Wrong IP Address Puts Man In Prison For 50 Days

from the sorry-about-that dept

As many companies would still like to believe that an IP address is all you need to identify a person using a computer, it's worth remembering that not only does an IP address not definitively identify who was using a computer, but it can easily get mixed up. A year ago, we had the story of someone whose house got incorrectly raided (by Shaquille O'Neal, for some unexplained reason) for child porn after an ISP gave investigators the wrong IP address info. It sounds like something similar has happened in India, where a man spent 50 days in prison for posting insulting pictures to Orkut. The only problem was that the guy had nothing to do with it. His ISP handed over the wrong information. This was only discovered once police found and arrested the people who actually uploaded the image. We won't even get into the question of why people are being arrested for uploading insulting photos, but this should serve as a warning to anyone who thinks that relying on an IP address as the sole piece of evidence is reasonable.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Ajay, Nov 7th, 2007 @ 5:11pm

    Interesting

    Yes, this is scary. People's lives can be destroyed over these kind of mistakes. What happens to the man's house, his furniture, his job, his dog (if he has one), during the 50 days that he's held in custody, by mistake?

     

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  2.  

    Big Problem

    This way of identifying people through their supposed IP address has so many flaws I don't understand how the authorities could be so stupid to rely on it.

    If something is not done this could become a big problem in protecting our rights.

    Not even getting to the legality of such a practice, why wouldn't the authorities investigate further once they thought they had the correct IP address? Relying on this information alone is beyond comprehension.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    DF, Nov 7th, 2007 @ 5:45pm

    Why is this surprising?

    Why does this kind of behavior surprise people? Didn't the US justify an invasion of Iraq using completely erroneous WMD data? (Indeed, using data FABRICATED by unscrupulous, slimy, two-faced, double dealing, duplicitous, lying, thieving politicians who had private agendas. And I'm being kind....)

    Bureaucracies, large and small, will do what they want and then say they're sorry. Or maybe not. Once it's done, it can't be undone. "Forgiveness is easier to get than permission."

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Jerk, Nov 7th, 2007 @ 6:12pm

    Two words...

    Lawsuit. When I was done with that ISP, I wouldn't have to work for QUITE a while, especially when it involves wrongly accusing someone of being involved in child porn.

    It's India. They don't have the luxury of free speech (extending, obviously, into the internet realm, now).

    And DF: You claim that data was fabricated. But, fabricated or not, if we hadn't invaded, and they ended up ACTUALLY having WMDs, and we got hit with one such WMD, everyone would be screaming about how the government sucks because we didn't take any action. D a m n e d if you do, d a m n e d if you don't.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous jerk, Nov 7th, 2007 @ 6:13pm

    Ok, should have been one word.

    Yeah, I know, I spelled it as one word.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2007 @ 6:19pm

    Re: Two words...

    "You claim that data was fabricated. But, fabricated or not, if we hadn't invaded, and they ended up ACTUALLY having WMDs, and we got hit with one such WMD, everyone would be screaming about how the government sucks because we didn't take any action."

    That is the most stupid logic I've heard in quite a while. That basically allows your government to go around invading any country they like.

    Ever thought how much hatred these actions cause? Maybe one day a country that already has WMD will get so pissed they'll nuke you.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2007 @ 6:25pm

    Re: Big Problem

    This way of identifying people through their supposed IP address has so many flaws I don't understand how the authorities could be so stupid to rely on it.
    Simple. It gives them what they want: easy convictions.

    If something is not done this could become a big problem in protecting our rights.
    What rights? Haven't you heard about the global war on terrorism? There are no rights in a time of war.

    Not even getting to the legality of such a practice, why wouldn't the authorities investigate further once they thought they had the correct IP address?
    Again, because it helps make convictions easier.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2007 @ 6:30pm

    Re: Two words...

    But, fabricated or not, if we hadn't invaded, and they ended up ACTUALLY having WMDs, and we got hit with one such WMD, everyone would be screaming about how the government sucks because we didn't take any action. D a m n e d if you do, d a m n e d if you don't.

    That's right and that's why the US must invade every country on the face of the earth. Can you imagine the uproar if someday Canada suddenly attacks us with some hidden WMD's that we didn't know they had? We should invade them now, before it's too late. Better safe than sorry, you know.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2007 @ 6:33pm

    Re: Re: Two words...

    That is the most stupid logic I've heard in quite a while.
    What do you expect?

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    pakibastard, Nov 7th, 2007 @ 6:38pm

    gotta agree

    them sneaky canucks. ever walked on a golf course that plays host to Canadian geese? WMD's all over the place.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    RIAA, Nov 7th, 2007 @ 7:23pm

    Nothing to see here ...

    ... move along, please.

    You did not read any story about how IPs are not good evidence. You have seen nothing. You heard nothing. Do not think for yourself.

    we know who you are. all your IPs are belong to us. go away and wait for our extortion letter to arrive in your mailbox.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    AZ, Nov 7th, 2007 @ 8:32pm

    um

    Book titled
    "50 days to riches , how I earned 10 million dollars with no work."

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    E, Nov 7th, 2007 @ 9:15pm

    Re: interesting by Ajay

    I'm pretty sure his furniture was ok for 50 days, although i'm sure the man appreicates your concern! Sorry I HAD to comment on that. IP addresses will NEVER make a person accountable.. what happens when we go to IPv6? WTF!!! MAYHEM!

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Strofcon, Nov 7th, 2007 @ 9:41pm

    Re: Re: Two words...

    I'm pretty sure they didn't intend it to be a justification for the Bush administration's actions, but rather a flip side to be looked at.

    Those who scream that we have no right to be there would scream bloody murder had they attacked us with WMDs. It doesn't make the administration's actions right, but it makes you an insufferable moron.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2007 @ 9:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Two words...

    Those who scream that we have no right to be there would scream bloody murder had they attacked us with WMDs.
    You're not Canadian, are you?

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2007 @ 9:58pm

    Re: Re: Re: Two words...

    I'm pretty sure they didn't intend it to be a justification for the Bush administration's actions

    WTF? The Bush admin didn't use Iraqi WMDs as a justification to invade? Man, you're a real joke.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Ajay, Nov 7th, 2007 @ 10:42pm

    Re: Re: interesting by Ajay

    Have you ever known anyone who went to jail? Probably not. People's lives are turned upside down when they're arrested and unable to make bail, or when the charges warrant being held without bail. Renters lose apartments and their contents, children can end up as wards of the state. It's bad enough when the person deserves to be arrested and jailed, and in this case, a man's life was destroyed for no good reason, because no crime was committed.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    clare_q, Nov 7th, 2007 @ 10:51pm

    I'd like to reply just to one thing that an erudite fascist coward wrote:
    "It's India. They don't have the luxury of free speech (extending, obviously, into the internet realm, now)."

    largest democracy, right?
    so funny is this comment that I'd love to get inside your mind, how exactly do you seperate India from her other south asian counterparts unless your whole concept of south asia begins from military ruled Pakistan and the communist China. Jesus Christ I'd love to see more guys like this one on here.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    patriott, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 12:01am

    You're all missing the point.
    The Internet, like Democracy, Freedom, and Good Will towards Humanity, is *American*. So all foreign Users, and therefore the IP addresses they have the privilege of using, should be controlled at OUR discretion.
    WE should decide who can be raided and/or sent to jail for using OUR property. Either *with* or *without* trial or due process.

    USA and Jesus forever.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Ernestas, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 1:42am

    Similar situation happend in lithuania last year. House of one person was raided because of comments writen in one of news portal. Later police found out that it was using wrong IP address...

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Jerk, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 3:15am

    Regardless...

    Yes, my logic was a little off, but fundamentally, I know I'm right, cause I've seen it. People will scream and cry about the government spending money on this project, or taking action against this, and then when something dire happens, and Americans are injured, or worse, killed, they crab and cry that the government didn't stop these people BEFORE something happened. Seems we're a country of crabA$$s, myself included.

     

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  22.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Nov 8th, 2007 @ 3:31am

    Re:

    Well then, tell you what: you keep control of the "American" part (the internet), Europe will keep control of the part we invented (the Web), and we'll arrest each other over perceived abuses.

    Dumbass.

    P.S. I love stupid American "we're the greatest" bluster like this - nothing is stupider or easier to laugh at. If I were you, I'd have a look at who actually invented Democracy (the Greeks), Freedom (erm... actually that's a natural thing that nobody invented) and Good Will towards Humanity (depends on who you ask, but if you're Christian, that would be a Jewish carpenter living in the Middle East).

    Americans had nothing to do with any of these.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 5:49am

    Re:

    We never claimed to have invented Democracy, Freedom, Goodwill, or even the car, for that matter, we just implemented them into the fabric of our country.
    We also never said we were the greatest.
    I believe, perhaps, that this discussion could go on forever.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    unknowledgable geek, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 5:49am

    Re: Re:

    I am American, so this is a jaded statement. But, the Greeks might have invented Democracy, just as Marx invented Communisum, but America is the first country to get Democracy right.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Lewis Salem, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 6:51am

    Lock down your PC.

    All you have to say is "child porn" in a jury case and you will go to jail for years, for each count. The images, if admissible will disturb people more than a murder scene. People will not care if they came from spyware. They will look right at you and think: pervert.

    The fact is, if your a man, you have to watch your back. You have to lock down your PC. I have seen "evidence" used against men months after they were kicked out of the house during a divorce.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 7:12am

    Those who rely on the IP address as the end-all fall into two main categories: 1) lacking realy technical knowledge AND not really feeling the need to improve that knowledge; 2) Have a vested interest in NOT digging further.

    The police rely on it because they WANT that arrest, they WANT to get that "predator" off the street "for the good of the children". That is paramount. In the India case it was those "insulting" pictures, in Florida it was child porn. They ignore any possibility that they should verify the information and consider if it's actually valid as it is.

    Other's (like *cough* RIAA, MPAA *cough*) don't really care whether the person is actually guiltly of what ever infraction-du-jour may have been committed. They want the results of "proving guilty" anyone. Stopping the offense is not the real goal it's the publicity of "got another one" that's the goal.

    In both cases the potential consequences to the people who are actually innocent are ignored or minimized. In most cases the innocent party is told "oh, sorry. Well, have a nice day". Until there are REAL consequences to the people who are actually doing this there will continue to be stories like this, with the victims just shoved out the door to make way for the next time.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    James, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 7:48am

    I'd be suing the ISP for sure!

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Geoff, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 8:22am

    Re: Re:

    @PaulT:

    I'm pretty positive that patriott was being sarcastic, so there's likely no reason to get in an uproar. I know the internet doesn't allow sarcasm to translate too well, but I think patriott's words were pretty obvious.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 8th, 2007 @ 8:31pm

    "but America is the first country to get Democracy right."


    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha
    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahah ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha
    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha
    Hahahah ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

    Oh, wait, gotta wipe these tears away ...

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha
    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah ahahahahahahahahahahahaha
    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha
    Hahahahahahah ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha
    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah ahaha
    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

    No more, no more ...

    Been a long time since I had such a good laugh.

    Priceless .....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    What a Guy, Nov 9th, 2007 @ 12:00am

    Re: Re: Two words...

    Yea, right! And don't forget to mention -
    * A womans' right to choose
    * (how u 'hate' GWB)
    * gay marriage
    * (how u 'hate' GWB)
    * legalizing marijuana
    * (how u 'hate' GWB)
    * The WTO
    and...and...

    Oh also, how this relates to IP addresses????

    Logic? Ha, what me worry? No way..

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2007 @ 10:45am

    Re:

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    http://www.myspace.com/atrails_nothing, Dec 17th, 2007 @ 12:59am

    ok

    your losing yourself in satirical hopelessness,
    go the Aussies, greatest country in the word,
    by the way the French are a joke ( have they ever defended there country successfully?), America is a joke for having such a huge poverty to rich gap and turning a blind eye, the Greeks democracy was flawed and unjust and susceptible to corruption and religion and humans are imperfect just like me! so we all make mistakes and we are pretty much powerless.
    chow chumps

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    J Jones, Mar 30th, 2008 @ 4:29am

    Re: Two words...

    The Fundamental Rights in India enshrined in the Part III of the Constitution of India guarantee civil liberties such that all Indians can lead their lives in peace and harmony as citizens of India. These include individual rights common to most liberal democracies, such as equality before law, freedom of speech and expression, freedom of association and peaceful assembly, freedom to practice religion, and the right to constitutional remedies for the protection of civil rights by means of writs such as habeas corpus. Violations of these rights result in punishments as prescribed in the Indian Penal Code, subject to discretion of the judiciary.

     

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