Tuesday, May 11, 2004
Mitsubishi abandons employee
Inquisition 21st century :
Our 'Mitsubishi abandons employee story' below has set off a huge debate about defence against charges of child pornography. We have lost track off the number of online and offline journals and newspapers that have either used it directly or done their own versions. At one stage our server shut us down when our traffic exceeded bandwidth, which we promptly doubled. It was carried by Wired, the Register, Security Focus, TechNews.com, the Washington Times, the Washington Post (their own version), CNN, Reuters and many others and discussed on numerous lists numerous.
The clear opinion is that whether or not Jack was squeaky clean, his browser could have been, and probably was, hijacked, his employer and others badly contaminated the evidence against him, his lawyer gave him bad service, and he has still not received any justice despite his life being destroyed.
Rob Pegoraro, of The Washington Post in his 'Browser Hijacking' follow up story said that ‘the ongoing Internet-security freak-out for anybody using Windows keeps getting worse’ and that ‘Browser hijacking is as bad as it gets’.
Reuters homed in on a most relevant theme: “Prosecutors looking to throw the book at accused computer hackers have come across a legal defence expected to become even more widespread in an era of hijacked PCs and laptops that threatens to blur the lines of personal responsibility: the computer did it.”
Jack is a US citizen and former refugee from Eastern Europe, whose English is not yet proficient enough for him to deal with US police and lawyers. He is a highly qualified engineer and worked in the US for Mitsubishi. Ironically, he tested hard drives.
Mitsubishi gave him a Toshiba laptop, over which he used to dial up connect to the company server using an 800 number, and Microsoft Outlook for emails. He also had a connection with an SAP database to track problems, and create notifications. His dial up password was simply 'password' and he believes that everybody could use it and pointed this out many times to his supervisor and after a year and a half he was allowed a new password. When not with customers, he worked out of his home office. His work laptop was connected to the company server all the time. He also had a home PC and a home laptop.
Mitsubishi called him into the Chicago head office with his laptop. When invited out of the room, they seized the laptop, and told him he was fired, and to get out quick as they were calling the police. Two weeks later, returning home from job searching, the police were waiting with a
search warrant. They found no child porn, as he says ‘not even Playboy’, in his home, but on the second personal laptop that he had bought secondhand through eBay, they found 12 small pictures in unallocated clusters on its hard drive. He did not recognize them when they were
shown to him by his lawyer, and says that forensic specialists could not provide the name of files or the time of the files creation. It looked to him like they were deleted pics from the Temporary Internet folder, possibly from a previous owner.
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