Thursday, December 20, 2007

Your right to privacy does not include your hard disk

If you have your computer repaired, you have no privacy. The hard drive of your home computer likely has tax returns, bank account numbers, correspondence, and other data that you regard as private. However, a recent court decision says that computer store repair techs may rummage through your files.

This issue got to court because Circuit City technicians did a search on Kenneth Sodomsky's PC for video files and allegedly found child porn. He was charged but the trial court said that Circuit City shouldn't have done that. A Pennsylvania Superior Court disagreed and said that Mr. Sodomsky had no reasonable expectation of privacy after he gave his computer to the store for a hardware upgrade. Prosecuting pederasts is a good thing. For the rest of us, though, this may not be a helpful precedent.

An identity thief may merely need your name, your date of birth, and your social security number. If he has access to your hard drive, he probably has this and a lot more.

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