Monday, July 06, 2015

Could site owners be liable for illegal content placed by (enemy) hackers?

The presence of many old sites on the Internet, infrequently visited and updated by owners, could, over time, present new legal risks to owners.  This would follow from a story on the Internet Safety Blog June 25 that webhosting providers are stepping up services to protect sites from hacking and malware.
For example, it’s possible to imagine the government (or the NCMEC) running scripts to look for registered images of c.p. (according to digital watermarks) and go after owners.  Google can do this already with gmail attachments and at least one arrest in Houston, TX resulted a few months ago.  But an attacker could “frame” an owner by deliberately posting images that could be then picked up.  It might even add new images that aren’t linked but that could be picked up by a linear scan.  Anti-virus packages that use cloud-based security (like Webroot) could eventually scan for these images, also. 
A similar problem could develop with promoting terrorism. The legal liability of amateur site owners for content placed by hackers or enemies could become a problem in the future.  

Update: July 10

A piece on CNN by a defense attorney Mark O'Mara on the Fogle-Taylor matter, here, is troubling, but doesn't consider the possibility of framing or malware. Technology, he writes, can confer "grave responsibility" -- even for what others do?

Update:  July 20 

There are correlated posts on the International Issues blog July 19, and Internet Safety blog June 25 and July 18, as well as my main blog May 25.