-AB-,penet, and CaltechBy firstname.lastname@example.org (Richard E. Fagen)
26 Jun 1995 16:24:03 GMT
On Wednesday afternoon, February 8th, three private investigators visited the Caltech Security Office and the Campus Computing Organization. The P.I.s wanted to know the identity of the holder of the account "tc" on the Caltech Alumni Association computer system (alumni.caltech.edu). They claimed to have gotten the account name from the anon.penet.fi server via the Helsinki police. Due to the unusual nature of this request, the P.I.s were told that Caltech would need more information before this type of information could be given out. Later that day, an attorney representing the Church of Scientology called the campus computing support office demanding the name of the account holder. The attorney claimed that a document had been stolen from a CoS computer system, and that the document had been posted to the a.r.s newsgroup from alumni.caltech.edu via the anon remailer. (The claim was the document was created on Jan. 21 and appeared in a.r.s. on Jan. 24). The computing support staff did not divulge the name of the account holder, and the CoS attorney was referred to the Caltech General Counsel's office.
The Computer Crime Unit of the Bunco-Forgery Division of the LAPD subsequently contacted Caltech security and asked for more information on the case. The LAPD wanted to know if a breakin to the CoS computer had occurred from the alumni system. Caltech told the LAPD that no evidence of such a break in could be found. The LAPD requested and was given the name of the "tc" account holder with the understanding that this information would not be divulged. A couple days after that Caltech was informed that the LAPD could find no evidence that a crime had been committed.
In the ensuing several days, the attorney and P.I.s representing CoS made repeated attempts (both via phone and by physically appearing on the Caltech and JPL campuses) to obtain the contents of the tc account and also the tape backups (the account holder had admitted to deleting most of the contents of the account). The CoS attorney produced a letter allegedly signed by the tc account holder allowing CoS permission to get the data stored on that account and the backups. Due to irregularities with both the letter and a phone conversation with the account holder, permission for CoS to have access to the data in the account was denied by Caltech.
After the CoS attorney and P.I.s continued their attempts to get the data, Caltech retained the counsel of an independent law firm. Soon after that, all communication with the CoS ended. One phone call from the tc account holder requesting the backup data was received by the computing support staff. This request was also denied. That was the last communication with the account holder.
Our analysis is that Caltech was caught in the middle of what appears to be an internal matter between the Church of Scientology and one of its members, who also happened to be an account holder on the Caltech alumni computer. No evidence that a Caltech computer was used to break into another computer, or was used to store stolen documents could ever be found.
I hope this serves to shine a little light on this chain of events.
Rich Fagen Director, Campus Computing Organization Caltech