Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Germany Searches Credit Cards For Child Porn Payments

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the variable-pricing-coming-soon dept.

Privacy 283

narramissic writes "According to an ITworld article, police in the German state of Sachsen-Anhalt have teamed with credit card companies to sift through the transactions of over 22 million customers looking for those who may have purchased child pornography online. To date they have identified 322 suspects." From the article: "German data privacy laws allow police to ask financial institutions to provide data about individuals but only if the investigators meet certain conditions, including a concrete suspicion of illegal behavior and narrowly defined search criteria, according to Johann Bizer, deputy director of the Independent Center for Privacy Protection... In the case under investigation, police were aware of a child pornography Web site outside of Germany that was attracting users inside the country. And they asked the credit-card companies to conduct a database search narrowed to three criteria: a specific amount of money, a specific time period and a specific receiver account."

cancel ×

283 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Now, by "sift through" ... (4, Funny)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 7 years ago | (#17526866)

Do they mean "grep"?

Re:Now, by "sift through" ... (4, Insightful)

mingot (665080) | more than 7 years ago | (#17526904)

Uh, doubt it. Perhaps "query".

Re:Now, by "sift through" ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17526916)

I'd expect a database to be more responsive to SQL queries.

Re:Now, by "sift through" ... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 7 years ago | (#17526930)

Do they mean "grep"?

No, they mean sift through. Probably using database queries and things more complicated than grep. Banks don't keep all of their information in flat text files to be grep'ed for content -- they use way cooler toys. :-P

Re:Now, by "sift through" ... (4, Funny)

neuro.slug (628600) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527040)

Of course they don't use flat text... they've moved on to using one big XML file.

Re:Now, by "sift through" ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17527794)

Banks don't keep all of their information in flat text files to be grep'ed for content -- they use way cooler toys.

Stop the presses. Thank you Ric Romero

Re:Now, by "sift through" ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17526942)

Do they mean "grep"?

No. "grope"...

Re:Now, by "sift through" ... (5, Funny)

NineNine (235196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17526988)

Another person who thinks that databases are the same as flat files... Really, that just makes me want to stab you in the eyeball with a rusty spoon. "Grep" is to an RDBMS as orange juice is to an M-1 Abrahams tank. Completely and utterly unrelated.

Re:Now, by "sift through" ... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527814)

Query?

Re:Now, by "sift through" ... (1)

NineNine (235196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527974)

Yeah, a "query" makes more sense. Or, you could say "data mining", "running some big, natsy joins", or "subselects" or whatever. Software people who don't know the difference between flat files and databases who do things like "SELECT * FROM TABLENAME" make me ill. I've seen database ignorance kill several software projects before (ie: People not familiar with how to properly use a database do things like SELECT * and don't use stored procedures, then wonder why their performance is so bad).

Re:Now, by "sift through" ... (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528266)

Is there anyway to use stored procedures and still have database portability? Is there any good way to properly manager thousands of stored procedures, with source control, in an easy to define manner? I realize that stored procedures have their place, but I never quite understood using them for just about every query as some projects do. It puts too much logic in non-portable code in the database, and it's hard to group together the stored procedures into a logic manner like you can do with object oriented classes and functions.

Re:Now, by "sift through" ... (1)

jahudabudy (714731) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528368)

Ha! I just recently had one of our programmers submit a request for some back-end modifications to support some changes being made to our web-app. I shit you not, in her mock-up of how she thought the tables should look, she had a table named "tblTableName". It almost made sense in the context of the app, but I still got a pretty big laugh out of it.

Re:Now, by "sift through" ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17528068)

Unless we are talking about DBGrep [brothersoft.com] . I've seen about half-dozen database "grep" equivalents over the years.

Re:Now, by "sift through" ... (2, Informative)

AlexCV (261412) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528322)

Funnily enough, the AT&T Daytona RDBMS is basically implemented at gzipped (or similar) compressed text files searched with grep. Of course there's some differences with normal grep: queries are compiled to regexp and then compiled to an optimized C program representing the optimal grep-like tool for the specific query. It is then parallelized on an HP superdome.

Also, most RDBMS implement linear search which is grep like. The use of the LIKE statement is even closer to grep and let's not forget that many RDBMS like PostgreSQL support using regexp in lieu of LIKE statements...

Re:Now, by "sift through" ... (1)

mxs (42717) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528942)

SELECT * FROM bad_analogies WHERE content LIKE '%grep%'

You were saying ?

Ick five replies (-1, Offtopic)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527022)

And none of them wittier than my original dumb FP.

Re:Now, by "sift through" ... (1)

mhokie (988228) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528070)

Maybe Ctrl-F.. then type "pederast"..?

WHY?! (4, Insightful)

Virak (897071) | more than 7 years ago | (#17526902)

Why the hell do people pay for *any* porn, and especially why would you pay for porn that's *already illegal*?!

People make my head hurt.

Re:WHY?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17526986)

A better question would be why are people paying for illegal porn with amazingly trackable things like credit cards?

Re:WHY?! (1)

InsaneProcessor (869563) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527230)

Criminals of this ilk tend to be stupid.

Re:WHY?! (2, Insightful)

computational super (740265) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528906)

You're assuming they're using their own credit cards... remember, we're talking about people who are already commiting a crime to begin with. How'd you like to have your credit card # harvested and then find out about it by having the Gestapo kick in your door? Yikes.

I have paid for porn (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17527352)

I cant comment on why people pay for child porn as that is not my cup of tea but as for paying for porn in general, I have done so.

Why, well first is convenience. I am busy and would rather be able to go to one website, enter in my search (usually redhead, teen and anal) and get the movies they have right there without having to sift through the results to see what is good. I feel my time is worth more then the money it costs to pay for the porn.

The second is guaranteed quality. I never wonder if I am getting garbage resolution, a misnamed video, or some other piece of crap. That is why I pay, the company takes care of all that.

The final reason is guaranteed download speed. I want my porn fast, regardless of how many other people are willing to share it.

Also it is not illegal, I am supporting the "artists" by paying for it, and lets face it, these people are getting fucked all the time (pun intended).

So there you do, those are the reason I have paid for porn.

honesty (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17527878)

I am not quite sure I appreciate your honesty.

Please, this is Slashdot.

Re:I have paid for porn (3, Informative)

fmobus (831767) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528072)

Y'know, there are already free (as in free beer) pr0n search engines [askjolene.com] .

Re:WHY?! (2)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528028)

Why the hell do people pay for *any* porn, and especially why would you pay for porn that's *already illegal*?!

The same reason people pay for anything: perceived value of having it. Free porn is getting tougher to find on the net. I have no idea how difficult it is to find kiddie porn, nor do I want to know, cause that's just nasty. But, if you're looking for it, you're probably willing to pay for it.

And, I'm sure most of the places selling such things promise discrete billing, much like *any* adult themed place does. Instead of being billed as "Ass Stretchers Butt Plugs: $136.99", they bill something nicer like "Happy Valley Novelties and Gifts: $136.99".

Unfortunately, the people in the market for such things aren't really stopping to think about the legality of it (or, maybe it's from a place where it's illegal, I'm sure there are such places). They're thinking more about how the hell to get some of it.

Lots of people all over the world are looking to buy things that are otherwise illegal, and there's usually someone trying to make money selling it to you. The fact that someone is willing to spend money on something which is illegal shouldn't really be that big of a surprise.

Cheers

Re:WHY?! (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 7 years ago | (#17529158)

The same reason people pay for anything: perceived value of having it. Free porn is getting tougher to find on the net. I have no idea how difficult it is to find kiddie porn, nor do I want to know, cause that's just nasty. But, if you're looking for it, you're probably willing to pay for it.

I, uh, hear that there's still tons of it on usenet.

Darwin (5, Insightful)

NineNine (235196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17526940)

Well, I gotta say that somebody using a credit card to buy kiddie porn is a fine example of natural selection. Honestly, I had no idea that there were people that stupid out there. I mean really, if you're going to do something that is universally both illegal and reviled, why in the hell would you use a credit card?!?! Hell, I don't even use a credit card to buy incense at my local head shop!

Re:Darwin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17527044)

Because internet helps people feel anonymous even though they aren't. Much like how the guy who cut you off in traffic doesn't realize he's tagged and identifiable. And if pedophiles are enboldened with this false sense of security and get themselves caught, that's fine with me.

What I find strange with this as news is that I thought this sort of thing was already routinely done in civilized nations.

Re:Darwin (0, Troll)

NineNine (235196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527216)

What I find strange with this as news is that I thought this sort of thing was already routinely done in civilized nations.

Personally, I've never heard of any law enforcement agency that was smart enough to use email, never mind search through credit card databases. Think about this... how much Internet traffic is some kind of fraud... spam, or stock pumping or account stealing, etc? 50%? Think about how many arrests you see in the news. All I ever hear about are some 15 kids caught with Kazaa running, and *very* rarely, the occasional bot network controller.

Law enforcement agencies, are, by definition, not made up of smart, tech-saavy people. They're made up of people that were the not-so-smart bullies in grade school.

Re:Darwin (award) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17527292)

I suppose we could put these people forward for a Darwin Award. After all, they will be locked up with the key thrown away, so they are out of the gene pool?

Thinking saner thoughts, it is highly unlikely that these bills will prove that they have been buying child porn. It will only prove that they paid this company something. If some of the punters were really interested in goats in stockings hanging from chandeliers, it will be tough on them because they will still be charged and convicted with the rest.

We had some of this in the UK. If a company is fingered for selling child porn (or anything the authorities think might be) and the authorities get hold of the billing data for that company, everyone they can get hold of goes down! Looking at what gets reported, it seems an interesting set of cases - you can't see what you're charged with and there is no way of responding to the police assertions.

Much like the RIAA, in fact,

Doesn't even prove that... (1)

benhocking (724439) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527568)

It will only prove that they paid this company something.

No, it proves that someone paid this company something using a credit card with the suspect's name on it. Could be a stolen credit card, or possibly just a stolen number. Could even be a stolen identity used to obtain a credit card.

Re:Doesn't even prove that... (1)

6ame633k (921453) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528862)

Well to be fair - A SINGLE company may have has MULTIPLE Pr0n offerings: kiddy, tranny, granny, etc. Whose to say which one their clients purchased? That would totally suck if you were trying to get your kink on with tranny-love and got busted for kiddi-porn. O the hu-man-on manity.

Re:Darwin (0, Troll)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527228)

You clearly have no idea what "natural selection" means. I swear the Intelligent Design nutjobs probably understand Darwin better than you do.

Re:Darwin (4, Informative)

arevos (659374) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527578)

You clearly have no idea what "natural selection" means.

No, I think the OP is broadly correct in his use of the term. Being jailed and presumably being put on some German equivalent of the sex offenders list does not improve one's reproductive chances.

Re:Darwin (1)

NineNine (235196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527876)

Actually, I have a BS in Biology with an emphasis in genetics. I did gel electrophoresis for 3 years. I know exactly what it means. I'm just making a point I can't really believe that there would be people stupid enough to do this.

Re:Darwin (5, Interesting)

Hrodvitnir (101283) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527336)

Who says they use their own credit card?

however, in the past (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17527634)

There has been at least one case where there has been a big bust of omgpedos! based upon people who gave their money to an "age verification service."
Most websites in the ring that used the service were purely adult porn, but there were one or two that weren't.
Apparently, they weren't all linked together, so someone wouldn't necessarily know that when they paid to access hotcollegegirlswithgrits, they were also supporting chinesebabiespeeingongrits.
But of course everyone who gave money to the service was accused of belonging to the one or two pedo sites, because the websites didn't have records.

So be a little cynical when you read something like this, even though it's all for the sake of the children, of course.

Re:Darwin (2, Insightful)

fafalone (633739) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527912)

Child porn sites are typically hidden from the general public, so you need to be a little more experienced with the net to find them. So the people who do find them are smart enough to use stolen ccs to pay for it, I'd bet 90% of the time.

Re:Darwin (2, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528456)

I mean really, if you're going to do something that is universally both illegal and reviled, why in the hell would you use a credit card?!?!
An even better question is why if you were someone offerring something illegal and reviled would you accept payment from something as traceable as a credit card transaction?

The conspiracy theorist in me suspects all may not be as it seems here, but the realist in me understands that both buyers and sellers are mercifully stupid.

Godwin's Law (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17527024)

Just to check, would mentioning parallels to the Nazi era be considered invoking Goodwin's Law?

Moo (0, Troll)

Chacham (981) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527032)

We're in a sad state of affairs. Germany here is no longer protecting its own citizens, it's preventing it's citizens from viewing things online elsewhere. Who are they protecting?

The children are likely not German, so they're not protecting the german children.
The servers are not in Germany, so they are not policing they're own internet.
They are telling people what they cannot do.

What is the reason for banning viewing these things? The usual reason is protecting children from being exploited, but one, these are not German children, and two, there is no proof they were even exploited.

They are literally telling people what they cannot do in their own homes even when it doesn't hurt anyone.

I know, i know, thinkofthechildren [slashdot.org] .

It's only a matter of time before children are carted away and a young age to be protected from the evils of the world. The Calvinists were just a couple centuries ahead of their time.

Re:Moo (2, Interesting)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527354)

I have to agree with your sentiment... to a point. The government IMO has no business telling anyone what to think or fantasize about. On the other hand, it is likely that children are being exploited in one way or another. The existence of the childporn website, and the fact that German citizens are paying for this only helps promote its existence.

I also feel that spending the money working with the appropriate foreign government to arrest the purveyors of the child porn for sale is the better course of action.
Without buyers, it would not be up for sale. Without sellers it would not be purchased. Neither options stops child exploitation and pornography, so I think it is more effective to stop those who are selling it.

They may have the buyers on an 'importing child pornography' type charge, but I still don't think that is wrong... at least not the act of buying. Yes, I know there are those that will disagree. I'm more or less all for the police just posting a list of those who bought the child porn and let society takes its normal course of false morality and prejudice against them. Lets spend the money stopping the source of the child porn rather than try to choke off a small portion of their income and punish people that more than likely represent no harm to society at large.

Perhaps, in a lenient society, the list of buyers might be used to offer them counseling? That's probably a bit optimistic though.

With all the medical discoveries regarding genetic contribution to other human circumstances, perhaps they will one day find a cure for pedophiles? Oh, wait, we should probably cure other non-normal traits too... homosexuality, people who like country and western music, and things like that. Yes, sarcasm, but this whole thought police thing is moronic.

"Likely that children are being exploited" (5, Interesting)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527730)

> it is likely that children are being exploited in one way or another
Really? You mean kids don't like being kidnapped, enslaved, and raped?

Get a clue, dude. Child Pornography is the most vile and evil industry hell has concocted. Maybe there's a cure for pedophiles; if so, please cure them. But until then, the children's needs trump the pedophiles', and most certainly trump their exploiters. Those who'd rape a child for profit deserve the most severe justice.

Every civil society feels this very strongly, and rightly so. Unfortunately, that's why societies tolerate their government eroding civil rights - in the name of fighting child porn.

Re:Moo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17528120)

I very much disagree. For child porn where actual photos of actual children are taken, the people who buy it should be dealt with. That is enabling economically the molestation of children by creating a market for such things.

I do think, though, that if it's completely virtually generated (ie, no children harmed), that's much murkier, and I'm inclined to think that should be legal, for reasons of civil liberty. Yeah, the people who consume such aren't exactly upstanding pillars of society, but if no one real is getting hurt...

Let's hear it for exploitation (2, Insightful)

poptones (653660) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528210)

I exploit my knowledge and skill every day. If you have anything, so do you. People exploit the natural resources around them - cut trees for firewood, fish in their ponds, etc. It seems you've been confused by the mass delusion spread by the politically correct.

We live in a world now where parents have scant real freedom to raise their kids as they deem fit. How I raise my kids - how I let them dress, what beliefs I teach them, how they are educated - is not your business, not george bush's business, and not the business of the school board... well, at least it wasn't before the feds decided to bend over for the feminist left in the 1980s and make a whole new set of crimes for this shit... never mind those existing laws pretty much covered any REAL sex crimes against americans regardless of age.

I'm more or less all for the police just posting a list of those who bought the child porn and let society takes its normal course of false morality and prejudice against them.

Oh yes indeed, that would work perfectly.. it certainly worked well in the south for folks like Emmet Till. While we're at it, how about posting the names of all those folks breaking the other laws, too? Like the whites who married blacks, the ones who buy marital aids, the ones who practice the vile arts like sodomy and cunnilingus and felatio...

And what about the guy who beats his wife? No chance someone like that might be fucking his daughter or even his son, huh? Or beating them? Where are the calls to castrate these folks?

The "civilized west" has gone abso-fucking-lutely batshit. How apt you should be deemed a "troll" by another of those "critical thinkers" spawned from this completely perverted society.

Re:Moo (-1, Troll)

QCompson (675963) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527590)

What is the reason for banning viewing these things?

To keep all that thought-crime under control. It's everywhere!

Re:Moo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17527614)

And if those people are getting off on kiddie porn and eventually planning to make their perverted fantasies a reality, chances are they would try things out on nearby children. Nearby German children.

To suggest that information made available to a citizenry from outside a country has no impact is a little shortsighted.

Re:Moo (1)

sorrill (968643) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527918)

Hmmmm, let's put every single father on the suspect list. You know, they have access to children, even german children, and they might even see them naked.

Re:Moo (1)

eiddam (669180) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528596)

"They are literally telling people what they cannot do in their own homes even when it doesn't hurt anyone." they tell you that you can't smoke weed either. in your own home. even when it doesn't hurt anyone. well, my government does, anyway.

Wrong, german law allows it. (5, Insightful)

Josef Meixner (1020161) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528928)

The children are likely not German, so they're not protecting the german children. The servers are not in Germany, so they are not policing they're own internet. They are telling people what they cannot do.

German law on child pornography is universial, as long as a German is involved, it is the business of the attorney. So a German tourist fucking a little girl somewhere on holiday can be prosecuted in Germany. The law was changed like this after it showed that especially Thailand would not do anything to protect its own children. So the law was changed to be able to do something about it here (yes, I am German).

Therefore it is completely irrelevant, if the child was German or if the server was located in Germany. All what is relevant was that Germans were buying child porn, something which is very clearly forbidden here. Also what the headline doesn't tell, there are 20 teachers under the suspects and quite a lot of repeat offenders.

I am not happy about this either, as my credit cards were probably among those that were checked. But it really seems as if everything was done to the letter of the law. The law enforcment officers never saw the CC records, the CC companies were doing the searches for an exact sum, to a fishy Phillipene billing company in a two month time frame. Sadly the trail stopps at the billing company for now, because much better than going after the buyers would have been to get the sellers.

But to repeat, according to German law it is completely irrelevant where the child was, where the pictures were made and where the servers are located. And I think it was a good idea to change the law like this, because honestly I don't see why child porn from a German child should be prosecuted differently.

Re:Moo (2, Insightful)

dgm3574 (153548) | more than 7 years ago | (#17529154)

Decrease the demand for illicit content and hopefully less supply is created to meet the diminished demand.

Done correctly (5, Insightful)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527168)

I bet this is big news to Americans: a government that can responsibly deter crime without infringing on the rights of the citizens. How did those darn Germans do it? Some sort of miraculous new technology? Maybe they've invented a porno-detector? Let's take a look!

only if the investigators meet certain conditions, including a concrete suspicion of illegal behavior and narrowly defined search criteria
Sounds like a warrant.

The database search was conducted by the credit-card companies, not the German police, which have no direct access to the financial records of people registered in Germany...They must have a concrete suspicion and provide very exact and limited search criteria.
Sounds like responsible conduct.

Bizer warned that credit-card data monitoring could lead to mistrust, especially if customers aren't properly informed.
Sounds like an understanding of government, law, and proper oversight.

Amazing!

Re:Done correctly (1, Insightful)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527456)

a government that can responsibly deter crime without infringing on the rights of the citizens.


Considering the chimp-in-chief considers the Constitution a "goddamned piece of paper" [indymedia.org] while the Attorney General considers it "an outdated document" [timsteil.com] , you don't think he really cares about infringing the rights of citizens, do you?

Re:Done correctly (1)

jo42 (227475) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528326)

Best start practicing your "Heil Bush!" and handing over "Your Papers!".

Re:Done correctly (1)

kevin_conaway (585204) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528344)

Considering the chimp-in-chief considers the Constitution a "goddamned piece of paper" while the Attorney General considers it "an outdated document", you don't think he really cares about infringing the rights of citizens, do you?

Because capitol hill blue is the bastion of unbiased and accurate reporting. From your linked articles (which by the way, are the same article, just parrotted by different blogs):

...I've heard from two White House sources who claim they heard from others present in the meeting that the President of the United States called the Constitution "a goddamned piece of paper."...

Really? Two "sources" who heard from some other guy that the president and Gonzalez said these things?

I know you really want to believe it but try to roast these guys for the things they've actually done (and there are plenty) rather than spreading FUD.

Re:Done correctly (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 7 years ago | (#17529066)

...and here is some nice sand for you to stick your head in...

Re:Done correctly (2, Interesting)

dfenstrate (202098) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528988)

Given the behavoir and expansion of the government since FDR's "New Deal" (some would say the civil war) and the War on Drugs, this is hardly an attitude uique to the current Administration.

Our elected officials in all three of the branches of the government have been disregarding the original intent and meaning of the constitution for decades.

Congress abuses the "interstate commerce" and "general welfare" parts of the constitution such that nothing is outside their power.

The executive does whatever the hell it can get away with, and it's alot considering how the lazy legislature unconstitionally delegates lawmaking to various departments (EPA, FCC, etc). Further, Congress hasn't officially declared war since WW2 (Gulf War 1 might be an exception)- which is their duty- but has been happy to authorize the President to do what he likes and pay for things that look like Wars countless times.

Finally, the Judicial Branch was cowed by FDR and has countless times written tomes of rationalization justifying how the constitution doesn't mean what it says.

The federal government has been out of line at all levels for generations.

And you know what?

We let it.

Don't cry how the current Administration is so evil because it's been doing what government officials have done for eons. With a little bit of reflection and some serious study of the constitution and it's original meanings you could find several programs you probably support of dubious constitionality.

But I doubt you'll do that because you have already rationalized the abuses you support and re-examing them would hurt.

A professor at the University of Edinborough (circa 1787) named Alexander Tyler figured it out. Here's the eight stages of democracy he observed:

1. From bondage to spiritual faith;

2. From spiritual faith to great courage;

3. From courage to liberty;

4. From liberty to abundance;

5. From abundance to complacency;

6. From complacency to apathy;

7. From apathy to dependence;

8. From dependence back into bondage.


He figured this cycle would take 200 years or so. You can argue where along the line we (USA) are but you can see the man has a point. It's pretty clear that a few European countries are solidly at step 7.

Garbage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17527562)

Don't forget ineffective, once some very simple steps are taken by site operators to defeat these "narrowly defined" search criteria. For example, lots of different promo prices, multiple charges, deferred billing, and a few dozen other things that might take me more than the two seconds to think of than it took me to come up with these.

Re:Done correctly (1)

duerra (684053) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527608)

Sounds like responsible conduct.

Sounds to me like a fishing expedition.

Hope those Germans haven't been purchasing music on AllOfMp3....

Re:Done correctly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17527664)

This search would probably not be issued a warrant in the US. This would require that the government have probably cause to search 22 million peoples records. From the article, it seems the government only knew that some citizens were paying for kiddie porn.

If you mod MobyDisk up... (1)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527676)

The terrorists win.

Re:Done correctly (5, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527698)

How did those darn Germans do it?

Hmm... The population of Germany is roughly 82 million, and they are going to "sift through the transactions of over 22 million customers". It seems to me that those darn Germans are going to do it by considering half the adult population as suspects.

Re:Done correctly (1)

vakuona (788200) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528448)

Gasp!!! All adult German men!!!

Re:Done correctly (1)

pla (258480) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527820)

Sounds like responsible conduct

...Right up until you consider that only an idiot would have bought something like that with his own credit card...

I strongly suspect this will end up with 322 people remembering they lost their card a few months back - And I'd feel inclined to believe most of them, though no doubt the courts will put them through the ringer over this.

Re:Done correctly (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527836)

used to be, but not anymore. this fucking terrorist hysteria has eroded the rights of fellow germans pretty much and the current lawmakers don't care about the constitution and even if an unconstitutional law has been removed by the german supreme court the lawmakers try to introduce the same one again and again, hoping that noone bothers this time.

Re:Done correctly (1)

ingmar (31867) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528276)

Warrant? No, they didn't bother. They just "asked nicely", and Visa & Co let them have the necessary information, ie who payed a certain amount to a certain recevier during a given period in the summer of 2006.

To obtain that information, they needed to go through the records of roughly 30 or so million credit card holders. Reasonable? I don't think so.

Scheisse! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17527214)

POLIZE) Sir, ve haff found zis gepayment vot is obviously for die kidipornen. Ve vill haff to ask you to commen mit us to die polizestation.

MANN) Nein, nein, das ist nicht ein kidipornen! Dis ist die regular wholesome scheisse videos mit conzenting aldulten gefichen mit die turdenpoopen.

POLIZE) Ach! Ve are mischtaken. Zo zorry for gewasten du timen, proud zitizen. Gutenhaben, unt enjoy die turdenpoopen!

Re:Scheisse! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17529132)

This has been modded "flamebait" but it made me laugh aloud. Sorry, no mod points.

Fine by me. (4, Insightful)

NNKK (218503) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527248)

If the site were in-country with in-country bank accounts, the authorities would just search those records directly. This gets them the exact same information. No more, no less. The parameters are narrowly-defined, reasonable, and the activity in question clearly illegal. The risk to innocents is at least as low as going at it from the other direction (looking at the records on the receiving end).

Re:Fine by me. (1)

sorrill (968643) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527718)

Ok. They get results.

This works.

Why don't we use it to search for other crimes ?

Maybe ... buying imported Playstations. You know, it is ilegal on some countries.

Re:Fine by me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17528760)

And let's not forget the people buying stolen credit card numbers with their own credit cards!

Thanks, you did society a service. (3, Funny)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527360)

Let's do it again. Now please grep for donations to the ACLU...

My card was stolen (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17527362)

I wonder how many cards will now be reported stolen

I don't think they'll buy that. (3, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528312)

I wonder how many cards will now be reported stolen

That excuse only works on your wife, or your girlfriend.

I know it works on my wife, and my girlfriend.

Define "Broad" (3, Insightful)

15Bit (940730) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527384)

The article clearly states that "The police are not allowed to ask credit-card companies or banks to run a very broad database search". However, the search criteria "a specific amount of money, a specific time period and a specific receiver account" reads to me as "we know the subscription fee, bank account number and the date the website went up. Could you tell us about all the germans who paid that subscription amount to that bank account please". That sounds like a pretty broad search criteria to me.

A specific search would be "We have sound suspicions that a bloke called Wolfgang has been accessing this list of kiddie porn websites. Could you provide us with a list of transactions Wolfgang has made to them please."

Re:Define "Broad" (1)

Bootvis (913169) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527626)

The quality of the 'narrowness' can be measured by the amount of false positives. If this number is low (0) then the search criteria are imo defined well because nobody innocent suffered. My guess is that in this case the number of false positves is _low_ . So job wel done, Siska!

Re:Define "Broad" (2, Insightful)

bcattwoo (737354) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527956)

A specific search would be "We have sound suspicions that a bloke called Wolfgang has been accessing this list of kiddie porn websites. Could you provide us with a list of transactions Wolfgang has made to them please."

That's not a search at all though. That is just asking for Wolfgang's credit card statement, which could presumably just be done with a regular warrant given the sound suspicions. I don't understand how searching for records of people paying the subscription amount to a known kiddie porn purveyor during the time he was known to be in business could be construed as overly broad.

Re:Define "Broad" (1)

DancesWithBlowTorch (809750) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528000)

Actually, I think this search qualifies as "specific", because every single customer data set that was handed over to the authorities by the banks is highly suspicious of having commited a crime (consciously bying child pornography is a felony under German law). Of course, there's still the chance of fraudulent card use, but this can and will be checked during the court hearings that will follow.

You see, to ask a question like yours,
"We have sound suspicions that a bloke called Wolfgang has been accessing this list of kiddie porn websites. Could you provide us with a list of transactions Wolfgang has made to them please."
would necessitate knowledge about someone's internet usage, which in turn would take a search of ISP databases to generate. Fortunately, the German police didn't (couldn't) do so: They just found out about this specific, obviously criminal, website and asked the banks: Tell us who are their customers. That's a far cry from sifting through millions of records for clues of illegal behaviour, as we have come to see a lot of lately in the wake of the "war on terror".

The important bit is that the law enforcement agencies never got their hands on the records of the 22 Million innocent people (including mine, as I own a German credit card). I don't mind the fact that the banks did a search on their own database. They do so all the time to prevent fraud (which is good for me, the customer). As long as my private data remains with the bank that I trust my money on, I'm fine.

Law of diminishing returns? (1)

StressGuy (472374) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527468)

So, to date, they have 322 suspects out of 22 million scans...that's a hit rate of .00146 percent. That's a lot of people who had their personal data plowed through for a nearly zero yield.

Re:Law of diminishing returns? (1)

forgotten_my_nick (802929) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527580)

I wonder who many of them in the 322 suspects had their credit card number stolen/copied?

Re:Law of diminishing returns? (4, Insightful)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527704)

Right, those non-suspects records were "ploughed through" in the same sense that if the police requested one record with a specific transaction ID from the creit card company's database, all of the records were "ploughed through" when the query to retrieve that record was run. You're either a troll, have no idea how a database works, or don't know how to read.

Re:Law of diminishing returns? (3, Insightful)

jizziknight (976750) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528036)

Agreed. Now, If they were manually sorting through the records rather than running a db query, that'd be a different story. The fact of the matter is they're getting only what they searched for and nothing else. The only people having their records "ploughed through" are those who are suspects. So assuming no false positives (which shouldn't happen with a well written query), and no records are missed (which also shouldn't happen with a well written query), they're getting a 100% success rate. The hit rate of .00146% as put forth by the GP would only be correct assuming all 22 million of those people were guilty and they were only finding .00146%. Or at least that's the way I see it.

Re:Law of diminishing returns? (1)

jahudabudy (714731) | more than 7 years ago | (#17529090)

Actually, even if the credit-card companies were manually sorting through the records (as dumb as that would appear to be), as long as they only shared the positive hits with the police, there still is no privacy issue. I would be shocked to learn that the credit-card companies do not have very wide powers when it comes to viewing, sorting, reporting against, etc. their own data. The privacy rights only kick in when it comes to your credit-card company sharing that data with someone else.

Re:Law of diminishing returns? (1)

jahudabudy (714731) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528956)

Man, if they have to search 22 million records to pull back a single transaction ID, that DBA should be shot! Indexes are your friend :)

Good point, tho. This is a non-issue as far as privacy is concerned.

Before responding... (1)

StressGuy (472374) | more than 7 years ago | (#17529052)

Let me give you a simple test of logic. You presented three options:

1) You're a troll

2) You don't know how a database works

3) You don't know how to read

Using only your innate powers of deduction, which of these three options can you eliminate right now?

My point being that, who's the troll here? The guy who asked about the effectiveness of going through 22 million records only to obtain 322 viable hits? or the guy who decided to take personal shots at the original post?

Well, obviously a database search to limited criteria is cost-effective and non-invasive. Hell, "ploughed through" might have even been a poor choice of words.

But at least I wasn't a dick about it.

Why would someone use a credit card? (4, Insightful)

Kaz Kylheku (1484) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527518)

One reason might be that it's stolen?

Someone steals your number, buys kiddie porn, and now you're the suspect.

Re:Why would someone use a credit card? (4, Interesting)

Incadenza (560402) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528442)

Someone steals your number, buys kiddie porn, and now you're the suspect.
A friend of mine had his computer confiscated for three months because somebody tried to sign up to a Yahoo! mailing list (where kiddie porn had been discussed) using his stolen or guessed or just randomly typed e-mail address. They are not the brightest of the block, these German cybercrimefighters.

so this only catches the stupids ones (1)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527550)

the ones with any sense will be using stolen identities... so how would you explain things if your credit card number comes up in this search then???

OR (1)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527908)

People with recently stolen identities :)

on the same day as iPhone (brains unite!) (1)

zIRtrON (48344) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527638)

this shouldn't be news because they've conceivably been able to do this forever, but finally people (even b_eu_rocrats) are using their head.

And yes, the subject is just an attention getter

Your rights online? (-1, Troll)

doomy (7461) | more than 7 years ago | (#17527662)

Pedos do not have rights. Infact, I hope they end up in federal pound me in the ass prison.

Re:Your rights online? (1)

Dynedain (141758) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528192)

Gays do not have rights.

Muslims do not have rights.

Jews do not have rights.

You do not have rights.

Where does it end? Where's the cutoff? Everyone has rights. That's what makes things a "right", rather than a privilege. Those who break the law should be punished appropriately and measures should be taken to prevent reoccurance, but that does not negate that person's rights.

Re:Your rights online? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17528212)

Pedos do not have rights. Infact, I hope they end up in federal pound me in the ass prison.
I agree. Any man attracted to a 17 year-old girl is a sick, demented pervert. They should all die a slow, horrible death.

Re:Your rights online? (1)

alan_dershowitz (586542) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528318)

SUSPECTED "pedos." Or are we dispensing with trials in Germany now also?

Re:Your rights online? (2, Insightful)

nasor (690345) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528376)

It's not about the rights of the pedophiles, it's about the rights of normal people to not have the police scrutinize their personal financial records simply because some pedophile uses the same credit card company. The police knew that a few people had used credit cards to buy the porn, so they examined the records of all 22 million people.

Re:Your rights online? (1)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528562)

Except that they did no such thing.

The police had no access whatsoever to records of any transactions that didn't match their specific criteria. The didn't "examine" these records in any sense, and know nothing about them except that they don't match these specific criteria. There was absolutely no violation of the privacy of anyone who's not now a suspect.

Now, you may be able to argue that it's not the intent of the privacy law to allow the police to say "we have an unknown number of anonymous suspects whose identities we can get through this specific request for information" rather than "we suspect this specific individual of committing this specific crime, and we'd like this specific information to prove that", and you might have a reasonable case there, but that's a whole other issue. I'm not a lawyer and I can't read German, so I'm not about to try to parse their law to form an opinion on that.

They will not end in prison. (2, Interesting)

TransEurope (889206) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528708)

Or better 90% of them. The Spiegel says that 90% of the
322 suspects are not punished before, so they'll receive
fines instead of prison. It's unusual in germany to go
to prison for your first misdeed. Except really hard crimes
like homicide, second degree murder, forays, raping of course.

Slow down Germany, UK is the primary police state! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17528230)

This sucks, Germany's catching up with us in the UK ...

We need a strategy for staying in front. How about forcing all citizens to work in the mines while chanting "Politicians are God" over and over ....

Oh wait minute, peeps in the UK aren't citizens at all, just Subjects of HM the Queen. Maybe we are still ahead after all! .... :-(

To the contrary (4, Insightful)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | more than 7 years ago | (#17528474)

I have problems with this. I'll give the German police some slack and assume they are reasonable enough to only look for people who purchased materials that any reasonable person would look at and say "That's obviously vile child abuse." We cannot, however, trust the police everywhere to be as reasonable.

In the U.S., people are being prosecuted right now for making and selling child porn even though the prosecution agrees that no nudity or sexual activity is depicted. In the U.S., at least one 16 year old girl has been charged with child abuse and child porn production for taking a cell phone picture of herself nude and sending it to a boyfriend. (Yes, the child she was charged with abusing was herself. Think on that a while, but don't blame me if your head explodes.) In the U.S., we have people sitting in jail convicted of possessing child porn for, among other things, having cartoons of young-looking characters having sex. (I'm at work, so filtering prevents me from searching for links; you can google them as easily as I can, though. For the first case, look for "Pierson" who's being prosecuted in Alabama.)

Yes, everyone is probably right that in the instant case this is a reasonable way to proceed. But I'm still not comfortable with it. I don't trust LEOs to not be idiots, to not be grinding political axes. Dangerous stuff, this. If it's backed up with searches that find people in possession, great. But be warned - due to identity theft or whatever reason, there will be some false positives. The people who are the victims of those false positives are just a short distance away from having their lives utterly ruined without adequate justification.

There must be better ways of investigating this sort of thing.

mod Up (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17528678)

all along. *BSD JOIN THE GNAA!! BE NIGGER! BE GAY!
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>