×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Man Jailed After Using LimeWire For ID Theft

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the guess-his-making-available-defense-didn't-work-either dept.

Privacy 241

angry tapir sends along this excerpt from PC World: "A Seattle man has been sentenced to more than three years in prison for using the LimeWire file-sharing service to lift personal information from computers across the US. The man, Frederick Wood, typed words like 'tax return' and 'account' into the LimeWire search box. That allowed him to find and access computers on the LimeWire network with shared folders that contained tax returns and bank account information. ... He used the information to open accounts, create identification cards and make purchases. 'Many of the victims are parents who don't realize that LimeWire is on their home computer,' [said Kathryn Warma of the US Attorney's Office]."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

241 comments

anti-slashdot.org (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29039969)

Anybody know what happened to Cockbar and his band of idiots?

Re:anti-slashdot.org (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29040065)

ladies, get your pussies ready!

how dumb (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29039999)

How stupid do you have to be? Do people not understand how file-sharing works?

Re:how dumb (4, Informative)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040061)

Did you even read the summary, by any chance?

'Many of the victims are parents who don't realize that LimeWire is on their home computer,' [said Kathryn Warma of the US Attorney's Office]."

Re:how dumb (2, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040133)

I don't know how they couldn't. The thing is so bloated and slow, and degrades system resources so much, you'd think people would go "Hey, WTF is going on here?" Unless of course they already have tons of malware, and their private info has been lifted by half a dozen botnets already, in which case Limewire is probably the most secure network app they're running.

Re:how dumb (5, Informative)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040299)

Many people from older generations that have not had the time to learn how to use the computer aside from e-mail and online news have no clue. And computers aren't as static as we geeks like to think they are, and they slow down or speed up occasionally, install updates, etc.

For someone who has really no clue how it works and isn't even used to using it, it's very easy to see how they could not notice.

Re:how dumb (0, Flamebait)

InsaneProcessor (869563) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040357)

"Many people from older generations that have not had the time to learn how to use the computer aside from e-mail and online news have no clue."

Then why are these idiots letting their kids use their computer?.........No wait.......

Re:how dumb (4, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040435)

Then why are these idiots letting their kids use their computer?.........No wait.......

That would be a very large debate. But hey, if "parenting" consists of "taking kids to daycare" and when they are older "taking kids to school" and when they are older "buying kids a car," it's no wonder they let their kids use "their" computer.

Re:how dumb (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29041559)

My cousin fought a constant battle with her son over this. "No, you will *not* install Kazaa on my computer. Yes, I know your computer is 'non-functional'. Perhaps there is a reason for this. If you 'knew what you were doing', your computer would not be pwnd and bot-netted by every script-kiddie on the planet. Again. STAY THE HECK OFF MY COMPUTER!"

Re:how dumb (1)

MrSmith0011000100110 (1344879) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040465)

Ignorance is no excuse.. If someone came to town, handed me a strange object with no instructions and left me to myself then I in turn push a button that then wipes out a city. Yeah that's an oops, but my ignorance doesn't forgive me for killing thousands of people... It just makes me cool~

Re:how dumb (2, Insightful)

rrhal (88665) | more than 4 years ago | (#29041385)

... Only if the button is clearly labeled "Do Not Press"

Most parents know that being computer literate is an important part of their childrens' education. They probably bought the computer in the first place for their kids to use so they would learn more about computers than their forebears.

Re:how dumb (5, Insightful)

InlawBiker (1124825) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040725)

For a bunch of techies on Slashdot it's hard to understand. It's like a car mechanic saying, "How could you not know your valves needed adjusting by how the engine was running? Now your motor is destroyed" and the customer's answer is "What's a valve?" I bet the auto mechanic web forums are full of people laughing at the "dumb" end users of expensive, ruined machines.

There are a whole combination of technical details to know with file sharing - Windows shares, file system permissions, why you shouldn't run applications as admin by default, IP, port address translation (if you have a typical NATing home router). Even if you think you understand the software, how can you be sure you're 100% safe when you install software that's DESIGNED to open up your computer to the world?

Re:how dumb (4, Funny)

KraftDinner (1273626) | more than 4 years ago | (#29041535)

Thank you for putting it in a way I could understand. I had no idea what this discussion was all about until you came along with a car analogy.

Re:how dumb (3, Insightful)

Orion Blastar (457579) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040807)

Actually it is usually the children that install Limewire to get free music and video games. Most parents don't know what Limewire is, and share the computer with their children. When they notice a slow down on the Internet they think it is a virus or just Windows as usual. Not knowing that Limewire is sharing their "MyDocuments" folder including all of their personal documents and files in that folder.

My son, for example, uses a PC different from mine. So mine does not get infected with viruses or get all of the files shared via Limewire or some other program. But then I am Tech Savvy enough to know what Limewire and other file sharing programs are, and take them off of my system.

Re:how dumb (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29041467)

Ignorance isn't an excuse. I know what my kid does and I monitor her network and phone traffic carefully. It also helps that I'm the one maintaining her computer and to a lesser extent phone. That being said however, I also know her friends and even what televsion shows she watches. I know I'm in IT and most of the rest of the world isn't, but at the same time... It IS fairly easy to Google something and find out.

Re:how dumb (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#29041061)

    You'd be surprised the number of places I've seen Limewire up and running, where it shouldn't have been. I picked up a little work in a small office, and their manager's desktop was also the server for a few other things. They said "Oh, it's always a little slow", and it had been like that for years. Turns out a few years ago, Limewire had been installed and had been running ever since. They attributed it to someone who used to work nights, and downloaded music all night.

    Luckily there was no sensitive data on any directories it was sharing, but if I recall correctly the old behavior was to share all of C drive, or at least look for directories that had music files in them.

    I took it off (obviously), and cleaned up a few not terribly malicious malwares, and it was back up to a reasonable speed.

    Most non-technical people will attribute a "slow" computer to just being old, even if the specs of the machine are fine, it just has too much crap on it. One computer I worked on had a dozen or so toolbars, and other assorted privacy concerns. They weren't necessarily malware, but do you need the Yahoo, Google, AOL and Ask toolbar on your computer, if you never use any of them? :)

    There's a PC (2.8Ghz, 512Mb RAM, WinXP) that I'm working on now, that had so much crap installed that it was useless. Like, literally 5 minutes to open Firefox just after booting. After I removed the crap, it worked reasonably as long as you didn't have too many windows open. It's getting a memory upgrade today, and then getting delivered back to the customer.

Re:how dumb (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29041301)

"the old behavior was to share all of C drive"

How such functionality could ever get into a released product is beyond me. That is absurd, and incredibly insecure, and to be honest the creators of Limewire should be the ones going to court and to jail for releasing such shoddy software.

Re:how dumb (1)

gparent (1242548) | more than 4 years ago | (#29041411)

I don't know how they couldn't. The thing is so bloated and slow, and degrades system resources so much, you'd think people would go "Hey, WTF is going on here?"

No, they won't LimeWire hardly uses any significant system resources unless your computer is from the 90s.

Re:how dumb (4, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040557)

You're confusing ignorance with stupidity. Everyone is ignorant, nobody knows everything. Anyone who assails the intelligence of someone because they don't posess a certain bit of knowledge that they do is stupid.

Re:how dumb (4, Interesting)

rantingkitten (938138) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040645)

Well, no, most people barely understand how their computer works at all. They can kind of drag their way through Windows, but only because they only need to access a few things and they've more or less memorised where to click for those things are. Move their icons around and suddenly it's a huge crisis for them.

Additionally, many households only have one computer. Mom and Dad use the computer sometimes, then little Susie gets on and installs Limewire, accepts all the defaults, and next thing you know, Mom and Dad's files are being shared with the world.

Or maybe the person is just clueless, and doesn't understand the concept of folders and directories. They want to share their music, their music is on the hard drive, they know the hard drive is C:, so that's what they share.

Really there are any number of reasons this could happen, either from sheer idiocy, to ignorance, to total accident. Back in the the day, 2001 or so, I used to search for things like "resume.doc", or random Windows DLLs, in Kazaa, then I knew who was sharing things they probably shouldn't. Then you could do "More files from this user," or whatever the option was, and come up with all kinds of interesting stuff. Never occured to me to search for tax returns, but then, I wasn't really trying to do anything malicious either. The point is that people sharing practically their entire hard drive, without even realising it, has been going on a long, long time.

Re:how dumb (4, Interesting)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040767)

I've posted on here a few times on this very topic, although I'm probably preaching to the choir. People are stupid like you wouldn't believe.

I've done this before, not for nefarious reasons but more as a proof-of-concept to convince myself that people really are this stupid.

Obviously I never did anything illegal – merely downloading the sensitive files isn't illegal AFAIK, since they're publicly sharing them (even if unknowingly). Attempting to log into someone's PayPal account (to see if the password had been changed or the account locked out) was probably somewhat borderline; I never tried to log into any of the credit or banking accounts. Most of the login details were no good, but I was able to log into people's e-mail accounts, several different instant messenger accounts, even a couple of RapidShare Premium accounts. (One e-mail account even appeared to be actively used – recent dates on messages, which I didn't read although I saw the subjects. As a gesture of helpfulness I sent an e-mail from the account to itself in which I informed them that their login details were being shared on LimeWire!)

So yes, this doesn't surprise me in the least.

Re:how dumb (5, Insightful)

mrsquid0 (1335303) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040805)

No, they do not. Many people think that they are searching some sort of repository of files that was set up specifically to be searched. They do not realize that they are searching other people's hard drives, and other people are searching theirs. Even when they realize that people are downloading from them many people think that the downloading is restricted to music files. The idea that their entire hard drive may be open for searching is alien to some people.

Re:how dumb (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29041327)

Also, all of the p2p software I have encountered only shares what you explicitly tell it to share, often defaulting to its own downloads directory.

Re:how dumb (1)

mrsquid0 (1335303) | more than 4 years ago | (#29041643)

Many people have one directory (perhaps called My Documents) that they use for everything. The files that they download are mixed in with their bank statements, Christmas card lists, and everything else.

Remove the buzzwords (5, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040005)

Man jailed for ID theft. This is a good outcome, I'd say.

The Limewire connection is only interesting because it shows social vulnerabilities inherent in the filesharing mechanism. As long as you make it simple to share files and folders, people are going to be lazy and end up sharing files that they never meant to share.

Re:Remove the buzzwords (5, Insightful)

pha7boy (1242512) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040269)

A small change in Limewire should take care of problems like that (for example asking you to select/confirm which folders you share every time you open it up). I don't find the idea that parents who don't know what their kids installed on their computer is an acceptable excuse. If you have a kid, you better know what's installed on that computer... It's called parental responsibility.

Re:Remove the buzzwords (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040865)

Their kids account should not have read access to important financial records in the first place.

Re:Remove the buzzwords (1)

sin1man (727691) | more than 4 years ago | (#29041115)

When I was still at home sharing a computer I was the admin and my parents were the user non admin account. Considering the lack of tech savvy in some of these victims I would assume that it was the child who installed limewire and was the admin of the computer, if accounts were being used at all of course. In the families I knew it was always the child's computer which the parent used on occasion.

Re:Remove the buzzwords (2, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040893)

With windows you can stick to "limited users" and don't share accounts, and make it harder for someone else's limewire to suddenly share your files without your permission.

I think that's the better approach, since it makes it harder for the kid to accidentally delete/corrupt/read your files.

Not impossible of course - since they have physical access to the computer.

Re:Remove the buzzwords (4, Insightful)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 4 years ago | (#29041045)

If you have a kid, you should NEVER SHARE A COMPUTER with it. It is not practical to expect parents to monitor everything a kid does on a computer, or to ensure any level of security on a computer used by a kid.

Get your kids their own computers and assume they are sharing that computer with a hacker and all of 4chan. Prohibit the use of the computer for any financial transaction. A kid's computer is only "safe" if there is nothing worth stealing on that computer.

Re:Remove the buzzwords (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29041433)

A small change in Limewire should take care of problems like that (for example asking you to select/confirm which folders you share every time you open it up). I don't find the idea that parents who don't know what their kids installed on their computer is an acceptable excuse. If you have a kid, you better know what's installed on that computer... It's called parental responsibility.

Completely agree about parental responsibility. I don't buy the argument that the parents don't know what's installed...if that is the case, there should be a law precluding stupid people from owning computers. Oh wait....then the industry would tank, what am I saying????? 0-0

Got to agree (3, Interesting)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040501)

the guy's sentence had nothing to do with limewire or even downloading. If he had downloaded said tax records for just a laugh, he would be free. He has been jailed for fraud pure and simple.

Don't we hate "X but on the internet" patent claims? Then why are "X with a very loose connection the internet" stories okay?

I didn't mean any harm, it was all in fun. (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#29041349)

If he had downloaded said tax records for just a laugh, he would be free.

I've heard this argument on Slashdot before.

Like every time a geek is sentenced to do hard time after being caught poking his nose into somewhere it didn't belong.

There are a bare handful of reasons why you could claim to be legally in possession of a someone else's tax records - and none of them are likely to involve a download over the P2P nets.

Re:Remove the buzzwords (1)

John Napkintosh (140126) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040641)

That Limewire was mentioned at all is more of a "that's what you get" on the part of the user sharing his tax information, I'm betting. Though you can carry out perfectly legal file sharing through any such service, I'm guessing it's meant to taint the image of file sharing and P2P in general.

ID theft (1)

anglico (1232406) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040103)

I know someone who did that by typing in *.qdb for the quicken database files, then he proceeded to call the credit card companies and alert them that they had people sharing their info. Although the credit companies were very grateful, he still didn't want to give him his name.

Crime was not accessing the data (5, Insightful)

davidwr (791652) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040119)

The crime was using it.

Here's a moral equivalent:

Imagine of lots of people left the same forms on their car dashboard for all to see and parked their cars on the public streets. Then I walk along and write that info down in my notebook. So far, I haven't done anything illegal. Or I should say, if I have broken a law, then the laws are broken.

But once I use this information, particularly if I use it fraudulently, then I've committed a crime.

Re:Crime was not accessing the data (4, Informative)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040247)

Apparently the prosecutor did not agree:

* Wood was sentenced Tuesday to 39 months in prison and three years of supervised release for wire fraud, accessing a protected computer without authorization
* to commit fraud, and aggravated identity theft. He was tried in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.

Key word is "protected computer". Not sure how something sharing *.* on limewire is considered "protected". Guy needed a better lawyer.

Re:Crime was not accessing the data (5, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040459)

But he -did- have permission. They have given permission by having limewire share their computer's contents.

If I put a sign in my front yard next to my lawn chairs that says 'Free chairs', even if I can't read the sign myself, I can't blame anyone for taking the chairs. I did give them permission, even if I didn't know I was doing it.

And as far as 'protected computer' ... Leaving filesharing open to the world is the opposite of 'protected'. Having a bulldog in your front yard and leaving your front door open does not mean your house is protected.

Re:Crime was not accessing the data (3, Interesting)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040765)

If I put a sign in my front yard next to my lawn chairs that says 'Free chairs', even if I can't read the sign myself, I can't blame anyone for taking the chairs. I did give them permission, even if I didn't know I was doing it.

Which is why we have age-of-consent laws, and laws regarding the validity of contracts, and laws concerning disclosures and waivers... Because the (US at least) legal system does not believe that one can give uninformed permission or consent. (Not to mention that what you are doing here is blaming the victim.)

Re:Crime was not accessing the data (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29041571)

It's okay to blame the victim when the fault was established largely through their own negligence.

Just sayin'.... even if it isn't all their fault, they sure had a lot to do with it...

Re:Crime was not accessing the data (1)

DarkMage0707077 (1284674) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040877)

Doesn't quite work like that in the US:

If someone signs something which supposedly makes them give up their human rights (I imagine "freedom from theft" would be included in those), then the US courts declare the contract to be non-binding, EVEN IF that person does so willingly. The assumption being that basic human rights are things which NONE of us would want to give up, and which are required for any sort of life as a full citizen to be possible.

So it's only a small leap to assume that people who install Limewire, even though they've created a backdoor onto their personal property, still have a right not to have that property misused or stolen.

As another example, if I place a chair on my front porch because I enjoy sitting in the sun, and don't latch my gate or have a guard dog, does that give you the privilege of taking my chair from me?

Same deal here (though I admit that it's not that applicable since the article mentions that most victims weren't even aware that Limewire was on their computer in the first place).

Re:Crime was not accessing the data (3, Insightful)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040883)

Nope, not really. He took this information and conducted fraud. It doesn't matter whether they literally told it to him or he found it in their dumpster or whatever. Fraud is fraud, plain and simple. You don't get away with giving a false driver license to a cop even if the driver gave it to you to use.

But, I totally agree on the protected computer part from the practical standpoint. It wasn't protected. However, if the law lets them in based on any loophole, it'll be exploited a massive amount. I don't want someone getting into my files because "Windows was already programmed to let them" or some shit like that, and being stuck with no recourse because of it.

Re:Crime was not accessing the data (4, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 4 years ago | (#29041339)

The protected computer thing is just an extra charge they have on the books so they can put you in jail for longer, or fine you more. I remember a few years ago on the news, they reported somebody getting charged with a robbery, and one of the charges was "wearing a disguise while committing a felony". There's a lot of extra laws on the books just to increase the number of charges you get when you break an important law. I imagine that had he not actually committed fraud using that data, that there is no way he would have gotten charged, simply for downloading the information from the computer.

Re:Crime was not accessing the data (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29040941)

If I put a sign in my front yard next to my lawn chairs that says 'Free chairs', even if I can't read the sign myself, I can't blame anyone for taking the chairs. I did give them permission, even if I didn't know I was doing it.

If you pass a house with a sign that says "free chairs", that does not give you authorization to remove property from the house. You have no knowledge that the owner of the chairs put up the sign, nor that the owner even knows the sign is there. In this case, you may not be criminally liable for taking the chairs because your actions are reasonable, but you must still return the chairs if asked. If you cannot return the chairs, you may be required to compensate the owner.

Geeks really fuck up this one: a computer does not have power of attorney. An openly accessible computer does not grant you any legal rights or protections. You don't have authorization to be there unless you have been explicitly granted it. You may escape criminal liability if your trespass is a reasonable error, but you won't escape your civil liability. The "hey, man, it looked free" defense goes nowhere in court.

Re:Crime was not accessing the data (3, Interesting)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#29041243)

The Courts could rule that he didn't really have permission. After all a reasonable person seeing those files being shared would realize that it is far more likely that someone has made a mistake than someone has intentionally given permission to the world to access those files.

Just because I leave my car unlocked with the keys in them doesn't mean you have been given permission to drive the car away. Now if someone naughty then puts a sign saying "free car" on it, and someone else drives it off, it should be a lesser charge (one should realize that to get the free car, some paperwork needs to done to transfer the ownership).

If I give you my credit card info it doesn't mean you can go around using it to do your online shopping.

I don't have the full details but another possibility is the "protected computer" is not necessarily the computer with limewire, it could be the _other_ computers (in banks etc) the guy accessed to commit fraud.

Re:Crime was not accessing the data (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29040671)

Well, if that's the case, Media Sentry's guys should be doing long terms, since this is exactly what they do, for fun and profit.

Re:Crime was not accessing the data (2, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040851)

Key word is "protected computer". Not sure how something sharing *.* on limewire is considered "protected".

"Protected", in this context, probably means "within the scope of protection of the particular law under which he was charged", not "protected by technical security measures."

Re:Crime was not accessing the data (1)

bandwannabe (160057) | more than 4 years ago | (#29041023)

Aren't the "protected computer" owners responsible? The RIAA tells us that "making available" means any copying of that file is your fault.

Under the RIAAs rules, the computer owners have violated their own privacy by making that data available.

Re:Crime was not accessing the data (1)

drukawski (1083675) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040305)

This car analogy doesn't nearly meet the kind of quality and thoroughness I have come to expect from /.
Slashdot, you've really let me down this time...

Re:Crime was not accessing the data (1)

socz (1057222) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040329)

This is a good question for a legal expert. I am sure that in most personal cases accessing information might not be illegal. But when you do it to a company it sure is right. And with how crazy the laws have been changing in the last decade or so i wouldn't be surprised just getting into a PC by any means could be "illegal."

Re:Crime was not accessing the data (1)

bi_boy (630968) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040385)

Or to fine tune your analogy: a kid has borrowed their parents car and placed a copy of the tax return, bank statement, whatever, in plain view on the dash or passenger seat and parked it on a public street.

Re:Crime was not accessing the data (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29040813)

No. Taking stuff from an unlocked car would still be theft. You'd have to advertise "free stuff, help yourself" on the ouside to make a valid comparison. That's what a running P2P client does, it advertises what whoever configured it is willing to give away.

Saying he accessed protected information is utter nonsense but let's face it: people in the legal system won't catch up to yesterday's technology until they die and get replaced. Many judges come up with horribly idiotic verdicts because they have no idea how things work.

Outrageous! (4, Insightful)

wbren (682133) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040217)

This is outrageous! Our rights have been trampled on for the last time! We must rise up and fi....

Wait, wait, wait... are we /.ers for or against doing illegal stuff on P2P networks this week?

Sorry, between defending one illegal P2P activity (music "sharing") and condemning another (ID theft), it's hard to know what's what...

Tip: The mod point you're looking for is "-1 offtopic"

Re:Outrageous! (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040481)

Wait, wait, wait... are we /.ers for or against doing illegal stuff on P2P networks this week?

I think it depends on whether or not we would like to be able to do said illegal stuff. If we think we'd like to be able to do it, we fight for said illegal stuff. If we think it's stupid or really TOO illegal for us, then we agree that it should be illegal.

It appears to really all come down to whether or not we see any value in the "illegal stuff." Apparently, most /.ers see value for themselves in being able to download music free, but don't feel the need to commit ID theft/fraud on P2P networks.

In other words, most people obey the laws that are convenient for them to obey?

Re:Outrageous! (2, Insightful)

jahudabudy (714731) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040961)

Well, perhaps some of us decide what actions are and are not acceptable based on our own personal morality and don't really care what the law says (as far as determining right/wrong). In this case, identity theft vs. copyright infringement seem to me to have wildly different moral implications - direct harm vs. not so much any harm.

Re:Outrageous! (5, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040633)

Wait, wait, wait... are we /.ers for or against doing illegal stuff on P2P networks this week?

Some perfectly moral actions are illegal (e.g. smoking marijuana). Some abhorently immoral actions are perfectly legal (e.g. adultery). Sharing copyright files is illegal, but its morality is debatable. Defrauding someone of their hard earned cash is illegal, and its immorality is not debatable.

But I'm sure someone here will try to debate it anyway. :/

Re:Outrageous! (1, Troll)

wbren (682133) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040889)

Sharing copyright files is illegal... Defrauding someone of their hard earned cash is illegal...

You just proved my point. Those two things are essentially the same thing.

The only difference is that you justify one and not the other by claiming it's alright to steal from a large company but not an individual. It's a Robin Hood mentality that, while romantic and popular, is still wrong. You're basically confusing "moral" with "popular".

You might feel better about stealing music from RIAA-affiliated labels, but it's still wrong (legally and morally).

Re:Outrageous! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29041307)

Let's get our terminology straight. It's not identity theft, since nobody is being denied use of their own identity.

How about calling it identity infringement, which may be legal in some countries...

Re:Outrageous! (2, Informative)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#29041697)

What I said was it is debatable. Personally, I think infringing a copyright is wrong to a certain extent. IMO Infringing a ten year old copyright is wrong, enforcing a fifty year old copyright is just as wrong. Enforcing a dead person's copyright is even worse.

Nowhere did I say or even imply that it's ok to steal from a corporation. Don't go putting words in my mouth, mr strawman.

If you're not American your mileage will probably vary, but my concept of what copyright should be is based on the US Constitution, which says that authors and inventors can have a temporary monopoly; NOT ownership. I don't see fifty years as temporary, no matter what SCOTUS says (I agree with Lessig, who lost the case). And I don't see anywhere in the constitution that gives congress the right to pass a copyright or patent law that allows transfer of copyright. License, yes; that's the whole purpose. Sale, no. It isn't "intellectual property", it's a limited time monopoly on distribution.

The whole purpose of American copyright is to give authors and artists incentive to create works, so that they will become public property after a limited time.

I say this as a copyright holder, BTW. My registered copyrights on Artificial Insanity and HRG are almost thirty years old. If you can find a copy (and a machine to run them on), feel free to copy them. They should have been in the public domain by 2017 at the very latest, instead of long after I'm dead. I have no qualms whatever about sharing anything John Lee Hooker recorded.

Copyright Infringement != Stealing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29041713)

Those two things are essentially the same thing.

The only difference is that you justify one and not the other by claiming it's alright to steal from a large company but not an individual.

No, they are -not- essentially the same thing. The victim of fraud's loss is concrete/real, but it's hard to make the same argument for the record labels, where the item in question is not actually taken away from the victim.

Re:Outrageous! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29041725)

Sharing copyright files is illegal... Defrauding someone of their hard earned cash is illegal...

You just proved my point. Those two things are essentially the same thing.

Not quite...you're making the assumption a person downloading copyrighted files they don't have permission to do so would purchase said files instead. This is the RIAA thinking that one copyright infringement download is the same as one lost sale. No evidence has ever been presented to show this is true.

Re:Outrageous! (1)

Abreu (173023) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040837)

Illegal does not necessarily mean "wrong"

However, this guy was doing something that was both wrong and illegal

Re:Outrageous! (2, Interesting)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040839)

So maybe go with your own opinion and worry less about what other people think?

Sorry, between defending one illegal P2P activity (music "sharing") and condemning another (ID theft), it's hard to know what's what...

You've lumped violating copyright in with identity theft. In my view they're not even in the same ballpark, even though I do not personally participate in trafficking of files online.

You can say 'the law is the law' if you'd like, but if that's the case I'd like to know where my legal right to own slaves went. Unless of course it is possible for some laws to be right and some to be wrong.

But then, that would require taking a position that may or may not be popular, wouldn't it?

Re:Outrageous! (0, Troll)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 4 years ago | (#29041465)

You've lumped violating copyright in with identity theft

Which is fine. They both involve the deliberate act of ripping someone off. Same ethical bucket, same direction on the moral compass.

Re:Outrageous! (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 4 years ago | (#29041579)

Which is fine. They both involve the deliberate act of ripping someone off. Same ethical bucket, same direction on the moral compass.

Only where 'ripping someone off' is highly flexible.

Depriving someone of a potential song sale may or may not have the same value as taking out credit in someone else's name.

What if the copyright violation was over a product already purchased by the violator, just not in the format they wanted?

Likewise, what if the credit card is taken out, yet never used?

This only the 'same direction on the moral compass' if you mean an entire hemisphere is the 'same direction - e.g no difference between 91 degrees and 269 degrees.

Re:Outrageous! (2, Insightful)

Drakonik (1193977) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040841)

Although technically what you present as an average slashdotter's mindset is true, it's an oversimplification. Music piracy is condoned or at least given more leeway because it's largely the symptom of a bigger problem, that being copyright and DRM asshattery where a user who pays for music ends up unable to use it for whatever reason.

ID theft, though, is simply theft and exploitation of others for profit.

At least, that's how I see it.

Re:Outrageous! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29040931)

I wouldn't so much say it's about defending P2P activity as it is admonishing the punishment for doing so, and the methods used in doing so. Identity theft immediately has an effect on the target. P2P activity itself "harms" the owner by depriving them of sales, a topic which is in itself debatable, but to fine someone for thousands of times the purchase price for doing so is outrageous. Not to mention the sketchy means of finding those guilty of P2P activity and the sheer number of false positives that have made headlines.

Re:Outrageous! (4, Insightful)

mmaniaci (1200061) | more than 4 years ago | (#29041179)

The mod point I'm looking to give you is "-1 Flamebait." Since when is destorying someone's personal life akin to stealing an album? Get some perspective on life, please. Laws do not define right and wrong! Sorry for the flame, /., but people that are blind enough to believe laws are some sort of unchangeable and divine Truth need be burned.

Re:Outrageous! (1, Informative)

wbren (682133) | more than 4 years ago | (#29041391)

I'm not putting music theft and ID theft on par with each other, merely comparing our culture's attitudes towards each. My point is that we justify one thing which is clearly wrong (stealing music) and condemn another that is clearly wrong (ID theft). In no way did I trivialize ID theft or claim that it isn't a big deal.

And just for future reference, you lose all credibility with reasonable people when you call for the burning of an individual with a differing opinion. Grow. Up.

Re:Outrageous! (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 4 years ago | (#29041199)

Replace "P2P" with "shotguns", "music sharing" with "illegal hunting" and "ID theft" with "homicide" and you get yourself a good firearms analogy showing how it's different.

Good but not Great (3, Insightful)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040225)

I mean the guy should go for jail for it, no doubts there - but the fact that it can happen is the real issue that needs to be addressed.

I mean it's not the victim's fault, they probably don't even know what Limewire is, let alone how to use it or how it can be dangerous. It's not Limewire's fault, I mean any method they put in to prevent this will either detract from their service or will just spawn more problems.

And little Billy Downloady just put My Docs as the shared folder so his music goes into the music folder and the movies go into the movies folder. Having no idea that his parents happened to keep sensitive info in there.

I Guess the solution... Encrypt your Data regardless your situation?

Re:Good but not Great (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040337)

Encrypt your Data regardless your situation?

I wonder how many people, if they don't know that LimeWire is installed and running, are going to know how to encrypt their data....

Re:Good but not Great (2, Insightful)

Otto (17870) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040607)

I still blame the parents for not creating a decent separation of their data vs. their kids. Why does little Billy Downloady have the equivalent of root access, so he can install the software to begin with? Why does he have access to the tax records in the first place?

You don't need to resort to hard core encryption. Simple user separation would have prevented this sort of thing. Heck, even Windows rather lame user system would work just fine to prevent this.

Family members should have separate accounts on the local PC. It just makes sense.

Interesting (2, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040249)

Clearly using the information is wrong.
I don't think getting data from a folder someone has publicly shared is wrong.

And before someone uses that lame ass house analogy, it doesn't apply becasue that's not how computer communicate.

Re:Interesting (2, Interesting)

amorsen (7485) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040335)

I don't think getting data from a folder someone has publicly shared is wrong.

Around here, if you get an email by mistake (e.g. the wrong address was entered, or someone sent a private email to a work account which you are legally monitoring), you have no right to read it. You have to stop reading as soon as you realize that the email isn't for your eyes, and you have no right to share or use the information you received by mistake.

I think that analogy is quite close to the case of opening someone's Quicken file.

Re:Interesting (2, Informative)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040621)

Cripes, with some of the crazy emails around here, I -have- to read the entire email to be absolutely sure it wasn't for me.

Re:Interesting (1)

qwijibo (101731) | more than 4 years ago | (#29041737)

There's a subtlety in that the mistake isn't on the part of the email or the receiver, it's that the sender addressed the email to someone other than the intended party. While it's lame and unethical to exploit such a mistake, I doubt there would be any legal recourse if that person were to do anything they wanted with the information they received. The sender could be penalized for disclosing information to an unauthorized party, but there's no obligation on the part of the receiver of the email.

The legal distinction between incorrectly addressed email and shared files is one that I'm sure the courts will interpret in a way that makes no rational sense and can't be applied consistently. However, this guy then took that information and used it to open accounts. He clearly committed fraud and was prosecuted for it. This is the part where the legal system is actually working well since someone who caused harm is being punished, not just any random person who queried for files that could potentially contain sensitive information.

Similar problem with Kazaa (0, Offtopic)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040369)

[Reposting this little gem from a few weeks ago]
People kept settinng the Kazaa upload directory to C:\ and you could find anything. Everyone was searching for MP3s, but you could find DOC files in "Documents and Settings".

I forget what I searched for but I got a listing of Word Documents that included "Penis Enlargement Instructions.DOC" or something like that. So naturally I clicked on that one and downloaded it. Figuring, it might be real, because a moron dumb enough to let Kazaa index his documents folder would be the sort of person who responds to spam and shells out money for penis enlargement instructions. And once he's paid for and gotten actual instructions that are obviously bullshit, even if he felt he'd been suckered, he'd at least hold onto the file. Maybe for psychological reasons, or to prove he'd been scammed, I don't know. So they might have to be just barely plausible. And hey, if they are, free penis enlargement instructions, right?

IIRC the dude gives his testimonial, it's so incredible, it will work for you too etc. and then he goes into this procedure where you basically yank on it repeatedly.

Free penis enlargement tease. (1, Funny)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040663)

You are truly a horrible person! Teasing all of us with a long post, referring to free penis enlargement instructions, then not posting up the said instructions. You sir, are pure Evil!

Re:Similar problem with Kazaa (-1, Offtopic)

vintagepc (1388833) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040795)

IIRC the dude gives his testimonial, it's so incredible, it will work for you too etc. and then he goes into this procedure where you basically yank on it repeatedly.

If that really worked, wouldn't every single guy have to tuck it in to his sock in the morning? (Yes, off-topic, but I couldn't resist!)

Protected!? (5, Insightful)

SendBot (29932) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040417)

Wood was sentenced Tuesday to 39 months in prison and three years of supervised release for wire fraud, accessing a protected computer without authorization to commit fraud, and aggravated identity theft.

What chain of idiocy determined the computers he accessed to be "protected"?

Wood: Hey, do you have any files with names like this?
Computer: Yeah, I do.
Wood: Can I have them plz?
Computer: No problem - here they are for you.

Re:Protected!? (4, Informative)

wbren (682133) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040747)

What chain of idiocy determined the computers he accessed to be "protected"?

The U.S. Congress -- More specifically, the Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act expanded the definition of "protected computer" to include basically any computer with a network connection. More information is available at:

Re:Protected!? (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040907)

Is it a bad-faith argument? That the LimeWire users only intended to share media, and not sensitive data?

IANAL, but it seems possible that Wood knew what he was doing was not the intended purpose of the product, and thus is culpable for any damage caused through his own actions.

It would be morally, if not legally, similar to exploiting a vulnerability in Windows to gain the files. I mean, the user CHOSE to run Windows, and they CHOSE not to patch it, so they should expect to get breached, right?

No, probably not. Not in a legal sense, anyway. And this is likely the method used to convict here.

For bonus points, the right thing to do would have been to notify someone that this breach was possible, and help them stop it. He did the opposite of that, even if it were an incidental exposure to the information, which, from the summary, it was not.

Re:Protected!? (2, Insightful)

herksc (1447137) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040951)

Agreed.
This is from the The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act [wikipedia.org] that states it is a criminal offense when: "Knowingly accessing a protected computer with the intent to defraud and there by obtaining anything of value."

Poorly written law if you ask me. What if the computer is protected but some of the files are not? How do you define a "protected" computer anyway? What if it is locked in a safe, but connected to the internet with no safeguards? By definition of this law, if I retrieve national security information that someone posts on a /. comment, then I break this law, because the computer that hosts /. is "protected" in a co-lo.

Of course in this case, they had him on the Wire Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft also.

The good thing about this law is that it does not state it is a crime to "Knowingly access a protected computer with no intent to do harm".

Re:Protected!? (2, Informative)

herksc (1447137) | more than 4 years ago | (#29041097)

Some corrections:

This law actually states it is a crime when "Knowingly accessing a computer without authorization in order to obtain national security data". So even if the computer is not protected, it is a crime if you access it knowingly without authorization to to retrieve national security information. That part's not so bad.

It does state though that "Knowingly accessing a protected computer with the intent to defraud and there by obtaining anything of value" is a crime. So using a computer to commit fraud is worse than stealing the information another way? I don't get it.

Sorry for the inaccuracies in the first post.

Ouch (2, Insightful)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040457)

Yet another damn good reason not to let your kids have free reign on your computer that you also use for banking and filing your taxes.

Nobody in this article has any common sense (2, Insightful)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040527)

Frederick Wood: did he think passing off boxes of junk as computers would never fail?

First craigslist victim: you wrote a check without checking the product?

Prosecutor: what 'protected computer' was accessed? Do you have a different definition of protected?

ID theft Victims: what are you thinking putting sensitive information on a computer used by teenagers?

I found the hidden agenda. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29040647)

From the article: "Warma's advice to people who want to avoid becoming victims of this kind of identity theft was to "get Limewire off your computers." Even the added security features in the most recent version can be circumvented, she said.

"I think it's a horrible idea for people to have peer-to-peer software on their computers unless they're a very sophisticated user," she said. "

Next story please.

PS: Captcha is "audited". I encourage everyone to contribute the the research of the development of /.'s AI, data-mining, captcha generation algorithm.

Not Surprising (3, Insightful)

Dekks (808541) | more than 4 years ago | (#29040709)

I'm still amazed how many people think it's a great idea to have their resume on their personal website, along with their date of birth, address and believe it or not I've actually seen people put their SSN on their resumes.

Re:Not Surprising (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29041691)

SSN is required for applying to the Federal Government

I Blame the System Tray (2, Insightful)

AtomicDevice (926814) | more than 4 years ago | (#29041187)

With all that crap in the MS system tray, it's a wonder anyone has any idea when new things appear on their machine.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...