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'You can keep it' - Brit's nicked laptop turns up on Iranians' sofa

Tracking app on swiped PC snaps pics of family

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A British animator who used tracking software to trace his stolen laptop to Iran has apologised to its “innocent new owners” after pictures of them were splashed all over the internet.

Dom Del Torto's Macbook Pro was nicked from his London flat in February and he was able to watch its 3,000 mile odyssey to the Islamic Republic using a program called Hidden App, which beams the laptop's location back to its owner along with desktop screenshots and pictures from the built-in camera.

In March, he began posting details of the laptop's journey onto his tumblr account, titled "Dom's Laptop is in Iran" along with snapshots taken by the laptop's camera - some of which included pictures of its new owners.

But they have now been in touch with him asking him to take the pictures down from his site, which he has duly done. However, the many other websites and news outlets which published the snaps might not be so forthcoming.

Dom has now taken down all pictures of the new owners, who were shown in a rather squalid-looking flat with no windows, and said they can keep the laptop by way of apology.

In a blog post today, he wrote: "The innocent new owners of my laptop have been in touch and are mortified about the story and are keen to return the laptop.

"Given the huge error of judgment on my part in sharing the story and failing to respect their privacy I have asked them to keep it by means of an apology."

Dom decided to blog about the travails of his Macbook after police dusted his house for fingerprints and drew a blank. He decided that the only way to get it back was to take vigilante action using Hidden App. But he didn't realise how popular the story would become.

He added: "I decided to share the data the laptop recovered on this Tumblr blog as an amusing story for my friends to enjoy.

"It seemed to me that a laptop that went missing from London and turned up in Iran was like a space probe landing on a distant planet and beaming back proof of intelligent life.

"As the story circulated, I started to receive messages from concerned individuals warning of privacy concerns and the possible harm and distress the blog may cause the people in the photos.

"I hadn’t really considered any of this, as I hadn’t expected the story to get so much attention. So I hid the identity of the people in the photos.

"Then one of the people in the photos contacted me and asked me to remove the pictures. They were very upset. I could understand why.

He concluded: "The people shown on the blog site are not thieves." ®

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