Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Search Warrants Released in Breach of Nova Scotia Freedom-of-Information Website

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Search Warrants Released in Breach of Nova Scotia Freedom-of-Information Website

Article excerpt

Search warrants released in N.S. breach case

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HALIFAX - Search warrants say a Nova Scotia civil servant told police somebody "hacked" into the province's freedom-of-information website in a case investigators later dropped because there were no grounds to lay criminal charges.

The warrants, sworn by a Halifax Regional Police officer, were provided by the courts after an application by the Halifax Examiner.

They alleged that the teenager -- whose identity is edited out -- "used a software that penetrated the system an extensive number of times" in early March.

However, the young man's lawyer, David Fraser, says the young man only used simple, widely available software to collect documents he thought were public information.

Fraser said the youth never intended to scoop up people's personal files or social insurance numbers, and this was due to a lack of proper security safeguards on the website.

He said the search warrant uses loaded terms like ''unlawfully,'' ''hacker'' and ''unusual requests."

Such documents should be "just the facts," Fraser said, but this one "is full of loaded terms, assumptions that have proven to be incorrect and adjectives that are uncalled for."

As for the software used, Fraser said it's a freely available software called Wget, which simply automates what a web browser does all the time.

"People who are very comfortable with the technology are able to 'speak with computers' in ways that might appear unusual to others, but are really simple and straightforward, but save time, effort and redundant clicking."

Police arrested the young man on April 11 after searching his home, but three weeks later issued a news release to indicate "the 19-year-old who was arrested ... did not have intent to commit a criminal offence."

Halifax police said the youth was arrested under a rarely used section of the Criminal Code that prohibits the unauthorized use of a computer with fraudulent intent. …

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