Thursday, September 12, 2013

Merely clicking on a CP site, even in an email, could draw a police raid; draconian enforcement of possession statutes

ABC affiliate WJLA reports on a guilty plea by 74-year old physician  (Robert Paul Dickey)in SE Washington DC, who was arrested for possession of child pornography based on a single tip after he had visited a particular website.  Federal agents had found him watching it when they raided his home, with the news story here  The story is remarkable because, when compared to many other cases, it seemed to take very little activity by the person to get into legal trouble. Authorities found 132 illegal images on the defendant’s computer in a May 2013 raid.   

Wikipedia reports that law enforcement sometimes posts links and then raids the homes of people who click on them, which could present an issue with roommates, teenage children, or tenants, for example.  Sometimes activity is detected by technology at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Alexandria, VA.  Other risks could be the discovery of the content by computer repair technicians, or the remote possibility of a “wardriving” poach on an unsecured Internet router (which has led to false arrests in Florida and upstate New York before).   There could be a risk in opening attachments or even enabling HTML in email from unknown sources, possibly with spoofed sender addresses.  (That’s because once the illegal image is on your harddrive, even in a cache, you possess it, and it isn’t easy to remove it, short of wiping out the hard drive.)  Some states (like Florida) tell consumers that they must call law enforcement if they "accidentally" encounter it with an email or link.  It's possible on a cell phone or laptop or tablet to click "accidentally" merely by passing a mouse or finger over a link.  This should get more attention, still, as an Internet safety issue.