And you wonder why they say truth can be stranger than fiction? We all know that IP addresses are notoriously unreliable in tracking down who may have committed an online crime. Most of the time, we see this in civil cases filed by the entertainment industry where they accuse someone without enough evidence or (better yet) without a computer at all. However, sometimes, the myth that an IP address identifies you has bigger consequences. A year ago, reminiscent of the computer bug in the movie Brazil that created a mixup over whether or not someone named Buttle or Tuttle was responsible for a crime, a Cox Internet employee gave police the wrong info about an IP address, leading a completely innocent couple in Wichita, Kansas to be accused of distributing child porn. It seems that a similar situation has again happened, this time in Virginia, where another wrong IP address resulted in a family having their house raided in search of child porn. This was pointed out by Radley Balko who notes that the story gets even weirder when you realize that basketball star Shaquille O'Neal may have been a part of the raiding team. The original report doesn't mention the Shaq connection, but others do, and a separate report does say he participated in an attempt to execute a child porn warrant that weekend in that county. So, beyond the question of why Shaq is apparently participating in such raids, can we ask no one does things like double check IP addresses or, say, look for additional evidence that a particular household is guilty of a crime before sending in people with guns drawn? The same report that suggests Shaq was a part of the raid also notes that "Shaq did some computer work" with the team. Anyone know if Shaq is familiar with the way IP addresses work?
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