Why Is P2P Software The Focus In Latest Identity Theft Arrest?

from the that's-not-the-issue dept

The press has been buzzing about the fact that a Seattle man was arrested for identity theft earlier this week -- with most of the focus being on the fact that he used P2P file sharing software to find personal info about people which he then used in his identity theft scam to get credit cards under his victims' names, order products and then sell them online at half-price. Clearly, if he's found guilty of doing this, the guy was involved in a pretty massive fraud and deserves to go to jail. However, the P2P angle is an odd one, as one of the charges is "accessing a protected computer without authorization." The thing is, it wasn't without authorization. It was just that the individuals incorrectly configured their own file sharing software to expose private details. Just as some politicians want to blame P2P software for gov't employees misconfiguring it, it seems wrong to blame this guy for accessing documents that people stupidly made available. It sounds like the guy probably did plenty of other things that will get him locked up for a long time -- but unauthorized access isn't necessarily them.


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  1.  
    identicon
    IronChef, Sep 7th, 2007 @ 3:52pm

    Awesome!

    This guy probably couldn't get a job working a town over- in Redmond- because some guy who had a H1B Visa had his job.

    We need more inventive thinkers like this. Too bad he had to use his powers for evil!

     

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  2.  
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    don, Sep 7th, 2007 @ 5:06pm

    Darwinism

    Back in the day when I was into p2p, I found so many people sharing their entire c: drive I eventually shared a folder of other people's email(.dbx files). One day I was flattered to find another user with my handle in direct connect. He appended his name with the caption, 'I read your emails', heh. Oh, and to my neighbors who have file sharing enabled on their wide open wi-fi networks: Read that notepad doc I put on you desktop telling you to shut of file sharing. Ignorance is simply no defence, sorry.

     

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  3.  
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    Mike C., Sep 7th, 2007 @ 7:52pm

    RIAA lawsuits: distant implications

    This will actually be an interesting case to follow for the RIAA lawsuit victims. If this man is convicted of "accessing a protected computer without authorization", aren't MediaSentry and the RIAA investigators guilty of exactly the same thing?

    If they manage to get that portion of the complaint tossed, the flip side is that people will not be able to use that in counter-claims against the RIAA.

    This will probably be a good case to watch.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2007 @ 11:16pm

    If he's convicted of that, it would mean that the almighty great U.S. of A. would have gotten dumber than imaginable.

    That would mean that even of people are ignorant and can't properly configure their software, you still aren't allowed to access it. And well, since the gov is pretty much as dumb as that... well.. you figure it out heh.

     

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  5.  
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    dave, Sep 7th, 2007 @ 11:57pm

    Just negative PR

    This is just part of a campaign to badmouth P2P software. All P2P software. That makes it easier to make and pass laws to ban it.

     

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  6.  
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    Oliver Wendell Jones, Sep 8th, 2007 @ 8:20am

    Re:

    That would mean that even of people are ignorant and can't properly configure their software, you still aren't allowed to access it.

    No, that's like saying "if people can't remember to lock their door when they leave their home, then you should be allowed to enter their home and it not be illegal". Just because you can do something, doesn't mean it's right or legal.

     

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  7.  
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    Lar, Sep 8th, 2007 @ 3:16pm

    Re: Re:

    I agree it still doesn't make it right, but what if in your analogy the homeowner put a sign in the front yard stating "here is my open house - I am sharing what is in it." Wouldn't that blur that line a bit?

     

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  8.  
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    Jacob Buck, Sep 8th, 2007 @ 11:08pm

    Re: Re:

    Is it breaking and entering still, or just entering? ( I seriously want to know )

     

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  9.  
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    Terschinbrae, Sep 9th, 2007 @ 2:10am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Probably would fall under the "trespassing" category, if I had to chance a guess.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 9th, 2007 @ 2:27am

    well the funny thing is with p2p software, most people accept the default folder location and they store their personal information in that folder, such as credit cards, addresses, etc. It is not that hard to find out this information. So in my opinion, people should learn how to configure their software and not store the personal in those folders.

     

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  11.  
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    don, Sep 9th, 2007 @ 8:41am

    Another thing, these 'victims' certainly aren't blameless. One can be certain they are filling their ipods with pirated music, downloading pirated movies and games. Seems to me to be a fitting retribution for their insidous goals. Eye for an eye?

     

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  12.  
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    Jacob Buck, Sep 9th, 2007 @ 10:19am

    Re:

    One can not be certain. There are plenty of legally distributable files out on the p2p networks. "Innocent until proven guilty", remember?

     

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  13.  
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    CommonSense, Sep 9th, 2007 @ 2:50pm

    think about it

    If I invite you onto my property to purchase items at my yard sale, I had better not find you in my home, even if the doors are unlocked. This guy should have his head set in the town square on a pole as an example to all others who not only snoop into other people's lives but attempt to profit by it.

     

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  14.  
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    Evil me, Sep 10th, 2007 @ 6:15am

    RE: Why Is P2P Software The Focus In Latest Identi

    ... why else? It makes P2P software that much more of a "green goblin" for the media - which pushes the media's agenda.

     

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  15.  
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    SailorRipley, Sep 10th, 2007 @ 12:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    since the people shared folders containing those personal documents, my guess would be it's neither breaking and entering nor trespassing...it's just plain Fair Use

     

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