Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Revisiting the lucy-90sAREover identification

Those who have been following the controversy about the Cools post will probably know the following chart. It apparently imitates one that Bernard Klatt presented at the CHRC hearing -- Klatt refers to such a chart during his testimony -- but this version (with my mark-up in red for point-by-point reference) was posted freedominion.ca on January 20 by "Entropy Squared". It is now part of Warman's statement of claim.

The chart was designed to make a case that Richard Warman was responsible for the posting of a racist denunciation of Senator Anne Cools on Sept. 5, 2003. The evidence argues against that conclusion. (Again, what is in red is my mark-up.)
    Richard Warman, lucy, 90sAREover, Cools
A ~ a and B ~ b. Warman registered at Freedomsite.org using the pseudonym "lucy" and the IP, according to Klatt's testimony. Klatt also testified that 90sAREover (who wrote the notorious Cools post) had the same IP. I have shown here, however, that this IP is one of Rogers' web caching servers and could be used by any Rogers' subscriber -- indeed, the post could have been made by anyone with access to a Rogers-connected computer. This could be any one of millions (here).
  • Update. Actually, the IP of "90sAREover" is less clear in the logs than Klatt's testimony implies: in the few minutes that 90sAREover spent at the site, his IP can be seen shifting back and forth between and five or six times. See here.
C ~ c. According to Klatt's testimony, the user-agent string recorded in the logs freedomsite.org show that both "lucy" and "90sAREover" used Windows 98. According to W3schools.com, 12.1% of computers were using Windows 98 in Sept. 2003, when the Cools screed was posted. 12% of millions (see previous), however, is still hundreds of thousands.

D ≠ d. During his testimony at the CHRC, Klatt asserted that "lucy" and "90sAREover" used the same browers. This is wrong. Details of a visitor's browser are found in the user-agent string, which is recorded by many sites. To judge from Klatt's testimony (here)*, the user-agent string of 90sAREover included the phrases "Rogers Hi-Speed Internet; (R1 1.3))". The R1 1.3 means that 90sAREover was not using Explorer as his browser, but in fact was using RealOne Player (version 2). The reference to "Rogers Hi-Speed" shows that the Cools poster had a version of Explorer that had been customized by Rogers for its customers (here), even though he was not using it to visit this site. To judge from Klatt's testimony, none of Warman's own visits show either the RealOne Player or the Rogers-customization. This argues against identification. (One wonders why there are not copies of these logs floating around the internet -- is it because they exonerate Warman?)
    *Update. Now that the site logs are available for inspection, rather than Klatt's testimony, it is clear that Richard Warman's browser set-up was different than 90sAREover's.
E ≠ e. The IDs and emails are different. This can hardly be used as an argument that they're run by the same individual. Indeed, those trying to argue that they are identical need to explain why Warman registered "lucy" in mid-November (an account that he never posted from) if he already had the 90sAREover accout. If he were "90sAREover", why wouldn't he simply have used that account rather than registering the new one?

F ~ f. It is a matter of public record that "lucyaubrack@yahoo.ca" was Warman. We don't know, however, whether the "rob_m_simpson@hotmail.com" account was anonymous or whether it reflects someone's actual name.

G ~ g. Both "lucy" and "90sAREover" found their way to freedomsite.org, which was relatively obscure. This no more requires that these two were identical, however, than it would for any of the site's others users, or indeed for visitors of other obscure sites (such as the one you are visiting now). In any case, it is worth noting that 90sAREover is member #1331 (affidavit, p. 10), and "lucy" (Warman's handle) is member #1379 (affidavit, p. 10), which implies that at least 50 new members joined up in this period. These surely aren't all the same individual.

H ~ h. The entry seems slightly wrong.* Klatt only mentions a single log-in of "90sAREover", and mentions three log-ins by Warman (two as "lucy" and one as "guest"). (Cf. his summary at p. 1648, where he says that the two accounts logged in "once or twice".) But even if this were correct, it is not helpful. All internet sites attract one-time visitors who don't return. (By way of comparison -- 90% of my traffic at this blog are first-time visitors, and another 8% visit 2-5 times; less than 2% return more than 5 times.) Why would this suggest they are identical?
    *Update. Klatt's testimony is less clear than his affidavit (here), which shows that both lucy and 90sAREover did in fact log-in only twice.
I ~ i. The respective usage times differ by a factor of ten. That is hardly an argument for regarding them to be identical.

J ~ j. When they registered both "lucy" and "90sAREover" filled none of the optional boxes. The question is how typical this is. Personally, I never fill in more than I have to, and I suspect that is a common approach to message boards.

K ~ k. "Created for a single purpose" states more than can be known -- the "purpose" (or intention) of one or both of these accounts may have been either grander or more modest than came to pass. Indeed, given that the "lucy" account was never used to post anything at Freedomsite, it's difficult not to assume that its original purpose was something different than what it was actually used for, given that it was never used.

L ~ l. I assume that the dates here are offered for context, not as an argument in favour of identification.

Updated several times for clarity.

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