iPod Called A Criminal Tool. If I Use A Telephone In A Crime Is It A 'Criminal Tool' Too?

from the just-wondering dept

It's amazing how common sense seems to disappear when someone has been caught doing something wrong -- and not always by the accused criminal, but often by the accusers as well. Take, for example, the latest story coming out of Ohio, as pointed out by Engadget. There, a high school student has been charge with a felony for hacking into school files and downloading sensitive info to his iPod. Here's where it gets strange. One of the charges is possession of a "criminal tool," by which they apparently mean the iPod. If you look at it that way, anything used in a crime could be considered a criminal tool. A telephone. A car. Clothing. This just seems to be an attempt to pile on against someone who clearly did something wrong. However, why not focus on the actual problem -- the hacking into school computers -- rather than some trumped up charges claiming an iPod is a criminal tool?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    dorpus, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 9:45pm

    Mens rea

    Any object is potentially a criminal tool, but what matters is the intent with which it was used.

    But then, what kind of editorials do we expect from people with no training in the law?

     

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  2.  
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    Riley, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 10:21pm

    Malicious hardware? Or software?

    Did he 'upload' any files from his iPod prior to hacking? He could have merely used his iPod as a flash drive for carrying hacking software, right? And, even in that case, the 'criminal tool' would have meant the malicious software used, not the hardware, or iPod.

     

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  3.  
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    Matt, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 10:27pm

    What they really need to look at

    So the kid did something wrong...Yes, I think he should receive some sort of punishment but, a felony? Thats way to much...do they really want to ruin his life? Its ridiculous!

    They should look beyond the kid. They need to fire who ever was in charge of security and look at how to prevent futures attempts to compromise the schools network. As far as I'm concerned if there was no (or even a decent) attempt to try and protect sensitive data, then you're just as much to blame as the kid.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 10:34pm

    Re: Mens rea

    Yup.

    If you are a prosecutor you hit them with every bullshit charge so that you can then offer something in a plea bargin instead of wasting your time in court. This is why drug busts often end up with tax evasion as a charge since they were breaking those rules as well. It would be poor work on the states part not to do this.

    I like your tech posts but your a bit out of your depth on this one.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2007 @ 11:42pm

    Makes perfect sense to me. The ipod itself doesnt matter. It is the way in which it was used. A baseball bat is a kids toy for playing games. But if I beat someone with it and kill them, well, it aint a bat. Its a 'deadly weapon' and I get charged with 'Assault with a deadly weapon' But hey, its just a bat.

     

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  6.  
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    heather, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 12:01am

    first off, this is the same deal as drug paraphanelia. A car can also be considered a deadly weapon if you try to use it to kill someone. But all that aside, common sense does get thrown out the window when someone is accused of doing something wrong. I was once raked through the coals by a security guard for walking on grass at a new office building I worked at (for a whole week, maybe). There were no signs, no office wide memos, no notices posted anywhere. I told her where to stick it. Then, I was raked through the coals again (I had been 'accidentally' left out of the loop) for the whole incident AND for walking on the grass. Supposedly it is (according to the supervisor) "common sense" to not walk on grass. Absurd.

     

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  7.  
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    Az, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 1:59am

    Woot~
    Shoes are a criminal tool because they are used by criminals while committing the crime, a crime its unlikely they would commit without shoes on! =O

     

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  8.  
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    Hx, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 3:25am

    His iPod had batteries and wires inside, looks like a bomb to me, better blow it up and arrest him for a possessing a hoax bomb....

     

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  9.  
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    Etx, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 4:02am

    Reminds me of some legaslative pondering to make virus writers tools illegal, back in the late 90s (though I don't doubt it does the rounds every couple of months). The thought of assemblers and c compilers being made illegal still makes me giggle.
    Regarding the 'technique' of burying the accused under as many charges as possible to try and stop the case going to court; as with so many aspects of the us legal system ( though increasingly ours in the uk too), I am deeply bothered that such behaviour is considered reasonable. As here, the media picks up on the scariest and most unrealistic charges, and it all feeds back into the Fear Of Doing Anything our governments, media and law systems foster. ho hum. back to another day under surveillance camera.

     

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  10.  
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    SYSGODADMIN, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 5:20am

    Ummm. Criminal Tools.

    Air is the tool of a true criminal.

     

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  11.  
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    Dosquatch, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 5:25am

    Re: What they really need to look at

    They should look beyond the kid. They need to fire who ever was in charge of security [...]

    Oh, come off it. Have you ever worked for a school? In fact, have you ever worked in an office environment anywhere?

    The security model is only as good as its weakest link. If the weakest link is a teacher with his/her password on a post-it on the monitor, it kinda doesn't matter what sort of whiz-bang security you have in place, does it?

    I'm not saying this is what happened, I'm not there so I can't know, but I'm willing to put a hundred bucks on this being closer to the truth than that the kid is some sort of L337 Hax0r.

     

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  12.  
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    Wolfger, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 5:29am

    Re: Re: Mens rea

    "It would be poor work on the states part not to do this."

    I disagree strongly. Tossing around BS charges is poor work. Failure to do so is not. "Wasting your time" is not what court is about, it's about reaching a verdict. Hopefully an accurate one. Adding charges that make no sense are what wastes the court's time. The attitude that "we'll just pile on the bogus charges and see what he'll agree to in a plea bargin" is one of the reasons people don't care when lawyers die (and, in fact, sometimes cheer). We need to scrap our "legal system" and strive for a "justice system".

     

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  13.  
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    Realist, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 6:20am

    Re: What they really need to look at

    Oh come off it. That's like blaming somebody whose house gets broken into for not having a moat around it. Or blaming somebody who's shot and killed for not wearing body armor. Yes they should have top notch security but the kid did something he KNEW was wrong.

    Talk about no personal responsibility.

     

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  14.  
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    Ryan, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 6:21am

    in 3..2..

    cue the media article about ipods being the latest threat to your corporate network. You never know what software employees or visitors could be carrying on there.

     

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  15.  
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    beaman, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 6:38am

    holy crap

    If this kid has any kind of lawyer at all, they'll get this dismissed. A "criminal tool" has to be an device which enables the crime to take place.

    Examples: break into a house with a crowbar at night while carrying a flashlight. The crowbar is a criminal tool at that point, but the flashlight isn't (neither are your shoes, pants, or the bag you carrry stuff out in).

    If the kid had used some sort of software that was on his ipod that broke through a security feature, then MAYBE that would qualify as a criminal tool. But all he did was use it as a receptacle for his loot (just like the bag in the break-in example).

     

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  16.  
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    Matthew Dismuke, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 6:56am

    Re: What they really need to look at

    Your whole statement is ridiculous, Just because something is available doesn't mean its yours to take. This is another case of someone not taking responsibility for their actions and trying to blame someone else for their lack of character. If the crime is worthy of a felony than so be it..

     

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  17.  
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    Sanguine Dream, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 7:18am

    Re: Re: Mens rea

    That is the exact same tactic that the RIAA uses against the computer illiterate, the elderly, and children.

     

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  18.  
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    Overcast, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 7:20am

    Wouldn't the school's computer and the school itself be considered a 'criminal tool' as well?

    What about the teachers who taught him how to use a computer!

    So if I kill a person with a law book, it's a criminal tool - and that wouldn't be too hard, considering how overly big they are getting...

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 7:44am

    Sheesh, anything can be used as a weapon. Just ask the airlines who now check everybody for shoe bombs and liquid explosives. Remember, guns don't kill people, people kill people by using guns. A gun is simply a tool, which has good, valid applications (granted, less than some people would like you to believe). It just happens to be a very dangerous tool. An iPod should in no way be construed as a criminal tool because it is not designed to be a dangerous weapon of any sort, or a specialized tool designed for something like breaking through a door. Furthermore, the iPod itself wasn't the "tool" that did the hacking. It simply stored the hacked information. The criminal tool, if anything, was that kid's brain, or maybe his fingers.

    Throw the book at him, fine. He deserves it. But don't throw out common sense while you're throwing stuff. You'll set some very bad examples by doing so.

     

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  20.  
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    bl4k0p2, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 8:11am

    Re: Re: What they really need to look at

    Actually thats not to far from the truth. True, if a irresponsible teacher left their login info out where it could be found, that could cause problems. However, if the proper security measures are in place, then teachers access would be restricted to ONLY what a teacher would need. Any critical or "sensitive" material should be restricted access.

    Of course if its a manager or high level person that left their info out its LESS the fault of the admin. But ultimately if your system is cracked its partially your fault regardless. Thats something i learned AFTER being in the field.

     

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  21.  
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    Xiera, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 8:35am

    Hacking into my high school's computers wasn't particularly difficult... the difference being that we didn't abuse it, opting to help the admins fix it instead.

     

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  22.  
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    The Original Just Me, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 8:59am

    Gloves

    I seem to recall something a couple of years ago here in the US that if a criminal wore gloves during the crime they were also charged with hiding evidence or hindering prosecution or some damn thing. Added an extra few years to the time to be served. Crazy.

     

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  23.  
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    kneeL, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 9:55am

    Re: Mens rea

    "Mens rea by dorpus on Feb 15th, 2007 @ 9:45pm

    Any object is potentially a criminal tool, but what matters is the intent with which it was used.

    But then, what kind of editorials do we expect from people with no training in the law?"

    Obviously dorpus is not trained in law or even common sense. Maybe trained in trolling thats about it

     

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  24.  
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    TheDock22, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 10:06am

    I don't know...

    Anything Apple develops seems criminal enough to me...

     

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  25.  
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    Sanguine Dream, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 2:40pm

    So...

    1.phones
    2.cameras (voyeourism)
    3.computers
    4.credit cards (if the locks on the doors are that weak)
    5.wire coat hangers (if the locks on the car doors are weak)
    6.trech coats (flashers)

    These are all criminal tools?

     

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  26.  
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    Conate, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 4:46pm

    Re: What they really need to look at

    Hey if he can hack he should get a credit. Thats what I think. Thats not something easy to do and most teachers certainly don't know how. Atleast my teacher can't.

     

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  27.  
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    Matt, Feb 16th, 2007 @ 10:16pm

    Re: Re: What they really need to look at

    Yes, there is a level of personal responsibility that the kid needed to take and obviously didn't. However, would you leave your car keys out on top of your car? No, you wouldn't. If someone stole your car its likely police could track it down but, if you were dealing with a good thief there is a possibility that you could not get it back.

    So, all I'm saying is don't make it so easy...what if you didn't catch the kid?

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2007 @ 8:39pm

    This makes as much sense as outlawing chairs, because if someone throws a chair at someone, it may kill them.. And after all in this society, the chair is ultimately to blame.

    When will Personal Responsibility ever come back as a staple of our upbringing? The US will be a society of weenies in the next 5 years. I totally believe India, China, Japan will eclipse all of us.

     

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  29.  
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    William Johnson, Feb 18th, 2007 @ 8:42pm

    Agreed!

    I agree with the last statement. The US will loose it's superpower status if they keep dilluting the value of ideas and especially effort. We've become too complacent.

     

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  30.  
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    a person, Mar 19th, 2007 @ 5:09am

    don't know don't care

    booo ipods rule and whoever doesn't agree then there is something wrong with them isn't there

     

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  31.  
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    dakota, Aug 31st, 2009 @ 11:28am

    haha

    Thats retarded and strange and if theyy have a promblem screw it

     

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