Your Police State at Work

The FBI is up to new tricks:

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.

Today it's kiddie links, what will it be tomorrow? Links to sites offering information on growing pot? Links to sites offering prescription medicaton? Links to sites critical of the Government?

Be careful where you click, you may be next. [Hat tip to Blawg Review.]

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    It is so easy (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by BarnBabe on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 12:27:45 PM EST
    I was on a gaming clue site one day and it said, push this button. I thought it was more clues. Nope, there I was in a big time porn site. I started getting e-mails galore. But I took action. I reported the site to Lycos I believe. Anyway, they removed the button. My friend was helping his child with a horse essay. He googled adult horses. He opened one site and there were the dancing bXXbs going across the screen as his son asked, What's that daddy?

    Anyway, I think the whole thing falls into Entrapment.

    That's exactly what I was thinking! (none / 0) (#21)
    by Plutonium Page on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 12:49:01 PM EST
    What if such a link lead to that FBI site?

    Aren't they going (none / 0) (#1)
    by waldenpond on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 11:18:40 AM EST
    to include a lot of teenagers with this kind of policy?

    Or just curious people (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by dianem on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 11:32:45 AM EST
    I doubt I would click on that link, but not because I was afraid of seeing child porn. I would suspect it was fake, or a joke, or some kind of anti-porn activist link. And I would be curious to find out which. The reason I wouldn't click on it would be fear of viruses. I just can't imagine anybody making something like child porn freely available on the net.

    Or Ed Meese (none / 0) (#8)
    by squeaky on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 11:35:41 AM EST
    And those like him, keeping us safe.

    They would have probably gotten my son... (none / 0) (#9)
    by Maria Garcia on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 11:41:36 AM EST
    ..because when he was in high school I found via my computer's History that he was clicking on some teen porn sites, which actually were sort of age appropriate for him, but my husband was the one who would have been busted cause the computer is registered to him.

    Mine's 15 (none / 0) (#11)
    by waldenpond on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 11:43:49 AM EST
    He's goin' down!

    just you wait (none / 0) (#2)
    by progrocks on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 11:20:21 AM EST
    til the chicago police starting raiding people who click on foie gras recipes. grant achatz, we are coming for you!!!

    reading between the lines (none / 0) (#3)
    by Nasarius on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 11:22:16 AM EST
    Vosburgh was charged with violating federal law, which criminalizes "attempts" to download child pornography with up to 10 years in prison. Last November, a jury found Vosburgh guilty on that count, and a sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 22, at which point Vosburgh could face three to four years in prison.

    So they raided his house, certainly confiscated his computer, and evidently found no actual illegal material.

    A glimpse of things to come (none / 0) (#4)
    by litigatormom on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 11:24:52 AM EST
    "He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother."

    A few years ago... (none / 0) (#5)
    by wasabi on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 11:24:54 AM EST
    When there was that college kid going around setting up pipe bombs in rural America's mailboxes, I thought to myself, what does a pipe bomb look like?  Would I recognize one if it were sitting by a park bench?  So I googled "pipe bomb" and I swear that the url had a government address.  Creeped me out.

    Thought Crime (none / 0) (#6)
    by squeaky on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 11:29:50 AM EST
    Is what this amounts to. Whoever thought this sick trap up, as well as those who monitor it, should all be thrown in jail, otherwise it is a double standard.  

    New TV show for MSNBC? (none / 0) (#10)
    by MarkL on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 11:41:56 AM EST
    I can't stand TCAP, but this is much worse.

    Sounds like... (none / 0) (#12)
    by kdog on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 11:48:35 AM EST
    a classic case of entrapment.

    Entrapment is still against the law right?  I wonder sometimes...

    This preys on the most basic of human instincts (none / 0) (#13)
    by blogtopus on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 11:52:44 AM EST

    I don't know about you, but I've clicked on links from other countries that astounded and sickened me, but I was so curious about it. Not child porn, fwiw, but bad accidents, saudi executions, chinese atrocities (and Burma), even that terrible Daniel Pearl video. I consume information. ALL information. That's just who I am.

    Would they bust me for watching a copy of Bin Laden's tape that wasn't laundered through the U.S. Government? Probably.

    Yes (none / 0) (#14)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 12:07:47 PM EST
    This is why the news sometimes covers hideous bloodshed and horrors.  It's not that we all like to see blood (or do we?) it's that it's human nature to stare at a train wreck -- in horror of course.

    This is just awful.  If I were ever on a jury for such a prosecution, I definitely wouldn't convict.


    Problem is you would never be allowed on such a (none / 0) (#31)
    by jawbone on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 03:20:06 PM EST
    jury--nor would I.

    This is just creepy (none / 0) (#15)
    by dianem on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 12:12:03 PM EST
    Okay, the guy was visiting a site suspected of being frequented by pedophiles, but ... when I first started surfing the internet, I did a lot of wandering. I didn't know anything about how it was structured. I somehow wandered into a newsgroup on depression, and replied to a particularly sad comment from somebody who was suicidal. When I read my comment, it was crossposted to a group about incest. To this day I don't know how I managed that, but I suspect that I had replied to a troll who was crossposting in diverse groups, trying to start a flame war. Of course, I didn't know what a troll was at that point, or a flame war. I just decided to stop posting on the net completely, and that lasted for years, until I got braven enough (and desperate enough) to get involved with an on-line quit smoking group.

    There are a lot of ways to get confused on the internet. It doesn't seem right to turn somebody into a criminal because they click on a link. If he had gone to a site and paid specifically for something suspected to be child porn, I think they would have had a better case. But he doesn't seem to have done that, or at least they didn't catch him. This is the internet equivalent of wandering into a dark alley that contains a cop dressed as a hooker and then getting arrested for soliciting, even though all you did was say "Hi". Maybe he was up to no good, maybe not... but we shouldn't have to guess.

    what's next, tracking your eye movements (none / 0) (#16)
    by DandyTIger on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 12:26:48 PM EST
    You know, before long it won't be that hard for machine vision based surveillance systems (assuming UK camera coverage) for "the man" to monitor what we look at as we walk or ride down the road. Then you'll see raids based on the fact that we looked too long at some kid.

    Where's my tin foil hat anyway, I'm starting to think I really need it.

    How is that NOT entrapment? (none / 0) (#18)
    by jerry on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 12:32:18 PM EST

    My thought at first (none / 0) (#33)
    by Lora on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 07:47:23 PM EST
    Maybe they just used the site to collect the ID's of folks they thought might actually have child porn in their homes.  IOW, they didn't bust people for clicking on the link, they raided people's homes on suspicion because they clicked on the link.  Just my theory.

    Lora's theory (none / 0) (#35)
    by Peter G on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 09:27:24 PM EST
    The linked article makes clear, Lora, that the FBI did both:  They used their record of the click on the phony ("honeypot") link as probable cause to get the search warrant for the suspect's home.  And they also charged him, in the indictment issued following the search, with the crime of attempted possession of child pornography for merely having clicked on the link. He was convicted by a jury for the latter alleged crime, based solely on the evidence that the IP address of the modem which transmitted the click was assigned by Comcast to the defendant's home.  There was no evidence that he was using his computer that day, and there was evidence that IP addresses can be spoofed and used as proxies.  He is awaiting sentencing, while his attorney's post-trial motion for judgment of acquittal is under submission to the trial judge.

    It's not entrapment (none / 0) (#34)
    by Peter G on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 09:20:34 PM EST
    Entrapment exists if the government offers an inducement to commit the crime (none here) to someone who is not predisposed (apparently not the case here).  As explained in the linked article, quoting a prominent professor of criminal law:  
    Entrapment: Not a defense
    So far, at least, attorneys defending the 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."

    The outcome may be different, Saltzburg said, if the FBI had tried to encourage people to click on the link by including misleading statements suggesting the videos were legal or approved.


    Re FBI see RawStory About Cops Gone Wild in SC (none / 0) (#19)
    by bselznick on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 12:38:06 PM EST
    Raw Story has a link to a piece about cops in SC being investigated over ramming their cars into black suspects:

    Only in America.

    I can't imagine why Mrs. Obama isn't as proud as the rest of us to be American, every single day, proud, proud, proud of the Land of the Free!  Oh, that's right, she's black like the men in SC being run over by cops.  Hmmmmmmm.  Well maybe some days she's not just as proud.

    God Damn.... (none / 0) (#23)
    by kdog on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 12:56:50 PM EST
    American Law Enforcement...God Damn, God Damn, God Damn!

    Geez (none / 0) (#20)
    by Plutonium Page on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 12:47:52 PM EST
    That's going way too far.

    Hacking? (none / 0) (#22)
    by leonid on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 12:56:47 PM EST
    Can't wait until some bored teenagers or anarchist hackers start spoofing this and have the FBI seize lots of innocent people's equipment and records.

    From the article:

    The search warrants authorized FBI agents to seize and remove any "computer-related" equipment, utility bills, telephone bills, any "addressed correspondence" sent through the U.S. mail, video gear, camera equipment, checkbooks, bank statements, and credit card statements.


    The defendant in that case, Travis Carter, suggested that any of the neighbors could be using his wireless network. (The public defender's office even sent out an investigator who confirmed that dozens of homes were within Wi-Fi range.)

    But 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.

    I used a neighbors wireless last night. (none / 0) (#26)
    by lilybart on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 01:43:25 PM EST
    I couldn't remember the password to my home wireless, so as I was booting up a new macbook, I used someone elses wireless and not for the first time!

    this is bush's america. (none / 0) (#24)
    by thereyougo on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 01:05:14 PM EST

    I too am weary of just clicking anything that
    looks too good to be true.

    I won't give my email addy for a freebie, its not
    worth it and when the word gets out like this story,they're not going to do it and find another

    McCain says we should buy drugs from Canada (none / 0) (#25)
    by lilybart on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 01:41:47 PM EST
    How can we do that if we can't order online??

    Crazy, all of it.

    When the water tests + for drugs (none / 0) (#27)
    by lilybart on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 01:48:07 PM EST
    might they call that probable cause to raid anyones home in the town with illegal drug residue in the water??

    There was a big story last week where they found traces of prescription and illegal drugs in the water of certain cities they tested.

    lilybart.... (none / 0) (#29)
    by kdog on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 02:00:46 PM EST
    Please don't give the man any ideas...they are quite creative enough when it comes to innovations in tyranny.

    Do not click this (none / 0) (#28)
    by Ben Masel on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 01:55:45 PM EST
    link if you support Hillary.

    i did, so what happens now? (none / 0) (#30)
    by thereyougo on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 02:01:22 PM EST
    you'll hear a knock at the door... n/t (none / 0) (#32)
    by DandyTIger on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 04:18:14 PM EST
    Only 35 comments (none / 0) (#36)
    by 1980Ford on Fri Mar 21, 2008 at 09:46:58 AM EST
    Elections will come and go, but this loss of liberty shall forever remain. And yet it is not as worthy of comment.