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FBI Dad’s Spyware Exposes Principal


Joseph Auther put spyware on his twelve-year-old son’s laptop, because he’s a father and wants to make sure his son’s using the laptop correctly. After it was returned to the school, he realized the spyware was still working, and someone was being very bad on it. Oh, and also: Auther’s a special agent in the FBI.

The spyware’s called eBlaster. It records everything the user is doing online, offline, whatever. Everything is recorded and notifications are e-mailed to you. The company even promotes it as a way to protect your children from potential sexual predators.

Well, Auther, after done experimenting with the spyware, attempted to delete it, even going so far as bringing it to two different service centers to have the laptop completely wiped. But — hey, who knew? — it’s very difficult to actually get rid of spyware. Especially when you authorized its installation to begin with. And so, months later, he gets transferred from the Marianas to Denver.

And he starts getting notifications. Someone was looking at child pornography on his son’s former laptop in the Marianas.

Right then and there, everyone pretty much agrees that Auther should’ve gone to the FBI. But he does a little bit of investigating, asking his son’s former principal Thomas Weindl if he could buy his son’s old laptop. The 67 year old man and family friend says it was returned to the Public School System, an organization that provides laptops to schools.

So Auther asks the PSS if they had the laptop, they said they never received it. Auther realizes that Weindl’s lying and calls up the FBI to open an investigation.

Weindl and his lawyers have been saying that Auther was spying on him as an FBI agent, but  Judge Ramona Manglona has thus far ruled in Auther’s favor, saying that he was operating as a father first.

The judge then wrote in her ruling:

Sometimes, people delude themselves into thinking that they have a right to things that don’t belong to them. A person cannot have a reasonable expectation of privacy in a computer he stole or obtained by fraud.

Question: Do you think this qualifies as unreasonable search and seizure?