Secretly Snapping Naked Pics Of The Woman Who Ended Up With A Stolen Laptop Might Just Be Illegal

from the privacy-gets-tricky dept

We've had a few stories recently about tracking software used to find stolen laptops. Some of the stories are about how useful that kind of software can be, while other stories show how that kind of technology can be abused to potentially violate someone's privacy. The latter situation has resulted in a lawsuit against Absolute Software, which makes Lojack for computers.

Apparently a student at a school in Ohio had stolen a laptop, sold it to another student for $40, who then sold it to a regular substitute teacher at the school for $60. It was that teacher -- a widow -- who used the computer to rekindle an old romance. Somewhere along the line, the school district asked Absolute to track down its stolen laptop. Rather than just using tools to locate it, Absolute used the spying features that allowed it to see what was on the screen. And apparently that included some sex chatting:
According to court documents, in June 2008 Magnus began recording Clements-Jeffrey’s keystrokes and monitoring her web surfing. At one point, while snooping on Clements-Jeffrey’s webcam communications with her boyfriend, Magnus also captured three screenshots from her laptop monitor, which showed Clements-Jeffrey naked in the webcam images. In one picture, her legs were spread apart.

Magnus subsequently sent the pictures and recorded communications, along with Clements-Jeffrey’s name and contact information, to a police detective. When the police showed up at the plaintiff’s apartment to collect the laptop, they were brandishing the explicit images Magnus had sent them. They then arrested and charged her for receiving stolen property. The charges, however, were dismissed about a week later.
Yikes! Susan Clements-Jeffrey and her boyfriend are now suing Absolute for violating her privacy. The company claimed that there is no privacy issue because there's no privacy when it comes to stolen goods. But, of course, the response is that she had no idea it was stolen, and certainly had no expectation that any such software was on the computer. The judge in the case has refused Absolute's motion for summary judgment, meaning that the case will now move to a full trial (assuming no settlement).

It certainly is a tricky question. If the laptop really did belong to the school district, do they have the right to use software like that? Perhaps, but there are certainly privacy questions here as well, combined with the fact that there were other, significantly less intrusive methods that probably would have revealed who had the computer. But, at the very least, this should be a warning sign for anyone considering stripping naked in front of a used computer...


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  1.  
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    The eejit (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 8:44am

    "If the laptop really did belong to the school district, do they have the right to use software like that?"

    If it wasn't the school district that did that, you bet your ass it would be hacking, and the backlash would be on the teacher anyway, because, "Teachers are prim and proper and must NEVER be seen to indulge in dirty, dirty sex!!!"

     

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    blaktron (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 8:45am

    She bought a 60 dollar functional laptop and thought it was legit? Really? And she teaches people stuff? What does she teach, the extreme social pressures of the growing population of Princes in Nigeria?

     

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    E. Zachary Knight (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 8:56am

    This my friends is why you should always reformat computers you get from other people. Always always wipe the hard drive and start fresh.

     

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    Frost (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 8:57am

    Doesn't have to be used

    That nasty spyware is actually embedded in the BIOS on a ton of machines, including a ton of HP's.

    They claim it can't be activated except by paying for it but security researchers already activated it completely without any intervention from LoJack / Computrace - which makes it a superlative (if somewhat limited in spread) spy. You can format your computer and that thing will infect it again like a disease.

    Frankly, benign stated purpose or no, it kind of sucks that HP pre-infects people's machines with that nasty crap, I don't like knowing at least one of my machines comes with a ticking time bomb planted in its "head".

     

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    WysiWyg (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 8:58am

    I don't see the problem. Of course it's okay to TRACK the computer, even maybe do a little spying to figure out where it is (snap a picture of the users face). And OF COURSE it's NEVER okay, under any circumstances, to snap naked pictures of someone without their consent like that.

    What puzzles me is that the police took the photos and didn't seem to wonder why the company had them?

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 9:01am

    Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    Because this:

    When the police showed up at the plaintiff’s apartment to collect the laptop, they were brandishing the explicit images Magnus had sent them.

    was clearly an attempt to intimidate and threaten this woman. This is absolutely no need for the arresting officers to have anything other than the (a) who is to be arrested (b) where they are and (c) what they're to be charged with.

    And let's back up one more step: why were these images turned over to the PD in the first place? What, EXACTLY, was the reasoning for that? And why -- having received them -- didn't the detective who did so file charges against Magnus for having using wiretapping to collect them?

    Hypothetical: what would have happened if -- instead of a teacher buying this laptop and using it as described -- the purchaser had been a student? An underage student, to be more precise.

    Absolute Software fully deserves to be hammered for this, and hopefully shut down. It's one thing to make and market software that helps locate stolen laptops; it's another to be peddling spyware that enables invading the privacy of innocent third parties.

     

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    SD (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 9:03am

    What about IPs?

    If I don't think my laptop is stolen, I don't think anyone other than the sites I visit and the routers in between can intercept my IP address.

     

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  8.  
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    blaktron (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 9:07am

    Re: Doesn't have to be used

    I just looked into this, this is crazy... I'm wondering if Bitlocker would prevent this from being written to the drive, or other full disk encryption options. Also, I'm fairly sure you could prevent this from working with a local policy.


    http://www.absolute.com/en/company/bios-compatibility.aspx

    Thats the list of laptops that have this baked into the EFI/BIOS. Never had a better reason to buy desktops or Mac laptops (which makes me sick to suggest, but they're the only major without this).

     

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  9.  
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    Jay (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 9:08am

    Re:

    The question is, do the police have streaming video.

    If so, there were a lot of man hours spent "reseaching" this case...

     

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  10.  
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    freak (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 9:09am

    Re: Doesn't have to be used

    Really? Wow, that's bullshit.

    I assume that if I install a different OS, the spyware isn't be able to adapt, right? It's just made for windows 7 and works on nothing else?

    So, this will help drive the 2nd market to *nix?

     

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  11.  
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    nasch (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 9:11am

    Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    None of that answers the question of why she thought she could get a laptop for 60 bucks...

     

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    Pitabred (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 9:15am

    Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    I don't know if Absolute Software needs to take the fall, but the police definitely do. I don't think that the accessing of the pictures should be illegal. There needs to be a way to tie a specific person to the use of the computer, because we all know from various Bittorrent lawsuits and such that an IP address isn't identification by itself.

    If Absolute Software had blacked out the nudity, they may have been accused of tampering with evidence in the defense. So they sent the evidence unmodified to the police. Sounds perfectly reasonable, and it should still preserve her privacy as much as is warranted. The police could have kept the original on file and printed out an edited one. Or Absolute could have done the same, but it's not really their job to do so. It IS the job of the police to do that, though. Where things got out of hand was the officers having the printout and saying the shit they did while arresting her. Abusing their position as law-enforcement personnel to further their moral agenda well outside of the law.

     

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  13.  
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    cjstg (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 9:18am

    haven't they learned

    it wasn't too long ago that a school district got in big trouble for spying on people using this same technology. while this incident is completely different, how long before someone realizes that all of this district's computers have the ability to spying on their users? from there all hell will break loose.

     

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  14.  
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    Pitabred (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 9:19am

    Re: Re:

    I thought she was a 53 year old schoolteacher? I can't say I'd spend any more than the minimum number of man-seconds required with that...

     

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    WysiWyg (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 9:22am

    Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    You seem to assume that she never used the web-cam with clothes on.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 9:27am

    Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    That question isn't relevant and doesn't need answering: it has NOTHING to do with the illegal invasion of this woman's privacy by Absolute Software and the police.

    But to address it anyway, since several people seem fixated on it: everyone who spends any time at all around students knows that they buy and sell things at absurdly high and absurdly low prices all day, every day. It's normal. (We could argue that it's not very bright, and maybe it isn't...but it's normal anyway.)

    I've watched a student try to sell a 9-year-old computer for $500...and another buy a relatively good Fender Strat in pristine condition for $90. That's how it works. So could we dispense with the ignorant suggestion that this woman should have somehow magically known that this computer was stolen?

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 9:27am

    Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    Great, but that's not really responsive to the "I didn't know it was stolen" issue.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 9:27am

    Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    I don't see how the price is relevant to the issue of knowledge. I've personally given away functional laptops for nothing, should the person I gave them too have 'known' they were stolen based solely on the price tag?

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 9:28am

    Re: Re: Doesn't have to be used

    You're correct on the first, incorrect on the second.

    The program works with windows, (rpcnet.exe is the associated windows service) and doesn't have a foothold with *nix.

    But this won't drive the 2nd market to *nix, simply because people don't know about it, don't care about it, or would have used a *nix anyway. So no net gain.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 9:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    "That question isn't relevant and doesn't need answering: it has NOTHING to do with the illegal invasion of this woman's privacy by Absolute Software and the police."

    It's sure as hell relevant to the "receiving stolen property" charge. And it might be relevant if the argument that there's no privacy expectation in stolen property is legitimate.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 9:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    The question he's asking isn't relevant, it doesn't matter why she thought the laptop was legit. But the question he is crudely trying to rhetorically answer by asking this question is relevant. If she knew the property was stolen then there is no expectation of privacy. He's just trying to show 'knowledge' from price tag alone which is obviously absurd because the price she paid isn't relevant in and of itself.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 9:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    It may not be conclusive, but it's certainly relevant.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 9:31am

    Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    Seriously. Why these photos? Why not other photos? Was she literally naked every time she was in view of the camera?

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 9:31am

    Re:

    Would that work in this case? Are these anti-theft services really that easy to defeat? Seems like a waste of money to me if they are.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 9:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    Ok, I don't see how the price conclusively shows knowledge then.

     

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  26.  
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    blaktron (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 9:35am

    Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    Oh, not that it has anything to do with her privacy invasion, which is very real, but that people should be smart enough to realize that when a deal is too good to be true, check it out. There are other ways to ensure spyware gets installed even through a format reinstall than baking it into the BIOS and someone actually trying to sell their laptop for a reasonable price probably wouldnt do. Im going to pick one of these things up and enable it and see how I can stop it from getting into windows without a BIOS mod.

     

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  27.  
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    Robert Doyle (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 9:35am

    I guess things are different in the US... In Canada you need to have the police request the trace (at least, that was how it was when I dealing with lojack stuff years ago).

    The only other way it can work per my understanding is if they have user-activated trace software. Video hijacking is a new one for me.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 9:36am

    Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    Neither is the price of the laptop.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 9:38am

    Re:

    You can't remove Absolute be reformatting the computer. Many of our laptops have it integrated into the Bios so it can't be removed by normal means.

     

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  30.  
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    Stuart, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 9:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    So if I have my laptop stolen I lose all rights to control it once someone without a brain cell count over three comes into possession of it?
    I am not saying what happened was right.
    The cops showing up with the pics was overboard.
    The company sending naked pics to the cops for no reason was stupid.
    Deciding if the owner of a stolen laptop that has software installed that allows control over such laptop still has the legal right to control the laptop is something that should never be in doubt.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 9:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    No, that question is not relevant at all to the "receiving stolen property" charge. The relevant question is 'Did she know it was stolen,' not 'why didn't she know it was stolen.' It doesn't mater why she didn't know, only that she did or didn't know.

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 9:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    You could have taken nude photos of her with any number of things you own, even things that were never stolen, and there would still be a privacy issue. Owning the property doesn't make everything you do with it legal.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 9:43am

    Re: Re:

    "Integrated into the bios"

    So flash a new bios? Am I getting warmer?

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 9:45am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    The price she paid is relevant, as does the simple fact that the serial number was "scraped off". Without anything else, those are two indications that the unit was likely stolen.

    That the student in question was in a "special needs school" to start with, with a criminal record, etc does not help the teachers case either.

    Further, just like our discussions last week about Facebook friending. It would appear to be a case where the teacher entered into a personal relationship with a student (9th grade... making him about 14 or 15 at the time). It is something that contributed to this issue.

    For that matter, let's consider the dreaded Streisand Effect here. Did anyone here know she was naked on a webcam before this suit? I think much of the violation of privacy happened when she launched the lawsuit and announced to the world that she was making virtual woopie online.

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 9:47am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    Evidence tending to suggest that she knew or should have known is relevant. A ridiculously low price charged by a high school kid for a laptop is evidence tending to show she should have known or at least suspected it was stolen. It may not be conclusive, but it is relevant.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 9:47am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    Lol at the notion that the price paid for goods is not at all relevant to knowledge of their legitimacy.

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 9:49am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    no no no, you see it's POSSIBLE that the young chap simply was giving her a good price out of the goodness of his heart and the serial number was scraped off in an unfortunately bike accident.

    Therefore those things are not at all relevant, right?

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 9:49am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    It doesn't.

    Luckily, you don't need conclusive irrefutable proof for...well...anything really.

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 9:51am

    Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    Sure it is. I've explained this above. I'm not sure what kind of concept of "relevance" you have, but it is way out of the mainstream (or legal) definition of that term.

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 9:55am

    Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    Why isn't the PD being sued as well?


    Read the decision!
    Plaintiffs Susan Clements-Jeffrey and Carlton Smith filed suit against The City of Springfield, Springfield police officers Geoffrey Ashworth and Noel Lopez (collectively "the Springfield Defendants"), Absolute Software, Inc. ("Absolute"), and Absolute's theft recovery officer, Kyle Magnus (collectively "the Absolute Defendants").


    The plaintiffs sued everyone (except the owner of the laptop, hmmm..). The decision, at this stage, deals with, among other things, whether the police defendants have "qualified immunity".

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 9:58am

    Re: Re: Doesn't have to be used

    From what I can gather Computrace can send Absolute the network cards' IP addresses if the drive is encrypted but nothing else.

    Intel AMT on the other hand can transcend drive encryption. It's installed software-side via device drivers. It's blockable if someone knows what it does or if they turn Windows's automatic driver installation feature off. Intel AMT also has a BIOS-level mode like Computrace.

    These features have to be set up beforehand to work. They can be disabled in the BIOS. For the truly paranoid maybe someone can hack the BIOS to break or strip out Computrace/AMT.

    There should be alternate BIOSs available though by the manufacturer though. Imagine this tech being (ab)used in hospitals, government offices and nuke plants.

    Remote wipe is nice but screen viewing and keystroke logging is a security hole IMO...

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 9:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    It is possible, but we aren't talking absolute proof. We are talking "what would any sane person think?". Clearly buying a laptop for 10% of market price, with the serial number missing is, umm, at least a little questionable. Buying it from a kid who is attending what appears to be a reform school for juvenile offenders is just another nail in the coffin.

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 10:01am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    Yeah, I was being sarcastic.

     

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    bjupton, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 10:09am

    Re: Re: Doesn't have to be used

    yikes.

    yet again, something gross.

    I hate everything. :/

     

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  45.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 10:21am

    Re: Re: Re:

    That can be very tricky and nearly impossible on some laptops. Also any upgraded bios from the manufacturer, dell, HP, etc, will already have the software integrated.

     

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  46.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 10:25am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Given that a BIOS flash can put it on, that seems to be the case.

    From: http://absolute.com/en/company/bios-compatibility.aspx
    NOTE: For older computers or computers not listed below, a BIOS Flash may be available from the PC manufacturer where you purchased your computer.

     

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    Berenerd (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 10:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    It maybe relevant, however the pictures were not needed to do the arrest and to get the laptop back. They may be needed in a trial but NOT for the arrest. There was no need for the company to give the pictures out nor for the cops to take them with them for the arrest. Honestly, that is where I see the breach in privacy.

     

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  48.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 10:27am

    Re: Re:

    If so, there were a lot of man hours spent "reseaching" this case...

    And roughly 1 out of every 10 woman hours.

     

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  49.  
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    Steve, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 10:29am

    Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    That's what I was thinking - There's no way the argument of "I had no idea it was stolen" can hold up when they bought the laptop for $60. At that price, a reasonable person would assume that it's stolen, and that's usually the standard of proof for a case like this, AFAIK..

     

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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 10:37am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    Are we sure this was a $600 laptop? There are perfectly fine $100 laptops out there that can easily be used for webcams. $60 is completely reasonable for an older laptop that's only good for web surfing.

    Do we even know the stats for the laptop? Was it a 3GHz Core 2 Duo that would probably have cost $1000+ at the time, or was it a used 1GHz Celeron that $60 would be way too much for?

     

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    blaktron (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 10:47am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    We know its recent enough to have this crap baked into the BIOS, so within the last few years.

     

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  52.  
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    McCrea (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 10:48am

    Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    $60 is reasonable, and beyond the scope of the article.

     

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  53.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 10:53am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    Not necessarily. The software is built into the Compaq TC4200. Those are fairly old; I'm finding reviews from 2005.

     

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  54.  
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    PRMan, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 11:07am

    Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    It identifies the party that is in possession of the stolen goods. The guy only took 3 pictures. That was enough to see that she was using the laptop like it was her own.

     

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  55.  
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    AdamR (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 11:18am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    Why is the price relevant? Over the last several years you can get a net book for 299.00 or a regular laptop for 349.00 brand new.So whats the resale price on a item that can be a year or more old and the person desperate to just get rid of it?

     

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  56.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 11:21am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    In June, 2008.

    Please back your prices up three years. $60 for a laptop 3 years ago would have been a thrill (reasonable model HPs at the time were in the $600-$800 range).

     

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  57.  
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    AdamR (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 11:24am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    So if you buy something for 1,000.00 and no longer use or need it you sale it for the price you bought for?

     

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    FormerAC (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 11:27am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    A quick search of Dell's website shows a number of Dell laptops starting under $300

    A quick search of Best Buy's website shows 5 laptops for less than $250.

    A quick search on Ebay shows hundreds and hundreds of laptops available for under $100.




    "the student told her his aunt and uncle had given him the laptop, but that he no longer needed it after getting a new one"

    A reasonable story. Is the teacher gullible? Probably, but price alone does not indicate the laptop is stolen. Or are these facts too much for ya?

     

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  59.  
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    AdamR (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 11:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    Really over three ago i bought two Toshiba satellites A135 for 349.99 from best buy on black Friday. So again price has nothing to do with it.

     

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  60.  
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    AdamR (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 11:35am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    "The price she paid is relevant, as does the simple fact that the serial number was "scraped off"

    That extremely lame, I seen laptops the have their windows keys and laptop worn off all time not very model or manufacture places a clear coat on those stickers to protect them. How times i have people lay their units and wet surfaces.

     

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  61.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 11:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    lol

    The fact that it is *possible* that the laptop purchase would go down the way it did (very low price, serial number scraped off) and still be legitimate does not mean those facts are irrelevant.

     

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  62.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 11:40am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    Sometimes.

    Regardless, price is relevant evidence to whether she knew or should have known it was stolen, even if it's not irrefutable evidence.

     

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  63.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 11:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    relevant =/= conclusive proof

    Do you understand this concept?

     

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  64.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 11:45am

    Re: Re: Doesn't have to be used

    Based on the amount of spying that the government is doing on its citizens lately, I'd hazard a guess that they'd know if someone bought one of those laptops, and would act accordingly.
    I guess it's only a matter of time before a whistleblower gets betrayed by his own laptop...

     

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  65.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 11:48am

    Re: Doesn't have to be used

    Guess it's a good thing that HP is out of the business of making computers now then, eh???

     

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  66.  
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    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 11:52am

    Re: Re: Doesn't have to be used

    My laptop is on the list. Yay! One of you young ladies steal this and start standing around naked in front of it.

    Because, you know, it's so hard to find porn on the Internet.

     

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  67.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 11:53am

    The person who stole the laptop should be liable for the damages. It's negligent to sell a laptop without knowing what you're selling and without knowing what's on the laptop. It was his responsibility to ensure that he sold the laptop without the software and to check and make sure that any such software is removed. It's not the owners responsibility to make sure that he gets his laptop stolen without this software. Plus the person who stole the laptop should get in trouble for stealing the laptop to begin with.

     

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  68.  
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    FormerAC (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 11:55am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    Yes.

    The price is not relevant. Is simply the value placed upon the transaction. Some used laptops get sold for $50. Some used laptops get sold for $1000. Either is equally likely to be stolen.

     

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  69.  
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    AdamR (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 12:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    So if she paid 200, 300, 400 dollars then what? Well officer it has to be legit? Price is only relevant to what you feel you can pay.

     

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  70.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 12:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    I've had someone give me an old laptop, with windows 98 (or something around there) on it, for free. He would have otherwise thrown it away. I ended up giving it to someone else. It didn't even support wifi and it didn't have a DVD rom (it did have a CD rom). I was lucky it had a color screen, it was that old.

    Context is important. Was there anything wrong with the laptop?

    It's $60 means nothing, people throw old laptops and desktops, in working condition, away all the time. I've known people who have/had laptops that they will practically give away. I've known people who have collected thrown away laptops and desktops and monitors, in working condition, from the street and they have a garage full of them.

     

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  71.  
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    aikiwolfie (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 12:07pm

    Wet wipes!

    With every used laptop or PC you buy always remember to invest in some wet wipes.

     

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  72.  
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    nasch (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 12:16pm

    Re:

    It was his responsibility to ensure that he sold the laptop without the software and to check and make sure that any such software is removed.

    Why? What software is on this list of things that it's the sellers responsibility to remove? What software is OK to leave on there? Who maintains this list, and how are people selling computers supposed to know about it?

     

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  73.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 12:24pm

    Re:

    A $60 price tag on a used laptop wouldn't necessarily raise a red flag to me, depending on the laptop. I recent purchased a very nice refurbished laptop from Frye's for $250. As good as new, even packaged in the original box. Laptops are cheap to begin with and don't hold their value.

     

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  74.  
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    Clay (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 12:35pm

    Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    The laptop was sold as "inoperable" according to the case file. How much would you pay for a 3-4 year old laptop that may or may not work? If you said anything more than $20, I've got a few laptops I'd like to sell you.

     

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  75.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 12:38pm

    But the question no one is asking is where are the pictures?

     

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  76.  
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    Digger, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 12:43pm

    Certainly illegal

    Case in point - another school, using this kind of software recorded images of naked underage children.

    Where were the pedophile, minor exploitation and kiddie porn charges for all involved?

    Nowhere! They all (including the software manufacturer) deserve to be imprisoned and labeled as sex offenders for life.

     

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  77.  
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    NullOp, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 12:48pm

    $60

    The entertainment value of this story is worth more than 60 bucks!

    Beware the cheapo laptop! And always, ALWAYS know what is on the drive!

     

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  78.  
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    Pixelation, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 12:49pm

    Evidence

    I think we all need to see the evidence in this case.

     

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  79.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 12:58pm

    Re: Re:

    "Who maintains this list, and how are people selling computers supposed to know about it?"

    The seller, and the seller should know what he's selling.

    If I sold you a car with a tracking device and hidden cameras on it without telling you, I should be responsible, no?

    Unless the person who sold me it didn't tell me, then the person who sold me it should be the one in trouble.

    but if I stole the car, it should be my responsibility.

     

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  80.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 12:59pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    (well, the buyer could sue me, and I could sue the person who sold it to me. but in this situation, where the laptop was stolen, the seller should be responsible).

     

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  81.  
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    Richard (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 1:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    Deciding if the owner of a stolen laptop that has software installed that allows control over such laptop still has the legal right to control the laptop is something that should never be in doubt.

    Having the right to control doen't mean you can do anything you like with it.

    Your right of control only goes as far as those steps that are reasonably necessary to recover your property. Anything beyond that is illegal. Intercepting those images is not a legitimate use of your right of control.

     

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    CommonSense (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 1:34pm

    Re:

    I got my laptop for free, 3 years used, because the person who gave it to me had a new one and no longer had a need for it. Not everyone is so greedy that they would need to sell something used, that they don't have a need for anymore, for the highest possible price, and this teacher could have thought the seller was a genuinely nice person. I know, it's hard for some to believe that those still exist, but they do, and I for one hope they don't go away because clowns like you think they should question every thing a person does which appears to be out of kindness. Have you ever heard of FreeCycle?

     

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  83.  
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    nasch (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 1:35pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    The seller, and the seller should know what he's selling.

    You misunderstand my question. I mean that you seem to believe that certain types of software are illegal to sell (or maybe only illegal if preinstalled, or only if I don't mention it, I'm not really sure). Where is this list of software that I'm not allowed to sell to someone? And what statute makes it illegal to sell them?

    If I sold you a car with a tracking device and hidden cameras on it without telling you, I should be responsible, no?

    Responsible for what? You sold me something, that's it. It's my job to know what you're selling me, not yours. Are you "responsible" if you don't mention that you installed aftermarket suspension pieces? Isn't that my responsibility to find out? Why would hidden cameras be different? I agree that you *ought* to tell me about them as a matter of decency and honesty, but you seem to think you would be *required* to tell me.

    If you use the tracking device or cameras illegally after selling me the car, that's another matter, but what law have you violated by selling it to me?

    Unless the person who sold me it didn't tell me, then the person who sold me it should be the one in trouble.

    Again, in trouble for what? What law has been broken?

     

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  84.  
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    btrussell (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 1:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    "Context is important. Was there anything wrong with the laptop?"

    You mean besides the fact that the serial number was scratched off?

     

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  85.  
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    btrussell (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 2:06pm

    Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    I agree with pain in the ass bred.

     

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  86.  
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    btrussell (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 2:10pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    For $60/yr. Lojack service, just how many different times, lengths of time, are they supposed to monitor for?

    Are they supposed to wait a week and see how many times it changes hands? A month?

    This is where this very easily transported device is NOW.

     

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  87.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 2:16pm

    If this was a decent laptop for only 60 bucks then I would be okay with them taking nude pics. It's a laptop for 60 bucks

     

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  88.  
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    btrussell (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 2:17pm

    Re: Re:

    It isn't just $60.

    It is $60 with serial number scratched off.

    First two things I am going to look for buying any PC/laptop is the MS license sticker, so I can wipe and re-activate, and the serial # so I can possibly locate it in case it is stolen from me.

     

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  89.  
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    btrussell (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 2:19pm

    Re: Re:

    I use freecycle all the time.

    Do you ever record serial #'s for insurance reasons or maybe just to locate item after it has been stolen?

     

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  90.  
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    BeeAitch (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 2:49pm

    Re: Doesn't have to be used

    Yay! My laptop isn't on the list (and I run *nix anyway)!

     

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  91.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 3:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    "So if she paid 200, 300, 400 dollars then what? "

    Then those are also relevant facts to take into consideration in determining whether she knew or should have known whether the laptop was stolen, as would be the market price for such a used laptop.

    "has to be" has nothing to do with it. "Tends to show one what or another" is what most people use in determining whether X fact is relevant to Y argument/conclusion.

     

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  92.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 3:31pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    Do you accept that stolen goods, in general, are sold a prices lower than legitimate goods?

     

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  93.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 3:43pm

    For all those arguing that the price paid for goods is not relevant to whether the purchaser knows or should know the goods are stolen, you might find this interesting:

    http://www.neymanlaw.com/lawyer-attorney-1716398.html

    "The defendant knew that the goods were stolen. This is a subjective test. Therefore, even if a reasonable person would have reason to think that the goods were stolen, that is inadequate. The subjective test for knowledge will usually be satisfied through circumstantial evidence such as an excessively low purchase price."

     

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  94.  
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    Graeme (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 8:01pm

    I put stickers or tape over my notebooks' cameras

    It creeped me out when my 2006 VAIO had a screensaver which displayed a picture of what it could see via the camera.

    Ever since, my notebooks have had stickers or tape over their cameras. A malicious intruder might capture images from the camera and use them.

    I read 1984 in the previous decade and saw the movie later when it came out. Video cameras pointed at me give me the willies, especially when I don't know who'll be seeing the images.

    Maybe I'll go get a copy of a Eurythmics album with 'Sexcrime' on it. I remember that a whole bunch of people objected to that song in the mistaken belief that it glorified crimes against women.

     

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  95.  
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    ThatAVGuy (profile), Sep 2nd, 2011 @ 4:31am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    Working for a tech company, I ended up with a lot of old laptops which I gave away to friends/family.

    I don't find the price being $60 being at all relevant unless we know more about the laptop. Not enough information to make an informed judgement

    However I agree with Berenerd, The invasion of privacy wasn't needed to make the arrest - I hope Absolute Software gets slammed for this.

     

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  96.  
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    CommonSense (profile), Sep 2nd, 2011 @ 8:13am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    If it can be refuted, then an argument can be made both ways, and it pretty much becomes irrelevant, doesn't it?? I mean, if it doesn't show anything one way or the other, how could it possibly be relevant to the argument??

    And you actually do need conclusive, irrefutable proof to be proven guilty of a crime....beyond a reasonable doubt and all that.

     

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  97.  
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    CommonSense (profile), Sep 2nd, 2011 @ 8:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    Not at all, because that is blatantly false.

     

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  98.  
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    m60freeman, Sep 2nd, 2011 @ 8:20am

    Spread leg photo was needed for PD identification?

    There was no need to send a photo of anything other than the face of the person in possession of the laptop. Sending the full photos of her naked with her legs spread had no legitimate legal purpose and should not have been stored or sent to the police.

     

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    CommonSense (profile), Sep 2nd, 2011 @ 8:22am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "Do you ever record serial #'s for insurance reasons or maybe just to locate item after it has been stolen?"

    Nope. I save the original documentation of expensive things I buy new, but I've never once even LOOKED for the serial number on anything I've bought used, especially something I've bought for as little as $60.

    You mention above that you also look for the MS license key, and that is also something that I never look for. I would prefer if it didn't even have one, so that once I got it home and put my clean Linux installation on it, it would have no signs of having ever been tainted by that inferior OS.

    Different strokes for different folks big guy. You can't expect everyone in the world to think about doing something because you're so OCD that it's the first thing you would even think to do. Not all minds work like yours, and I thank whatever higher power there is for that.

     

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  100.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2011 @ 11:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    "If it can be refuted, then an argument can be made both ways, and it pretty much becomes irrelevant, doesn't it?? "

    No. I find it odd that so many people seem to conflate "relevant" with "conclusive" or "irrefutable" in this thread.

    Someone's height is relevant to their likelihood of being a good basketball player, even if some tall people are terrible basketball players and some short people are fantastic basketball players.

     

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  101.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2011 @ 4:16pm

    Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    If this were some guy wanking off you idiots wouldn't be whining about his "privacy" - you'd be congratulating the PD for taking "decisive action"

    I love sexist morons.

     

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  102.  
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    nasch (profile), Sep 2nd, 2011 @ 10:33pm

    Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    If this were some guy wanking off you idiots wouldn't be whining about his "privacy" - you'd be congratulating the PD for taking "decisive action"

    Decisive action against masturbation? I think you have the wrong website in mind, I have never seen any kind of anti-masturbation sentiment at Techdirt.

     

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  103.  
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    WysiWyg (profile), Sep 3rd, 2011 @ 12:03am

    Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    Dude, don't go mixing up yourself with everyone else.

     

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  104.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2011 @ 2:58am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    1 piece of the puzzle, shows not the picture.

     

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  105.  
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    btrussell (profile), Sep 3rd, 2011 @ 3:01am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    Above comment is mine.

     

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  106.  
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    btrussell (profile), Sep 3rd, 2011 @ 4:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    In my Country, you can be charged for possession of stolen goods. So I think it is foolish not to be CYA.

    Nor do I like to support thieves. If you want to promote theft, keep buying stolen goods.
    Smaller the market, smaller the desire to supply. Common sense.


    I generally get PCs for other people who can't afford them.

    So I clean them and install MS. For some, I can set-up Dual boot or just Linux, but most think they require MS and I am not arguing with them. I am trying to do them a favour, not stress them out. If I was keeping it for myself, I might scratch of the MS sticker myself. MS allows me to file taxes online and that is it. I only need one machine to do that.

    I, too, am glad not everyone thinks like me. The world would be a very boring place.

    We wouldn't have doctors like you providing free diagnoses on the net based off of some comments either.

     

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  107.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2011 @ 6:09am

    Heh-heh. Too late to put that genie back in the bottle. Now to see if I can find the pix online...

     

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  108.  
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    btrussell (profile), Sep 4th, 2011 @ 3:26am

    Re: Re: Re:

    http://www.dailytech.com/Substitute+Teacher+Sues+Theft+Recovery+Firm+For+Spying+on+Naked+Sex+Chats/a rticle22622.htm

    "The judge ruled that the case could proceed as Ms. Clements-Jeffrey did not have reason to believe the computer was stolen as she was unaware of her student's criminal history and did not realize obscured serial numbers were a possible sign of theft."
    Works at a reform school and is almost 50 yrs old? What a sheltered life she must have led.

    "The judge ruled that she had reasonable cause to believe the $60 offer was reasonable, given that the machine was 2 years old and non-working when she obtained it."
    So if I buy a new PC with no OS on it, I can expect it to be super cheap as it isn't "working?"

    "He heard his teacher was shopping for laptops and offered her the non-working laptop for $60 USD."
    I thought he didn't need it as he was given a new one?


    "Clements-Jeffrey, who was a long-term substitute teacher at Kiefer, says the student told her his aunt and uncle had given him the laptop, but that he no longer needed it after getting a new one."

     

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  109.  
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    CommonSense (profile), Sep 6th, 2011 @ 9:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    The height is relevant unless it falls in the range where it can go either way. If you're 6 feet tall, there are enough 6 foot people who are good, and enough who are bad, to make that particular number irrelevant. So yes, height might be relevant, but there is a certain height range that renders the factor irrelevant for certain equations. That's all I'm getting at. Price is relevant, but the fact that the price tag was $60 makes it inconclusive, and therefore in this particular instance, irrelevant.

     

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  110.  
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    CommonSense (profile), Sep 6th, 2011 @ 9:46am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "The judge ruled that she had reasonable cause to believe the $60 offer was reasonable, given that the machine was 2 years old and non-working when she obtained it."

    So if I buy a new PC with no OS on it, I can expect it to be super cheap as it isn't "working?"

    You're a clown. There's a very clear, and very large difference between the two. If you buy new, you're buying from the supplier, and you're expecting all of the hardware to be fully operational. Used doesn't just mean that it's been turned on, it means that it's been out of factory care and there's really no telling what could have been done with it. 'non-working' when she got it could have meant that there was a bad hard drive or memory stick, or maybe the touchpad had stopped working....much more than just a missing OS. And tell me, how much would you spend for a laptop that didn't have a working touchpad??

     

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  111.  
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    nasch (profile), Sep 6th, 2011 @ 9:58am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    Perhaps you missed it when it was mentioned before, but a piece of information can be relevant without being conclusive. For example, if a suspect in a criminal investigation has no verifiable alibi, that is definitely a relevant piece of information, though by no means conclusive.

     

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  112.  
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    CommonSense (profile), Sep 6th, 2011 @ 12:34pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    I didn't miss anything, you're not understanding my point. There's "inconclusive, but relevant" and then there's "So inconclusive that it's not even relevant."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  113.  
    icon
    btrussell (profile), Sep 6th, 2011 @ 2:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You're a goof.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  114.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Sep 6th, 2011 @ 4:30pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    There's "inconclusive, but relevant" and then there's "So inconclusive that it's not even relevant."

    Which is different from your earlier position of "the fact that the price tag was $60 makes it inconclusive, and therefore in this particular instance, irrelevant."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  115.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2011 @ 5:47am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    And how exactly should she have gotten said conclusive proof that the laptop was not stolen?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  116.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Sep 7th, 2011 @ 7:22am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    Nobody has mentioned anything about conclusive proof of the laptop not being stolen, so your use of "said" was incorrect, and your question is a strawman.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  117.  
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    CommonSense (profile), Sep 7th, 2011 @ 8:02am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why isn't the PD being sued as well?

    No, it's exactly the same. This time, you should finally be able to understand... a $60 price tag for a non-working laptop puts the price in the range of 'so inconclusive that it's not even relevant', which makes it, in that particular instance, irrelevant.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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