Accidental Download Leading To Prison Sentence?

from the that's-a-problem dept

No one denies that child pornography is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. However, it often seems like the laws related to child pornography are targeted at the wrong thing. That's why we get laws requiring filters, rather than the shut down of whoever is producing the content, and laws against those who end up having any on their hard drive, even as that could make a felon out of someone just because they receive an email. Take, for example (as pointed out by Slashdot), this story of a man who was searching online for regular (legal) pornography, but accidentally downloaded some underage pictures -- which he immediately deleted. Though the FBI officials who eventually searched his hard drive admit that the images had been deleted and could not be accessed, he was still charged with child pornography and is pleading guilty to get a shorter sentence (3.5 years, 10 years probation, and a lifetime on the sex offenders list).

Though this article serves as a warning of why you shouldn't go looking for porn online -- it would seem that the stronger argument is why the laws on possession should change. In cases like this, where the guy was clearly not out there seeking out or collecting such content, it seems ridiculous that he should be charged and feel the need to plead guilty. Anti-child porn efforts should really focus on those who produces and distributes such content. As for those who collect it, I would assume that mental health help would be a more appropriate response than jail time. And, for those who accidentally come across it... it seems fairly ridiculous to charge them as well.

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  1. icon
    Slam (profile), 8 Dec 2009 @ 6:47am

    This is a case where a person should have paid attention to what they were downloading and from where it was coming from.
    If you do get something that you don't want, don't delete it, that is a waste, delete only changes the first couple of symbols of the address and it is then marked as free space, it is still on your hard drive and will remain there till it is written over at least 20 times. If you are a down loader of any files that might be suspect, get a file shredder that will write that file back to zero at least 12 times, some will do it 100 time. Always practice safe down loading, wipe free space frequently with out regard for the time involved. Letting your computer run for a few hours when you are away from in order to wipe free space is much better than even a day in jail.

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