Federal judge rules that data sent through peer-to-peer file sharing is not private

By on November 13, 2013, 10:30 AM
police, peer-to-peer, federal, warrant, federal judge, district court judge christina reiss, child protection system

Some potential new legal precedence is being set by a federal judge in Vermont, after ruling that data shared via peer-to-peer file-sharing services should not be expected to be private.

The ruling came out of a case regarding child pornography, where the defendants attempted to have evidence dismissed based on the grounds in which it was obtained. The three defendants said that police scooped the pertinent data from a peer-to-peer network illegally, without a warrant.

In this case, law enforcement had made use of the Child Protection System, which is an assortment of software tools designed to track down child pornography online. The tools send out automated searches for files known to contain data of this kind, and then maps out matching files with an IP address, data and time, as well as various other details about the particular computer.

District Court Judge Christina Reiss denied the motion to have the scraped data be dismissed, saying that the defendants gave up any privacy they had by making the files available through the P2P service. Even though the police software was entirely automated, Reiss says that the data could have been obtained manually or by a member of the public just the same.

"The evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that the only information accessed was made publicly available by the IP address or the software it was using," Judge Reiss explains. "Accordingly, either intentionally or inadvertently, through the use of peer-to-peer file-sharing software, Defendants exposed to the public the information they now claim was private."




User Comments: 8

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davislane1 davislane1 said:

I always suspected CP peddlers weren't the brightest of the criminal underworld. Now I know this for certain.

insect said:

Given the case at hand, I think it would be immoral of the judge to dismiss the only evidence against the child pornographers just because the evidence was obtained via P2P. Nevertheless, the data is available to the public if they have the P2P client also and so I think technically this is the right call also. All P2P is that way by definition. It's the digital equivalent of doing a drug deal on the street and when a cop observes the activity making an arrest and then those involved saying "This was a private deal! What you saw can't be used as evidence!".

Maybe next time they will turn on their spoofer, use TOR, and check the "hide my IP" option in the client. Only stupid criminals get caught.

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

I always suspected CP peddlers weren't the brightest of the criminal underworld. Now I know this for certain.

They're the sickest, vilest vermin on earth along with paedophiles. I'm with the judge and the law on this one and I don't care what tactics the authorities use to track them down, use the NSA as well. Throw the book at 'em and don't spare the horses.

NTAPRO NTAPRO said:

I always find it somewhat humorous that people will go and defend these kinds of cases, but then again, that's what keeps their bills paid...

avoidz avoidz said:

Was there ever a chance it would go the other way? Nope.

Guest said:

Its hysterical how may sex offenders and their families swear by all things holy..that they accidently stumbled on a website with CP and got arrested...cracks me up..

1 person liked this | Chuck Cortes Chuck Cortes said:

I always find it somewhat humorous that people will go and defend these kinds of cases, but then again, that's what keeps their bills paid...

As disgusting as the practice is to all of us its their right to be defended. Lets keep in mind not every person accused of CP is doing it. I am sure there have been quite a few innocent people who have been accused of such things just as they have of other crimes they were innocent of. I am all for punishing the guilty and using nearly any means to catch them but by the same token these means also catch innocent people in error so its only fair they are defended. What would be really sad is that the actual criminal is found innocent due to errors on the part of those trying to catch them.

Guest said:

Another biased and erroneous ruling from a partial and corrupt judge.

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