If I buy a used computer, do I own all the data on it as well?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Stokes, Apr 3, 2011.

  1. Stokes macrumors regular

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    #1
    Say I go to a pawn shop (in the USA) and buy a used computer (or even iPod for that matter), and take the new-to-me machine home.

    When I get home, I find that it has a lot of information on it.

    Some of it is commercial programming (such as the OS or paid apps), some of it music, and some of it just documents, emails and pictures.

    Do I own those? Do I have a legal obligation to wipe that stuff out?


    What happens if I find evidence that the previous owner was doing something illegal? Maybe a picture of him standing in his living room amongst a large marijuana grow operation. How about emails where he's discussing his fraudulent behavior with a co-conspirator?

    Thanks for your advise!
     
  2. SwiftLives macrumors 65816

    SwiftLives

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    #2
    Sounds like someone forgot to wipe a head drive.

    You only own the software if you received the licenses and serial numbers to all of the programs as part of the transaction. As for any incriminating pictures on it, you really have no idea if it's a picture of the owner, if the plants are actual marijuana plants, nor whether or not they belong to the person in the picture. Unless you have reason to believe someone is in immediate danger, I'd go on and delete the photos along with all of the other information on the computer.
     
  3. Stokes thread starter macrumors regular

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    #3
    Thank you for your reply.

    Please... lets all just pretend this is hypothetical.

    But, lets pretend that while I don't know who the original owner of the machine was, I might have been shocked to find out that I know his girlfriend. I don't know her well, but if I saw her on the street, I'd say hello.

    Now, lets also pretend that in some of those emails contain information that would be of great interest to her. Enough that if it was me, and someone knew and didn't tell me, I'd be super upset.

    If I rat this fellow out, do I take on any criminal liability?
     
  4. obeygiant macrumors 68040

    obeygiant

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    #4
    Don't rat him out. Just delete whatever is on the drive and proceed with your life.
     
  5. Stokes thread starter macrumors regular

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    #5
    You know... Im normally a MYOB kind of guy. I really am.
    But, some of this is just too disturbing.

    Lets pretend for a moment that much of the correspondence I read was about his trysts with transsexual and transgendered people, and then lots of stuff about another Airman that was recently convicted for knowingly passing on HIV to people.

    Sure, there are some dots to connect.... but, he's having sex with TS/TG people and his GF doesn't know it. Moreso, he has lots of interest in HIV type stuff. Her health might be compromised and she might not even know it.
     
  6. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

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    #6
    you could risk your friendship with the girl but like other have said just trash everything and call it good.
     
  7. SwiftLives macrumors 65816

    SwiftLives

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    #7
    For all you know, the girlfriend is well aware of these trysts. Quit snooping. Delete the information. Move on.
     
  8. Apple OC macrumors 68040

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    #8
    sounds like the kind of questions someone would ask if they sold their phone without wiping the data :cool:

    are you worried that your girlfriend will find out your secret?
     
  9. RITZFit macrumors 65816

    RITZFit

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    #9
    Honestly, the issue is prob best left alone. There is a possibility (however slight or great) that the info is taken out of context. You don't want to open a can of worms over something that you may not have ALL the facts of (especially something that doesn't really involve you). Personally, I don't mess around w/ used hard drives, I would buy a new one and move along...nothing to see here.
     
  10. mcrain macrumors 68000

    mcrain

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    #10
    Wikileaks! Or better yet, your local newspaper via an anonymous delivery! Spill all the beans and sit back and watch the carnage you have wrought!

    Muhahahaha!

    (The advice you've already received is probably your best course of action. Anything you do other than deleting the information [I'd probably make a backup to hang onto] has a dozen ways of biting you in the rear.)
     
  11. KingYaba macrumors 68040

    KingYaba

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  12. geekgirl macrumors regular

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    #12
    Tell. Her. Now!

    Seriously. Safety trumps etiquette. I would want to know.

    Yes, she may be angry with you for awhile, but honestly, this is serious enough that she needs to know. If she already knows, fine. But if she doesn't, this info could save her health, and possibly her life.

    You HAVE to tell her.
     
  13. Liquorpuki macrumors 68020

    Liquorpuki

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    #13
    There's a difference between paying for software and coming across private data that should've been deleted by the owner but since it wasn't, presents you with an ethical dilemna you now need to deal with

    With that HIV example, the ethical thing would be to tell her. Same with that marijuana stash and reporting it to the cops.
     
  14. Liquorpuki macrumors 68020

    Liquorpuki

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    #14
    And if she isn't?

    Then you've contributed to your friend possibly contracting HIV. Or worst case, an HIV epidemic

    All because you're afraid to get your female friend upset
     
  15. Stokes thread starter macrumors regular

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    #15
    I think I'll have to tell her.

    I don't know her well enough that if she never wanted to talk to me again, I wouldn't really care.

    But, I do know her well enough (and the very fact that she's a human and deserves some respect), that I'd feel awful for her if she contracted a disease that she might not have if I would have mustered some courage and spilled the beans.

    Some of this guys stuff is really creepy.

    I'll report back how it goes. At the best, I hope both him and her are free of disease and I don't get into legal trouble for spilling it. At worst, for me, I might have to defend snooping, but the worst for her could cost her life. Weighed like that, I'd be a monster to keep it under my hat.
     
  16. bizzle macrumors 6502a

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    #16
    Just erase and drive and move on with your life. This is the problem with this world, everyone all up in everyone else's business.
     
  17. Mac'nCheese macrumors 68030

    Mac'nCheese

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    #17
    Wrong. finding out that someone might be at risk of getting aids and telling them to be careful is the decent thing to do.
     
  18. Stokes thread starter macrumors regular

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    #18
    Well, I told her what I saw.

    She was very grateful. I've since erased the machine (it was actually an iPad) of all data, factory restore, and updated the OS.

    She told me that she's never had unprotected sex with him. Also, she had suspected that something was wrong, and was looking for a reason to end their relationship. She said she's not going to use this information in her dumping of him, as there is plenty of other reasons to site, and she really doesn't want to argue, just to be done with him. She's not surprised at all that he has unprotected sex with others, as she was the one that was insistent on it's use.

    Still she's going to get tested, just for peace of mind.

    I doubt that my relationship with her will change any at all. We weren't close before, and we won't be after this. If anything, she's appreciative of me, and I see no down side. I'm not looking for a reward or congratulations. I just would have hated to hear of harm to someone that I could have prevented with just an ounce of courage.


    To you folks that think I was out of line. I hope that at some point, you're never in her situation, and if you are, you run into someone like me, not someone like you.
     
  19. VideoFreek macrumors 6502

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    #19
    You followed your conscience and you did the right thing. Well done!
     
  20. SwiftLives macrumors 65816

    SwiftLives

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    #20
    I have to agree - despite what I said earlier, you did the right thing.
     
  21. likemyorbs macrumors 68000

    likemyorbs

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    #21
    You did the right thing! She deserved to know. And she was also very smart about insisting that he used protection. A lot of girls would cave in.
     
  22. benhollberg macrumors 68020

    benhollberg

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    #22
    Post it on the Internet if it is interesting, or try to sell valuable information.
     
  23. joepunk macrumors 68030

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    #23
    IMO you did the right thing in telling her about his possible risky sexual behaviour. She was at risk and didn't know it. Afaik a person with HIV/AIDS performing unprotected sex and not telling sexual partners is a crime. He may or may not have been using protection, we on the internet don't know the detail, but he was engaging in some risky behaviour and wasn't telling her.

    With the weed plants I would just delete those and in some way forget you saw that part.
     
  24. Rt&Dzine macrumors 6502a

    Rt&Dzine

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    #24
    I agree, but what if it were a meth lab?
     
  25. Apple OC macrumors 68040

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    #25
    it wasn't ... IMO Marijuana should not even be illegal :cool:
     

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