Command Line Commandos

You have to wonder what was going through the minds of the Boston College Police Department when they decided it would be a good idea to arrest student Riccardo Calixte. Apparently his computer knowledge made him suspect, particularly his ability to use the command line in order to run programs or computer utilities.

The case in question deals with Calixte and an unnamed complainant making allegations about “suspicious” computer activities. Calixte is also accused of sending an e-mail to a mailing list that disparaged the complainant. That right there should have given the police some pause and made them investigate whether the suspicious activity allegations were payback for a perceived wrong.

Because Calixte allegedly is skilled with computers, has been seen with unknown computers, had "jail broken" iPhones, used different operating systems "to hide his illegal activities," and "illegally downloaded movies as well as music," among other supposed indicators of wrongdoing, college police seized the student's cell phone, iPod, computers, disks, and, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a "Post-it" note that Calixte was using to take notes about officers' actions during the search.

The crime being investigated is the sending of an e-mail to a school mailing list that identified another student as being gay. That student, the victim in the case, is the informant providing information against Calixte.

So, with little investigative work beforehand, the BC Police seize every bit of electronic equipment of the suspect. Their reasoning: he's a computer science student, knows how to use the command line, works with a number of operating systems, and probably knows how to write programs, too. By that twisted chain of logic, that makes me as much as a suspect as Calixte. It also makes Skip of GraniteGrok a suspect, as well as my dear brother, and a few million other people in North America.

The entire basis of the seizure of Calixte's equipment is this: “We think this guy sent an e-mail to an e-mail list.”

By that reasoning I should have all my electronics seized, too.

How stupid is that?

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