Hint: If You Commit A Crime, Do Not Google Every Aspect Of It Afterwards

from the isn't-this-obvious? dept

Techdirt has reported on a number people accused of murder googling for things like "neck snap break" or "how to commit murder" beforehand, and leaving these suggestive details on their computers. Those were some years back, and since then there has been plenty of attention given to the idea that your search histories provide a great deal of information about what you were thinking - and possibly even what you were thinking about doing.

So you would expect people by now would have learned to be a little more cautious for example, by carrying out searches anonymously at different Internet cafes. But the story of Vincent Tabak, whose case is currently going through UK courts, suggests that message still hasn't got across. The court has been hearing about his intensive use of the Internet to research a range of topics after killing a woman called Joanna Yeates (he admits manslaughter, but denies murder):
The 33-year-old defendant ... looked up satellite imagery of the site where he dumped Yeates's body. He researched the Wikipedia page for murder and maximum sentence for manslaughter, web records from work and personal laptops showed.

While regularly checking the Avon and Somerset police website and local news site www.thisisbristol.co.uk, the Dutch engineer was also checking decomposition rates.

Days after killing Yeates at her Clifton flat on 17 December, Tabak was watching a timelapse video of a body decomposing, Bristol crown court heard.
That's a reminder of just how much detailed information about past Internet activity can be gleaned from computers, and how incriminating that might be in certain circumstances. On the other hand, perhaps we should be grateful that people committing crimes are still making it so easy to convict them on the basis of their tell-tale online activity.

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Filed Under: crime, evidence, searches


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  1. icon
    el_segfaulto (profile), 20 Oct 2011 @ 4:07pm

    Re: WTF!?

    It's a good start, but it's hardly a speed bump for most forensics tools. If you want to really be safe, use a service like scroogle who supposedly keep no records and require all searches to be conducted via SSL. On your PC consider using a RAM drive (which creates a virtual hard drive on your RAM) for temporary internet files, I'd recommend 4GB or higher. You'll also see a marked increase in performance since the difference in bus and access speed between RAM and SCSI is night and day. Really, things like this are only for the uber-paranoid.

    My personal record is recovering 250GB of data on a formatted drive in under 20 hours using nothing but consumer devices. When I was doing contract work and had access to much higher-end equipment that time would have been substantially lower.

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