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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Overzealous Porn Prosecution Tramples Accused's Rights, by Wendy McElroy...................................According to Jeanne, he answered, "Because we can."

Overzealous Porn Prosecution Tramples Accused's Rights
Matt Bandy is the Arizona teenager who, until recently, faced 90 years in prison for having nine images of child porn on his computer. Matt is also a reminder of why the Bill of Rights championed due process--the procedural rights of a defendant in the legal arena.

Due process was not championed as a protection against false accusations by a victim but as a shield against abusive prosecution by the State. The Founding Fathers knew that people sometimes lie but their focus was to limit the power by government.

Power corrupts. The ability to arrest and imprison another human being is an immense power that is held in bounds by principles based on common sense and common decency. The principles allow an accused to defend himself: for example, the right to confront witnesses.

Why should Matt Bandy's case serve as a reminder of these protections?

For two years, he endured a legal prosecution that cost his family over $250,000; they are now broke, and their nightmare is ending only because the case caught the attention of the media. ABC News program 20/20 covered the story, likely spurring other reporters to take interest.

As C/Net reported, "After being contacted by reporters, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office offered the boy a plea bargain."

The charges were dropped from nine felony counts that carried a life sentence down to three "class 6 undesignated felonies" with no jail time. Class 6 felonies are "non-dangerous, non-repetitive offenses under the criminal code."

To read a transcript of Matt’s sentencing, click here.

The ‘crime’ to which Matt ultimately pleaded guilty was showing a Playboy magazine to some 16-year-old classmates. His conviction may be the first of its kind in America. Being in possession of a Playboy is legal, but a teenaged boy who shows it to a buddy now risks being arrested as a sex offender.

Nevertheless, the plea bargain allowed County Attorney Andrew Thomas to tell ABC News that "this defendant did plead guilty in a court of law."

The extraordinary reduction in Matt’s charges hinged on a forensic analysis of his computer. Exculpatory forensics revealed that the nine images were probably downloaded without his knowledge onto his hard drive by a virus. Viruses with this capability are alarmingly common and can invisibly infect an operating system when someone clicks on an email attachment or the ‘wrong’ (not necessarily adult) website.

Last year, during the height of the Mocbot worm, an estimated 265,000 computers were infected daily.

Matt’s attorney vigorously sought to have forensic analysis performed on the computer, which was in possession of the police. With equal vigor, the District Attorney’s office (called the County Attorney’s office in Arizona) blocked access even though the defense had a legal right to examine evidence.

Court records reveal repeated requests for such disclosure.

Forensic analysis of computer files is akin to ballistic testing of a gun or DNA analysis of semen from a rape sample. If a defendant is guilty, then the forensics will bolster or prove the charges. If the defendant is innocent, then the results are essential to establishing a defense.

In a telephone interview, Matt’s father explained, "I don’t argue that they [the police] didn’t have a right to come with a search warrant but I can’t understand not giving someone a right to defend themselves."

As it was, the defense conducted forensic tests only after a court ruling gave them access. Even then the County Attorney’s office appealed the lower ruling to the Arizona Supreme Court, which refused to hear the case. The lower court’s ruling stood.

(Citing the Bandy case, the CyberCrime Law site advises, "The Department of Justice has released a 137-page "Investigations Involving the Internet and Computer Networks" manual aimed at local (and unsophisticated in fighting cybercrime) law enforcement units…This manual comes after several local law enforcement agencies bungled some high-tech investigations. "

The prosecution’s refusal to conduct forensic analysis is only one indication of overzealous prosecution. Consider two other indications.

First, the execution of the original search warrant, at 6 a.m., on Dec. 16, 2004. Matt’s mother Jeanne Bandy described the scene at the Bandy home on a web site dedicated to the case.

"There were about ten police. They made me and my kids go outside where we huddled together, frightened…My husband, Greg…was asleep upstairs with earplugs in. They pulled Greg (an emergency room physician) out of bed at gunpoint," the web site quotes Mrs. Bandy.

Second, upon being charged, Matt was required to wear an electronic bracelet on his ankle to track him 24 hours a day.

Third, despite disagreement from the probation department, "sex offender terms" were attached to Matt’s ‘Class 6’ probation. The "terms" severely restricted how close he could come to a minor.

In a recent phone interview, Matt stated that one of the first questions his probation officer asked was whether a minor was living in the Bandy household. Because Matt's sister Katie is 15 years old, there was a possibility Matt could not live at home.

When Matt asked about a planned family trip to Disneyland, the officer forbade him to go. Matt was ordered to "not even think about anything Disney," he said. Upon hearing this, Katie boxed up her Disney movies for fear that having them out would hurt her brother; an open search warrant allows authorities to search the house at will.

When Matt requested permission to attend church, he was told that the priest had to provide prior, written approval that reflected his understanding Matt was a sex offender. Matt was also required to sit in a separate pew away from children. He has not attended church since.

The "sex offender terms" were finally lifted by court order. When Prosecutor Daniel Strange reiterated the child pornography charges, the judge admonished, "I’ll just note for the record, as you were negotiating the plea agreement here, the reason why this agreement took place is because you couldn’t prove the things you just alleged now."

Why was the boy pursued so zealously? Jeanne calls it "a witch hunt" fueled by two factors: Thomas campaigned for office on a promise of being tough on sex offenders; and, he needs a high conviction rate in that area.

The real answer, however, may be the one Matt’s attorney reportedly received when he asked the County Attorney’s office, "Why are you doing this?"

According to Jeanne, he answered, "Because we can."

Wendy McElroy is the editor of and a research fellow for The Independent Institute in Oakland, Calif. She is the author and editor of many books and articles, including the new book, "Liberty for Women: Freedom and Feminism in the 21st Century" (Ivan R. Dee/Independent Institute, 2002). She lives with her husband in Canada.

What Are Adware and Spyware? By Mary Landesman, Antivirus Expert

What Are the Differences Between Adware and Spyware?
By  Mary Landesman

Has this ever happened to you? One day you're browsing the Internet as normal. The next day your browser's homepage has been changed to some off-color site and your desktop is serving up some program you don't recall installing.

Termed adware, the Internet is filled with programs that hijack your PC for profit, most hidden inside so-called "free" downloads and pop-up ads that forcibly install software on systems with improper security configurations. This doesn't mean that all free downloads are bad or that all pop-ups try to surreptitiously install software. It does mean, however, that you'll want to play close attention to both the licensing agreement of free downloads and the security settings in your browser.

What Exactly Is Adware?
Generally speaking, adware is a program that installs an additional component that feeds advertising, often by delivering pop-up ads or by installing a toolbar in your browser.

Some adware may hijack your browser start or search pages, redirecting you to sites other than intended. Unless you're a fan of guerilla marketing, such tactics can be annoying. Worse, the mechanism that feeds the advertising can introduce system anomalies or incompatibilities that cause problems with other programs and can even disrupt the functioning of the operating system.

A hijacked start page or toolbar can be difficult to reconfigure to its original settings because adware typically integrates itself in a manner that exceeds the average user's technical capabilities. Even more frustrating, the now present system anomalies can prevent even seasoned users from accessing the system areas they need to delete the offending program. (For tips on removing a stubborn infector, see How to Remove Adware and Spyware)

Of course, removing adware that is installed in exchange for free use of a program may violate the End User Licensing Agreement for that program. Once the adware has been successfully removed, the original free program the adware was bundled with may no longer work. It pays to read the EULA before installing any software -- particularly free software that is more likely to be bundled with advertising.

Some adware is a bit more insidious than others. In order to provide targeted ad banners, Adware often contains another hidden component that tracks web useage. When this occurs, the program is no longer considered Adware but instead is termed Spyware.

What Is Spyware?
Spyware surreptitiously monitors your computer and Internet use. Some of the worst examples of spyware include keyloggers that record keystrokes or screenshots, sending them to remote attackers who hope to glean user IDs, passwords, credit card numbers, and other sensitive information.

Most often, though, spyware takes a more benign (but still quite offensive) form. The information gathered, often referred to as "traffic data", can consist of monitoring the web sites visited, ads clicked, and time spent on certain sites. But even in its more benign form, the collected data can morph into something far more insidious.

Spyware tracking can link your system's unique numerical hardware ID (MAC address) and IP address, combine it with your surfing habits and correlate it with any personal information gathered when you registered for free programs or entered data in web forms. The spyware purveyor then trades this information with affiliate advertising partners, building an increasingly complex dossier on who you are and what you like to do on the Internet.

Your Best Defense: Read the Fine Print
With your privacy at stake, you may wish to think twice about the high price of free software. We all like a good bargain, but how good is that bargain when you end up spending the majority of your online time battling popups, filtering spam, and witnessing your connection speed slow to a crawl?

Of course, there are shining examples of free software that really are free with no strings attached. Admittedly tedious, the best way to sort good from bad is to simply read the EULA or privacy statement that accompanies the intended product or site.

Wotch Yourself takes a step through of a privacy statement from Wotch networks and helps identify potential pitfalls. Be sure to read the article to help you understand the terminology these advertisers often use to hide their malicious intent.

A flaw in the child porn witch-hunt; Sunday Times 8/25/05

A flaw in the child porn witch-hunt  Date: August 25, 2005 Source: Sunday Times
The hounding that has driven many suspects to suicide is based on tainted internet evidence, says expert witness Duncan Campbell
Ministers preparing for next month’s G8 summit have announced plans to create a central database of internet paedophiles. Such a database would necessarily include the names of those convicted as part of Operation Ore, the huge police investigation launched three years ago on the basis of a list of 7,200 names supplied to British police forces by American colleagues.

The men on the list are accused of having paid for child porn through Landslide, a website that operated in Texas from 1996-9. So far, about 1,200 cases have resulted in convictions. The public has been led to believe that a huge number of unsavoury — and possibly dangerous — men have been brought to book.

There is no dispute that abusing children is a hideous crime. But it is also appalling to be accused unjustly of such a crime. My investigations and work as an expert witness in a number of Operation Ore cases have led me to believe that the evidence has been exaggerated and used unacceptably.

The costs — in every sense — have been huge. Thousands of cases have been investigated, with scores of officers spending hundreds of weeks sifting through computers and disks. Thousands more may face investigation. Meanwhile, the accusations have led to 33 suicides, most recently that of Royal Navy Commodore David White, the commander of British forces in Gibraltar. On January 8, he was found dead in his pool.

Ministers appear not to have been informed that critical evidence from US investigators forming the backbone of Operation Ore has been found to be untrue. In information given to Interpol and in sworn statements submitted to British courts in 2002, Dallas detective Steven Nelson and US postal inspector Michael Mead claimed that everyone who went to Landslide always saw only a front page screen button offering “Click Here (for) Child Porn”.

According to them, this was the way in to nearly 400 pay-per-view websites, almost all of which specialised in child pornography; ergo, anyone who accessed Landslide and paid it money must be a paedophile.

When Operation Ore was launched in Britain in May 2002, pictures of the web page and its “click here” button were given prominent and sustained publicity. But what passed almost unnoticed eight months later was that after British police and computer investigators had finally examined American files, they found that the “child porn” button was not on the front page of Landslide at all, but was an advertisement for another site appearing elsewhere: thus the crucial “child porn” button was a myth.

Landslide certainly gave access to thousands of adult sex sites. But accessing such material, which is now freely broadcast and sold in high street grocers’, is not a crime.

The real front page of Landslide was an innocuous image of a mountain, carrying no links to child porn. There was “no way” a visitor to Landslide could link from there to child porn sites, according to Sam Type, a British forensic computer consultant who was asked by the National Crime Squad (NCS) to rebuild the Landslide website. She dismissed the idea that Landslide had created a service devoted to child porn. She described it as different merely in that it was a “ pay-per-view” service.

Landslide operated two services, one of which gave access to thousands of sites for a small monthly fee. The other, called Keyz, was more expensive and required a separate payment for each site. The American investigators, it transpired, had copied the contents of 12 sites out of nearly 400 accessible through Keyz. Those sites definitely did contain child porn. It was also suspected that about a quarter of the other sites contained child porn. But investigations carried out more than a year after Operation Ore was launched found that about 180 Keyz sites were likely to have been adult sites only or were completely unknown. “We are unable to say what material these sites ever contained,” a police report stated.

This was not a problem in early cases, which relied on actual possession of indecent images. But the length of time since the alleged offences occurred — Landslide shut in 1999 — meant that in many cases, there were no indecent images, just the record of name and credit card details.

Here, the American evidence that having paid to get into Landslide meant having paid to access child porn has become crucial. Many of the accused argue that their card details could have been stolen and used without their knowledge, or admit that they used Landslide, but for adult material.

The NCS detective who found the real, innocuous Landslide front page in the American police files acted quickly to make it available to police forces and prosecutors. But nobody seems to have paid attention to the contradiction this created in the Operation Ore evidence. Nor did they apparently notice that there were now two, utterly different “Landslide front pages” presented in Operation Ore prosecutions — one totally incriminating, the other (and accurate) page quite innocuous.

The Texan investigators’ claims collapsed further in February this year, when Mead was cross-examined during an Operation Ore case held in Derby. Mead gave evidence by satellite video link. On oath, he admitted he and Nelson had only ever seen the “Click Here Child Porn” button appear once, at the very start of their investigation.

Mead also agreed they had provided British police with a photograph that did not show most of the page they had been looking at. Had they provided a full image, it would have been obvious that it was not, as they told the NCS, the “Landslide front page”. In evidence, Mead accepted the photograph had shown only part of the page. “The child porn link was at the bottom,” he agreed. He was asked: “In June 1999, it is likely that the ‘click here for child porn’ was not on the Landslide’s home page?” “Correct,” he replied.

The 2005 testimony contradicted what was said in sworn statements given to British police in October 2002. But despite these flaws being uncovered in the early part of 2003, Operation Ore accelerated. When police investigators found no evidence on seized computers, they did not assume the user might be innocent or had sought only legal, adult material. They were charged instead with “incitement”. These charges alleged that, simply by making a credit card payment through the internet, the child porn webmasters were encouraged to continue trafficking.

One of the targets was Robert Del Naja, frontman of the group Massive Attack, who was arrested in February 2003. All his computer equipment was seized. The case was dropped barely a month later. After being falsely arrested on child porn charges, Del Naja later described 2003 as the worst year of his life. “When the story was leaked to newspapers the human cost was horrible for me, my friends and family,” he said.

Many arrested Operation Ore suspects who were cleared because there was no evidence also found their names and details leaked to the press. Information about Del Naja was leaked to The Sun before investigations concluded. The same thing happened to Who guitarist Pete Townshend, who later admitted visiting child porn sites as part of a research project. The Sunday Times saw a complete copy of the Landslide British database of 7,200 names in January 2003.

In Britain, none of the 33 dead has been formally cleared, although the record of Operation Ore prosecutions, both successes and failures, suggests some would have been found guilty at trial and some must have been innocent.

And the pattern of investigations, media leaks and publicity preceding investigations that then failed has been repeated in other countries to which Landslide information was sent. In April 2003, at the start of a Canadian investigation, Operation Snowball, Toronto police chief Julian Fantino held a high-profile press conference to announce arrests for child pornography. He publicly listed the names and ages of six men: one was never charged and three others later had all charges withdrawn.

One of those was James LeCraw, the director of a non-profit agency in Toronto providing computers to schools. He was suspended and later lost his job. But five months after the press conference, LeCraw was formally cleared. It was too late. Stigmatised, he killed himself on July 19, 2004.

Even for those never charged, or acquitted before trial, the experiences are so scarring that very few want to talk. An exception is David Stanley, who runs his own computer-programming company in Wales. Like many men, from time to time he signed up for adult images on the net. In the summer of 1999 he saw his credit card details had been used five times in less than three weeks on the Landslide website. He complained quickly and got a refund. He thought no more of it until the police knocked on his door three years later.

Being an Operation Ore suspect was, he said, “a trial of the mind”. “I lost mine at the time. If people are guilty, they can say to themselves, yes, been there, done that. But if you haven’t, then it’s impossible to make sense of what’s happening to your life.” When Stanley proved to police that details he’d given for adult access had been stolen and reused at Landslide to send money to child porn... ... reused at Landslide to send money to child porn merchants, his innocence was accepted.

The laudable objective of Operation Ore was the protection of vulnerable children from adult abuse and harm. But many fear that mistakes have caused huge quantities of police, technical and social work resources to be misdirected to some futile and ill-founded investigations. Many families as well as accused men have been damaged, sometimes irretrievably, by the nature of the investigations. The claims made by the authorities may need to be weighed against the harm done to innocent lives.