December 1, 2005: As holiday starts, all seized property still in the custody of Capsicum, Health Market Science's paid forensics experts.See the full timeline >
November 9, 2005: Attorneys withdraw from case - Chip needs new representation.The loss of income, the incredible attorney's expenses and the unlimited funds of HMS have caused Chip's inability to afford his attorneys.
July 9, 2005: Donations and emails from geeks around the world."Thank you!" to all our new friends...your donations and creative moral support are very much appreciated. You are making it possible for Chip to keep up the fight. We are working to answer all your emails. Donations have been coming from as far away as Australia, Canada, New Zeland, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Italy, Israel, Denmark, UK, Germany and of course everywhere in the US. Keep spreading the word...we still have a long way to go to reach $40K.
Below is the text of Chip's story as posted on Slashdot.org, June 30, 2005. Links have been added to documents and pages on this site.
Perl's Chip Salzenberg Sued, Home Raided
Chip Salzenberg writes: "In April of this year, Health Market Science of King of Prussia, PA, told police that they feared I was misappropriating trade secrets. That very afternoon, police raided my house with a search warrant to seize every computer in the house, paper files, CDs, and DVDs... even my wireless router and cable modem!" Chip was the pumpking for perl's 5.004 release. Keep reading for his description of his current legal troubles, and for a shortcut into what he says prompted his former company's actions, read his letter warning about abuse of open proxies.
This affects you too.
Why 23 million telecommuters need to be worried about this case
Or: How your life can land into the "wrong hands".
Twenty-three million telecommuters (IATC 2003) access their employer's network from home. Some use their own personal computers, while others use a computer their employer assigned to them by their employer. Some bring their laptop to and from work. Do you? Should a dispute arise between you and your employer, you may be exposed to the legal tactics and strategies used by Chip's employer.
The company can file a police report, show logs of your network activity, convince the often insufficiently sophisticated police that your behavior is suspicious and claim they are in "fear" of the loss of their property and/or trade secrets and potentially millions of dollars of profits. If you're a programmer, that is your job description permits you to "appropriate" huge source code downloads with only even less uploads - exposing you to a "claim" of theft of your company's confidential and proprietary information and trade secrets. All the while you are having an exchage with the CEO by email, phone and fax about how to resolve things...thinking that you are still employed.
In the meantime...the police, so induced will proceed to obtain a search warrant, raid your home and take every computer, CD/DVD, file folder or anything else that they have been told or "believe" might store information that "may" belong to your employer. Since they don't have time or the expertise to figure out what is what: THEY JUST TAKE IT ALL! After all it was around your home or hooked up to your home network via a single router. They can and will do all this just based on your employer's representations to the police who may not verify any of the information represented to them. It's really amazing how fast the "wheels of justice" can be made to turn. In Chip's case the search warrant was approved by a judge and the house raided in less than four hours from the time the company CEO was interviewed by the investigating detective.
BE FORWARNED! Your tools of your trade, the children's computers, your spouse or roommate's work computer, the router/cable modem, files of correspondence between the you and the employer are ALL subject to being seized "under the color of law." All your personal information, family records, tools of your trade...gone...locked up in some evidence locker indefinitely. If that weren't bad enough every working person in the household may be now be at risk of losing their jobs because their computers were seized and you can't even Google for help.
Good luck trying to get it all back! When the DA drops the criminal investigation a civil suit can be filed, circumventing the laws on return of seized property. Then a motion can be granted by a judge, to allow the company to take possession of all your personal property. Your identity is now in the "wrong hands". And with mounting legal bills, money running out resulting in the inability to defend yourself. The Company has seemingly unlimited funds...you don't even have your job. By involving the police, the company may attempt to bypass the entire civil discovery process designed to protect you and now is driving you financially into the ground. In the land of equal justice for all...it's not looking good for you.
Unless the entire work at home and laptop on company network community quickly responds with a message loud and clear that we will NOT tolerate this, you may be the next person needing a defense fund website. Not saying that every employer will resort to these strategies but it will become known that this method of "dispute resolution" is a successful available tool should they choose to use it. Use this case to learn how to protect yourself and please give freely.