienced at least 2 of the 3.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: rum, sodomy and the lash.

      "PH because I'm pretty sure she's experienced at least 2 of the 3."

      PH is teetotal? Who knew?

  6. Thomas 4
    IT Angle

    So what's the IT angle on his crime?

    ...I'll behave -.-

  7. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    gur ynj vf na nff

    in my opinion.

    Yes, encryption can also be used to conceal misdeeds: but I don't think they know what they're saying about this.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      I thought that was Welsh...

  8. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    You need crypto to log in

    Perhaps the court would like him to watch for people going for a coffee break without logging out, and using their session. Crypto is also used to unlock car doors remotely and play a DVDs from any region except 0. Was the judge high?

  9. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

    the missing word

    I guess the missing word here is "standalone". The judges probably didn't realize that encryption is built in pretty much anything these days, very often SEVERAL "layers" of it. For them it probably just meant "truecrypt and PGP", i.e. standalone encryption software.

    Still doesn't make much sense in my opinion. But the actual wording would prevent him from even logging in (Code Monkey: I'm pretty sure even Win98 uses SOME form of encryption to store login information).

  10. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge


    ... no mobe for him either, actually...

  11. Dave Bell

    Such a lot of ignorance

    It looks like we have a lot of judges and lawyers, who probably use computers, who don't know what goes on as part of ordinary, commonplace, lawful activities.

  12. Sooty

    GSM is encrypted

    Hope he doesn't want to use a mobile phone any time soon

  13. Anonymous Coward


    "in the commission of the crime"

    You mean commital.

  14. Iain Thomas



    Don't GSM phones use encryption? Might suspect that other mobiles in the states also use crypto. And most pay-TV/radio.

    Long list of stuff he'll have to avoid...


  15. Anonymous Coward

    pubishment doesn't fit the crime.

    What if he had hacked someone? Would they ban him from riding scooters?

    1. Velv Silver badge

      Should the punishment fit the crime ?

      Actually, YES.

      What is a custodial sentence? It is depriving a convicted person of a normal life as a punishment for their crime. The clue is in the word - punishment : "inflict a penalty on"

      The logical extension is that ANY comparative punishment is acceptable. Why shouldn't someone convicted of a crime be punished by taking something they enjoy out of their life for a period of time. I think you'll find most parents have done it : kid does wrong, no TV for a week.

      I can agree the practicalities in this instance are little quirky and unworkable, but the principle is sound. As long as the crime and punishment are in proportion they don't need to be related.

      A perfect example of why they should be different is driving - how often do you see someone banned for driving without a license being given a further ban. It clearly hasn't worked in the first instance, so what makes you think it will work the next time.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Velv, "taking something they enjoy"

        But they said that he's still allowed to use social networks, which from the sound of it is probably the only thing this guy used his computer for anyway.

        "He can now use a computer and is permitted to use social networking and instant messaging"

        He is banned from knowingly using: "encryption, hacking, cracking, scanning, keystroke monitoring, security testing, steganography, Trojan or virus software"

        Now bearing in mind that he was caught joyriding a stolen scooter while high on drugs, do you really think that hacking (or cracking for you grey beards) was high up on his list of hobbies? Possible but unlikely.

        This ban is almost like saying "you're banned from watching TV, unless you watch cartoons or pornography". Some punishment.

        And considering that computer hacking is a crime that can be incredibly difficult to detect, if this guy WAS in to that sort of thing, it would seem fairly unlikely that they could enforce such a ban anyway. And besides, isn't hacking already illegal? Why would they seek to ban him specifically.

        Nope, this whole story just smacks of incompetence.

    2. Steve 6

      The precedent has already been set

      IIRC, there was a case in the UK a few years ago, where someone did something like default on a CSA payment (I can't remember what exactly the crime was). His penalty was to lose his driving license - he was banned from driving, even though his offence had absolutely nothing to do with driving.

      I'm not saying that it is right; I'm merely stating that the scenario you describe has alread occurred.

  16. Anonymous John

    No encryption?

    Could be a useful defence if his IP address is linked to any illegal activities.

    "It must have have been someone using my unsecured WiFi router without my knowledge, Officer."

    "Don't you use encryption?"

    "I used to, but this judge ordered me to turn it off."

  17. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

    Reverse Psychology

    Perhaps the judge thought he was really screwing up his life and thought he could be encouraged into a more 'productive future' in IT knowing that being a rebellious teen he'd probably rebel against said court order.

  18. Darryl

    Why stop there?

    While he's at it, he should get him added to the no-fly list and ban him from owning pets too. Makes about as much sense

  19. RachelG

    hang on...

    it's even contradictory in its own terms: afaik you can't log into facebook without at least once submitting a login using HTTPS, which is encryption, so they're forbidding him from doing something they're explicitly allowing him to do...

  20. westlake

    In Re J.J.

    This is a 15 year old kid on parole who was caught riding a stolen off-road Honda, which he claims to have purchased for $200.

    No pink slip.

    No phone number or address for the seller. The bike hot-wired to start without a key.

    Felony territory.

    This is a kid who two weeks before was in court for his annual parole review - he had been previously convicted of shooting someone with a pellet gun.

    This a kid who has been doing drugs a lot.

    This is a 15 year kid who - after 21 days of in-patient, court-ordered, detox - appealed a broad ban on Internet use outside of supervised class work.

    This is a kid who will almost certainly be back in court not very far down the road - and quite probably charged as an adult.

    His only chance now is to break all his old criminal ties.

    For the appeal court's decision:

    1. Etrien Dautre

      ...Before They Do

      Don't you please worry, westlake. You still have two or three years to get to him first. So, go.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Too many people taking his to heart.


    Yes, if I call you a c+++ to your face and then slap you about the head with half a house brick, could I know "knowingly" that this was likely to offend you.


  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not just DVDs and mobile phones

    But TV too if it's digital or has HDMI connectors on it.

    Thinking about it, this is actually quite a clever ruling.

    No more TV or video games for you young man until you sort your life out!

  23. Etrien Dautre
    Thumb Down

    Little 15, You'll Scarcely Forget...

    A fifteen on drugs is no good.

    A judge on drugs is much worse. In what else state (of consciousness (-: ) could he prohibit the usage of a computer?

  24. Winkypop Silver badge

    Poor kid

    The judge said he could use FaceBook.

    Does the inhumanity of man know no bounds?

  25. Frank Bitterlich
    Thumb Down

    Right on, ban him from using a computer...

    ... the judge, that is. Really, it frightens me that people so clueless are judging others.

  26. Al fazed

    The more I read

    about the legal system and legislation in America makes me wonder if our own ruling mob are just as thick, er, ignorant, er, stupid, er gullible, er corrupt, er sorry, stuck for fucking words !


  27. Anonymous Coward

    America... of the free huh?

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