Skip to comments.CLICKING ON THE WRONG WEB SITE IS NOW A FEDERAL CRIME
Posted on 03/24/2008 2:16:11 PM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum
The FBI has recently adopted a novel investigative technique: posting hyperlinks that purport to be illegal videos of minors having sex, and then raiding the homes of anyone willing to click on them.
Undercover FBI agents used this hyperlink-enticement technique, which directed Internet users to a clandestine government server, to stage armed raids of homes in Pennsylvania, New York, and Nevada last year. The supposed video files actually were gibberish and contained no illegal images.
A CNET News.com review of legal documents shows that courts have approved of this technique, even though it raises questions about entrapment, the problems of identifying who's using an open wireless connection--and whether anyone who clicks on a FBI link that contains no child pornography should be automatically subject to a dawn raid by federal police. . .
The implications of the FBI's hyperlink-enticement technique are sweeping. Using the same logic and legal arguments, federal agents could send unsolicited e-mail messages to millions of Americans advertising illegal narcotics or child pornography--and raid people who click on the links embedded in the spam messages. The bureau could register the "unlawfulimages.com" domain name and prosecute intentional visitors. And so on. . .
While it might seem that merely clicking on a link wouldn't be enough to justify a search warrant, courts have ruled otherwise. On March 6, U.S. District Judge Roger Hunt in Nevada agreed with a magistrate judge that the hyperlink-sting operation constituted sufficient probable cause to justify giving the FBI its search warrant. . .
The magistrate judge ruled that even the possibilities of spoofing or other users of an open Wi-Fi connection "would not have negated a substantial basis for concluding that there was probable cause to believe that evidence of child pornography would be found on the premises to be searched." Translated, that means the search warrant was valid.
Entrapment: Not a defense So far, at least, attorneys defending the hyperlink-sting cases do not appear to have raised unlawful entrapment as a defense.
"Claims of entrapment have been made in similar cases, but usually do not get very far," said Stephen Saltzburg, a professor at George Washington University's law school. "The individuals who chose to log into the FBI sites appear to have had no pressure put upon them by the government...It is doubtful that the individuals could claim the government made them do something they weren't predisposed to doing or that the government overreached.". . .
Civil libertarians warn that anyone who clicks on a hyperlink advertising something illegal--perhaps found while Web browsing or received through e-mail--could face the same fate.
When asked what would stop the FBI from expanding its hyperlink sting operation, Harvey Silverglate, a longtime criminal defense lawyer in Cambridge, Mass. and author of a forthcoming book on the Justice Department, replied: "Because the courts have been so narrow in their definition of 'entrapment,' and so expansive in their definition of 'probable cause,' there is nothing to stop the Feds from acting as you posit."
You obviously have no understanding of the technical aspects of the program and how it works.
Not only that but there is NO ACTUAL child PORN on the site so the prosecution is for intent?
Ah, juvenile antics. The retreat of libertines everywhere. How quaint.
I would be interested in what you think about Izzy’s and Maddawgg’s illustrations.
See post 29.
I'm just afraid of catching rabies from you.
MS-13 is turning half of America into a war zone, and they can spare agents for this shit? Are you kidding me?
Look to Post 12 to see a possible scenario.
Yeah, researching a book... I’m happy the FBI is on the job. Knowing who goes to these sites is a start - a start toward catching the creeps. Hats off to the FBI.
I am certainly not endorsing child porn or any other illegal activity, but there is no proof WHO actually clicked on the site. Like the article says, if you have an open WIFI connection, it could be a neighbor, someone parked near your house, or anyone.
What if your teenage daughter brings her boyfriend over to your house while you are out and HE uses your computer to access these sites? What if your 10 year old son who doesn’t know better access these sites? If you have a “family computer” in the den everyone in the house uses, who do they arrest? Everyone in the house, or do they just assume the adult male in the house is the guilty party?
What if you lend your laptop to someone? What if you use your personal laptop at work and a co-worker uses it during your lunch break to cruise kiddie porn? What about your work comuter? You really have no control over who uses it or doesn’t when your are not directly sitting in front of it.
Then there is the problem with sophisticated “hacker” types who could hijack and use your IP address (or whatever other identifying data is necessary). Someone in India could
steel your identity and are cruise these illegal sites under your name.
Try “PROVING YOUR INNOCENCE” in a court of law if the government doesn’t have to actually prove that YOU are guilty.
I think that the government should have to prove that a person committed a crime, not just show evidence that a machine was used (by someone) to do it.
He is right actually. Very easy to set someone up. And the FBI nerds are a lot dumber than those in corporate world or in school.
Why don't you do some investigation over at Eugene Volokh's blog, where he actually gives the program a scholarly review.
Not that I am defending this program, but no one is prosecuted just for clicking on the link. Clicking on the link is used as probable cause to get a search warrant; only if the search actually turns up real child pornography is the person prosecuted.
Well I was doing some research on the "Big Bang" theory and you wouldn't believe what appeared on the monitor...
So what is to stop somebody from finding out the URL for the link, and just for grins, put that link on their page, and label the link as something like, “Click here for more information....”, to trap unsuspecting people into clicking on the link?
And people have no concept of what “probable cause” actually is. People consistently assign far too high a legal standard for “probable cause”. “Probable Cause” is not absolute certainty. It’s not even a preponderance of the evidence (50%+1). It’s only a “Fair Probability.”
We’ve got a wireless network set up here at the house,can folks 1000 ft.down the road connect,?
“Ah, juvenile antics. The retreat of libertines everywhere. How quaint.”
Dood, WTF - Any questioning of Law Enforcemnent and your automatically Libertine?
Freedom Warrior?? C’mon, listen to yourself.
Go to Professor Volokh's blog. He explains the program well.
Let’s say that a page has 23 legitimate links on it and one that seems to advertise kiddie porn. Have you never hit the incorrect link to a legitimate site? I have. Further, I have hit links to sites that seemed to propose one thing, and found myself located on a site offering up something entirely different.
I have also clicked on a photo on google that seemed tame and wound up on a very vulgar hard core porn site.
Over the years I have found myself on what appeared to be a kiddie porn site at least once. When I realized what the site seemed to be all about, I documented it and notified the local office of the FBI.
In the scenario played out in this sting, I would have been guilty of a felony for such an error, and would have to spend time in prison as well as register as a sex offender.
This may sound reasoned to you, because you think only people looking for kiddie porn wind up on those sites, but that is a totally false premise.
For the record, I don’t frequent hard porn sites or sites that reveal more than you would see at the beach.
It does bother me that when I put in some reasoned searches for non-sexual materials, I frequently run into some very vulgar materials on Google. I could change my setting, but I want to see what any kid frequenting Google would see if they were looking for educational or research materials, to keep tabs on what is going on out there.
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