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UK WhatsApp duo convicted of possessing extreme porn

That's just plain wrong...

...on so many levels.

So everytime the UK Government now wants money from you, all they have to do is send you an SMS with disgusting images, "accidentially" search you and then fine you? Wow.

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Re: That's just plain wrong...

It makes me wonder if a good solicitor would have got these charges thrown out.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: That's just plain wrong...

Since when has bestiality been "extreme porn"? Someone had better let Bodil Joensen know! "Animal Farm" is not exactly an unknown film....

http://imdb.com.title/tt113966

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

Re: That's just plain wrong...

No doubt representation would have cost more than £500.

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g e

Nothing to hide, nothing to fear

Unless you've not checked your email/IM/SocialMeeja within the last X hours...

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Re: That's just plain wrong...

Bestiality is listed in the extreme pornography legislation. It is covered by other legislation elsewhere but it got duplicity in this one for the "simple ownership" coverage.

The Obscene Publications act (and various amendments) are actually controlled by the CPS and among the things listed in there is the depiction of drug usage. However, note that the government of the time's "Talk to Frank" campaign wasn't prosecuted for breach of the OPA. The guidance also lists, "bondage especially where gags are used" but even Pulp Fiction remains legal to own.

This never has been about actual offending ... it is, "Do we want to nick you," and if the answer is yes, then they throw the book at you.

Spanner crew got an average of four years in jail .. they were adults. Two separate men got their underage boys to slice their backs open with blades on chains in zanjeer matam, and they walk away with suspended sentences.

Don't look for any sense, rhyme or reason in any prosecutions for material of these natures .. there isn't any.

I did actually take the extreme porn law apart on one of my web sites, but as it is NSFW, I won't post the link. I also had a written argument with the Home Office at the time ... they knew they were enacting a load of crap but did it anyway. I've also had correspondence with the CPS over the OPA guidance .. they know that a chunk of their guidance is out of date ... societies morality shifts but apparently legal dinosaurs get stuck in the mud and solidify.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: That's just plain wrong...

> This never has been about actual offending ... it is, "Do we want to nick you,"

The case of Simon Walsh, a gay man prosecuted under this legislation apparently for political motives, illustrates the point. The Home Office said it was going to be used only in the most extreme cases, about a dozen a year, to target persistent offenders. In fact it has become a catch-all oppression with about a thousand cases a year. The quotes from judges and magistrates are pathetically reminiscent of those sad little snippets that used to be in the local papers in the 50s, 60s and 70s when the persecution du jour was focused on homosexuals (like Alan Turing).

The Melon Farmers censorship website has chapter and verse for anyone unconvinced that the Home Office is in the business of making laws that can be misrepresented as narrowly targeted then misused for general social control.

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Silver badge

Re: That's just plain wrong...

Solicitors don't agree cases in front of judge.....

Well, that's certainly true. The last five words are practically superfluous.

Whether solicitors argue cases in front of judges depends on the specific country's justice system and specific court (and even time period.)

Even if you meant to contrast solicitors with barristers in England, now solicitors can argue cases in court, and in the past the hiring of a solicitor was a prerequisite to the engagement of a barrister. In any case, whilst a barrister might be a benefit, a good solicitor would be as well...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solicitor

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Re: That's just plain wrong...

Any form of pornography that involves willful abuse of living creatures is extreme. Bestiality is not simply a fetish or a branch of pornography. It is animal abuse. Just as sex with children is child abuse.

No, merely having the misfortune to be sent illegal spam, or not knowing deleted items may still reside on one's computer, should not be a crime.

But bestiality certainly should be, and rightly is, and pornography that includes it is rightly termed "extreme" as that term is defined in the Act.

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Unhappy

unsolicited

I agree with D3rrial. This is wrong.

If the half a dozen or so spam emails that find their way into my in box had illegal images attached instead of failed delivery notices from UPS or tax refund forms. It would be enough to convict me of possessing said images and possibly get my name on the sex offenders list?

This is so wrong it is scary. By this judgement all it takes is a bot herding mail spammer to attach a picture of a naked under age child to a spam mail and everyone who gets the email is guilty of possessing indecent images of children.

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Re: unsolicited

As far as I understand it's a strict liability offence like speeding. No defence or mitigation it's either yes or no.

That being said it's bloody ludicrous that unsolicited stuff can get you a fine, a record and a big black mark in any CRB check

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Silver badge
Mushroom

Re: unsolicited

A copper was fined £6000 for DISTRIBUTING these kinds of images via WhatsApp.

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/may/14/police-officer-fined-extreme-porn-mobile-duty

"The images were found on his phone during the investigation into the Plebgate affair involving former government chief whip Andrew Mitchell and DPG officers at the gates of Downing Street, the court heard. No further action was taken against Addison over that matter."

No criminal record then to prevent him from working in the police, yet these two guys will have this conviction dragged up every time they do anything.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: unsolicited

No, this is not a strict liability offence. In fact the CPS's own legal guidance points out that it is a defence if the image in question "had been sent to [the accused] unsolicited and he did not keep it for an unreasonable time." However, if you don't completely delete every trace of it "beyond your own ability to recover it" (as I believe the legal standard currently is) then that defence fails.

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Re: unsolicited

" However, if you don't completely delete every trace of it "beyond your own ability to recover it" (as I believe the legal standard currently is) then that defence fails."

And who determines a person's ability to recover a file?

To delete something, most people will just use the delete option their systems offer. Is that enough?

If your system puts such deleted items in a recycler of some sort, which means it can be recovered, then it's arguably not beyond those means. But not everyone (IME) seems to know they can recover deleted items - or that they might need to go to this tool to expire it from the recycler. So that's a grey area.

Then there are temporary files - caches and the like - which systems and software may not clean up properly after themselves. Who decides if any given user will be able to access files in those locations?

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Re: unsolicited

So not a strict liability (happy to be corrected) but the bar seems rather high... if the recipient is not an expert then the defence fails. One of the examples is that the guy deleted the photo but it remained on the camera roll and they didn't realise. Ignorance of the law is no excuse but it seems that ignorance of your phone's OS is

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Re: unsolicited

Quick, everyone spam* their favourite politician with "dodgy" material, and then make some anon calls to childline/RSPCA etc...

* obviously from the safety of a disposable, unregistered cell phone purchased with cash.

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Boffin

"beyond your own ability to recover it"

So the users who call me because they've just saved an attachment but can't work out where are completely safe. Conversely, anyone with a data recovery or forensic qualification had better be prepared to grind their storage devices into dust and drop them in the sun because, you know, they're experts who could reconstruct the offending images by quantum entanglement.

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Boffin

Re: unsolicited

If it's unsolicited, why didn't they delete it?

We're talking several months where it was on their device. The judge is right - we cannot permit "it was unsolicited" to be a defence for the continued possession beyond what would be a reasonable time to check and delete.

What is a reasonable time? Every circumstance may vary, but I'd have thought 99.9% of people check and clear their messages at least once per week. Most people are several times per day.

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Re: unsolicited

So you're saying it's reasonable that you have to view every attachment of every unsolicited mail you receive?

I'm sure there are messages left in my inbox where I quickly scanned the text, thought "later" so I did not immediately delete the message, and then forgot all about it. If such a message had an attachment and it was not egregiously huge, I might well be unaware of its nature.

Also everyone should know the dangers of opening attachments from strangers or even casual acquaintances ... not that it might be extreme Pron, but that it might be a vector to infect your computing device with virii, malware, spyware, ransomware or hardware-brickware (and that short of public-key encryption of all mail, no email can be trusted to have been sent by a volitional act of the person it claims to have come from).

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Re: unsolicited

It won't work, the establishment will protect them unless TPTB don't like that particular politician and want them to be chopped down a peg or two.

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Re: unsolicited

I have never deleted any of my WhatsApp or BBM chats, my phone has lots of storage so why would I need to?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: unsolicited

We're talking several months where it was on their device. The judge is right - we cannot permit "it was unsolicited" to be a defence for the continued possession beyond what would be a reasonable time to check and delete.

I just cleared out the "Downloads" folder of someone - that was 25GB worth of old data they didn't know they had in a folder that is otherwise easy to access. Try "explorer %temp%" on the command line of any Windows box and see what you get.

Your assumption that people actually *know* what's on their machine is seriously dangerous.

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Re: unsolicited

"And who determines a person's ability to recover a file?"

It's a terrifying law. You're actually punished for being smart. I can build a scanning tunneling microscope from parts lying around my home. In theory, I could wed that to a Raspberry Pi and - presuming I could obtain or construct stepping motors/gearing with a fine enough range - I could recover files directly from a wide variety of platters.

I can also remove the controller chip from a flash drive and replace it with something that would allow me raw access to the cells. That would allow me to pull a cell-by-cell image of the drive - something that's virtually impossible with a controller in the way - and then most likely find the deleted images in "spare" cells waiting for new writes.

So, unless I throw away ever computer storage device I own and never use electronic communications again I would vulnerable. "Extreme pornography" ends up in my spam on a semiregular basis and absolutely shows up during internet searches...usually for things so completely unrelated it's baffling.

If I lived in the UK, the knowledge inside my head would be illegal. The country has actually managed to codify thought crime.

What. The. Fuck.

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Gold badge

Re: unsolicited

"* obviously from the safety of a disposable, unregistered cell phone purchased with cash."

I don't know how it works where you're from, but buying burners has several barriers here:

1) Most shops won't sell a burner without a credit card. Cops don't like it unless they can trace who bought the burner.

2) Most places that sell disposable credit cards require a debit or credit card transaction for the same reasons.

3) Virtually every place that sells either burner cell phones or disposable credit cards has video - and often audio - surveillance.

In order to completely "wash" all traces of the purchase you should go through a few steps:

1) Buy everything in disposable credit cards.

2) Case joints that sell disposable credit cards so that you can ensure they won't be able to track you.

3) Use a mule, but never the same mule twice. (Always incorporate a backup plan!)

4) Consider buying a handful of "high value" disposable cards then using them to buy multiple low value ones at different locations. Additional buffer helps.

5) Do not invest any of your now anonymous ephemeral money into a burner with contactless payment options. You do not want any correlation of your purchases with the phone number, because if they can put your purchases and your number in the same place at the same time, they will pull your image from a camera. Tower triangulation is not accurate enough for this. Keep the phone simple. Basic voice and data. No GPS.

6) Don't use bitcoin; it's trackable. Some altcoins aren't. Do your reserach.

7) Use anonymouse credit cards to purchase hosted/colocated server space in foreign countries in order to do your online shopping/hacking/talking to journalistic sources/posting dissenting views against your government/etc.

8) There are a number of shipping forwarding companies if you want to buy things online. With a little bit of work you can even find storage facilities or virtual office providers that will accept deliveries on your behalf. Better if they are located in a neighboring town, and if you get at them using some transportation method (taxi/lyft/etc) that doesn't take your picture/record your voice/etc. Don't let them track your plates, don't ever take your cell phone to the storage facility. Never associate you with that location, or the whole thing unravels.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

Our society has become one which actively hunts dissidents. Even if all you want to do is establish a reasonably secure means to express a dissenting opinion online, you should probably consider much or all of the above.

How did we let it get this bad?

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Gold badge

Re: unsolicited

"What is a reasonable time? Every circumstance may vary, but I'd have thought 99.9% of people check and clear their messages at least once per week. Most people are several times per day."

I delete my "Junk E-mail" and "Deleted Items" folders about once a year. I have rules that filter lots of incoming mail directly into "Deleted Items". I can easily receive something unsolicited and have it stick around for ages.

How often does a normal person purge their temp folders? And you and I both know that I can do all of the above and still get the data back a year later if I wanted. The law is an anti-intellectual law designed to root out dissidents and make them hangable.

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These 'unrelated matters' they were stopped for, were they enough to warrant a search of their effects or did plod overstep their boundaries? Come on el Reg.

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I read a few days ago that anyone involved in a car accident would have their phones seized to look for evidence that it was in use. I would be incredibly surprised if they didn't also run similar scans on the phone as a catchall.

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It'll have been done under the We-couldn't-give-a-crap-about-the-law-you're-nicked Act.

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This post has been deleted by its author

So many details missing here:

-Who sent them the images?

-Could forensics find whether the images had been accessed by the men?

-Why did they not have solicitors?

-Why plead guilty?

It's a shame court transcripts aren't available online to find out what happened.

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Re: -Why did they not have solicitors?

Possibly due to cuts in Legal Aid. Dunno.

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Silver badge

"Who sent them the images?"

Perhaps his name was Addison?

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Problems with laws like this

There is no defence. It's just do you have picture? Yes, guilty. Of course if your important they can decide that it's not in the public interest to proceed with charges.

I expect they were told that if they didn't plead guilty they were going to jail.

I expect they were doing something the cops didn't like, maybe taking part in a protest, or worse taking photos of cops breaking up a protest. Now they have nice two year conditional discharge so they better not do anything else important people don't like for the next while. It would be interesting to know what the unrelated matters were.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Problems with laws like this

"It would be interesting to know what the unrelated matters were."

This being Essex, "Wearing a loud shirt in a built up area during the hours of darkness" would be a good bet, although these days "breach of the peace" seems to quite opaquely cover pretty much everything the police want it to.

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Bronze badge

Re: Problems with laws like this

Basically, if plod ask you who you are, where you are going, etc., and you query why they might want to know, and whether they have the authority to ask, then that pretty much counts as a breach of the peace. The exact wording is rather circular, something along the lines of "getting arrested for causing a breach of the peace automatically means that you MUST have breached the peace"

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Problems with laws like this

Perhaps the most creepy thing about 'offences' like breach of the peace is that someone put a good deal of effort into titling it to suggest, to someone unfamiliar with it, something far worse than it almost certainly is; an image of loud, threatening, violent, drunken or 'anti-social behaviour'. So when the offence/court case finally hits the press the tendency is to put it in the 'no smoke without fire' box and presume the individual has something to answer for.

It struck me particularly because it was extensively used by the police against photographers who questioned plods right to prevent them taking pictures - usually firmly but politely - during their long 'you must be a terrorist if you're doing that' phase, that seems thankfully to have abated somewhat. There was rarely anything to answer for except for a refusal to comply with instructions that had no legal basis, but it created an entirely different impression.

They pull something similar with child abuse images with the offence of 'making images of...' which implies the accused is the person who took the pictures, when more often than not the offence is actiually downloading them. The problem I have with this is that either the public are left with the impression that all offenders are physically abusing children, which I would have thought would have been seen far more seriously, or if the public twig whats actually being said, it potentially devalues the cases where the individual was indeed present when the pictures were taken.

Both phrasings seem intended simply to ward off any questions and ensure justice is anything but transparent.

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Anonymous Coward

Soooooo...

They didn't ask for the images, they deleted them when they realised what it was? (granted, the thumbnails remained on the camera roll, but still... Who's going to get off on a 48x48 icon...)

They get a "lenient" two-year conditional discharge and were ordered to pay £500 costs (and no doubt put on the sex offenders register and get it dragged up at every job interview...).

So on the same lines... If a pupil sends their teacher a picture of themselves as some sort of revenge for giving them a D-, same outcome, but with the added loss of job and bye bye career?

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Silver badge

Re: Soooooo...

>Who's going to get off on a 48x48 icon...

Not that this changes one's impression of this case, but on a technical note:

What'sApp downloads a full-size picture to the phone when it is viewed in What'sApp.

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g e

Re: Soooooo...

Perhaps start sending them to judges, coppers and politicians

Expect most of them will likely delete them as duplicates...

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

Anonymous Coward

Re: Ridiculous

"I find it a bit worrying that they can stop you and search your phone."

Only if you run Android or IOS. Windows Phone and Blackberry full device encryption defeats the dumping devices that they use apparently.

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Re: Ridiculous

"Why is your phone encrypted? Please meet RIPA. Hand over the decryption keys".

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Joke

Re: Ridiculous

Hold on a second, your first name is MARCUS and you said BOYFRIEND?! That could be viewed worse than an animal in some countries...

And yeah, I don't get the whole animal thing. It's ALL OVER THE INTERNET FOR FREE! Must be some weird UK law. There is way worse stuff out there they should be policing.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ridiculous

Here in Wales, it's a way of life.

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Anonymous Coward

Indeed - if you become a recipient of a thing, which you cannot be proven to have requested, it's not your fault. But in the brave new world where you have to prove your innocence, not the state proving your guilt 'beyond reasonable doubt' - you are at the mercy of others.....

Ironically, to "possess" something you have to know/be aware of what "something" is - and I suspect the court definition will be that they (a) downloaded it (as ISTR WhatsApp doesn't auto download distributed content?) which could also be construed as ("Making a copy") and then they (b) failed to delete it, resulting in "possession" - as they then knew what it was.

It's possible the one person did download the content and not watch it, but that's going to be another swine to prove.

What the article doesn't say is if they went after the original senders, given WhatsApp provides the user/mob number....

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Anonymous Coward

"...image likely to cause injury".

What does that mean?

A map with with the position of a cliff incorrectly placed? A postcard that gives a paper cut? Can anyone explain this to me?

'An image [of an action that is] likely to cause injury' would be something different. It could an image of a motorcycling, skateboarding or horse riding.

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Anonymous Coward

Maybe it's a reference to the "This post gave me cancer" meme.

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Silver badge

or a reference to:

-The Ring - Japanese horror film in which anyone who watches a certain videotape dies a week after watching it.

-Monty Python's The Funniest Joke in the World sketch, in which a joke is penned that causes anyone who hears it to die of laughter.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gpjk_MaCGM

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Or of course, the yet-to-be-discovered Langford basilisks, or something that the Laundry is trying to protect us from.

Also don't forget the humble animated GIF flickering in the epilepsy-inducing range of frequencies. This is not SF. This is reality. You really can crash a human brain. Luckily if the resulting narcolepsy or grand mal siezure doesn't result in a car crash or falling under a train, nature has equipped us with watchdog timers and auto-reboot mechanisms.

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