Linux Use Illegal at Boston College

A student was targeted by police at Boston College… for using Linux? A warrant for search was issued after student Mr. Calixte sent an email stating that another student was gay. Reports say he was targeted because he uses Linux. The computer science major is employed by the Boston College IT department (has since been suspended), and the warrant application states that he is called a “master of his trade among his peers.” From Calixte police seized his computers, flash drives, digital camera, iPod, cell phone, and an Ubunto Linux CD among other things.

Here are a few interesting excerpts from the warrant application:


Mr. Calixte's arrest warrant. (via Electronic Frontier Foundation)

As one blogger pointed out, we’re quite certain that Windows is owned by Microsoft, not Boston College. Linux isn’t the underworld of computing, it’s a popular open source operating system. It should come as no surprise that this computer science major is using it.

It’s unfortunate that he chose to use his computer skills to mistreat a fellow student. It’s also unfortunate that the Boston College and Massachusetts police appear to have misused their authority.

From Electronic Frontier Foundation:

Aside from the remarkable overreach by campus and state police in trying to paint a student as suspicious in part because he can navigate a non-Windows computer environment, nothing cited in the warrant application could possibly constitute the cited criminal offenses. There are no assertions that a commercial (i.e. for pay) commercial service was defrauded, a necessary element of any “Obtaining computer services by Fraud or Misrepresentation” allegation. Similarly, the investigating officer doesn’t explain how sending an e-mail to a campus mailing list might constitute “unauthorized access to a computer system.”

3 Responses to “Linux Use Illegal at Boston College”

  1. noah says:

    a real shame someone used linux for that, that isn’t what it was meant for

  2. factory123 says:

    Linux use is not illegal at Boston College. In this case, Linux is a red herring. The student wasn’t targeted for using Linux. The student was targeted because of the prank emails. The prankster was identified by the roommate. Boston College’s internet access logs confirmed the prankster’s identity.

    I suggest reading the entire warrant application to get a full picture of the situation. The excerpts you quote were provided by the prankster’s attorney and are deceptively misleading about the contents of the application.

    As for the “BC operating system”, while that does sound odd, apparently it’s a reference to a particular software suite commonly used at Boston College. To be clear, what you’re reading isn’t the officer’s description of the software, it’s what the roommate said.

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