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Judge Tosses Porn-Loving Gun Convict's Suit Against Microsoft

The convict argued that security features advertised by Microsoft should have kept federal agents from accessing files on his PC.

Paul McDougall

March 8, 2007

2 Min Read

A judge has dismissed a privacy lawsuit brought against Microsoft by a convicted felon who claims he suffered "great embarrassment" after security features on his Windows PC failed to prevent FBI agents from discovering home-made porn and links to adult Internet sites on his hard drive.

In a ruling handed down Wednesday, federal Judge Mark Wolf of the U.S. District Court for Massachusetts said Michael Alan Crooker "failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted" and approved Microsoft's motion for summary dismissal.

Crooker, who is currently in jail in Connecticut on firearms charges, argued that security features advertised by Microsoft should have kept federal agents from accessing files on his PC after they seized it during a raid on his home.

The FBI agents were searching for evidence of criminal activity but instead found video files of Crooker and his girlfriend having sex and Internet Explorer history files showing links to a number of pornographic Web sites.

Crooker said in court papers that he "suffered great embarrassment" as a result of Microsoft's failure to keep the FBI's prying eyes off his computer and sued the software maker for $200,000.

In its motion for dismissal, Microsoft argued that its warranty states that its liability is limited to the cost of software in cases where its products don't work as advertised. The company also noted that it "did not promise or guarantee that Windows would prevent the FBI's foremost computer forensics experts from recovering evidence of Crooker's illegal activities from his computer."

Microsoft said that a finding in favor of Crooker would have created a dangerous precedent. "Technology companies like Microsoft would be required to assist criminals in concealing the evidence of their criminal activities, upon pain of civil liabilities," the company said in a court filing.

In its motion to dismiss, Microsoft revealed that Crooker had offered to settle the case for as little as $1,000 to save it from the trouble of "hiring expensive local attorneys or filing sophisticated paperwork," according to a copy of a letter that the aptly named jailbird sent to Microsoft.

Crooker has at least one conviction for a weapons related offense, according to court records.

About the Author(s)

Paul McDougall

Editor At Large, InformationWeek

Paul McDougall is a former editor for InformationWeek.

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