Use A Command Line At Boston College… Have Your Computer Equipment Confiscated

from the that-doesn't-seem-right dept

A bunch of folks have submitted various versions of a story in Boston, involving Boston College police being granted a warrant which they used to confiscate the computers of a student as part of an investigation over an email sent to a mailing list. The troubling part is that the warrant was given without any real reason. In fact, part of the warrant application focused on the scary fact that the student in question used a command line on his computer:

Mr. Calixte uses two different operating systems to hide his illegal activities. One is the regular B.C. operating system and the other is a black screen with white font which he uses prompt commands on.

There are other accusations in the filing, but reading through it, it seems clear that this is a pure fishing expedition by the police, rather than any real probable cause. Luckily, the EFF is now representing the student, pointing out how this appears to be a pretty significant violation of the student’s rights.

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Comments on “Use A Command Line At Boston College… Have Your Computer Equipment Confiscated”

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Michael B (profile) says:


Just what is the B.C. operating system? Windows 3.1, 95, 98, 98SE, ME, NT, 2000, XP, Vista, Mac OS X or OS 9, Linux,l FreeBSD, or does B.C. have its own OS that it developed? Also, given that, 8nder later versions of Windows, the command prompt is part of the OS, not a separate OS, it looks like whoever put this together is a technical moron.

Or maybe the student really boots into MSDOS!

Anonymous Coward says:

Are you retarded?

+1. The title of this post is totally misleading and just plain wrong. The command line sentence was kind of stupid, but largely immaterial when compared to the other evidence that seems to clearly indicate that Ricardo did the things he’s accused of doing. Now, whether those things (creating a fake profile on a gay dating site) should be illegal is another question altogether.

Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos says:

Re: Are you retarded?

You honestly have any doubt that creating a fake profile on a dating site, for the purpose of harassing an individual, and then sending a broadcast email promoting that profile, is and should be a crime?

Sure, it’s a funny prank, but so is pulling out the chair from underneath somebody as they are sitting down, causing them to fall and break their tailbone and damage serveral vertebra, resulting in crippling back pain for the rest of their life.

Jon Thompson says:

HSO maybe right & Aym Crysler sounds bias

Aym should stop blaming Techdirt for showing that the warrant was poorly written. You might have a case Aym, but it sounds like your personally involved or your just not citing your resources. If you look at this from a legal perspective the man is innocent until proven guilty, and a good lawyer is going to make sure that this paper work was properly written and justified before the evidence was collected or else it is not admissible in a court of law.

Adm Chrysler (user link) says:

Re: HSO maybe right & Aym Crysler sounds bias

My source, the application for warrant. I am bias that they didn’t get a search warrant based on him using a command prompt. They got a warrant because his computer logged onto the site in question.

Sending a false e-mail like he did is harassment and libelous defamation. Which is a crime.

Jason says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Allegedly

Except that in order to get a warrant corroborating facts are required.

The warrant never says when or where or how any of the alleged crimes were to have been committed. There is nothing linking any two pieces of evidence together to corroborate. There’s only one implicatory statement from one witness that actually applies to a crime alleged in the warrant, and that also is completely without corroboration, and the rest is all smoke and mirrors.

kirillian (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Allegedly

@ no tech, only dirt – I’m sorry this is such an emotional problem for you. Quit trolling. The point that’s being made here is that it doesn’t matter whether or not the defendant is guilty or is trying to block proceedings. The point is that, if the police can file and get a warrant on baseless crap like this, then it could happen to you and me too. That’s SCARY.

Get on topic and stop attacking people ad-hominem.

no tech, just dirt says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Allegedly

@kirillian: you’re the ones who are emoting about “then it could happen to you and me too” and calling it “SCARY.”

I’m not scared. I also don’t think it’s “baseless crap” when accusations are leveled about cracking a school computer and changing grades and using school systems for piracy. Maybe you should learn to get the full story — both sides of it — before ignorantly spouting off like the person who posted this entry with the headline that the guy’s in trouble for using a command line and not even getting the points about changing grades and piracy into what he wrote.

BTW, if *you* want to stay on topic (I know it must be difficult for you) reconsider your choice of words: the person is only accused at this point, *not* (as you put it) “the defendant.” The motion filed on his behalf by EFF isn’t an attempt to “block proceedings” but rather a feeble attempt to impede the investigation.

Maybe you should take up another hobby. This one is obviously above your comprehension.

kirillian (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Allegedly

If you read the warrant application…there are only a couple of examples of evidence that actually even refer to the actual crime being checked out…the crime is actually the harassing email. According to the warrant application, the system admins pointed the police toward Calixte’s IP address…and according to the police’s interview of the defendant’s roommate, the defendant is a hacker. Basically. The only evidence they have is that his IP may be involved…beyond that, they have a witness that claims that he hacked a whole bunch of stuff completely unrelated to the case at hand, including his own computer (which no expert can corroborate). That’s, first of all, not prosecutable in this specific case. Second, the witness says nothing about seeing his roommate send the email. The only evidence the police have is circumstantial evidence – they know that the emails sent had tags tracing back to Calixte, including two distinct linux computer names, and the roomate stated that his roommate uses two different operating systems, and one is called bootleg something or other.

While certainly suspect, this evidence is, at BEST, circumstantial. Most of the evidence/basis of probable cause is completely irrelevant to the case at hand.

This IS SCARY. I for one have spent plenty of time goofing around with my various systems, playing with settings, trying to break stuff. My roommates are clueless about what is going on. I do my best to at least explain to them what is happening so that I can maintain their trust, but what’s to say that they won’t become scared of something that they don’t understand and start thinking that everything that I am doing is hacking? Pretty soon I could end up on the bad side of an investigation myself…I don’t really do anything illegal that I’m aware of, but I could potentially be the victim of some targeted attack. That could be everything needed to set a whole bunch of events into play, just like this situation, with me at the center.

This isn’t emotional for me. It’s just plain thinking about the consequences of actions and precedents. While I certainly wish some days that our government had more ability to prosecute and investigate, I realize at the same time that the powers that are given to them are liable to be abused…there MUST be careful balance…in this case, I think that the judge made a grave mistake and the EFF is very correct in defending this guy, whether or not he is guilty when all is said and done.

Maybe you should think before you post. Instead of filling your posts with diatribes against the rest of us, try putting some references and facts in. Oh, and toning down your tone to a conversational one would help in convincing the rest of us that you aren’t emotional.

Rob says:

Re: Re: Re: Allegedly

What exactly do you think allegedly means? It doesn’t mean “false”. It means an allegation has been made that hasn’t yet been proven in court. In other words, almost all information used to obtain a search warrant is, by definition, alleged. If the allegations weren’t “alleged”, that would mean he had already been convicted. Under that standard, no search warrant could ever be issued for any reason ever.

AdmChrysler IsADumbass says:

Re: Re: HSO maybe right & Aym Crysler sounds bias

oh, it’s defamation to say someone’s a homosexual now?

So you’re saying homosexuality is a crime so grievous it defames a persons character?

a) you cant prove who was using a computer, even if you could prove what computer was being used (which you cant)

b) the burden of proof is nowhere near met for search & seizure. the EFF will totally destroy whatever case they have and make every1 involved look like Luddites.

c) troll more why don’t you.

Enrico Suarve says:

Re: I smell a rat ..

Releasing details of an ongoing investigation isn’t just bad form it’s often illegal*

Adm – your going down my friend, down to china town

Only in Boston…..
Student: “please sir he said nasty things about me”
Voice off screen: “Oh Nowz – send in the super police!!”
Police: “Whats this? wires and shit? DOS? stuff we don’t understand? Terrorist!! (or Witch) – you’re under arrest”
Perp: “Dammit foiled again – I would have got away with it if it wasn’t for those whingy bitches”

The end – roll ad for cool-aid

*Depending on circumstances, state and country. Commenter is not a laywer so legal opinion should not be relied on. terms and conditions may vary. always read the label.

Keith says:

I know what the BC operating system is.................

It’s Internet Explorer……………wait, no isn’t it Outlook Express, not that’s not it either. I do know it’s a series of tubes though…If your typing commands that we don’t understand, you must be doing something wrong. Why else would you voluntarily choose to not use the pretty boxes and mouse controls.

no tech, just dirt says:

command line versus allegations of changing grades, defamation, and piracy

Great investigation and looking before you leap!

Calixte’s troubles will go far beyond using a command line if there’s much to the allegations. Accusations include changing grades, piracy, and defamation. Not charged yet? Good, everyone deserves a fair investigation before being charged with a crime.

Ignore the facts, including Adm’s post, and only follow the lead of EFF who are now on record that spreading rumors about others is acceptable — never mind there are other allegations against their new poster boy which warrant the investigation.

AdmChrysler IsADumbass says:

Re: command line versus allegations of changing grades, defamation, and piracy

Oh really? If someone who didn’t like you called up the cops and said you were “hacking” and doing “bad stuff”. And they busted in your door and took all your property w/ no intention or requirement to return it; I bet you would be singing a different tune about burden of evidence.

kejoki says:

Re: Re: command line versus allegations of changing grades, defamation, and piracy

No, which part of “the only evidence that Calixte was doing anything which might actually be illegal are statements made by someone who doesn’t like him” do YOU not get? If that’s what constitutes evidence, then we’d all better hunker down and wait for the witch-hunters.

One person’s say-so, plus the technical incompetence of a police officer, should not be enough for search and seizure.

Suppose a neighbor who hates you tells the police he saw you knife someone to death. You’re a chef, and have a variety of “esoteric” cooking gear that the police are unfamiliar with. They should come and take everything in your kitchen? No body, no other claims of a murder, no evidence except the neighbor mouthing-off, and “strange cooking gear.”

Before you even start *thinking* about investigating, you have to have a good idea that a crime was actually committed. The cops heard you bad-mouthed you neighbor in a local bar? You took out an ad that says “my neighbor is a jerk” in the local paper? Where’s the crime? Maybe you took out an ad that says your neighbor’s car is for sale, and gives his phone number. Now you’re guilty of harassment, but where does seizing your entire kitchen come in? At the very outside, they *might* try to make a case for seizing your phone–if it was in your kitchen. A weak, easily defeated case. Should they tell the judge that someone said they saw you murder someone, so you must be a bad man? That will cut a lot of ice, I’m sure…

Illegal search and seizure is NOT investigation. It IS constitutionally forbidden. But I get the feeling that I’m reading LEA groupthink, where the only thing the Constitution does is get in the way of the “reasonable activities of law enforcement agencies.”

If hearsay from an enemy is evidence, then “the Constitution is just a f’cking piece of paper.”

a hacker (profile) says:

Re: command line versus allegations of changing grades, defamation, and piracy

Actually, that article seemed fairly evenhanded and the end they pretty much said that the whole case could be thrown out if the dormmate is just saying this to get back at the “hacker” this whole story is retarded. Though now every time I go to Boston i am going to Boot my Arch netbook to command line just to spite the bastards.

Steve (profile) says:


Maybe I’m just not reading it right…. but what is it really that he was arrested for? From what I understand, this Caxlite guy visited some “bad” site (or was it some dating site? and created a fake profile???) and then sent a harrasing e-mail? This article isn’t very clear…. Anyways… If BC uses XP and he was using a jailbroken version of Ubuntu (which, by the way, is free! OH! And they ENCOURAGE changing of the code….?!? What’s this?! OMG! Something that’s free?!? Must be illegal…) And he was using the command prompt, how does that consitute an arrest???? Maybe I’m just putting a bunch of wrong info together…..

not tech, only dirt says:

Re: whaa?

He hasn’t been arrested or charged. His equipment was subject to a warrant in an investigation based on accusations. Rather than cooperate with investigators to clear it up in a hurry, he and the EFF are attempting to stonewall it. (Pre-emptive reply to the twits who’ll say that he can cooperate without the hardware being in police custody: How is trying to prevent law enforcement from inspecting the equipment allegedly used in the commission of these things cooperation?)

He’s accused of a lot more than harassing his roommate, he’s also accused of changing grades and piracy. Leave it to Linux-tards and conspiracy nuts (some of them in the same camp) to jump the gun and cry about it, and to only pick up on the command line part of the story (and also the details of the alleged harassment) — as if that’s what the whole case is about.

Dan says:

Ketstone cops

This is another example of technical idiots reinforced by police powers, a recipe for disaster every time. Its like the keystone cops and three stooges meet dirty harry, what could possible go wrong. This has no bearing on the students involvement or lack thereof, but the cops bungling of potential evidence and abject loss as a result.

Anonymous Coward says:

when you decide to swim in the deep water, these are the thingsthat can happen. If you not built for it, then dont do it…

the one clear thing I get from all this is, the roommate really is a fag…snitched dude out on some personal ish. I am 100% sure that the roommate made heavy use of Calixte’s skills when they suited him. ( he setup his computer, etc.) so what ever soured their relationship, he shouldn’t of used his personal knowlegde against him.

That’s why I stopped giving computer advice. I once made a mistake when setting up a softhack on a friends XBOX, and bricked it. He actually expected a brand new one…let it be known we are no longer friends.

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