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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Comments on “Why Is P2P Software The Focus In Latest Identity Theft Arrest?”

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don says:


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.

Mike C. says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Oliver Wendell Jones (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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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