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From a hearing held in February to discuss the bail conditions of Sam Bankman-Fried, the former CEO of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX. Prosecutors had asked Judge Lewis Kaplan to place restrictions on Bankman-Fried’s communications.

judge lewis kaplan: I think I know what “encrypted” means. I read spy novels. But what exactly does the prosecution mean?

prosecutor: It’s my understanding that “encrypted” pertains to applications that it’s difficult for the government to monitor. Our proposal clarifies what specific programs the defendant should be permitted to use.

judge: I read last night that there have recently been discovered fifty-seven letters written by Mary Queen of Scots in the sixteenth century that were encrypted without the use of any app and before the invention of computers. We are being a little short-sighted in focusing only on apps.

prosecutor: I think here the concern really pertains to electronic communications.

judge: What does “ephemeral” mean in this context?

prosecutor: My understanding of applications like Snapchat is that they automatically disappear as they are sent.

judge: Don’t some of the applications you’re proposing permit auto-deletion?

prosecutor: I’m not aware of that feature. Your Honor, I may not understand the full scope of all of these different applications.

judge: What does the defense say to that?

defense attorney 1: With your permission, we would ask that my colleague be allowed to respond. He is meaningfully younger than me and understands this a lot better than I do.

judge: Isn’t iMessage by default ephemeral?

defense attorney 2: With iMessage, I confess it changes with the different operating systems. I don’t know the answer to that.

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May 2023

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