Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Merely linking to a URL with c.p. can result in a search of you home and computers

Electronic Frontier Foundation is arguing in Richmond at the Fourth Circuit on January 31 a particularly disturbing case.

A search warrant was obtained for a user’s home and computer(s) or device(s) when the user had connected to a URL for a file serving link that apparently was closely associated with child pornography.

EFF argues that this is not probable cause.

All modern web hosting services have logs that enable investigators to find all IP addresses that ever linked to any element on a site.  Google no longer allows search arguments to be displayed (it had back in 2005).  Theoretically, when a site is identified by NCMEC or similar facility, all possible users who attempted to connect could be found and investigated.

If an illegal image is loaded into a cache on the end user’s computer and the user knows that this site has illegal material, a criminal violation of possession is possible.  (At one time, some states like Arizona even had “strict liability” in these circumstances.)  This might be possible when an email preview loads, which makes phishing at least a remote risk for all users for being “framed”.

It would be possible to land on a site containing illegal images but not on a specific element that has such and image, so an investigation would show no illegal material. 

In ambiguous cases, dangerous plea bargains could be possible, including agreeing to give up Internet use.  So this situation sets up an invitation to frame and silence political enemies. 
One possibility that I have wondered about contains YouTube videos claiming “boys” or “teens” in sexual activity in the titles.  YouTube has become stricter in recent months on community guidelines (as have other services like Tumblr).  Presumably an end user has a “right” to assume that age 18 or 19 is possible and intended.  But some of these videos come from overseas and might be illegal to view in the U.S.  Could a prosecution happen in these circumstances.
The law has to draw a line somewhere on age.  In practice teens and young adults vary enormously on maturity at any given age.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

"Consumers Base" offers parental controls on children's online access

Someone sent me a link to a product called “ConsumersBase for parents to use to protect their kids from inappropriate content online.
 The product protects against cyber bullying, malware, inappropriate content, phishing, sexual predators, and what is most attention-getting, grooming.

This should not be confused with “consumer base exact data”. 

Sunday, January 06, 2019

Vigilante groups with no law enforcement authority entrap people on the Internet for interest in minors and shame them publicly

Brandy Zadrozny writes for NBC a story about vigilante groups that function much like Chris Hansen’s “To Catch a Predator” in the 2000s. 

The groups are apparently particularly effective in entrapping young gay men, if they answer dark web or even social media ads for possibly minor gay men.

The result is often a public shaming online, although you would think platforms would take these down.
But the groups do not have the authority of law enforcement and might be guilty of impersonating law enforcement.

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Washington Times starts 2019 with particularly graphic account of child pornography on the Dark Web

The Washington Times, admittedly a “conservative” daily newspaper for the DC area, opens the first business day in 2019 with a front page article by Jeff Mordock on the use of the “Darnket” or Dark Web and Tor for child pornography

But the prosecutions and investigations described in this article are particularly shocking, one even involving an unborn child.  I’ll leave the details to the article.

Electronic Frontier Foundation and the libertarian community as a whole has encouraged people to learn to use TOR, especially in non-democratic countries.