Times May Have Crossed Line by Snooping Emails

Fabrice Tourre story based on laptop found in trash
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 1, 2011 1:00 PM CDT
Felix Salmon: New York Times May Have Hacked Into Private Emails for Fabrice Tourre Story
Fabrice Tourre testifies on Capitol Hill last year.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The New York Times today has a lengthy backgrounder on the case of Fabrice Tourre, the young Goldman Sachs trader sued by the SEC on allegations of fraud. What has caught the eye of most bloggers, though, isn't any revelations in the story but the way it was sourced: Much of it comes from Tourre emails provided by New York City artist Nancy Cohen, who got them off a laptop given to her by a friend. "The friend told her he had happened upon the laptop discarded in a garbage area in a downtown apartment building," explains the newspaper. "Email messages for Mr. Tourre continued streaming into the device, but Ms. Cohen said she had ignored them until she heard Mr. Tourre’s name in news reports about the S.E.C. case. She then provided the material to The Times."

Felix Salmon at Reuters says that "carefully formulated" explanation raises more questions than it answers. "Was the NYT, then, hacking into Tourre’s private emails in much the same way as the News of the World was hacking into private voicemails?" he asks. It seems likely that the newspaper accessed a password-protected account for a quite a while, even after Cohen turned it over, he writes. This aspect of the story is "amazing," writes David Indiviglio at the Atlantic, who adds that a simple lesson can be drawn for all: Destroy your hard drives before tossing a computer in the trash. Click for more. (Read more Fabrice Tourre stories.)

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