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Topic: #attacks-on-inquiry

Canadian Student Arrested for Accessing Documents in a Public Government Database


The Canadian province of Nova Scotia maintains a public database of government documents that have been released in response to freedom-of-information requests and have provided a Web interface to it. A nineteen-year-old Canadian student who was interested in learning about a labor dispute involving teachers in the province found some relevant files in that database but had difficulty searching for the ones he wanted. Since the Web pages for all of the documents had easily predictable URLs, he wrote a script to run through the URLs and download all of the documents, intending to go through them off line with better search tools.

It turns out that about two hundred fifty of the seven thousand documents in the database contained personally identifiable information that the provincial government had failed to remove before putting the documents on line.

Naturally, it's not the government that is in trouble as a result of this blunder. When the authorities discovered that the student had downloaded these published documents, they charged him with “unauthorized use of a computer.” He now faces up to ten years in prison.

He lives at home with his parents and younger siblings. The police staged a home invasion, tore up the house, confiscated the student's computers and gear, his father's work computers and cell phone, and his brother's computer, arrested his brother on the street, and detained and questioned his thirteen-year-old sister in a police car.

“Teen Charged in Nova Scotia Government Breach Says He Had ‘No Malicious Intent’”
Jack Julian, CBC News, April 16, 2018

#chilling-effects #law-enforcement #attacks-on-inquiry

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created June 1, 2014 · last revised December 10, 2018