I had always imagined that theft is a fairly simple thing.
You own something, someone who doesn't own it takes it, and that is illegal.
Yet this may not be the case in Australia. For one of the nation's most celebrated Olympic stars claims that a computer store availed itself of highly personal images of him and his wife from his computer -- something that may not be illegal.
You will be stunned into an Olympic stupor to discover that the nation's Sunday Telegraph now claims to have seen these images, which reportedly involve the sportsman, his wife, and something of carnal Olympiad.
The Telegraph says that the star took his computer to a repair shop in Sydney in order for it to be repaired. It is alleged that this store's staff habitually go through computers in search of material that might be, um, interesting.
Sadly, this habit doesn't seem to be adequately covered by the law. The Telegraph says that, according to Australian law, "access data which is not protected or restricted by an access control system," or password can be happily taken by anyone.
This seems frightfully odd. It also seems odd that the best law on the subject could herald from 1900, which this one apparently does.
However, of this computer store (which has not been named), the Telegraph quotes a source who said: "If someone came in who he thought had 'potential,' [the boss] asked if the computer could be looked at to see if there was anything intimate on it."
The allegations are that the boss of this store wanted such material for financial gain, although there is no proof of this.
Still, the sports star is reportedly fuming.
For its part, the store has offered a denial. Its owner, though, -- perhaps ominously -- told the Telegraph: "If people choose to put photos and personal information on their computers, that's their decision."
Some are suggesting that even if there is no law against taking the pictures, there must be one against copying them or duplicating them without permission, as this store allegedly did.
Still, how many real people would think of, say, encrypting everything before taking their computer in for repair? How many might think of securely deleting potentially compromising files?
Though the Australian legal situation does indeed, seem difficult, how many people -- anywhere in the world -- wonder what happens when they leave their computer with a hairy-chinned genius of one kind of another?