Your Mind: Legal Status, Rights and Securing Yourself

Presented at DEF CON 17 (2009), Aug. 2, 2009, 1 p.m. (50 minutes)

As a participant in the information economy, you no longer exclusively own material originating from your organic brain; you leave a digital trail with your portable device's transmitted communications and when your image is captured by surveillance cameras. Likewise, if you Tweet or blog, you have outsourced a large portion of your memory and some of your active cognition to inorganic systems. U.S. and International laws relating to protection of intellectual property and criminal search and seizure procedures puts into question protections of these ephemeral communications and memoranda stored on your personal computing devices, in cloud computing networks, on off-shore "subpoena proof" server/jurisdiction-hopping platforms, or on social networking sites. Although once considered to be futuristic technologies, as we move our ideas and memories onto external devices or are subjected to public surveillance with technology (Future Attribute Screening Technology) that assesses pre-crime thoughts by remotely measuring biometric data such as heart rate, body temperature, pheromone responses, and respiration, where do our personal privacy rights to our thoughts end and, instead, become public expressions with lesser legal protections? Similarly, at what state does data in-transit or stored in implantable medical devices continuously connected to the Internet become searchable? In a society in which there is little differentiation remaining between self/computer, thoughts/stored memoranda, and international boundaries, a technology lawyer/computer science professor and a security professional will recommend propositions to protect your data and yourself.


  • Tiffany Rad - President of ELCnetworks, LLC. and Adjunct Professor at University of Southern Maine's Computer Science Department
    Tiffany Rad Tiffany Strauchs Rad, MA, MBA, JD, is the president of ELCnetworks, LLC., a technology and business development consulting firm with offices in Portland, Maine and Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her consulting projects have included business and tech analysis for startups and security consulting for U.S. government agencies. She is also a part-time Adjunct Professor in the computer science department at the University of Southern Maine teaching computer law and ethics, information security, and is working to establish a computer crimes clinic at Maine School of Law. Her academic background includes study of international law and policy at Carnegie Mellon University, Oxford University, and Tsinghua University (Beijing, China). Tiffany is also the organizer of HackME, a hacker space in Portland, Maine, and contributor to OpenOtto, an open source/free software car computer hacking project.
  • James Arlen / Myrcurial - Security Researcher   as James "Myrcurial" Arlen
    James "Myrcurial" Arlen, CISA, is a security consultant most recently engaged as the CISO of a mid-market publicly traded financial institution. He has been involved with implementing a practical level of information security in Fortune 500, TSE 100, and major public-sector corporations for more than a decade. James has a recurring column on Liquidmatrix Security Digest. His areas of interest include organizational change, social engineering, blinky lights and shiny things.