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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Behind the Splash Screen: Meet John Penn II

A few years ago, John Penn II was invited to attend the Internet Crimes Against Children Conference and share his knowledge as a Photoshop Engineer. The experience changed his life. Now he is a Senior Solutions Architect helping law enforcement agencies around the world use Photoshop to combat the exploitation of children. Watch his interview by clicking here.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Eleventh Circuit Rules Defendant Cannot Be Compelled to Divulge Encryption Passphrase

From Forensic Focus: "... the Eleventh Circuit has held that a defendant’s “decryption and production of the hard drives’ contents would trigger Fifth Amendment protection because it would be testimonial, and that such protection would extend to the Government’s use of the drives’ contents.”

"... Assuming the Government has a right to inspect all portions of the hard-drives, based on probable cause to believe they were an instrumentality of a crime, then it is appropriate to begin the Fifth Amendment analysis. Under the Fifth Amendment, “[n]o person … shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” The courts have consistently interpreted this provision as “protect[ing] a person . . . against being incriminated by his own compelled testimonial communications.” Fisher v. United States, 425 U.S. 391, 409 (1976). Thus, to be afforded the protection, the statement must be: (1) compelled, (2) testimonial in nature, and (3) serve to incriminate the declarant in a criminal proceeding. If these elements are met, the declarant has the right “not to answer questions put to him in any proceeding, civil or criminal, formal or informal, where the answers might incriminate him in future criminal proceedings.” Lefkowitz v. Turley, 414 U.S. 70, 77 (1973) ..."

"... In this case, there was no dispute that defendant had care, custody, and control of the computers and hard-drives. As the sole owner, no one else could have created the encrypted volumes, and the Eleventh Circuit’s opinion does not indicate that defendant claimed someone else had created those volumes. Therefore, it is not clear to me why defendant’s mere knowledge of the passphrase is an admission of guilt, any more than it would be to surrender the a key hanging about his neck, or to surrender the combination code to a safe in a home, that was properly within the scope of a valid search warrant (as these hard-drives were). Knowledge of the passphrase is not an element of the crime, but rather possession of child pornography. (Conversely, a murderer’s knowledge of the secret location of his victim’s grave would be incriminating, because only the murderer would know that location). Therefore, although the court intoned, “the Government appears to concede, as it should, that the decryption and production are compelled and incriminatory,” I don’t agree that the act of decryption and production, by itself, is incriminatory (even though the fruits of that production could contain evidence that is incriminating).

That leaves the question of whether the passphrase is testimonial. The Court noted, “an act of production can be testimonial when that act conveys some explicit or implicit statement of fact that certain materials exist, are in the subpoenaed individual’s possession or control.” Yet, as noted above, it is uncontroverted that defendant had exclusive care, custody, and control of the encrypted volumes, and knows the passphrase, regardless of whether those volumes contain contraband. Citing United States v. Hubbell, 530 U.S. 27 (2000) and Fisher v. United States, supra, the court relied upon the so-called “foregone conclusion” doctrine, which posits that an act of production is not testimonial—even if the act conveys a fact regarding the existence or location, possession, or authenticity of the subpoenaed materials—if the Government can show with “reasonable particularity” that, at the time it sought to compel the act of production, it already knew of the materials, thereby making any testimonial aspect a “foregone conclusion.” I contend that exception is here met, because it is not in dispute that the contraband was traced back to three separate IP addresses in different hotel rooms rented by defendant, and that there was no other plausible repository for those files to exist but his computer equipment, and this satisfies the “reasonable particularity” requirement."

It's an interesting case in that passwords are present in DVRs as well. Could some crime witnessed by a defendant's DVR be found hiding behind a password?

Click here to read the whole article.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

41 mega pixel camera phone?

Nokia recently made a shocking announcement - they're marketing a 41MP camera phone, the Nokia 808 PureView.

"The Nokia PureView Pro imaging technology is the combination of a large, super high resolution 41Mpix with high performance Carl Zeiss optics. The large sensor enables pixel oversampling, which will be explained in detail in this paper but in a nutshell it means the combination of many pixels into one perfect pixel. PureView imaging technology is the result of many years of research and development and the tangible fruits of this work are amazing image quality, lossless zoom, and superior low light performance."

It's a Europe-only release. But, who knows ... Check out the technology here.


Monday, February 20, 2012

FSS Closure: Forensics on trial

From the UK's Justice Gap blog: "... The Law Society also expressed concern about the maintenance of quality standards and accreditation. Of particular concern was ‘the risk that unqualified and unaccredited police laboratory staff’ would screen materials before sending on fior expert analysis. Such laboratory staff are not required to comply with accreditation standards (namely ISO 17025) and are not covered by the Forensic Science Regulator. ‘Given the need for police forces to reduce expenditure, we are concerned that there is likely to be a reduction in the number of investigations where forensic science is used. That would cause a contraction in the forensic science market leading to reduced areas of expertise. It would also increase the likelihood of miscarriages of justice and the failure of the justice system to provide justice to victims.’ ‘We are going back to practice in the 1970s when I ended up paying out of my own pocket for forensic scientists to do work for me because we could not get work done under a legal aid certificate.’ Alasdair Logan, the defence lawyer who acted in the Guildford 4 and Maguire 7 cases and who sits on the Law Society’s human rights committee.

The CCRC, in evidence prepared for the House of Commons’ science and technology committee, argued that it its closure would ‘undoubtedly lead to miscarriages of justice not being corrected’.

Under the Criminal Appeal Act 1995, section 17 the CCRC has sweeping powers to obtain material held by public bodies and that includes files, materials and samples held by the FSS. Since 2005 it has requested that the FSS preserve or make available material on at least 150 occasions. It has no such power to recover such material from private providers. Shockingly the Commission wasn’t even consulted on its closure. The CCRC has agreed with a clause in the framework agreement which governs the contracts for the provision of private forensic services which, according to case review manager group leader Matt Humphrey, ‘replicates the section 17 powers’. ‘Obviously a contractual right is second best to a statutory power,’ he commented. He said that the CCRC was ‘actively discussing’ the possibility of statutory powers with the MoJ ..."

Click here to read the whole article.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Reduction Human Error in Forensic Analysis

A recent report from NIST on Latent Print Analysis sheds some light on potential human errors in all forensic disciplines.

Here's some of the report's suggestions:

  • Urging management at forensic service provider facilities to foster a culture in which it is understood that some human error is inevitable and that openness about errors leads to improvements in practice;
  • Documenting latent print examinations at a detail level that would permit another examiner to assess the accuracy and validity of the work; 
  • Requiring agencies that employ latent print examiners to establish requirements and guidelines for reporting, documentation, and testimony that are reviewed for each examiner at least annually; and
  • Intensely preparing print examiners and other forensic experts to give credible and accurate testimony in trials, stressing skills such as using lay language, creating visuals that can easily be understood, and thinking clearly under cross-examination. 
The working group also identified a number of future steps that should be taken to advance the error reduction effort, including: prerequisite educational and skill standards for examiner training; continuing education, mentoring, and accreditation/certification programs; research to integrate automated systems into the early stages of print analysis; and a comprehensive testing program for ensuring examiner competency and proficiency.

Friday, February 17, 2012

An open and shut case

From the UK Guardian: "...The fear is that the ongoing marketisation of forensics will inevitably lead to loss of quality. Alastair Logan predicts a proliferation of what he calls 'toy labs' where work done quickly, cheaply and without quality checks (such as ISO 17025) as police respond to their own pressures to cut costs. "One has only to recall the handling of exhibits in the Stephen Lawrence case to know how poor training and understanding affect the detection of crime," Logan reflects.

Nigel Hodge is a forensic scientist and former reporting officer at the FSS's Chepstow lab. He believes that scrapping the FSS will undermine the development of a sector previously bolstered by the public service ethos of the FSS. "While individual forensic scientists may be primarily concerned with issues relating to justice, the companies that employ them are driven by commercial motives: maximisation of profit, increasing market share, brand identity etc," he reckons.

Then there is what Hodges calls "the whole business of trade secrets" where a forensic services provider develops a new technology this puts him at a competitive advantage. "There is a danger of a 'black box' situation developing where information is put into a system by forensic scientists, and 'evidence' pops out of the other end but where no one really knows what goes on in between." Forensic science shouldn't be like "a secret recipe for fried chicken", he adds. Quite ..."

It's a good thing that here in the US, we have Daubert and Frye - in other words, we scientists have to prove that our methods aren't novel and are reliable and repeatable.

Click here to read the whole story.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

FSS Report from the House of Commons

Here's an interesting read, the UK House of Commons report on the closure of the Forensic Science Service: "...Final conclusions

239. There are many factors to take into consideration when determining what has caused the dire financial position of the FSS. We consider the most significant factor to be the shrinking forensics market, driven by increasing police in-sourcing of forensic science and a forensic procurement framework that drove down prices and did not adequately recognise the value of complex forensic services.

240. The stabilisation of the external forensics market is now of crucial importance. For this to be achieved, the Government must do two things. First, further police in-sourcing of forensic science must be curbed. Second, the National Forensic Framework Agreement, and any successor framework, must be revised to reflect that some forensic science services cannot be commoditised easily into products and ensure that the true costs of forensic services are reimbursed to providers. Without stability through regulation, a properly competitive market cannot be realised. A shrinking market provides no incentive for further investment or growth from any forensic science provider. The success of forensic science providers and their willingness to invest further in forensic science will be threatened if action is not taken to stabilise the market.

241. The process whereby the Government reached a decision on the future of the FSS was taken on legal and commercial bases. If legal and commercial grounds were the only relevant considerations, the Government's decision to close the FSS would be reasonable. However, it is clear that such a decision should not be taken on purely legal and commercial grounds.

242. The Government did not consider enough evidence in its decision-making. The impacts on research and development, on the capacity of private providers to absorb the FSS's market share, on the future of the archives and on the wider impacts to the criminal justice system appear to have been hastily overlooked in favour of the financial bottom line. Examining the possible impacts of a decision after the decision has been made contradicts the concept of evidence informing policy.

243. Proper consideration should now be given to what resources might be irretrievably lost to the UK with the closure of the FSS, including the FSS's archives and the intellectual wealth residing within its scientists. We have seen no detailed plan outlining the transition and the future of the FSS's staff, archives, work and assets.

244. While there would be merits in retaining the FSS as a completely public agency of the Home Office that focuses on R&D, training of forensic scientists, establishing quality standards and maintaining archives, we are not convinced that the separation of forensic science research and provision would necessarily be the ideal solution, because research efforts should feed into and improve service provision. In response to this report we ask for the views of the Government and Transition Board on this matter.

245. The transition deadline of March 2012 is extremely challenging and we are not confident that an orderly transition can be achieved by this date. The Government should extend this deadline by at least six months. Extending the transition deadline would enable the Government to consult on, and determine, what its wider strategy for forensic science should be. The FSS should be supported during this period. The FSS transition should be carefully monitored to ensure that it does not further contribute to market instability or lead to a diminution of service to the criminal justice system. Continuing to support the FSS during this period may add additional costs to the public purse, but we consider that it should be seen as a price worth paying ..."

Click here to read the whole report.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Stressing Demeanor Credibility: Continued Impacts of Melendez-Diaz for Forensic Scientists

From Ronald K. Bullis, Ph.D., J.D., via ForensicMag: "Forensic scientists begin their testimony even before they speak their first words. Even before they take the oath or recite their qualifications, the jury is assessing their credibility by their demeanor. Simply put, demeanor evidence is the body’s compass, pointing in the direction of credibility. It includes gestures, intonations, posture, mannerisms, eye movements, inflections, and expressions. Judges and juries listen and look very closely to demeanor evidence to assess the credibility of forensic testimony. Research has repeatedly shown that demeanor evidence significantly determines court decisions.1 Recently the U.S. Supreme Court has reinforced the importance of demeanor evidence in the 2009 case of Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts.

That decision required forensic scientists to personally testify to their research and conclusions. The Melendez-Diaz Court based its decision on the 6th Amendment’s Confrontation Clause and stressed the essential practice of jurors to see and to hear people testify, not just examine affidavits. Forensic Magazine has tracked the progress and discussed the significance of the Melendez-Diaz case for forensic scientists.3 Before Melendez-Diaz, it was common practice for forensic scientists to submit their results by affidavits. This will no longer be the standard practice. Forensic science testimony now requires as much attention to the manner in which they testify as to their scientific research. It is no longer enough to be good scientists, forensic experts need to be effective communicators.

Because it is unlikely they will have had testimony training or education in their formal schooling, forensic scientists will need to get additional training, particularly in communication and persuasion skills, human relations, and relaxation techniques. ..."

Continue reading this article by clicking here.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Omnivore in the news

Here's a link to an article in the latest edition of Evidence Magazine about processing the video from the Vancouver hockey riots. The real star of that show was Ocean Systems' Omnivore. It really made things easy.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Facebook is Primary Source for Compromising Information

From the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML): "If your status is separated or going through a divorce, you might want to stay off Facebook. An overwhelming 81% of the nation’s top divorce attorneys say they have seen an increase in the number of cases using social networking evidence during the past five years, according to a recent survey of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML). Facebook holds the distinction of being the unrivaled leader for online divorce evidence with 66% citing it as the primary source.

“Going through a divorce always results in heightened levels of personal scrutiny. If you publicly post any contradictions to previously made statements and promises, an estranged spouse will certainly be one of the first people to notice and make use of that evidence,” said Marlene Eskind Moses, president of the AAML. “As everyone continues to share more and more aspects of their lives on social networking sites, they leave themselves open to much greater examinations of both their public and private lives in these sensitive situations.”

Overall, 81% of AAML members cited an increase in the use of evidence from social networking websites during the past five years, while just 19% said there was no change. Facebook is the primary source of this type of evidence according to 66% of the AAML respondents, while MySpace follows with 15%, Twitter at 5%, and other choices listed by 14%. "

If you'd like to know more about the image authentication tools and techniques that I use for Facebook images, or if you're interested in smart phones as evidence, feel free to drop me a line.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Video Evidence frees Philadelphia man

From the Phily Daily News: "Riddled with bullets, Timothy "Banger" Ross lay faceup in the doorway of his North Philly home as his family watched the color drain from his face and a pool of blood ooze onto the floor beneath him.

Moments earlier on Oct. 7, 2009, a hail of gunfire had flown through the doorway. One shot came so close to striking Ross' 14-year-old sister in the head that it ripped off one of her braids.

Ross' frantic family knew exactly who did it: Amin Speakes, then 21, who had fought with Ross two hours before the shooting. The cops soon scooped up their man.

What the family and police didn't know at the time, though, is that Speakes had what some would call a rock-solid alibi - two time-stamped videos that placed him miles away from the shooting.

The District Attorney's Office viewed the video and decided to put Speakes on trial anyway.

Denied bail, Speakes turned 22, then 23, while awaiting trial behind bars, often playing chess alone.

Finally, after two years and three months, a jury last month found Speakes not guilty of first-degree murder. Instead of spending the rest of his life in prison, he was finally a free man.

"Here I am facing charges, and I didn't have no clue about what happened," Speakes, 23, said during a recent interview in his attorney's office. "That 'not guilty' verdict made me what I am. If I didn't hear that verdict, I wouldn't be here."

Speakes' case is disturbing not just because he sat in jail for so long for a crime he was cleared of, but also because it begs the question: If the jury got it right, how did the police and District Attorney's Office get it wrong?

"There was just a lot of burying their heads in the sand and not wanting to open their eyes to what really happened here," defense attorney David Nenner said. "This has been a rare experience in my career, where there is video evidence that exonerates somebody. It's not something I typically see."

Click here to continue reading the story.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Open the flood gates?

This from forensic mag: "... Our scientific understandings have improved in recent years, and the effect of that has to be to say, 'We've got some innocent people who've been declared guilty based on misunderstandings,'" said John Hall, director of analysis and research for the National Fire Protection Association.

For example, decades ago, it was common for investigators to conclude an accelerant like gasoline was used if a fire burned particularly hot. In fact, the new arson science has found no such correlation, experts say. Another mistaken assumption: A V-shaped pattern on a wall of a burned building is proof of arson. All it shows is where a fire started.

One of the biggest arson cases to come under attack is that of Cameron Todd Willingham, convicted in a 1991 fire in Texas that killed his three daughters. He was executed in 2004. But some experts since then have testified that the blaze was probably accidental ..."

This story begs the obvious question, as science changes / evolves, do we necessarily re-examine our work in prior cases? Who makes that call? It's an interesting article.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Source Monitor and Program Monitor overview

Hey Jim. I can't get Premiere Pro to show my videos smoothly. What gives?

Check out this link and find out how to set up the Source and Program monitors.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Workflow and overview for exporting from Premiere Pro

You can export video from a sequence in the form best suited for further editing or for a viewing audience. Premiere Pro supports export in formats for various uses and target devices.

Click here to explore all of the options.