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College Police Think Using Linux Is Suspicious Behavior 1079

FutureDomain writes "The Boston College Campus Police have seized the electronics of a computer science student for allegedly sending an email outing another student. The probable cause? The search warrant application states that he is 'a computer science major' and he uses 'two different operating systems for hiding his illegal activity. One is the regular B.C. operating system and the other is a black screen with white font which he uses prompt commands on.' The EFF is currently representing him."
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College Police Think Using Linux Is Suspicious Behavior

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  • sure it is (Score:5, Funny)

    by platypussrex ( 594064 ) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @03:44PM (#27575545)
    This would be funny except it's scary instead . . .
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @03:50PM (#27575667)

      What's scary about it. The Police are merely guarding our rights and preventing any of those terrifying terrorist hacker nazi communist muslims from setting off a dirty bomb and infecting us with anthrax.

      Don't you feel that giving up a few freedoms is worth the security that the Boston College Campus Police can give you in return?

      • Re:sure it is (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @04:15PM (#27576173) []

        They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

        They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

        Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither.

        He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security.

        He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither.

        People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both.

        If we restrict liberty to attain security we will lose them both.

        Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.

        He who gives up freedom for safety deserves neither.

        Those who would trade in their freedom for their protection deserve neither.

        Those who give up their liberty for more security neither deserve liberty nor security.

        ...because it cannot be said enough

        • Re:sure it is (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @05:21PM (#27577493)

          HOLY FUCKING SHIT I hate the many paraphrased forms of that quote. As soon as you take out the part about the liberty given up being essential, and the safety temporary, you end up with a wholly unreasonable statement.

          We sacrifice inessential liberties for safety all the time. We are required to get our cars registered and inspected (in some states), our buildings inspected, and our restaurants must conform to code. All of these things restrict our freedom, but also help to keep us safe and healthy. Do the folks who conform to these codes, and expect others to conform as well, deserve some kind of punishment for their willingness to sacrifice liberty?

          The spirit of Ben Franklin's quote was really that there are some very particular freedoms that should not be sacrificed. That one about being free from unreasonable search and seizure is just non-negotiable.

          But those other freedoms, like the freedom of a local restaurant manager to keep a filthy kitchen and as a result give me diarrhea, I'm perfectly willing to sacrifice. So yeah, all those paraphrased versions of Ben Frank's quote have been said too much. They're overly broad, and they come from a place of blind, ideological patriotism. Sorry for the rant.

          • Re:sure it is (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @06:02PM (#27578243)
            Not all of us are willing to sacrifice "those other freedoms". Some of use believe the sacrifice should be essential not the liberty when weighing the equation. The attitude of most sacrifices aren't important is scary and leads down a dark path. The idea that the sacrifice should be exceptional not the liberty is what I believe he was getting at.
          • Re:sure it is (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @07:27PM (#27579619) Homepage

            HOLY FUCKING SHIT I hate the many paraphrased forms of that quote. As soon as you take out the part about the liberty given up being essential, and the safety temporary, you end up with a wholly unreasonable statement.

            We sacrifice inessential liberties for safety all the time.

            Benjamin Franklin considered all liberty to be essential. That's why he said "Essential liberty", not "Essential liberties". "Essential" modifies the concept of liberty itself, not certain particular instances of liberties. This was not an accidental word choice.

            Also, I feel it is safe to say that Franklin considered all safety won through the sacrifice of liberty to be temporary.

            He chose those words specifically so as to remind the reader that liberty is essential, and safety is temporary.

            The spirit of Ben Franklin's quote was really that there are some very particular freedoms that should not be sacrificed. That one about being free from unreasonable search and seizure is just non-negotiable.

            Actually the spirit of his quote is much closer to the paraphrasings than to your interpretation. He didn't mean it's okay to sacrifice "inessential" liberties any more than he meant that it's okay to sacrifice "essential" liberties if the safety you are gaining is permanent.

            They're overly broad, and they come from a place of blind, ideological patriotism.

            Benjamin Franklin was an ideological patriot. How sad that we'd try to revise history to make him anything else.

      • Re:sure it is (Score:5, Insightful)

        by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @04:21PM (#27576341) Homepage Journal
        Since when is it against the law to post to a mailing list (or any forum) that someone is gay?
        • Re:sure it is (Score:4, Insightful)

          by OolimPhon ( 1120895 ) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @04:31PM (#27576529)

          When it's libelous or slanderous?

        • Re:sure it is (Score:5, Informative)

          by Deathdonut ( 604275 ) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @04:51PM (#27576931)

          The concern isn't that he committed libel (crime) by sending out email to a list of people that outed the informant by linking him to a gay personal ad that he probably created (fraud). The problem is that he a suspect in several other crimes including a stolen laptop as detailed in the motion to quash:


          While there is probably quite a bit for the defense to attack in how this warrant was obtained, my biggest concern is how it was handled. I suspect the following description is more common than we would like to know:

          "... seized, among other things, Mr. Calixte's cell phone, his iPod, computers, disks, and "postit" note on which Calixte was in the process of taking notes about the officers' actions during the search. Christopher left a Property Receipt with Mr. Calixte listing items seized during the search. (Kessel Decl. Ex. C.) The seized post-it note does not appear on that receipt."

          That's the type of bullying that makes me sick.

          • Re:sure it is (Score:5, Interesting)

            by lwsimon ( 724555 ) <> on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @06:14PM (#27578463) Homepage Journal

            This is the kind of thing that gun owners - especially licensed dealers - have put up with for years, from the BATFE.

            Coming to America near you!

            What's that you say? Just a gun nut talking?


            Cavalry Arms, a store in AZ, was raided in Febuary of 2008. Their inventory was taken, along with their complete customer records, including backups. The pretense for the raid was "suspicious of violating federal firearms laws." Today, 14 months later, they have yet to be charged with a crime. Meanwhile, the items seized have been auctioned by the government, and they have not been reimbursed.

            I could go on to show cases where ATF agents killed pets - in one case, stomping on a kitten on their way off the property - trashed citizens' houses and left the door busted in, and one case where the person being raided "committed suicide" - in a room that had already been searched for weapons, with an officer 5' away, and without getting gunshot residue on his hands.

            Please people, I beg you. Wake up and see what's happening before this becomes more common.

          • Re:sure it is (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Fallen Seraph ( 808728 ) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @07:10PM (#27579385)
            Ummm, problem with that. It doesn't say "He says he stole laptops" it says "He has been seen with many different laptops, which he claims are either being fixed for friends, or are being tested for the university (where he works)" [both of these aren't direct quotes, they're paraphrased] and it implies that his roommate thinks they're stolen.

            Right now I have... 3 notebooks in my room, only one of which belongs to me. Even at college it wasn't uncommon for me to have someone else's notebook at any given time. So to say that that represents suspicion of criminal behavior is absurd, since he's described as being an expert in computers, and even works for the university's IT department. If he has no, or few computer skills, then it'd be suspicious.

            And as for the changing of grades, I suspect that's largely false, since the university did not claim to have incurred any intrusions in their network, and surely a professor would have noticed this at some point or another if this were happening often. Their only evidence is hearsay (from the guy who he has a grudge with).

            One a side note, I find it interesting that the warrant is very descriptive of the items which the police are allowed to take, yet describes a computer as "a CPU." Granted it says it's "not limited to this" and that it's for "all object which store data in any form," but when was the last time your scanner stored data? Or your processor for that matter (other than when it's handling data, that is, turned on). It's not like someone's going to store all their secrets in a processor register...
    • Re:sure it is (Score:5, Interesting)

      by GNUbuntu ( 1528599 ) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @03:50PM (#27575677)
      Not to mention the fact that Boston College's Research Services runs it's own Linux cluster: []. zOMG TEH CRIMINALS!
      • Re:sure it is (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @03:53PM (#27575735) Journal

        And I'm sure, before Linux, they were running other evil black-screened operating systems with blinking cursors.

        You've gotta wonder if these cops ever made it to high school, let alone college.

        • Re:sure it is (Score:5, Insightful)

          by 3dr ( 169908 ) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @04:08PM (#27576037)
          For many of them, including municipal police, no, I don't wonder at all.
        • "cops , IQ" (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @04:12PM (#27576123)

          Google that, you'll find it is common practice in police departments to reject higher IQ candidates and dumb down the entrance exam requirements. It's a barely hidden scandal. You see a lot of dumb cops because there are a LOT of dumb cops, on purpose, by design. They want violence oriented, stupid, malleable, no questions asked goose stepping type "warfighter" order followers for their new world order agendas. Been obvious for around two decades and change now, since they went full speed ahead transforming local police departments into paramilitary goon squads. Not all of them, but sure as hell a shitload of them.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @04:22PM (#27576349)

            "Been obvious for around two decades and change now"

            Damn, how did Obama manage to pull that off?

          • Re:"cops , IQ" (Score:5, Informative)

            by Ethanol-fueled ( 1125189 ) * on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @04:30PM (#27576495) Homepage Journal
            I believe the majority of what you say is bullshit. You're thinking of the department of Homeland Security, specifically the ICE. But modern cops do tend to be clueless about electronic crime.

            I can't get at TFA right now (EFF slashdotted?!) but I suggest you read the actual PDF of the justification to grant the search warrant. The detective's so-called credentials (after he left land management) include a page and a half of fluffed-up 1-hour cybercrime seminars.
          • Oh please (Score:5, Informative)

            by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @05:23PM (#27577533) Homepage Journal

            the real reason they have to dumb it down; yeah I have friends who are/were cops; is because of political correctness. Hell they had to reduce the physical requirements in some districts because the fatties sued.

            The majority of cops (like 95% or more) are very good people. Just like any other industry you get a few bad apples who ruin it for everyone else. Just like any unionized shop they are practically forced to keep them. There are only so many desk jobs to go around to place truly bad ones in. You can get them if they do something truly illegal and get caught doing so. Still the reason why cop abuse stories hit the news so hard is because it isn't common place; well it might be more so in some areas but overall it isn't.

            Don't go off thinking most of these are country bumpkins; don't confuse elected sheriffs with real cops either, some of those are real ego trippers.

            The fact is most are just like the rest of your neighbors. The difference is they are in the public eye all the time. Many have college degrees, its required for advancement in some areas.

            The standard people are applying here is the same thing the cops in the story are being doing... and who is being vilified for it?

            • Re:Oh please (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @05:33PM (#27577743) Journal

              The majority of cops (like 95% or more) are very good people

              Anyone who has ever busted a pot smoker is not a very good person at all. "I was just doing my job" is no excuse.

            • Re:Oh please (Score:5, Interesting)

              by Quothz ( 683368 ) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @06:34PM (#27578829) Journal
              I've had a couple cop buddies, and probably more non-friendly interactions with police than average. I think you're spot on, for the most part. I'd like to add a little, tho'.

              Still the reason why cop abuse stories hit the news so hard is because it isn't commonplace

              That, plus police are in a position of strong public trust. When a cop does wrong, people feel extra-betrayed (as well they should). That goes double when it's someone high-ranking, and triple when that person is or appears to be covering for his or her underlings' misbehavior. Police are held to a higher standard by the public; they should be held to that standard by law and practice, but often are not, which fuels discontent.

              As to intelligence, what you said. Police often appear to be dumber than they are, because often they're following carefully-designed and intensely-trained procedures. Particularly when gathering evidence, police are trained to do so carefully and pedantically in a Socratic way.

              A good law enforcement officer usually should appear as dumb as a box of rocks. When handling routine matters, he or she is following a routine procedure in a standard way. When gathering evidence, this helps ensure that the chain of evidence is complete (and doesn't include unwarranted logical leaps or assumptions by the police), and helps avoid the police equivalent of researcher bias (leading a suspect or witness into saying what the cop wants to hear).

              The smartest cops are the ones that appear to be stupid. Stupid cops try to act smart, joking with or about suspects, making "clever" threats, and so forth.

        • by theNetImp ( 190602 ) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @04:46PM (#27576841)

          Apparently becoming a campus cop was the only way they were going to make it to college.

    • by Wonko the Sane ( 25252 ) * on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @03:50PM (#27575679) Journal

      We might as well give up. The country is lost. If you can't beat 'em - join 'em.
      Repeat after me:

      Four legs good - two legs bad
      Four legs good - two legs bad

    • Re:sure it is (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Red Flayer ( 890720 ) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @03:51PM (#27575695) Journal
      Hey, is it any surprise campus security are afraid of Command Line Interface Terrorism?

      Seriously, I'd love to be able to read more info on this... without knowing all the evidence presented to get the warrant, it's a little silly to say that his use of multiple PCs and Linux was enough for the judge to have granted the warrant.

      Most likely, the reason those items were brought up as evidence for the warrant is so that the warrant would cover the devices in question -- to justify action bigger than just reviewing his account history on the BC networks.

      If he was a suspect for some other reason, wouldn't it make sense that the police would have reason to search his multiple devices?

      I think the EFF does a lot of good things -- but their PR blurbs tend to leave out enough critical info that I am beginning to dismiss them out of hand.
    • Re:sure it is (Score:5, Informative)

      by The Empiricist ( 854346 ) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @04:01PM (#27575895)

      It's not as scary if you read the application for search warrant [] instead of the slashdot headline. The detective who filed the application had interviewed the suspect's roommate, who said that, among other things, he had "observed [the suspect hacking] into the B.C. grading system that is used by professors to change grades for student," that he suspected the suspect of damaging his brand new computer, and that the suspect had posted a fake web site profile of the roommate. Other evidence, such as network reigstration information, supported the detective's belief that the suspect had engaged in at least some of the alleged activities.

      The evidence needed to show plausible cause for a search warrant is very low, but it certainly isn't as low as merely using a Linux operating system. This search warrant is not evidence that the sky is falling.

      • Re:sure it is (Score:5, Informative)

        by megamerican ( 1073936 ) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @04:28PM (#27576467)

        This search warrant is not evidence that the sky is falling.

        Not in this case but news like this is becoming very commonplace.

        If you are aware of the Missouri MIAC documents [] or the Virginia Terrorism threat assessment document [] then you know that law enforcement are basically being trained to think you are a possible terrorist unless you do nothing but sit at home and watch televison all day.

      • Re:sure it is (Score:5, Interesting)

        by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @04:38PM (#27576673)

        Not to mention the amount of damning evidence against the kid. They have DHCP leases of when the mass email went out to the school.

        Roommate problems. One roommate sends out a mass-email to campus saying other roommate is 'gay' and coming out. It all sounds like a sophomoric prank using computers instead of posters, fliers, etc.

        It also alleges that back when the roommates were 'friends' hacker dude put a second account on roommates computer while fixing it.

        Half paranoia on some accounts, but for the most part most accusations sound plausible.

    • Re:sure it is (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @04:16PM (#27576195)

      Please tell me that someone else here actually read the full warrant. The kid is accused of harassment, theft, and copyright infringement. His use of Linux is tied only to claims that he encrypts people's hard drives for them so that copyrighted material can't be easily scanned for (which, as far as I know, isn't illegal).

      There is actually a pretty significant amount of evidence for these claims, especially the harassment claims. Two of the accused computer's were used (according to network logs) to send the harassing email. The only computer on the entire campus network to access the site used to set up the harassment was registered on the network as belonging to the accused. Is it enough to convict someone? Probably not by itself. Is it enough to get a warrant? I would say so.

  • Rent-a-cops (Score:5, Funny)

    by Citizen of Earth ( 569446 ) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @03:44PM (#27575551)
    Do rent-a-cops have any power to seize property, or is this just a case of theft?
    • Re:Rent-a-cops (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Old97 ( 1341297 ) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @03:45PM (#27575579)
      Campus police are not rent-a-cops. They are real police. Sadly.
      • Very sadly, IMHO (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @03:57PM (#27575829)

        True enough.

        I was walking through the basement of our student union building many years ago. The building was mostly closed - we were at a gaming con and minimal stuff was open. I noticed the door to the game room was ajar. I went in and started playing video games with a few of my friends.

        Turns out I tripped a silent alarm. About 15 minutes in, campus police busted in and threw us up against the wall at gunpoint. No kidding, I had a gun pressed against the base of my skull.

        All that for 3 geeks who were playing video games.

        We talked a bit with the cops afterwards. They bragged about how they had us "under surveillance" for over five minutes without any of us noticing. I pointed out that if that were true, did any of them notice the fact that we were *leaving* money there rather than taking it? Blank stares.

        So IMHO, they're worse than regular cops. They're bored out of their minds - and have real guns. They so desperately want some crime to deal with, but there just isn't much other than the odd frat house kegger that gets out of control or the occasional parking ticket. I'd be bored to near-insanity too.

      • by mckinnsb ( 984522 ) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @04:18PM (#27576259)

        Campus police are not rent-a-cops. They are real police. Sadly.

        As an alumni of Boston College I can tell you that the BCPD are not what most people think of when they think of "Campus Police" - they are a bona fide division of the Newton Police Department (in which Boston College resides) and have all of the powers that a normal police officer does - on or off campus. Unfortunately, because of this private/public entanglement, I have seen the BCPD get away with *far more* than any police department would on other college campuses. I've seen people get burned on other campuses (Wesleyean, URI, UConn to name a few) , but nothing like what I have seen at BC. They are very aggressive and care little for your rights.

        BC has a pretty Draconian administration - worse than any Jesuit school I have come across. They use the BCPD as a hanging threat - basically, you have to arbitrate any offense committed on campus according to BC's liking (aka, admitting your guilt) or else the case gets handed directly to the real, legal system with a fairly effortless transition, as their "Campus Police" really *are* police officers; their statements and actions transition to the Massachusetts court without a hiccup.

        In other words, if you want to defend yourself, you have to go to court - any attempt to do so in the arbitration process is impossible. If you admit guilt, there are many cases where it is still considered a crime, and still gets put on your criminal record even after arbitration -although agreeing to resolve in arbitration absolves you of any sentencing because BC then decides what your punishment will be (which is of course the reason why the option is attractive). I have a friend of mine who tried to enter medical school and once was at a small party where people were smoking Marijuana. He was too afraid to defend himself in a court of law, so he admitted guilt, and in the end he had to explain his charge of possession of marijuana to every school he applied to (He got in eventually).

        From what I understand, they also don't need a search warrant from BC for on-campus searches, because technically that space is privately owned by BC, not the college student, and the BCPD is always given tacit consent by the college. Computers and other containers are a different story however- I know a couple of people who got off the hook because the beer they had while they were underage was in their fridge (and hence a container, property of the student that would require a warrant in lieu of permission).

        BC does more harm than good by playing Big Brother to all of the student body. BC even goes so far as to have "off-campus RA's", or RA's that "watch" specific buildings known to have lots of students - and they all have the BCPD on speed dial.

        If it wasn't for the education, I would have transferred out after my freshman year. I hope this kid's lawyers are good.

      • Re:Rent-a-cops (Score:4, Insightful)

        by voisine ( 153062 ) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @05:17PM (#27577409)

        I know everyone likes to make fun of rent-a-cops, mall cops, fake bacon, etc... but I have more respect for them than real cops. Private security is providing a service that's valuable to a property owner who's spending their own money instead of yours. If they assault someone, they can even be held accountable. I'll take private security over a pig any day.

    • Re:Rent-a-cops (Score:5, Informative)

      by Yokaze ( 70883 ) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @03:51PM (#27575681)

      Why should they have the right?
      If I'm not mistaken, the Boston College Police Department consists of
      Special State Police Officers [].
      That they were able to obtain a search warrant should be another indicator.

  • by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @03:47PM (#27575617)

    First time I ever heard that. Does Boston College suddenly come out with their own Linux Distro?

  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @03:48PM (#27575645) Journal
    Judge: Would the prosecution give its opening statements in this case?
    Prosecutor: Ladies & gentlemen of the jury, I have every intent to prove to you today that the defendant is not only guilty but that the warrant application that granted us the right to acquire evidence practically wrote itself! Now, I am going to outline the warning signs that were evident in the days leading up to this case. I want you to close your eyes for a second and imagine your warm and fuzzy graphical (that's geek speak for 'good') user interface of Windows XP--that all you good Christian patriots use. Ah, the field of green with a blue screen and your well known icons and start menu where everybody knows your name and system tray with your favorite purple gorilla and application bar ... and uh--who's that over there?--it's Clippy!
    *pauses until he sees smiles cross the juries faces*
    Prosecutor: Now, imagine that all that is taken away and you're left with the cold dark nothingness of space--like before God created the earth. The heavens and stars aren't even there. It's nothing! And there, blinking unendingly, with no remorse or care for anything good is an intimidating cursor after some letters and symbols that no American could decipher. And as you type things like "I want to order shoes on Amazon" it responds only with the cold harsh words of the devil telling you that ordering shoes on Amazon is not a valid command. And Clippy? Clippy is dead.
    *takes a drink of water and smiles smugly as the jury begins to scowl*
    Prosecutor: And this is what the defendant used to send that e-mail. This ... this evil operating system is what hackers use. Maybe those hackers are the same ones that stole your credit card information? Maybe this operating system can only be understood by the criminally insane? I know I can't use it. It would be like me trying to read a book in German. You know who else spoke German? Hitler.
    Prosecutor: So you see, this warrant was basically granted from keystroke one after we found out that the defendant was using Linux--an operating system that encourages you to use a file sharing software to install it. The warrant is valid, I'm just asking you what else might have been done with Linux and its evil knowledge installed on that college student's head and computer. Your honor, I rest my case.
  • by Shuh ( 13578 ) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @03:48PM (#27575649) Journal
    Apparently this "computer hacker" is also encoding his computer work in an obscure "binary code" of only 1's and 0's. It's obvious he has a lot to hide: his hard drive is filled with them!
  • What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jason Earl ( 1894 ) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @03:49PM (#27575663) Homepage Journal

    You can get in trouble for writing an email saying that someone is gay?

  • by Joehonkie ( 665142 ) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @03:50PM (#27575669) Homepage
    Don't forget that there's a judge that approved that warrant. He's just as much part of the problem.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @03:54PM (#27575767)

    if he used the superior green-on-black coloring scheme. Using it shows a man with good taste and and high moral values.

  • by pnuema ( 523776 ) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @03:54PM (#27575777)
    1. This case involved a "crime" committed using a computer. I know personally if I was put in charge of investigating a computer crime, I would seize every piece of magnetic and writable optical media I could find in the suspect's possession. Doing less would be incompetence.

    2. This was from a search warrant application. Not every cop is computer literate. This is worthy of a few snickers, not a front pager.

    • by Celarnor ( 835542 ) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @03:57PM (#27575847)

      2. This was from a search warrant application. Not every cop is computer literate. This is worthy of a few snickers, not a front pager.

      If their job includes deciding who to go after based on what happens on teh intarweb, then they should be, or have access to someone who is. It's worthy of being a front pager because he isn't and no one stopped him on that basis.

      1. This case involved a "crime" committed using a computer. I know personally if I was put in charge of investigating a computer crime, I would seize every piece of magnetic and writable optical media I could find in the suspect's possession. Doing less would be incompetence.

      I think doing less (read: obtaining only items specified in the search warrant) would be more along the lines of "reasonable search and seizure", and anything more would be a violation of basic constitutional rights.

  • by Skapare ( 16644 ) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @03:59PM (#27575861) Homepage

    ... the cops that caused a city wide panic because they misunderstood a few funny lighted signs?

  • by randomchicagomac ( 809764 ) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @04:09PM (#27576059)
    Normally, I'd say RTFA, but here, the FA goes beyond the actual excerpts of the warrant.

    The excerpts EFF have posted do not say "he has two operating systems, and that's evidence that he's up to no good." Instead, the warrant says

    [redacted] reported that 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.

    Paraphrased, that says that somebody directly told the police that they observed the suspect doing illegal activities, and that the dual OSes are an aspect of those activities. That's almost, although not exactly, the inverse of what the summary and most of the commenters assume. And if I was going to be up to something I shouldn't be doing on a computer, if I wasn't going to have a dedicated computer for it, then I might limit those activities to a separate OS with separate filesystems.

    Finally, as another commenter noted, warrants have to state with some particularity the objects to be searched and seized. EFF isn't giving us enough context for this part of the warrant, but it could be that the warrant is talking about a computer with two OSes just so the officers know which computer to seize, the propriety of the seizure having been established elsewhere.

    Not saying that this warrant was proper, that this guy did anything, etc., but I am saying that the problems most people are complaining about, and that EFF is implying, aren't necessarily there.

  • Bullshit title (Score:5, Informative)

    by DaveV1.0 ( 203135 ) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @04:15PM (#27576177) Journal

    Nothing in the facts say the use of Linux, in and of itself, was suspicious. Rather, it appears someone told the police the student was committing crimes and was hiding the evidence by use of dual-booting into Linux.

    This is bullshit FUD.

  • by DM9290 ( 797337 ) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @04:23PM (#27576367) Journal

    If anyone bothers to actually read the entire information they would notice that the warrant lays out grounds to believe that the accused has accessed school computer systems for the purpose of ALTERING GRADES.

    If that isn't "unauthorized" I'm not sure what is.

    As for the other charge of fraud, it isn't simply a matter of posting an article somewhere and saying 'so and so is gay'. its impersonating someone else and creating a gay profile for the purpose of defamation (which would be an unfair advantage). If someone pretends to be you, and misrepresents themself as you for the purpose of defaming you. This is the kind of misrepresentation that can amount to fraud.

    The hacking does not relate to the profile, but rather altering student grades in a teachers computer system.

    Nothing in the warrant says that the crime is "outing a gay person".

    The officer does seem to make too much out of the fact that the accused apparently can use linux on his machine. but after you remove the sensational parts of the warrant, there is still definitely an allegation of a bona fide crime.

    its unfortunate that cops think that judges are too stupid to follow a logical line of reasoning without dressing it up. But what do you expect when judges are elected and only people with strictly average IQ's can get hired as police.

    its entirely possible the cop was awestruck by linux, but it doesn't matter because altering grades is clearly the kind of thing almost everyone thinks of as unauthorized access.

    • by LackThereof ( 916566 ) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @05:57PM (#27578151)

      Part of the cops reason for making a big deal out of Linux, is the DHCP lease logs. In addition to the MAC address, they record the OS and computer name. The OS is listed as "UNIX/LINUX Ubuntu", and the officer states there are only a couple students on the campus using Linux. Also the computer names match his.

      It's just another way to tie the DHCP lease to this student, 3 pieces of matching information rather than just a MAC address.

      Granted, every single one of those pieces of data can be changed or forged; change your MAC address and configure your DHCP client to report a different computer name/OS, and you could easily frame someone. This is probably the angle the EFF will take regarding this evidence in the trial.

      Alternately, you could just configure your machine to use a static IP, which just happens to be the one currently assigned to your target.

      As incriminating as these DHCP lease logs are, I would hate for them to be held up as conclusive proof of wrongdoing, given how easily they could be manipulated.

  • Some of the info is superfluous, but the officer is only quoting what somebody else told him when he mentions "the regular BC operating system and the other [with a] black screen with white text".

    The officer supports a lot of information with MAC addresses, University logs, comments from the University Director of IT, etc. One witness being technologically inept doesn't really matter. The officer, at least from my understanding of the affidavit, KNOWS what Ubuntu is. I suspect this witness' statement is there just to provide ancillary evidence that links the Ubuntu laptop as owned by the suspect being investigated.

    I've seen a lot of stupid police actions, but this guy seems to be reasonably well-informed.

    If I were in the position of a judge today, and I saw that warrant, I'd sign off on it. Please find & read the whole warrant.

    *Once investigated by the campus police because I used the terminal on OS X, and the other student thought I hacked her laptop. Grrrrrrr.

  • by Xiozhiq ( 724986 ) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @06:08PM (#27578369)

    His assets weren't seized for the use of "scary voodoo operating systems". Oh, and for future reference, his name is Riccardo Calixte.

    Application for the search warrant: []

    Here's a summary.

    I) Why do we want his stuff?
          a) we think it's been used to commit a crime
          b) we think it contains evidence of said crime
    II) What do we want to take?
          a) anything that can hold data (PCs, peripherals, phone, etc)
          b) documentation that may contain his passwords (computer manuals, post-its)
          c) evidence of ownership over systems used in offenses at the time of offenses
    III) Where are we gonna find his stuff?
          a) his room.
    IV) Why do we think we need to take his stuff?
          a) his roommate said that Riccardo hacked into the university computers to change peoples grades
          b) Riccardo was suspected of stealing a computer from the university previously
          c) the roommate's computer started acting funny after getting into arguments with Riccardo
          d) e-mails were sent out to the whole university saying that the roommate was gay
          e) network administrative staff said that according to their records, Riccardo did it
          f) Network Admin says: those e-mails came from their dorm, from a computer with the same name as one registered by Riccardo. additionally, a profile was posted on a gay dating site, screenshotted, and included in the e-mail. the only computer to visit said site within 5 days of the incident was Riccardo's. he accessed the site frequently 2 days prior to the e-mail.

    It continues with more info as to why the originating officer is a good candidate to evaluate this stuff.

    I think that's enough probably cause to warrant further investigation; but that's just me. I would encourage you all to actually read the thing, not just take my word for it, but hopefully this will quell some of the "omgz he wuz arestid fur uzing l1nuxz!!1" comments.

When a fellow says, "It ain't the money but the principle of the thing," it's the money. -- Kim Hubbard