Tuesday, April 14, 2009

So, I'm being too lazy about updating my blog...

I know I haven't updated my blog in a while... and yesterday I promised my mother I would add pictures of my apartment... that is, other than the web cam picture which has been idle for a while now.

Tomorrow my new internet connection will be installed, and things should start to return to normal.  I haven't been updating because the internet connection I am using is too unstable to do much of anything other than check email and I managed to hold a chat window open long enough to order cable modem service.  (yea, Comcast closes too early for me to call them, but they have a 24 hour chat service available on their website.

To be honest, I think the chat service is automated, because every response was generic, and there were a few times when I typed something, and the response that came back was not even related to my question.

Plus, a real person called me on the phone to verify that I actually ordered the service.  The whole experience was a bit odd... took a long time, and didn't really answer any questions.

anyway.  So, tomorrow morning I'll have a good connection... I'll turn the web cam back on... and probably start updating my blog more.

till then...

There is something bothering me.  I have been reading the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) Blog, and it turns out there is a case that strikes me very close to home going on between a Boston College Student VS the Campus and State Police titled Boston College Campus Police: "Using Prompt Commands" May Be a Sign of Criminal Activity .  It appears that the Police were able to get a warrant to seize a bunch of his personal property on the grounds that he works for the School's IT department and uses an operating system with "a black screen with white font which he uses prompt commands on."  For people like me we call this a CLI (Command Line Interface) and if you remember DOS, well, that's what it looks like.  Specifically, this hits me close to home because they are talking about Linux!

Now, there is more to the story than just this bit.  However, the part that really bugs me, is that they only needed these two pieces of information to get a warrant to seize his stuff.  The warrant application doesn't provide any evidence to actually suggest the student was involved in any way.  This worries me because the legal system in this country has no clue when it comes to computers, and these same people are making laws that regulate what they don't understand.  I also think the worst part is that there was no crime committed for the police to investigate.  The problem is that someone (probably) tea-potted some guy by saying he was gay on a school forum.

FYI - tea-potting is the practice of sending an email out from someone's computer when they forget to lock it or leave it logged in.  For example, if someone leaves there desk and doesn't lock their machine, then it would be common to send an email to all the people in his group with the text "I pee my pants..."  or something like that.  This person said "I am Gay" using another student's account on a school forum.

Technically, there is no crime.  The "victim" could sue for deformation of character or something, however there is no crime.  The police are attempting to charge the student of "Obtaining computer services by Fraud or Misrepresentation" and "Unauthorized access to a computer system".  Which would only be true if the student stole personal information to use for commercial gain, and the student were not authorized to use the forum.

Anyway... Things are scary for technology research and tech support these days.  With out groups like the EFF I would have a lot more to worry about.  At least I have someone on my side.

Later,

     SteveO