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Monday, October 22, 2007

Cops use "kiddie porn" ruse to learn I.D. of blog commenter

Woah! Here's a "net privacy" story that deserves much more attention. It comes to us by way of Florida reporter Bob Norman, who did such good work on the "coke jet" mystery. He tells more of the story here.

In brief: An incendiary comment appeared on a blog called the Deerfield Beach Insider -- which uses the Blogger service. (So do I.) The anonymous "pundit" was upset about alleged corruption at the Public Works Department. "Nothing will be done until somebody brings in a gun and shoots up the whole place," he wrote.

Deerfield City Manager Mike Mahaney took these words as a threat, so he called the Broward Sherrif's Office. The cops subpoenaed Google (owner of Blogger) and soon found their man -- a guy named Wayne Adams. He insists that he has no violent intentions. As it happens, writer Bob Norman is acquainted with Adams and vouches for his character, although he does not defend his atrocious choice of words.

So what makes this tale a matter of national interest? This: When the Broward Sherrif's Office wanted info from Google, they used a disturbing strategy.
BSO turned to its child porn task force for help.

The task force, Law Enforcement Against Child Harm (LEACH), is adept at getting sensitive information on the web. But when deputies subpoenaed Google for the IP address of the Deerfield Beach Insider commenter, the heading on the document indicated that the case was part of an ongoing child porn investigation. The Broward Times' Elgin Jone wrote about the apparent deception Friday after BSO, which had stalled me, finally released the documents.
If the authorities use "kiddie porn" as an excuse to snoop out a guy like Adams, then they can use the same ruse to find out anything about anyone. The potential political ramifications should be obvious to all.
Comments:
We're seeing only the early stages of the enormous problems that come from trying to manage or exist in a population of 300 millions in what passes for a democratic republic. It's something wholly new on the planet, and that's a pathetic understatement. You can't 'get over it', you can't comprehend it, either, and you can't expect whatever used to be 'normal'. We fear and resist police-state tactics because we suspect that the managers and leaders themselves have no alternatives. (Even the financial sector's managers have begun to admit that they are clueless about their own sector.) Thirty years ago Rollo May said there are no guidelines to help us or to slow the spread of apathy. He predicted that the "schizoid personality", i.e., a benumbed and uncaring one, would prevail as a survival defense. More lights keep going out. Maybe you should sub-title your blog 'Democracy Noir' (before Amy Goodman renames her program).

The Broward County Sheriff's dept. we can presume will be disciplined and heads should roll. If not, then it's horrifying.

Aside from your correct civil liberties outrage at the BSO's tactics, a huge problem is the insidious side-effect of trivializing child pornography (and such) by what you've aptly called a "ruse". Didn't a cop ever say to you, as one said to me, "I'll enforce or break the law as I see fit"? That was in 1969.

If I were a young person, I would enlist in the military and request to serve in Iraq or Afghanistan -- anything to get the hell out of harm's way.
 
i've been saying since the get-go that AGAG's distracting emphasis on internet child porn was just a ruse to gain access to user id's.

these guys have completely abandoned playing by the rules. if they can't get their destruction of net neutrality thru congress, then toss up the 'child porn' smokescreen and lielielie.

because we've certainly seen, have we not, just how little these evil creepos really care about children.

moreover, isn't it just the most egregious irony that it's THESE guys, replete with their authoritarian pathologies and their vast histories of abusing children and ...well, whomever they can, are using THIS ruse?

on a more personal note, kudos, Joe!! marci picked up and linked to your catch.

YOU. ARE. AMAZING!!!
 
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