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March 24th, 2008

FBI Offers Fake Child Porn Links

The FBI has recently adopted a new online investigative technique. Hyperlinks that claim to take you to illegal content are posted online and then the homes of people that clicked those links are raided by FBI.

Not only you never get to see the illegal content you wanted to download, you also get busted by the FBI. The question has been raised whether this technique can be portrayed in court as entrapment by the FBI. Another argument is whether or not someone should be prosecuted for visiting a site that didn’t even have any child pornography to begin with.

The government’s hyperlink sting operation worked like this: FBI Special Agent Wade Luders disseminated links to the supposedly illicit porn on an online discussion forum called Ranchi, which someone believed was frequented by people who traded underage images. One server allegedly associated with the Ranchi forum was rangate.da.ru, which is now offline with a message attributing the closure to “non-ethical” activity.

Harvey Silverglate, a longtime criminal defense lawyer in Cambridge, Mass. warns there is nothing to stop the Feds from acting as you posit because the courts have been so narrow in their definition of “entrapment” and so expansive in their definition of “probable cause”.

The criminal charges for attempting to download child pornography could land you up to 10 years in prison. Be careful what links you choose to click and if you click something by mistake, there is a chance you will immediately be deemed a sex offender.

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.

Credit and full story details: http://www.news.com/8301-13578_3-9899151-38.html

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