Judge Rules Man Waived Privacy Claims After Leaving USB Drive in Shared PC

Paul Lilly

Octavius Durdley, an emergency paramedic with the Bradford County Emergency Services (BCES) in Florida, is going to have a tough time gaining any sympathy for his plight. You see, Durdley was charged last September with possessing and distributing child pornography, but it's how the evidence was obtained that is likely to cause a few outcries in the case.

Durdley-do-wrong committed a big no-no, and we're not talking about the (allegedly) obvious one here. What landed Durdley in hot water was accidentally leaving a USB flash drive plugged into a computer provided by the BCES, a PC that's shared by him and other members of the emergency service.

A supervisor discovered the files and turned Durdley in to authorities. This ultimately led to a search of his house, both of which Durdley claims are violations of his Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure. Judge Maurice Paul of the U.S. District Court for the northern district of Florida didn't agree.

"Durdley's files were exposed to anyone who sat down at the computer station who used the traditional means for opening and viewing files," the judge wrote in a 15-page ruling. Furthermore, the supervisor who discovered the files did so without any "special means or intruding into any area which Durdley could reasonably expect to remain private."

Ignoring the nature of the alleged crime, what are your thoughts on this? Is forgetting to pull your USB key out of a shared PC cause for others to poke around?

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