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.

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.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Section 230: MO congresswoman introduces bill to amend it to give service providers more responsibility to intercept sex trafficking as well as child pornograohy


Congressperson Ann Wagner (R-MO) has introduced a bill “Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017”, text here.  I did not see an HR number yet for the bill.  So far she has nine co-sponsors.

Wagner wants to amend Section 230 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act (“Communications Deceny Act”) in various ways.  It will take some time to sort out the potential practical implications for ISPs and for publishing facilitators and social media companies.  But the most troublesome provision seems to be the last one, which is vague (in a constitutional sense) – what is “reckless disregard”?

I do know that Google screens Gmail attachments (and probably Picasa uploads) for digital watermarks associated with known child pornographic images identified by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Alexandria VA.  It would seem plausible to expect companies to expand this automated screening: images are added all the time to the database when people get arrested and collections are processed by police.

Practically all reputable providers say they report child pornography if they find it. But this bill would seem to add sex trafficking to the list.  That might be much harder to screen for that is c.p.   But this will take some time to delve into.

“Enough Is Enough”  (typical blog entry ) made a press release today.

Here is a copy of their press release today (they had no web reference for the release):

"Washington, DC –Today, Congresswoman Ann Wagner (MO) introduced a bill to amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA), which has been misused for years as a defense to shield facilitators of child pornography and the sex trafficking of children and women.  Enough Is Enough (EIE) supports this much needed bill, intended to clarify the original intent of this provision.
 “Sexual predators, traffickers, pornographers and child pornographers were the early adaptors of Internet technology and continue to use this technology to further their criminal activity. Every day children in the United States are sold for sex, often over the Internet on sites like Backpage.com.

"Unfortunately, such companies have  been allowed to hide behind the  CDA’s Section 230  provision originally designed to be a safe harbor defense for  Internet service providers and companies that attempted ‘good faith’ efforts to protect children from exposure to Internet pornography by third parties,” said Donna Rice Hughes, President of Enough Is Enough, the non-profit organization who authored  The Children’s Internet Safety Presidential Pledge signed by Donald J. Trump on July 16, 2016.  In February 2017, Enough Is Enough sent the Children’s Internet Safety Presidential Proposal (CISPP) to the White House, which incorporates the original tenets of The Children’s Internet Safety Presidential Pledge and is supplemented by additional recommendations that include amending Section 230 of the CDA.

" For years, EIE has encouraged Congress to amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1998 to allow prosecution of those who facilitate illegal commercial sex acts via the Internet, in order to thwart the practice of sex trafficking and prevent those engaged in it from profiting from the exploitation of countless children.  We applaud Congresswoman Wagner’s bill and encourage Congress to take action now. This is a bi-partisan issue, which we can surely all agree on, ” continued Ms. Hughes, who voiced strong support  of the 2013 effort of The National Association of Attorneys General (49 Attorneys General) calling on Congress to make a two word amendment to the CDA which would enable state prosecutors to help fight prostitution and child sex trafficking.

 The CDA was the first piece of legislation by Congress, which attempted to extend the existing laws designed to protect minor children from sexual predators, hard-core obscene content and indecent pornography to the Internet world. All provisions became law with the exception of the indecency provision, which was challenged and eventually struck down by the Supreme Court.  Section 230 of the CDA, nicknamed ‘The Good Samaritan Defense’, unfortunately led to the unintended consequences of gross misinterpretation by federal courts that have allowed the provision to grant immunity to companies who profit from selling sex with children and women.

"The Presidential Pledge and supporting documentation, including the signed Pledge by President-elect Trump can be found at the link above. 

"EIE is urging the public to support the effort by using the hashtag #DrainTheCyberswamp on their social media channels

"Enough Is Enough® is a national bi-partisan non-profit organization who has led the fight to make the Internet safer for children and families since 1994. EIE's efforts are focused on combating Internet p*rnography, child p*rnography, sexual predation, sex trafficking, cyberbullying by incorporating a three-pronged prevention strategy with shared responsibilities between the public, Corporate America, and the legal community.".

Here's their post on Internet Safety for parents.

We;;, if this isn’t enough, consider the story today in the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that “Show Me State” attorney General John Hawley announced many other anti-trafficking measures.    I’ll have to come back to this, there is too much to digest all in one meal.

Ashton Kutcher (“AplusK”) says “Real men don’t buy girls”.


Picture: By Marcus Qwertyus - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link