Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Wisconsin "teen" plea bargains after "sting" on Facebook


The AP and MSNBC report that a Wisconsin teenager (19) has plea bargained after being caught in a bizarre Facebook scheme where he posed as a female to “entice” others to send him inappropriate pictures, after which he could “blackmail” them. Prosecutors were relieved at a plea bargain because they feared having to make the “victims” testify. The scam in some way resembles as law enforcement “sting”, as discussed in prior posts here, and also may invoke the legal notion of “implicit content”, a notion tangential to the 2006 COPA trial. That is, a posting seems to have no legitimate purpose other than to “tempt” others into probably illegal conduct themselves. The details are at this link. This may be the most serious “scam” that I have heard of regarding Facebook misuse to date.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Virginia ponders relieving teens from legal uncertainty over "sexting" bu then backs off.


The Virginia Crime Commission has so far declined to proceed in refining the state’s child pornography laws with respect to teen “sexting” on cell phones.

This seems to more the result of disinclination to take a specific stand than anything else. Right now prosecutors have extreme discretion in deciding whether and how to prosecute, with the possibility on paper of mandatory registration for what a teenager may view as curiosity or a harmless prank.

However, some legislators want to exempt texting by minors from the state’s laws, or make them misdemeanors.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch story by Frank Green is here.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Nickelodeon said to link to non-kid-friendly sites


Clarie Shipman and Jay Shaylor have a report on ABC “Good Morning America”, “Children's Web Sites Can Lead to Adult Content: Some Sites Directed at Kids May Open Doors to Other Content”, Monday Dec. 7, web URL link here. Internet laywer and child safety advocate Parry Aftab (wiredsafety.org) appeared..

The problem involved some links from Nickelodeon’s nick.com (link), although Nickelodeon advises people they are leaving the site. I recall that Nickelodeon actually has internships for screenwriters for its specialized content!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

New York State removes thousands of SO's from social networking sites


The New York Daily News, with its typical supermarket-like bombast, ran a story Dec. 1 on p 5 about the New York State’s attorney general’s action to have s.o.’s removed from Myspace and Facebook, according to the states e-STOP law signed in 2008 by Andrew Cuomo. The link is here.

However, when people are convicted of these crimes, usually they are prohibited from owning computers or having any Internet access at all; they have an online death sentence. It’s hard to see how so many got back on social networking sites. Are we sure that this operation was limited to convicted offenders?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Washington DC, other police deal with c.p. stings


Del Quentin Wilber has a Metro page story in the Dec. 1, 2009 Washington Post about online undercover cops that follows on to the story about the Vanity Fair article last month. This concerns the Washington DC Metropolitan Police and FBI agents who pose as “consumers” of illegal content rather than as minors. The story is titled “Child porn cases take toll on investigators: Job exposes team to images of abuse few can comprehend”, link here.

The job requires specialized psychological tests and involves working with materials so graphic as not to be describable on a post like this (or in a conventional newspaper).

There seems to be almost no difference in the energy with which local police departments conduct undercover activity, as to whether they are in “liberal” of “conservative” areas, with respect to problems like this.