"Err...hello...is that Alex Braganza? Sorry to disturb you ...
January 11, 2002 12:50 PM   Subscribe

"Err...hello...is that Alex Braganza? Sorry to disturb you ... my name is Kenny Patterson. No you don't know me. But I took my computer into PC World for repair and when I got it back they'd replaced my faulty hard disk with a reconditioned one which used to be your old machine. Thing is, they hadn't actually bothered to format the thing so now I've got all your personal details. Yes that right -- that's were I got your phone number." I imagine that's how the conversation would have started ...
posted by feelinglistless (18 comments total)
What's the legal position on this in the UK and US?
posted by feelinglistless at 12:52 PM on January 11, 2002

Alex: "Oh dear god - my pr0n!"
posted by hotdoughnutsnow at 1:05 PM on January 11, 2002

No mention of how Braganza's hard drive migrated form his computer to PC World, but I'd guess at some point he voluntarily gave it up. Should have held it up to a big magnet before sending it out the door.

Gary Glitter?
posted by skyscraper at 1:09 PM on January 11, 2002

Oh my, this is a classic quote: "It is worrying. I could have ended up with anyone's hard-drive. I could have got Gary Glitter's old computer or someone like that."

If you don't know who Gary Glitter is, and why he'd be afraid of him, read this article.

posted by almostcool at 1:10 PM on January 11, 2002

Skyscraper, Gary Glitter was arrested for having child porn on his computer.

Yeah, I guess if you give your HD to someone, you should wipe it yourself, but most people don't know to do that or how to do that. And I bet they assume a place that uses it will wipe it clean and install new OS. (legally, don't they have to do that for licensing?)
posted by aacheson at 1:11 PM on January 11, 2002

A friend of mine bought a "new" Dell that had a used HD with someone else's info on it. It was promptly returned. I guess Michael Dell cuts costs by selling refurbed parts inside a new shell.
posted by anathema at 1:26 PM on January 11, 2002

Gary Glitter's previous claim to fame was Rock 'N' Roll Part II (Yup the Ice Hockey song.)
posted by riffola at 1:28 PM on January 11, 2002

If anyone finds the hard drive from my old Compaq laptop in one of their machines (the motherboard went bad, and they changed both it and the HD), let me know. I'd really like to get back all my digital photos, which I was just about to back up when the computer crashed.

posted by arco at 1:36 PM on January 11, 2002

My God, it's full of pr0n!

Do you think he felt his mind going...
posted by NortonDC at 1:51 PM on January 11, 2002

The reason Gary Glitter is mentioned in the article is that he was arrested for the aforementioned crimes after taking his computer in to a PC World store to get it fixed. After doing the necessary repairs, the store manager telephoned the infamous glam rock star to tell him he could come in to pick up his PC. An unwitting Gary turned up to find the local constabulary and most of the media there waiting for him outside the store...
posted by dlewis at 2:07 PM on January 11, 2002

Unless you format your hard drive about 6 or 7 times, the FBI can retrieve anything ever stored on it (they can read the magnetic bits, emptying the Recycle Bin won't cut it), theoretically (told to me by an air force IT guy). Or you can take an acetylene torch to it, if you really want to make sure no one reads whats on your HD. And a magnet is probably not the most effective way, unless you have a really, really strong magnet.
posted by insomnyuk at 2:26 PM on January 11, 2002

i think i can help with the background on g. glitter... you see gary was a famous magical elf with special voodoo powers who terrorised britain during the seventies with a cursed volvo... when he was killed by a haitian swat team in basildon in 1992 he placed a curse on a hard-drive from a nearby pcworld with his dying breath... ever since then the hard-drive has mysteriously possessed the computers of the townspeople causing them to go crazy and kill themselves by jumping off cliffs... and there you have the terrible but true legend of gary's hard drive... no wonder the kid was scared, mwahahahaha etc...
posted by mokey at 2:34 PM on January 11, 2002

Thanks for the update on Mr. Glitter. Living in the hinterlands, I don't always get the latest news. (Actually, it would have been more interesting if he had just pulled GG's name out of thin air.)

mokey, you need to get out more.
posted by skyscraper at 3:09 PM on January 11, 2002

And let's not forget that "Gary" also means something in cockney rhyming slang. Can't think what, though.... ;)
posted by dlewis at 4:04 PM on January 11, 2002

...of "take it up the" fame?
posted by vbfg at 5:02 PM on January 11, 2002

Interesting to watch this thread turn into a VH1 Gary Glitter exposé.
posted by HTuttle at 6:27 PM on January 11, 2002

The big stinky ugly component in all of this is PC World. Not only do they employ morons but they provide crappy service, and their prices suck at least half of the time.

Unfortunately, it's the only place that Joe Public knows to take his computer.. and for many people it's better than going to the local rip-off computer store staffed by 15 year old boys playing Quake 3 on the 64k ISDN line.

PC World does offer some amazing services though! For example.. pay £20 to find out if your computer can run Windows XP. If it can, then they'll try and sell you Windows XP for a further £90.. If it can't.. well wunderbar.. you must buy this upgrade AND Windows XP!!

Roll on the libel lawyers!
posted by wackybrit at 7:51 PM on January 11, 2002

Eraser is an advanced security tool (for Windows), which allows you to completely remove sensitive data from your hard drive by overwriting it several times with carefully selected patterns. It's freeware.
posted by walrus at 7:17 AM on January 12, 2002

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