The walls are closing in.

Every couple of days - usually on the weekends - I force myself to go on a media fast. If I can get away with it, I don't watch television, I don't look at my RSS feed reader, and I don't let myself get wrapped up in the newswires. These days it's about the only thing that lets me get a good night's sleep on the weekends and makes my blood pressure managable. I'm pretty much a desk jockey these days so that's about the only exercise I get, but that's beside the point.

Many years ago, during the early time of …

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US Legal System puts the kibosh on warrantless seizure of laptops at the border.

For a couple of years now the US Department of Homeland Security has reserved the right to confiscate the laptop computers of US citizens for forensic analysis upon re-entry to the country after traveling abroad. It didn't matter if you were on one of their watchlists (and who isn't these days?), it didn't matter if you'd mouthed off to a security guard, it didn't matter whether or not they had probable cause, they could do it and possibly never return it to you depending on when the got around to going through it and how they felt that morning. It's …

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No jail time for Peter Watts.

It seems that squidgate has drawn to a close - as of 1204 hours yesterday Peter Watts will not be getting any jail time. As confirmed on the St. Clair County Court Docket (search on case 09-003320-FH and click on 'Events') his jail term was suspended upon payment of court costs and fines ($68us state minimum; $60 crime victim costs; $1000us court costs, and a $500us fine) for violation of Michigan state law 750.81d (in essence, distracting a duly appointed law enforcement officer carrying out his or her duties, but it's a bit more involved than that). He'll have to …

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Peter Watts to be sentenced tomorrow.

I've been silently waiting for word to appear on the Net about the sentencing of Dr. Peter Watts, which is schedule for tomorrow in Port Huron. To recap the highlights of squidgate, Dr. Watts was found guilty of obstructing law enforcement officers carrying out their legally appointed duties by asking them what was going on.

You really can't say anything more than that, though lots of people have already. Cutting to the chase, Dr. Watts is probably on his way back across the border into Michigan as I write this to appear in court tomorrow. The prosecution was pushing for …

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Peter Watts: Aftermath

It seems that Squidgate has finally drawn to a close and now all that remains is to pack the pieces back into their respective slots, fold up the game board, and find out what sentence will be given to Dr. Watts. As has been repeated time and again around the Net (with varying signal/noise ratios), he was convicted of obstructing US border guards. Not attacking or making any threatening movements toward them, as the agents originally claimed. Obstructing them. The jury eventually decided in favor of the prosecution because, by the letter of the law (good luck finding it …

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Peter Watts goes to trial.

For those of you following the saga of Peter Watts, his trial began on Tuesday, 16 March 2010. I've been not posting about it to try to keep the signal-to-noise ratio as high as possible due to the rampant speculation, guesses couched as fact, and outright asshattery surrounding the case. What I will say is that Have Satellite Truck, Will Travel is covering the Watts trial directly - someone's not only on site but watching from the audience in the courtroom and posting updates as they come. It would appear that the trial itself actually took place on the sixteenth and …

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Just keep telling yourself: apply Hanlon's Razor first.

The saga of Dr. Peter Watts continues. He's crossed the US border a couple of times for hearings since his arrest in December of 2009, ostensibly for attacking a US border guard while trying to return to Canada. It's a given that he's going to go up on trial for real. However, it appears that he is now considered a fugitive from the law because he failed to show up in court on Friday, 5 March 2009. It is standard operating procedure that the defense and counsel are informed of their court dates in advance, but this time it seems …

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Legal battles over unwarranted search and seizure at the borders are spinning up.

For a couple of years now the Customs and Border Patrol of the United States has had the legal authority to confiscate the laptops of people entering the country to perform forensic analysis on an indefinite basis. If you don't give them your laptop (or you refuse to give them the passphrases to decrypt your data) they can and will send you back or incarcerate you, even if you're an American citizen. They also have standing orders to seize any and all data storage media you're transporting (including USB keys, cameras, cellular phones, MP3 players, and disks) for duplication and …

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Dr. Peter Watts was arrested and beaten at the US/Canadian border last Tuesday.

Note: additions are being made after the cut and edits are stricken.

If you're not familiar with the work of Dr. Peter Watts, you really should be. His degrees in marine ecophysiology aside, he is also a sci-fi author of some talent and is best known for releasing his novels under a Creative Commons license in addition to having them published through Tor, among them Starfish and the mind-bending transhumanist novel Blindsight, which will certainly make you reconsider what you think about how you think. His work is well known by the science fiction fandom for taking hard SF in …

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US Judicial system debates the legality of searching laptops at the border for no discernable reason.

For a while now I've been hearing about (and thus keeping an eye on) stories from people whose laptops are being confiscated at the border and examined, as sort of a gill net for anything shady (or that they don't understand). Usually you hear about it in the context of people getting busted for carrying child pornography but more often than not it's Joe or Jane User. The US government says that going through someone's data without a warrant is no different from going through someone's suitcase without a warrant; Idisagree, for reasons better elucidated by Judge Dean Pregerson of …

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