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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  1. identicon
    kejoki, 15 Apr 2009 @ 1:49pm

    Re: 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."

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