Monday, August 27, 2007

A reversal of fortunes

In my "Where is the science?" entry I questioned the decisions on two cases of child pornography possession and that our ability as examiners to find images is just not enough. In an interesting reversal on the Diodoro case, the Pennsylvania superior court decided that viewing images is in essence exerting control or possession of CP.

To quote the article:
"[Diodoro's] actions of operating the computer mouse, locating the Web sites, opening the sites, displaying the images on his computer screen, and then closing the sites were affirmative steps and corroborated his interest and intent to exercise influence over, and, thereby, control over the child pornography,

He added that while Diodoro was viewing the pornography, he had the ability to download, print, copy or e-mail the images."

Wow, now that is actually an interesting way of looking at things. That you have the image displayed on screen means you have the ability to do something to or with it, and therefore you have control over the image.

Here's how I'm viewing this...

If I am viewing an image, it's true that I can do what I wish with it, except modify the original as displayed on the website. I am in possession of a digital copy of the original, which is as good as the original file as displayed on the website.

The copy that has been automatically downloaded to my computer's temporary internet cache and is being displayed is under my possession and control at that point in time when I am viewing the image. My actions (visiting the website willingly, and possibly expanding a thumbnail image) affirm the fact that I wanted to view the image and therefore I have the ability to exert control over it; I have the ability to manipulate the image as I see fit - which is to say I can save, copy, email, print, crop, etc...

Let's hope that other Courts can use this during prosecution of these types of cases where the law states that anyone who "possesses or controls" these images is guilty. Chalk one up for the good guys.



Anonymous said...

As someone who works child sexual exploitation forensics about 90% of the time I could not agree more. It kills me that some people can spend $80/month for CP and have a temporary internet files loaded with CP thumbnails and full sized images and not be charged. These cases kill me when we give these guys a pass. I hate the 9th Circuit! Good for the Pennsylvania Superior Court.