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.

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