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  1. #1
    2bigdaddy is offline Junior Member
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    Legalit of removing computer passwords

    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? Montana

    Looking for information on the legality and liability of removing an operating system login password from a computer. Specifically, is it legal for a tech to remove such password(s) from a computer or laptop, and are there specific requirements the tech has to take to make sure the person making the request is the owner of the device?
  2. #2
    Zigner is offline Senior Member
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    Your question is overly broad.
  3. #3
    2bigdaddy is offline Junior Member
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    Thank you for your reply, though I'm not quite sure how to narrow it down.

    Are there legal requirements a computer technician must fulfill to verify the customer is the owner or is otherwise authorized to make such a request?

    Under what circumstances is it legal for a computer technician to remove a password from a computer?

    I have attempted to search Montana State Code with little success, but even just a pointer to the correct section(s) would be very much appreciated.
  4. #4
    csi7 is offline Senior Member
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    I have no clue as to the legal answer to this one.

    However, I do know that if the tech is working for a particular company, the rules of the company apply. If the tech is independent and comes in to do technical work for the company, then it needs to be in the contract all the details as to what work is being contracted for, who is responsible for the security once the password has been released.
  5. #5
    Stevef is offline Senior Member
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    If it turns out the PC is stolen, tech could be charged with aiding and abetting.
  6. #6
    tranquility is offline Senior Member
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    Are there legal requirements a computer technician must fulfill to verify the customer is the owner or is otherwise authorized to make such a request?
    There is not a list of legal requirement. However, there are many crimes where the intent matters. Willful ignorance can sometimes equal intent. Also, with some torts, intent to do the act will be all that matters and not intent to violate someone's rights.

    Under what circumstances is it legal for a computer technician to remove a password from a computer?
    Whenever it is not illegal. (Sorry, but that's the answer.) There is not a law defining what is legal in this situation.
  7. #7
    swalsh411 is offline Senior Member
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    What do you mean by "removing" Remove as in clear from saved passwords so the user has to type it in again? Or do you make obtaining a password he is not supposed to have?

    Merely knowing a password to any system is not breaking any law I am aware of. You break the law when you access or attempt to access a system illegally.
  8. #8
    xylene is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by swalsh411 View Post
    You break the law when you access or attempt to access a system illegally.
    That's circular.

    Is a locksmith breaking and entering when I direct her to drill out the deadbolt lock on my house...
  9. #9
    tranquility is offline Senior Member
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    That's circular.

    Is a locksmith breaking and entering when I direct her to drill out the deadbolt lock on my house...
    The reason why it has to be circular is because of your hypothetical. Let me change something.


    Is a locksmith breaking and entering when I direct her to drill out the deadbolt lock on [the] house..

    Is it illegal?
  10. #10
    swalsh411 is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by xylene View Post
    That's circular.

    Is a locksmith breaking and entering when I direct her to drill out the deadbolt lock on my house...
    No because an element of trespassing is that you have no right to be there. I don't understand the point you are attempting to make.
  11. #11
    Zigner is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by swalsh411 View Post
    No because an element of trespassing is that you have no right to be there. I don't understand the point you are attempting to make.
    Let's say I walk up to YOUR house, call a locksmith and instruct him to drill-out the lock. Is the locksmith breaking the law?
  12. #12
    TheGeekess is offline Senior Member
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    As a PC technician, the only time I asked about a bill of sale on a PC or laptop was to see if it was under warranty.
  13. #13
    2bigdaddy is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by swalsh411 View Post
    What do you mean by "removing" Remove as in clear from saved passwords so the user has to type it in again? Or do you make obtaining a password he is not supposed to have?
    I mean clearing the password entirely. After such a procedure the computer would not require a login password. The current password would not be given to the customer, or even known by the tech. In simplest terms, the password would be erased from the password file and their would be no need to enter a password to access the computer, until/unless a new password is created.

    In much the same way that a locksmith attempts to verify ownership of property (car, home, etc) after he opens/drills locks, a tech may ask questions about the contents of the computer (file names, settings, etc) that he might verify after unlocking the computer. Does this action, if documented, at least demonstrate intent to act legally and possibly limit his liability?
  14. #14
    TheGeekess is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2bigdaddy View Post
    I mean clearing the password entirely. After such a procedure the computer would not require a login password. The current password would not be given to the customer, or even known by the tech. In simplest terms, the password would be erased from the password file and their would be no need to enter a password to access the computer, until/unless a new password is created.

    In much the same way that a locksmith attempts to verify ownership of property (car, home, etc) after he opens/drills locks, a tech may ask questions about the contents of the computer (file names, settings, etc) that he might verify after unlocking the computer. Does this action, if documented, at least demonstrate intent to act legally and possibly limit his liability?
    Dude, no PC tech I've known has cared that much. The job is requested, done and the tech paid. The only time I've seen PC techs get squirrelly about something on a PC that was being worked on was when possible child porn showed up. That's almost ALWAYS reported.
  15. #15
    cbg
    cbg is offline Senior Member
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    Are you perhaps still under the impression that there are any statutes regarding computer passwords? Because there aren't.
    Two things I am tired of typing: 1.) A wrongful termination does not mean that you were fired for something you didn't do; it means that you were fired for a reason prohibited by law. 2.) The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding contract or CBA expressly says otherwise. If it does, the terms of the contract apply.

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