Lawyer: One is justified in accessing information in computer files without securing authorization from the computer'...

Shayne on July 10, 2014

Why is this B and not D?

Will you please break this problem down for me.

1 Reply

Mehran on July 12, 2014

Sure! Let's start by diagramming this stimulus.

"One is justified in accessing information in computer files without securing authorization from the computer's owner only if the computer is typically used in the operation of a business."

We know that "only if" introduces the necessary condition, so this sentence would be diagrammed as follows:

PR1: JAI w/o A ==> CTUOB
Not CTUOB ==> not JAI w/o A

"If, in addition, there exist reasonable grounds for believing that such computer contains data usable as evidence in a legal proceeding against the computer's owner, then accessing the data in those computer files without the owner's authorization is justified."

We know that "if" introduces the sufficient condition, so this sentence would be diagrammed as follows:

PR2: RGBE ==> JAI w/o A
not JAI w/o A ==> not RGBE

Answer choice (B) states: "Police department investigators accessed the electronic accounting files of the central computer owned by a consulting firm that was on trial for fraudulent business practices without seeking permission from the firm's owners. Contrary to the investigator's reasonable beliefs, however, the files ultimately provided no evidence of wrongdoing. Nevertheless, the investigators' action was justified."

According to answer choice (B) the investigator's had a reasonable belief that the files evidenced wrongdoing, i.e. "RGBE." We know from PR2 that if we have "RGBE," we can infer "JAI w/o A." So we can conclude that accessing the data in those computer files without the owner's authorization is justified. Therefore, answer choice (B) is supported by the principles in the passage.

Answer choice (D) states, "Custom officials examined all of the files stored on a laptop computer confiscated from an importer whom they suspected of smuggling. Because there were reasonable grounds for believing that the computer had typically been used in the operation of the importer's legitimate business, the customs officials' action was justified."

So (D) tells us that the importer's laptop had been typically been used in the operation of the importer's legitimate business. This is the necessary condition of PR1, "computer is typically used in the operation of a business," i.e. CTUOB. However, this is our necessary condition so we can conclude nothing else. Remember, don't just reverse! Therefore, we cannot conclude that the customs officials' action was justified.

Hope this helps! Please let us know if you have any other questions.