Tuesday, June 06, 2017

"Be Internet Awesome" video presents classroom exercise for children staying safe online


Google’s sign-on page offers a link to a video “Be Internet Awesome”  where a young male teacher conducts classroom exercises in Internet safety for kids, especially in situations where someone follows them.
 
The idea that something you say online just might be there for the rest of your life gets mentioned.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Weiner pleads guilty in sexting case connecting Hillary's fall, will be labeled s.o. for life


Anthony Weiner has plead guilty to sexting an underage girl.  Apparently the official charge was transmitting obscene material to a minor. 

He faces 21 to 27 months in prison and registration as a sex offender.  That could limit where he lives and make him unable to use the Internet or smart phones.  His life as he knew it is over.

Here is a story on “Above the Law”.

It is ironic, for me at least, that a “sex offender” issue would become entangled with Hillary Clinton’s emails, lead to Comey’s letter on Oct. 28, and possibly hand a national election to Trump.


I’ve documented how one of my own Internet postings was interpreted when I worked as a substitute teacher back in 2005.  I thought I had not heard the last of it, but what a way for this kind of thing to come back.
  

Here is an earlier detailed account of my own incident.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Federal judge rules c.p. images in "unallocated space" on a hard drive may be inadmissible


Following up on a story here on April 4, 2017.  Tom Jackman of the Washington Post reports that a federal judge in California has thrown out key evidence in the prosecution of a doctor for possession of child pornography.

The Geek Squad technician had found an image of a naked girl who appeared to be a child in the “unallocated” space of the hard drive.  The judge ruled that such an image in deleted space cannot be regarded as “possession” without other evidence.

Apparently this would mean that the subsequent searches of the doctor’s home and cell phone might have been illegal as well.

"The "Geek Squad City" in Kentucky (SW of Louisville) allegedly finds about 100 possible child pornography images a year.  But Best Buy denies that Geek Squad agents look for them pro-actively or are paid by the FBI to do so. It’s a little hard to see how so many images would be found accidentally.  Would a technician normally need to open the images?

Customers sign an agreement that they understand that any child pornography on a product will be turned over to authorities, as required by law.  But technicians could lack good legal judgment as to what constitutes child pornography, which sometimes might even be somewhat circumstantial.




Update: June 7. 2017

Electronic Frontier Foundation is suing the FBI over Geek Squad informants under the Fourth Amendment, story.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Maryland state police use automated tools to detect people making illegal c.p. downloads, Eastern Shore case


Maryland State police arrested a 30-year-old man in Caroline County, on the Eastern Shore, for possession and distribution of child pornography.  What seems remarkable is that the arrest apparently followed automated detection of downloads of illegal material by the Maryland Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. This detection might have looked for digital watermarks of known images.

Reports like this are becoming more common.  It might be possible to happen through misuse of someone else’s router (like if living with someone) which makes the legal responsibility even murkier, maybe dependent on state law.
 
The WJLA story May 6 is here.

Friday, May 05, 2017

How small allegations of misconduct can plague a teacher decades later


A Washington Post Metro Section story Friday morning, Friday, May 5, 2017. shows that possibly nearly innocuous teacher contact can come back to haunt a teacher decades later.

Michael Alison Chandler and Valerie Strauss report that the private school Sidwell Friends has placed a male music teacher on leave when allegations of inappropriate touching of a female student two decades ago came to light, link here.  The online version of the story uses the verb “dismissed”.   Since there is no conviction for a crime and since the circumstances sound dubious, this blog won’t repeat the names involved for search engines to index.

Sidwell Friends has been a popular private school for the wealthy, including former President Obama’s daughters.

The story shows how, in conjunction with online activity as discussed here often before, a teacher’s reputation can become untenable for minor acts or possible unprovable claims many years ago.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

SCOTUS considers North Carolina law barring convicted sex offenders from social media sites after sentences are complete


The Supreme Court is considering whether a North Carolina law barring convicted sex offenders
from social media sites (after they have completed their sentences and any probation) is constitutional.  The law would bar use of any social media site that allows minors access.
 
The Verge has a typical story here.

The case concerns Lester Gerard Packingham, who was arrested after using a Facebook account under a fake name.  Facebook has its own company policy of not allowing convicted sex offenders to have accounts.

The law might be overbroad, preventing use of news sites like the New York Times, that have a social networking component.

Bloomberg had a report on the oral arguments here.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Litigation develops over Geek Squad's reporting of child pornography to FBI, at least from a data recovery center in Kentucky


Tom Jackman has a followup on earlier reports about technicians at the Geek Squad participating in detecting child pornography on computer products turned in to them for repair.  The link for the story on page A14 of the Washington Post today, Tuesday, April 4, 2017 here.

 The main concern is with a repair facility in Brooks KY (near Louisville) where devices and hard drives may be sent for data recovery by customers.  Court papers in a suit by a defendant (a California physician) imply that a few technicians at the Kentucky facility were paid as informants.

Any time a consumer turns in a device for repair at any Best Buy Geek Squad outlet, he or she signs a declaration about being “on notice” that any child pornography found will be turned over to authorities. But the company says technicians are not supposed to look actively for it.



There could be concerns that some images might be legally ambiguous.  For example, could a gratuitous video of the pat down of a pre-teen boy by the TSA be perceived as child pornography by some people?

Again, it’s easy to imagine automated scanning tools looking for watermarked images on a drive or in Cloud storage.

It’s also possible that a virus or malware could place child pornography on a consumer’s device without his or her knowledge.  I wrote a few blog posts about this possibility in the summer of 2013.

These have been rare, but there was at least one report of ransomware which does this in 2014.  The legal environment in the past (more than ten years ago) used to assume “absolute liability” for possession on user computers before law enforcement began to recognize the possibility of malware being a cause.

It’s also possible to be arrested if someone hijacks a home router and uses it to down load traceable (watermarked) child pornography.   The legal responsibility of users for misuse of their own routers is a gray area.  It could become an issue, for example, for people who rent homes out through Airbnb.