Feeds

Boston dorm computer raid ruled illegal

So much for the hoax email argument

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

A justice from Massachusetts's highest court has ordered police to return a laptop and other gear seized from a Boston student's dorm room after rejecting prosecutors' arguments that hoax emails he was suspected of sending might be illegal under a computer crime statute.

The decision, issued Thursday by Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court Margot Botsford, also ordered police to immediately cease any ongoing search of the seized property. Police confiscated 23 items, including three laptops, two iPods, two cellular phones, a digital camera, and a variety of data-storage devices, during a March 30 raid on the dorm room of Boston College (BC) student Riccardo Calixte.

"No one should be subjected to a search like this based on such flimsy theories and evidence," said Matt Zimmerman, a senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which helped represent the computer science student. As a result of the seizure, Calixte was forced to complete much of the final month of the semester without a computer, phone or network access, the EFF said.

Calixte came under suspicion following a "domestic dispute" when a roommate told a police detective he had observed Calixte commit two computer crimes. When police requested a warrant to search the dorm room, much of the factual basis provided that a crime had been committed were two emails sent in early March that falsely claimed the roommate was participating on a gay dating website. At least one them was suspected to have been sent by Calixte.

In arguing the search warrant was properly issued, prosecutors argued the hoax emails might violate a Massachusetts statute barring the "unauthorized access" to a computer. Justice Botsford rejected that theory.

"The commonwealth's claim that such an email might be unlawful because it violates a hypothetical internet use policy maintained by BC both goes well beyond the reasonable inferences that may be drawn from the affidavit, and would dramatically expand the appropriate scope of" the statute, she wrote.

She went on to find there was no probable cause to support that Calixte illegally downloaded more than 200 movies and music files and accessed the BC grading system used by professors to change grades.

A PDF of the decision is here. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Big Content outs piracy hotbeds: São Paulo, Beijing ... TORONTO?
MPAA calls Canadians a bunch of bootlegging movie thieves
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
YARR! Pirates walk the plank: DMCA magnets sink in Google results
Spaffing copyrighted stuff over the web? No search ranking for you
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
Hungary's internet tax cannot be allowed to set a precedent, says EC
More protests planned against giga-tariff for Tuesday evening
US court SHUTS DOWN 'scammers posing as Microsoft, Facebook support staff'
Netizens allegedly duped into paying for bogus tech advice
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.
Business security measures using SSL
Examines the major types of threats to information security that businesses face today and the techniques for mitigating those threats.