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?


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

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31 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Wolfger (profile) says:

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”.

kneeL says:

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

Matt says:

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.

Dosquatch says:

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.

bl4k0p2 says:

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.

Matt says:

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?

Realist says:

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.

Matthew Dismuke says:

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..

heather says:

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.

Etx says:

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.

beaman says:

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).

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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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