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Major UK Child Porn Investigation Flawed

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the ruining-innocent-lives dept.

Privacy 372

Oxygen99 writes "The Guardian (UK) is carrying a story on Operation Ore, a major police investigation aimed at catching online pedophiles. This has resulted in several high-profile arrests, such as those of Pete Townshend and Robert Del Naja (both falsely accused), while attracting significant press attention. Yet, the reality of the investigation is one of stolen credit cards, wrongful accusations, and ignorance leading to a significant number of the 7,292 people on the list being wrongfully accused of a very emotionally charged crime. There have been 39 suicides and a number of other people on the list will probably never be investigated. It seems to me this case highlights flaws inherent in the way law enforcement agencies handle evidence that only a small minority of front-line officers fully understand."

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372 comments

FP! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18798953)

Could it be?

Re:FP! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18799063)

First Pedophile? Get the fuck off my Slashdot you pervert.

Target the Vatican, then go on down from there (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18799429)

Target the Vatican, then go on down from there. So many fish to catch, so easily.

What do you mean flawed? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18798981)

Online pedophiles? How can you have sex with a child online?

Re:What do you mean flawed? (1)

ResidntGeek (772730) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799057)

Boy, you sure are stupid. Pedo- (meaning child) + -phile (meaning love) = sex? No, pedophilia is a *desire* to have sex with children.

Re:What do you mean flawed? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18799121)

Thoughtcrime.

Re:What do you mean flawed? (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799133)

Ouch, being arrested for mere desires? Citizen, report to the Bureau of Thoughtcrime immediately.

I'm reasonably sure you have to act on your desires in some way before being arrested ResidntGeek.

Re:What do you mean flawed? (2, Interesting)

ResidntGeek (772730) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799603)

Exactly, you do have to act on your desires before being arrested. That's why people aren't arrested for pedophilia, they're arrested for child porn viewing, or having sex with children. I can't stand when the media uses "pedophilia" as a blanket term, as you're perfectly correct: pedophilia is thoughtcrime, and really shouldn't be a crime at all.

Re:What do you mean flawed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18799829)

"they're arrested for child porn viewing, "

So people should get arrested because they enjoy watching murders too? Assuming snuff films are illegal, how about reenactments (like CSI and other cop stuff)? If simulations/reenactments are ok, then that sure blurs the line especially given modern technology.

Maybe we might as well arrest people for porn viewing.

Re:What do you mean flawed? (2, Insightful)

jandrese (485) | more than 6 years ago | (#18800123)

The problem with viewing child porn online isn't so much with the viewer as it is with the producer. To produce real child porn you need real children, and that's exploitation pure and simple. If you pay for it, you're paying people to exploit children.

This distinction gets a lot blurrier with CG and drawn porn, but from what I understand the cops tend to focus on real porn instead of the fake stuff. Otherwise you'd have to imagine a gigantic crackdown on things like the Tokyo Doujinshi shows and whatnot. 4chan [4chan.org] wouldn't still be around (although there are plenty of other reasons it shouldn't still be around). It's the stuff where real children are exploited that the cops rightfully focus on.

Re:What do you mean flawed? (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 6 years ago | (#18800311)

Then how about people who are pro-war or pro-death-penalty? Those people are in favor of real people being killed. If the thought is enough, then they should count as murderers.

Re:What do you mean flawed? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18799165)

if pedophilia is the desire to have sex with children, are there cases when people download child pornography with no intention of having sex with a child?

and if so, are they still pedophiles?

Re:What do you mean flawed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18799317)

If a computer program makes a noise but no sound device is available, does it really make a noise?

What's the Goal? (5, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799825)

if pedophilia is the desire to have sex with children, are there cases when people download child pornography with no intention of having sex with a child?

Strike the 'child' part, and re-evaluate for legal adult porn. Does the downloader intend he'll be having sex with a porn star?

and if so, are they still pedophiles?

Repeat the above process - does the adult *wish* he were having sex with a porn star? I'd guess both cases are true - some of those folks really do think that, some would rather be happily married. Unless you go in for the whole 'adultry of the mind' or 'adultry against God' theories (then they're all going to hell, but don't suffer legal consequences).

So, if the test is to capture all pervs who think little children are sexy, then it's a fair net. If the test is to capture all pervs who are likely to commit a crime, it's probably too wide a net. I'm not sure anybody has defined the requirements adequately. But to equate viewing pictures with intent to commit a real world crime - that's a big leap.

That's not to say that they're not in possession of contraband or that they're not enabling the commission of crimes (they are) but that's a separate issue. Due to the high emotional impact of the various crimes they're often conflated, but that's not helpful for proper legal prosecution of the actual crimes.

The case of CGI versions of the above really gets to the heart of the issue, because the contraband and creation crimes aspect is factored out, leaving the original question to stand alone.

congrats you have yourself a police state! (5, Insightful)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 6 years ago | (#18798995)

cameras watching your every move, laws designed to control your behaviour [asbo and the like]. Congrats, you live in a nanny-police state.

If only they could actually do anything meaningful with all this "order" they're creating.

Tom

re:congrats you have yourself a police state! (1)

ed.han (444783) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799079)

TFA quoth:
"this case highlights flaws inherent in the way law enforcement agencies handle evidence."

monty python quoth:
"come see the flaws inherent in the system!"

someone had to say it!

:D

ed

Re:congrats you have yourself a police state! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18799253)

cameras watching your every move

No, cameras watching your every move in public places. You have no expectation of privacy in public places.

laws designed to control your behaviour

What other kind of laws are there?

And as for this, I fail to see how following up on actual legitimate evidence (credit cards being linked to kiddy porn sites) is evidence of a police state.

Re:congrats you have yourself a police state! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18800321)

You have no expectation of privacy in public places.

This is one of the basic tenets of a police state.

What other kind of laws are there?

There are laws to create opportunity, create a budget, make treaties, adjust punishments, and guarantee the little guy basic rights.

I fail to see how following up on actual legitimate evidence (credit cards being linked to kiddy porn sites) is evidence of a police state.

Heavy-handed police tactics are a hallmark of a police state.

Re:congrats you have yourself a police state! (1)

BalanceOfJudgement (962905) | more than 6 years ago | (#18800401)

You have no expectation of privacy in public places.
Well, in that case I'm perfectly justified in stalking all beautiful women in public. After all, they have no expectation of being *left alone*, right?

Oh, but we're talking about privacy, not stalking. Only the naive think such a distinction exists - the only difference is who is doing the watching.

Re:congrats you have yourself a police state! (4, Insightful)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 6 years ago | (#18800405)

"And as for this, I fail to see how following up on actual legitimate evidence... is evidence of a police state."

Um, because they didn't. It appears these people had their homes searched and ended up on trial because no one followed up on the evidence to see if it was legitimate

Police are stunned! (4, Insightful)

slusich (684826) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799049)

Police are stunned to learn that people who look at child porn might use stolen credit card information to pay for it.
Seriously, because child porn is such an emotional issue, everyone tends to leap without looking. Sadly this results in a lot of false accusations and lives ruined. Because these charges are so serious, officials must take more time before jumping to conclusions over any accusation.

But it gets the votes! (4, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799127)

The reason that everyone jumps on this bandwagon is because it gets the votes.

Everyone hates it. Everyone wants the government to "do something about it". Everyone wants it done today.

So very little thought is put into these projects and the more people that can be swept up, the better. That way you're fairly sure, statistically, that you'll get one of the "bad guys".

But it seems more likely that you'll catch an innocent, high profile person who's appearance in your project will reveal how flawed that project is.

Re:But it gets the votes! (5, Insightful)

eviloverlordx (99809) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799353)

Absolutely. It seems to me that the rash of pedophiles is very similar to the rash of cases of 'satanic abuse' and 'daycare abuse'. I don't doubt that there are pedophiles out there, and I agree that they need to have, at the bare minimum, psychological help. However, the hysteria around this issue is nearly unbelieveable.

Re:But it gets the votes! (5, Insightful)

jandrese (485) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799991)

Oh, there are defiantly people who want to have sex with kids out there. They are rare however and the chances of having your kid abducted for sex are absolutely minuscule. Still, the chance is nonzero and because it's such a sensational and heinous crime you can be assured that there will be parents clamoring for the authorities to do something about those people.

The worst part is all of the people who are more than willing to give up liberties a-plenty to only slightly improve the safety of their children. The worst part is that they'll insist that you give up the same liberties and yet still their children aren't much (if at all) safer.

IMHO, this situation is likely to get out of hand if we keep going on the same path. For instance, poorly thought out legislation in Miami forces "sex offenders" (which can be a very broad term these days), to sleep under bridges because they literally cannot buy a home that is not in some form of restricted zone (too close to a daycare, school, playground, mall, etc...). As a result you have people who may have had some minor mental problems before being forced into vagrancy and the myriad of problems associated with that. Not to mention the difficulty in keeping track on someone who lives under a bridge. The very laws designed to make the children safer can in fact make them less safe because they've gone too far.

Re:But it gets the votes! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18800169)

Defiantly? How hard is it to spell "definitely"?

Skip back several years ... (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799995)

and you'll see the witch trials.

There's always SOME hysteria around that can be used to drive a personal agenda.

Re:But it gets the votes! (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#18800387)

Well, When Townshed claims he was doing research on the subject as his first initial defense, I can see how everyone jumped on that band wagon.

But true to form, the media was more then willing to loudly claim he was doing something wrong, publicized his admission however minor it was but I have heard nothing on him being proved innocent nor have I heard that his credit car numbers were swiped. This is just typical and example of how this can ruin someone. I heard he was a kiddie porn watcher but not that the accusations were false or misleading. It seems like news has two forms. One the shouts something happened and one that you have to look for to find out. They shouldn't be separated in situations like this. They should have shouted he was innocent just as loud as they did when he was guilty.

Re:Police are stunned! (1)

Znork (31774) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799729)

"Police are stunned to learn that people who look at child porn might use stolen credit card information to pay for it."

Take a look at the article; it's even worse, a whole lot of the supposed transactions werent even that, they were scams set up by the webmasters themselves to cash in on credit-card fraud. Apparently the police didnt even check enough to notice that a whole lot of the cc transactions were more or less batch registrations run from the same IP adresses to scam the payment service.

Re:Police are stunned! (3, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799789)

No doubt. A little lesson in critical thinking applies here. If people are going to break the law to get some child porn, don't you think that they might try to hide their actions by breaking the law, too? I suppose these same police would be shocked to learn that even in jurisdications where radar/lidar detectors are illegal, many speeders use the devices anyway. Except that speeding isn't such an emotionally-charged issue as child porn; speeders are looked at as a minor nuisance to be given a fine and sent on their merry way, while pedophiles are viewed as being evil, vile creatures that must be stopped at all costs. Not that that perspective is wrong, mind you, it's just that strong emotions tend to cloud the thinking of folks who would otherwise be consummate professionals.

Re:Police are stunned! (1)

sk8king (573108) | more than 6 years ago | (#18800409)

"Why should I believe you? You're a criminal! Criminals lie all the time."

Something like that was quoted from the 15 year old that was jailed for 12 days due to the DST change this year.

Re:Police are stunned! (2, Informative)

earnest murderer (888716) | more than 6 years ago | (#18800231)

It's not about "police" so much as there are particular personalities that do not make good officers. Unfortunately law enforcement is particularly attractive to these kinds of people and at least in America there are few if any processes to keep these kinds of situations in check.

You have to give us (Americans) credit though. We don't even bother with spurious or weak evidence, our officers just make shit up wholesale and abuse/intimidate 4 year old girls into saying whatever their sick psyche's want to hear...

----------
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Day_care_sexual_abuse _hysteria [wikipedia.org]

The Wenatchee sex ring in Wenatchee, Washington in 1994 and 1995 where police and state social workers undertook what was then called the nation's most extensive child sex-abuse investigation. Forty-three adults were arrested on 29,726 charges of child sex abuse involving 60 children. Parents, Sunday school teachers and a pastor were charged and many were convicted of abusing their own children or the children of others in the community. Courts ultimately determined the charges were entirely untrue. Police coerced children into giving false statements, and false testimony in court. Dr. Phillip Esplin, a forensic psychologist for the National Institutes of Health's Child Witness Project commented that "Wenatchee may be the worst example ever of mental health services being abused by a state ... to control and manage children who have been frightened and coerced into falsely accusing their parents and neighbors of the most heinous of crimes."
----------

Re:Police are stunned! (1)

infonography (566403) | more than 6 years ago | (#18800303)

slusich "Police are stunned to learn that people who look at child porn might use stolen credit card information to pay for it. "

You got that backwards. The stolen credit info was used by a few people who also sold Child Pr0n. Not even a major percentage of them either. It was association by remote proxy. The 'Investigators' (and it sickens me to call them that) might as well have used a regular copy of the yellow pages found at the crooks house and picked names randomly, "We found their names at the crime scene" Oh, and look here is a The WHO t-shirt, must be Pete Townsend's.

Dumb Cop: Sir we found your car, it was stolen by bank robbers.

Citizen: Good, when can I get it back?

Dumb Cop: In about 10 to 20 years after you get out of prison for this bank robbery charge we already convicted you of, your under arrest.

this is what they want (5, Insightful)

jcgf (688310) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799065)

The government has no interest in prosecuting child porn offenders. They have found the perfect way to get rid of someone without anyone protesting. Simply accuse them of child porn possession and you've pretty much got an open and shut case. Judges are in on the system and juries have been trained to see anyone accused of such a crime as guilty until proven innocent.

Re:this is what they want (5, Insightful)

Ckwop (707653) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799975)

That's nice rhetoric and a few years ago I would have believed this too.

However, having lived in the United Kingdom and having been involved in a prosecution of an offender, I can say that this could not be further from the truth.

The truth is that it is very, very hard to prosecute somebody for child porn possession if they're will to fight it. The "It was a virus defence" almost always gets the case chucked before it even reaches a jury. There's this thing called "continuity of evidence" and it's a hard hurdle to jump over (and rightly so).

He who alleges must prove and if you can't show any evidence that the virus didn't put it there then the guy walks free. Remember, to convict you must disprove the defence's point.

The defence is always better funded. To see why this is so, consider this: wouldn't you be if your liberty and life was at stake? People well gladly sell their house for the best lawyer in these circumstances. By comparison, the state fights these cases with people just out of their pupillage.

In the case I was involved in, I was certain the man was guilty. I was willing to get up on the stand and testify to that fact. He should have gone to jail for a long time and the fact he still walks the streets and cares for his children leaves me sick in the stomach.

That said, it is better than ten guilty men go free than a single innocent go to jail. This principle is the basis of our entire criminal system. Even after this experience, I still believe in this principle one-hundred percent. If ten paedophiles have to go free to prevent an innocent man's life being destroyed, I begrudgingly have to accept that. That, as they say, is the price of freedom.

Simon

Re:this is what they want (1)

jcgf (688310) | more than 6 years ago | (#18800091)

rhetoric: a term used by dishonest intellectuals to dismiss valid points for which they have no counter arguement.

Someone uses something like that as a sig, seemed appropriate here

Re:this is what they want (4, Insightful)

computational super (740265) | more than 6 years ago | (#18800193)

People well gladly sell their house for the best lawyer in these circumstances.

I'm not sure that's really a shining example of justice in action, assuming the person accused was actually innocent (as were so very many of the accused in TFA).

Re:this is what they want (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 6 years ago | (#18800027)

Well in the UK aren't you guilty till proven innocent anyhow?

Re:this is what they want (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18800441)

You are indeed guilty until proven innocent if the charge involves child abuse, terrorism or racism.

Note that peeing in a back alley can get you on the Sex Offenders' Register, if you're unlucky enough to get caught; and any attack perpetrated by a white person on a black or asian person is deemed racist, even if there is a clear motive unrelated to race (such as an asian shopkeeper refusing to serve white kids with alcohol).

Credit card? (5, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799069)

Who would seriously by Child Porn on their own credit card? You'd have to be a really dumb person. If that's all these cops are going on, then the investigations should be shut down. It should be expected that the people purchasing are using stolen credit cards.

Re:Credit card? (1)

garett_spencley (193892) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799197)

While I am most certainly not saying that someone who doesn't report a lost or stolen credit deserves to be accused of being a pedophile, credit card companies do hold people responsible to cancel a card the moment it becomes lost or stolen and to report any purchases that are out of the ordinary or suspicious.

I agree with your entire message, I just want to point out that if you lose a credit card and don't immediately report it stolen then this type of thing can happen. People need to take the personal responsibility of protecting their assets. If you notice any kind of suspicious purchases on your credit card call the company immediately to cancel it and then notify the police.

Re:Credit card? (2, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799277)

What if it's not even your credit card? What if someone figured out your SSN, Birth Date, and a couple other key piece of information, and opened a credit card in your name. It would technically be your card, but you wouldn't even know you had it. How are you supposed to take responsiblity for a credit card that you don't even know you have.

Re:Credit card? (2, Interesting)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799381)

You have just named one of the very most important reasons for monitoring your credit report on all three credit agencies. The reports will show an enquiry on your credit and then the opening of a new account.

Re:Credit card? (2, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799439)

They should just make it a lot more difficult to get a credit card. I have all the credit cards I need. I don't need any more. They should make it much harder to get a credit card account. Why should I have to monitor everything? How often should I get a report? Every Week? Because I'm pretty sure it's possible for someone to ruin my credit in less than a week.

Flag your account (1)

Aexia (517457) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799491)

You can flag your account so that you're notified anytime someone does something in your name.

Re:Flag your account (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18799625)

Why isn't this the default behavior?

Re:Credit card? (1)

Irish_Samurai (224931) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799919)

Why should I have to monitor everything?

uhhhh, because its YOUR CREDIT. Seriously, this attitude is part of the problem. Who do you want to be in charge of monitoring your credit?

Re:Credit card? (1)

Chosen Reject (842143) | more than 6 years ago | (#18800095)

That would be where you are wrong. It's not yours. It belongs to the credit agencies. If it was yours then you shouldn't be charged for obtaining it. But you are charged because it doesn't belong to you. I'm sure you'd like to think it belongs to you. I'd like to think it belongs to me. But either it doesn't belong to you, or you shouldn't be charged for it.

Re:Credit card? (4, Insightful)

Herkum01 (592704) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799523)

You point an inherit flaw that the government and businesses work. It is your responsibility to figure out if "THEY" gave out fraudulent credit cards, SSN cards, birth certificates, drivers license.

I would say, if businesses and the government had to pay for hardships they caused someone else they would not be so quick to shrug their shoulders when an obviously questionable situation arises.

No such thing as a credit agency in Europe AFAIK (1)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799555)

It runs contrary of privacy laws.

Did you realize the title of the article included the two letters "U" and "K", juxtaposed? It means "United Kingdom", not "United States."

Re:Credit card? (1)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799461)

My question is: What kind of "research" was Pete Townshend doing? [thesmokinggun.com] He seems to have used his own credit card and visited a site where this stuff was available.

Re:Credit card? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799557)

They seized his computer and found no evidence that he had downloaded anything from the site in question. There was no evidence that he had gone to any other sites. The judge gave him the benefit of the doubt, since it was clear that he had just been an idiot. It was incredibly moronic, but I'm not sure why he was brought up at all in the article, because he admitted he had entered his credit card number.

This is the problem TOMORROW. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799579)

From TFA:

Online, criminal groups trade thousands of stolen credit card details (including number, expiry date, name, address, and even date of birth, email, password and mother's maiden name), priced by potential fraud value, ranging from $30 (£15) for an unexploited Visa Gold card to $2.50 each for a bumper file of 4,000 stolen American Express card and user details.

So the bad guys are swapping/selling LOTS of info.

Some British victims of card fraud who later suffered from police mistakes in Operation Ore believe their troubles began after they bought bicycle parts - or even a honeymoon hotel stay - over the internet or on the phone from the US.

So you never even had to use your card to buy porn.

Landslide's computers also contained 54,348 sets of stolen credit card information, including information on dozens of UK residents apparently stolen from a Florida-based luxury goods company; some were later used to pay for porn websites operated by Landslide.

That's the tie-in with all the other cracking cases reported here.

Now, all it would take is for the bad guys get a clue and start their own DATABASE of info from these various items.

They could quickly collect as much info about you as the credit companies have. And THAT means fraud / identity theft on a HUGE scale.

Stolen cards would be a minor problem at that point. They'd be applying for new cards, new loans, passports, drivers licenses, etc ... as you. Your financial life would be ruined. With no way to recover. And this will happen to hundreds of thousands of people. Millions of people. And there won't be any way to stop it.

Re:This is the problem TOMORROW. (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 6 years ago | (#18800073)

"Stolen cards would be a minor problem at that point. They'd be applying for new cards, new loans, passports, drivers licenses, etc ... as you. Your financial life would be ruined. With no way to recover. And this will happen to hundreds of thousands of people. Millions of people. And there won't be any way to stop it."

Tyler Durden would be proud.

(yes I know the book & movie were different..)

Re:Credit card? (1)

computational super (740265) | more than 6 years ago | (#18800233)

What if someone figured out your SSN, Birth Date, and a couple other key piece of information, and opened a credit card in your name

They still arrest the guy who lives at the address where the bill goes (I would think). If the bill goes to the perpetrator, they have their man. If the bill goes to the identity theft victim, that's something of a tip-off to the person under whose name you're trying to hide.

Re:Credit card? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#18800371)

And what if it goes to some non-existent address? What then. Who's to say if the real person signed up for the credit card and redirected it to some other address so they could pretend it was a fraudulent card, or that it actually was fraudulent card, and the person signing up for the card didn't want to get caught?

Re:Credit card? (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799385)

report any purchases that are out of the ordinary or suspicious

"Honey, what's this $50 charge from pedo.com?"

Most likely whoever was running this charged the cards in small amounts to an account like "Joe's BBQ" or something else far less suspicious.

Re:Credit card? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18800147)

What you're forgetting is that for most things, you don't need to steal a physical credit card, and if your credit card number is out there, you don't know until you see the bogus charges on your bill (for small charges, some people migiht not even notice), at which point it's already too late.

As far back as in the 80s, one of the common items being traded by underground, criminal hackers were lists of credit card numbers. I would expect that to be even more common now that you can purchase online content - the legitimate owner may find the bogus transaction, but if there is no physical shipping address, tracing the fraudster is very, very difficult.

Re:Credit card? (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799391)

Who would seriously by Child Porn on their own credit card?

You greatly underestimate peoples stupidity. A paedophile isn't right in the head to begin with, and when they band up in a group like namble they feed of each others idiocy, and convince themselves what they feel and do is right, and liken themselves to persecuted homosexuals.

Criminals frankly just aren't all that smart.

Re:Credit card? (1)

Doctor Faustus (127273) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799877)

It should be expected that the people purchasing are using stolen credit cards.
Or not realizing quite what they're getting. Until a couple years ago when stuff that was clearly children started showing up, I always assumed a porn website advertising "Illegal Lolita!!!" material was recording 18 year olds in pigtails -- basically like the sites that pretend to be tricking people into having sex on camera.

Re:Credit card? (3, Informative)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 6 years ago | (#18800257)

Technically by definition pedophiles are interested in pre-pubescent. Simply under 18 (ie 16-17) doesn't fall under this category, and in general won't get you sent to prison, though some prosecutors are malicious.

Lost Generation (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799103)

Baby Boomers make terrible lawyers.

Re:Lost Generation (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799307)

are these baby boomers or forsaken generation of 80es yuppies ?

Re:Lost Generation (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799609)

80s YUPpies were Baby Boomers, too.

They also volunteered for Vietnam in greater total numbers and percentage of servicemembers than did their parents for WWII.

Their counterpart in the US, Attorney General Gonzales, is live on TV right now (unconvincingly) lying his way through his botched conspiracy to replace the US prosecutors with ones more completely in the pocket of the "Permanent Republican Majority" scheme that's turned this country into a lawyer's paradise littered with victims amidst corporate anarchy.

Lost generation, or generation of losers - squanderers and congenital cheaters?

Re:Lost Generation (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 6 years ago | (#18800213)

heard about gonzales and his maneuvers to escape attorney firing scandal's way.

but baby boomers were also the hippies then. that means much.

Related Cases (4, Informative)

giafly (926567) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799107)

No evidence against man in child porn inquiry who 'killed himself' [independent.co.uk]
The inquest into his death heard that computer equipment and a camera memory chip belonging to Commodore White had yielded no evidence that he downloaded child pornography, and a letter was written by Ministry of Defence police to Naval Command on 5 January this year indicating that there were "no substantive criminal offences" to warrant pressing charges. But the Second Sea Lord, Sir James Burnell-Nugent, feared that the media would report the case and on 7 January removed him from his post anyway ... the commodore was dead the next day.

In one case at Hull Crown Court last year, a distinguished hospital consultant was acquitted after it emerged that hackers had used his credit card on Landslide. The judge dismissed some police evidence as "utter nonsense".

Pat Benatar said it best (-1, Offtopic)

mikesum (840054) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799149)

They cry in the dark, so you can't see their tears They hide in the light, so you can't see their fears Forgive and forget, all the while Love and pain become one and the same In the eyes of a wounded child Because Hell Hell Is For Children And you know that their little lives can become such a mess Hell Hell Is For Children And you shouldn't have to pay for your love with your bones and your flesh It's all so confusing, this brutal abusing They blacken your eyes, and then apologize Be daddy's good girl, and don't tell mommy a thing Be a good little boy, and you'll get a new toy Tell grandma you fell off the swing

Re:Pat Benatar said it best (2, Informative)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799297)

And this relates to the story how? The article was about false accusations, and that most of the so called child porn sites being used as evidences in these cases were just dummy sites without much of anything on them being used for credit card fraud. Kind of a novel approach to credit card fraud at that, a bit closer to pay per click fraud than traditional credit card fraud as it was the hosts committing the fraud and relying on the re-seller to take the hit for the charge-backs.

Re:Pat Benatar said it best (4, Insightful)

computational super (740265) | more than 6 years ago | (#18800361)

Oh, that's entirely related to the story. Don't you see? Anything that protects The Children must be done, no matter what the consequences and fallout. Even if it doesn't actually protect The Children. If you're not with us, you're against us. You perv. The cops are on their way to your house right now.

Re:Pat Benatar said it best (1)

dr_dank (472072) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799541)

Actually, I think Wham! said it better with "wake me up, before you go-go".

A lot of these are flawed (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18799155)

For instance, look up the Webe Web investigation here in the US... and it's all because of mass public hysteria over pedophiles... everyone is convinced there is a "predator" around every corner.

The ironic thing is, here in the US, most of these investigations are predicated on a law pushed by Mark Foley (R-FL)

careful in your replies folks (2, Informative)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799179)

the events of this case means that law enforcement must take due diligence when hunting child pornographers

it doesn't mean that law enforcement should stop hunting child pornographers

you would think this is an obvious difference, but you watch the kinds of comments these sad events conjure here

the problem, of course, is shoddy law enforcement. but whenever something like this happens- the police bungle it big time, people come out with comments pointed against the very concept of law enforcement itself

Re:careful in your replies folks (5, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799501)

It's almost always shoddy investigations that lead to these sort of wrongful accusations (and in some cases wrongful convictions). Cops looking to boost their careers by charging people with heinous crimes (and in particular aiming at some fairly well-known people as this operation did), prosecutors looking to get a few scalps on their own belts and politicians wanting to be seen getting tough on crime all feed into a system that is incapable of cautious consideration.

Accusing someone of accessing child pornography is just about one of the worst that one can come up with right now. It's the vogue crime-to-catch, and whether it's some prime time news magazine setting up these guys or cops running out to find every one of them that they can on the Internet, it's all about public paranoia. But once you've been labeled, I'm not sure there is a way out. Sure the judge might toss it out with prejudice if the case was particularly bad, but you're likely to be stuck with the stigma forever (He just got away with it, got off on a technicality.) and that sort of thing.

I think the proper way to handle this in the future is for prosecutors to be threatened with disbarment and cops be demoted or outright fired if they institute "operations" like this that go as wrong as this one has. Making the people who actually have the power personally responsible is the only way to assure that in the future they think long and hard before they make public accusations that they can never really take back.

Re:careful in your replies folks (2, Interesting)

rhakka (224319) | more than 6 years ago | (#18800163)

Maybe that's because police "bungling it big time" is an inevitability, and the fallout to innocent people is so potentially great that it needs to be treated as seriously as possible?

The police like to complain about having their hands tied, and other complain about our military having their hands tied... and when we don't, we get this and Abu Ghraib.

This illustrates exactly why it is dangerous to assume that people with the power of sanctioned violence over regular people will handle that power responsibly. It is imperative that we always remember that they WILL NOT handle that power responsibly all the time, and when they don't, innocent people suffer, sometimes greatly, sometimes as far as having their lives ruined utterly.

Grave restrictions and oversight are requirements for police power in a free country. And exactly why the arguement "If you aren't doing anything wrong, X shouldn't bother you" does NOT hold up to scrutiney is illustrated... yet one more time... in this case.

Please remember this the next time someone wants power over your life with no accountability or oversight. Remember this specific example, and remember there are many, many others.

at least one person.. (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799191)

...won't be fooled again

Re:at least one person.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18799847)

Whereas the rest of them have been repeatedly fooled, pretty much continuously, since that song came out. Sad, isn't it?

IIRC... (4, Informative)

Otter (3800) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799247)

This has resulted in several high-profile arrests, such as those of Pete Townshend and Robert Del Naja (both falsely accused)...

There could certainly have been developments in this since however many years ago that it happened, but didn't Pete Townshend acknowledge having sought out and downloaded child pornography, claiming it was "research"? Whether or not you believe that, he certainly wasn't "falsely accused" in the sense used in the story.

Re:IIRC... (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799325)

I agree. He sought out child porn, by his own admission. That is guilt, no matter what his reasons for doing so were.

"Officer I was just buying crack for a school project".

This kind of an excuse would *never* fly for anyone but a celebrity.

I guess it goes to show that pop icons are as above the law in the UK as they are in California.

Re:IIRC... (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799351)

Link [yahoo.com] -- at least in that instance, I can't see where the police acted inappropriately, except that maybe they let him off too easily.

I knew someone (2, Interesting)

throwaway18 (521472) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799305)

A friend of some of my friends, a man I run into about once a year was caught up in this.
The story I heard was that he claimed innocence but pleaded guilty as the legal advise he got was that he would be let off with a fine but he would definetly be found guilty and sent to prison if he tried to fight it.

Re:I knew someone (1)

Kiaser Wilhelm II (902309) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799659)

Better to go to jail fighting the charge than to accept it and live with the label for the rest of your life.

Re:I knew someone (2, Insightful)

sokoban (142301) | more than 6 years ago | (#18800019)

Better to go to jail fighting the charge than to accept it and live with the label for the rest of your life.
Says the person who has never spent time in jail or prison.

Re:I knew someone (1)

Kiaser Wilhelm II (902309) | more than 6 years ago | (#18800437)

Insightful?

This is the kind of attitude that is prevalent in society - surrender and give in because its easier than fighting for principle and righteousness.

I'd rather be imprisoned than live the rest of my life with the label associated with pleading guilty to possessing/obtaining CP.

Sad that some people think this way.

Payment processors and Paypal learned the lesson (1)

sjwest (948274) | more than 6 years ago | (#18800001)

A blogger i read once covered this using an 'ore is bad law' website, my understanding was that the (usa) police decided that all of an paypal like payment processors transactions where all for kiddie porn - that was fault 1.

English police even tampered with the american electronic evidence - that was fault 2.

This explained to me while Paypal don't like the police (thats not working with them) - for say if you bought a car on ebay - your a child sex offender too apparently according to the policeman.

If im honest - Paypals approach to tell the police to 'get lost' seems the right one. The damage has been done and police forces worldwide have been declared retards and morons by corporations like ebay.

If i was a payment processor I'd consider that not cooperating with the police was a wise business decision and what ever badness it might generate it will payoff in the longterm.

Law enforcement needs better staff - give it 20 twenty years.

Why yes... "Research"... That's it... (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799347)

In 2003 Townshend was cautioned by the police after acknowledging a credit card access to a website alleged to advertise child pornography in 1999. He claimed in the press and on his website to have been engaged in research...

Why yes... "Research"... That's it...

Re:Why yes... "Research"... That's it... (1, Troll)

guruevi (827432) | more than 6 years ago | (#18800119)

Well, what's the matter with research? Are we going to kill scientist next for saying there is global warming caused by man? Or are we going to round up the law enforcement in this investigation since they saw or had contact with child porn?

Typical of Britain (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18799363)

Coming from Britain I can say this is typical of our government. They are of the impression all it takes to solve a problem is to assign someone (typically totally unsuited) to the task of assigning money to agencies or companies (with the greatest kick back) with absolutely no insight into how to handle things and then sitting back thinking how to BS there way out of the mess that inevitably ensues (just watch them on the news, they are experts at dodging the questions they get asked about how they fucked up again).

The way they try to fix this is to create new agencies in between agencies.. all this creates is more paper work that never finds its way into the correct hands and causes more problems and tax pounds which could be better put elsewhere.

Britain is essentially becoming a broken beurocractic piss hole.

Re:Typical of Britain (1, Offtopic)

kahei (466208) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799691)


Having watched rooms full of English people feeling *so happy* and *so righteous* to be giving another 1% of their income per year to the NHS, I have to say if ever there was a national decline that was the fault of the individual people of the nation, this is it. The UK has got *exactly* what it demanded.

Seriously, I will never forget that budget with the giant tax hike for the NHS. The public really were literally *happy*. They don't pause and think whether giant IT projects with no defined results, buildings endlessly built and rebuilt, and vast dividends for contractors benefit them. They think "OUR FREE HEALTH CARE IS THE ENVY OF THE WORLD!!"

Which brings us to the issue in question -- the culture of ASBO and surveillance. It's closely analogous.

People were happy to give money to the NHS without reflecting on where the money really goes. Health care became scarce (except in politically powerful areas like Scotland) and the NHS became a huge powerful entity. The question became not 'how can we obtain healthcare' but 'how can we manipulate / moderate / survive the NHS which has grown up in the absence of proper health care?' Now people are dependent on the NHS for healthcare building contracts, support contracts, and above all employment.

Similarly with the ASBO/surveillance culture. People were happy to constantly rein in the power of police and courts without thinking of how order would actually be maintained. Convictions became near-impossible -- try getting a conviction for assault or rape without eyewitnesses or camera footage in the UK. Getting bad people out of the way once their badness had been established also became near-impossible. So the question became not 'how can we restore order' but 'how can we leverage the ersatz structure of surveillance and pseudo-legal sanctions that has grown up in the absence of order?' Now people are dependent on cameras and ASBOs and each new problem is solved by adding further layers of special powers, special institutions, and surveillance.

Moral? Meh, I don't know. Mod me off-topic.

An obvious lesson (1)

nanojath (265940) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799597)

While I hope of course that legal authorities learn from their mistakes (although sometimes it seems that the only thing they learn from - and that grudgingly - are massive lawsuits, and I'm sure these revelations will spawn plenty) - I hope every story like this encourages another person to read every credit card statement, carefully and completely. I keep an eye out for fraudulent charges (and not just the patently illegal stuff - it is that telemarketer for your card company lying and telling you there will be no charge for this trial offer (as long as you call and cancel after the end of the trial period of which you will be given no notice), the magazine that remembered to stop sending you issues but forgot to stop charging your card after you canceled, the credit card company that decided to start billing you an annual fee (maybe you missed that two line notice in 7pt. type buried in the middle of that mini paperback of terms of service changes they sent you a month ago?). I also watch those interest rates. It's amazing how many ways, even if you have things on "fixed" rates, they find to basically rip you off. I don't hold it against them (any debt I carry is my own damn fault and responsibility), though I do pay attention to who screws me the hardest and manage my bills accordingly. The point is, your carelessness is not just essential to fraudsters prospering, it is a cornerstone of the credit card companies' business strategies. There are only two defenses possible: eliminating credit use entirely (even a card you pay off monthly may sneak in a mid-month interest assessment and start sneaking a few bucks a month out of you or slip in some BS fee) or reading every statement.

There is no crime so horrible... (4, Insightful)

iamacat (583406) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799637)

that even being accused of it should ruin one's life. Virginia Tech shooting had a false suspect. The mistake has been revealed and he is fine now. Why should this be any different? We can not allow ourselves to become so horrified by anything that we embark on a witchhunt without due process and skepticism. Otherwise, corrupt government or an angry neighbor can ruin your life by just suggesting you are a pedophile. Or distract people from real problems - deaths in Iraq, global warming, poverty - by dishing out some juicy news to keep the media busy.

Re:There is no crime so horrible... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18799957)

There is no crime so horrible... that even being accused of it should ruin one's life. Virginia Tech shooting had a false suspect. The mistake has been revealed and he is fine now. Why should this be any different? We can not allow ourselves to become so horrified by anything that we embark on a witchhunt without due process and skepticism. Otherwise, corrupt government or an angry neighbor can ruin your life by just suggesting you are a pedophile.


He is fine now? Good.. now how about those Duke Lacrosse players.. are they fine too? I hope their supposedly rich parents level civil suits at everybody from the prosecutor to the defendant and ruin their lives just on general principle.

Why is it they always publicize the the accused in these cases but never the one making the accusation? Shouldn't it all be kept under wraps until a verdict is rendered?

Stolen numbers? (2, Insightful)

phorm (591458) | more than 6 years ago | (#18799815)

From what I read in some of the linked articles, in many cases it wasn't so much a case that stolen card numbers were used, but rather that the portal/payment access site processed payments for merchants both legal and illegal (but if you were found with a payment, it was assumed to be illegal). At least according to the PC Pro Mag link from the wiki entry

For example, let's say that they found that a paypal account was used to sell illegal pornography. The smart thing to do would be to determine which goods sold were illegal, and if possible follow up on the buyers. What seems to have been done, instead, was to go after EVERYONE who bought from the seller, whether the purchase turned out to be for fuzzy bunny slippers or underage smut.

Unfortunately, these type of charges, and the revulsion the instill, tend to inspire an automatic assumption of guilt coupled with overzealous prosecution and an lack of desire to delve too far into the evidence (after all, if there are illegal images, who would want to be the one that has to sort through them all). What I really can't understand is that while the actions against the assumed purchasers of said material were rapid and heavy, the providers of the material were left fairly untouched.

Maybe it's just my point of view, but I'd imagine that the sellers of this variety material - especially those with enough resources to start a full payment network - would be much less than the seekers. However, it's easier for the police to leave those that actual peddle in and commit atrocious acts active, as it allows them to dragnet all the possible users. Bust the drug addicts and leave the dealers?

Police must be responsible for their actions (2, Insightful)

EdwinFreed (1084059) | more than 6 years ago | (#18800149)

We currently give law enforcement officials far too much leeway. The individual officials involved, not the state, should be held responsible for situations where their failure to engage in responsible behavior leads to a miscarriages of justice.

The best example of this by far is the exclusionary rule in the United States. (I don't know how this sort of thing works in other countries.) It is rare for a police officer who obtains evidence improperly to be punished for their (sometimes outright illegal) actions. Instead what we do is make the evidence itself inadmissable, in effect punishing the one innocent party in the entire situation: The victim of the crime!

As constitutional scholar Leonard Levy argued in his wonderful 1974 book Against the Law (sadly out of print), the admissability of evidence should be determined solely by the legitimacy of that evidence. If there are indications that the evidence is bogus or fabricated, it absolutely must be inadmissable. But if the mistakes are procedural in nature and the evidence is sound it should be admissible and the police should be severely disciplined for their procedural violation in obtaining it.

The way things work right now is that the police feel free to "roll the dice", engaging in actions of dubious legitimacy with impunity. They calculate, correctly, that it's a no-lose thing for them to do: If they get caught they lose evidence they wouldn't have had in the first place and suffer no penalty, if they don't the "bad guy" (who may be nothing of the sort) gets what's coming to them. The tacit way this encourages the police to violate rules or even laws leads unavoidably to little if any respect for the truth, and it's all downhill from there - citizens are well aware that this goes on and stop trusting law enforcement.

But change this so that officers are held accountable for their actions and police will change their behavior accordingly. Firing or even jailing the officer responsible for, say, a blatently illegal search would send a nice clear message to other officials to clean up their act.

In the present case I have no idea if there were procedural violations. But there were definitely serious and ongoing errors in judgment, and the odds are good that the officers responsible were never held accountable for them. Doing so of course would not change this any less of a fiasco, but it might prevent it from happening again.

Be careful before you announce who you've caught.. (1)

DrBuzzo (913503) | more than 6 years ago | (#18800171)

This is a unique crime in the social stigma and emotion it instills. The punishment may be much smaller than the loss of reputation and public shame an accused person may endure.

Many people run insecure wireless networks. There are also proxy servers and prepaid cards as well as stolen cards and identity theft. It's no stretch of the imagination to think those involved in these activities would use such measures to hide their identity and blame someone else. Obviously, such crimes need to be investigated, but (at least in the US. Maybe not the UK) one is considered innocent until proven guilty. Investigators really need to be careful about being overzealous with this. It's too hot an issue and lives can be ruined.
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