[hcs-d] Having Linux is now a CRIME

Joshua Kroll jkroll at fas.harvard.edu
Sat Apr 18 13:14:45 EDT 2009


So my guess would be that the (nontechnical) detective used "Central
Processing Unit" as a proxy for what we might call "a computer". This
would be consistent with the other items on the list, none of which
are components and all of which are consumer products that one might
purchase even if one were not a computer expert. I particularly like
the idea that they're going to confiscate his "firewalls", which I
assume they do by forcing him to  run `sudo iptables -L`.

The nexus argument seems like a good one, but it might in fact be
insufficient. From Wikipedia: In the context of warrants, the Oxford
Companion to American Law defines probable cause as "information
sufficient to warrant a prudent person's belief that the wanted
individual had committed a crime (for an arrest warrant) or that
evidence of a crime or contraband would be found in a search (for a
search warrant)". In particular, despite the fact that the Supreme
Court abdicated the Aguilar-Spinelli test in 1983 in favor of the
Totality of Circumstances test, Massachusetts actually STILL HAS it.
In that case, to quote from Spinelli v. US (393 US 410), a search is
warranted when there is probable cause, which can include hearsay by a
credible informant and:

# The magistrate must be informed of the reasons to support the
conclusion that such an informant is reliable and credible.
# The magistrate must be informed of some of the underlying
circumstances relied on by the person providing the information

That said, the argument that the first of these was violated is
probably pretty reasonable. If there's a dispute between [redacted]
and Calixte as evidenced by the mediation of BC's ORL, there's good
reason to suspect that [redacted] might have a motive not to be
reliable or credible, even if [redacted] is reliable and credible in
another investigation.

So while IANAL, I could see a judge ruling in either direction here,
since the ruling seems to essentially be about the credibility of
[redacted]. The scope of the search warrant was too broad, though, in
my opinion. I sort of wonder if there are grounds to invalidate it
there.

Josh


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