Thursday, October 31, 2013

Jack's case

Fima Fimovich has left a new comment on the post "Unallocated Space Insufficient to Establish Posses...":

Some defendants are also blaming browser hijackers for putting illegal material on
their hard drives. In one widely reported case, a former citizen of the Soviet Union who prefers
to be known only as “Jack” was charged with possession of child pornography after twelve
pictures were found on the hard drive of his personal laptop. Traces of browsed sites can remain on computers, and it’s difficult to tell from
those traces whether a user willingly or mistakenly viewed a website. When those
traces connect to borderline-criminal websites, people may have a hard time
believing that their employee . . . hasn’t been spending an awful lot of time
cruising adult sites.
In response to a recent Wired News story about the CWS browser hijacker,
famed for peddling porn, several dozen readers sent e-mails in which they
claimed to have lost or almost lost jobs, relationships and their good reputations
when their computers were found to harbor traces of pornography that they insist
were placed on their computers by a browser hijacker.
see also Michelle Delio, Browser Hijackers Ruining Lives, Wired News, at,1377,63391-2,00.html (May 11, 2004). Jack claims
a browser hijacker must have downloaded the files to his laptop, pointing to the fact that police
found no pornography—“not even a Playboy magazine”—when they searched his house. Id.
Jack eventually pled guilty because, he says, no one would listen to his claims of innocence and
his lawyer told him he would receive a much harsher sentence if he went to trial; he received
three years felony probation and now has a felony sex conviction, which will make it difficult
for him to find employment. See id. The evidence in Jack’s case is somewhat ambiguous
because “[s]ome of the images were found in unallocated file space, and would have to have
been placed there deliberately since cached images from browsing sessions wouldn’t have been
stored in unallocated space.” Id. It is clear, though, that browser hijackers can leave traces of
embarrassing or illegal content on hard drives:
Browser hijackers are malicious programs that change browser settings,
usually altering designated default start and search pages. But some, such as
CWS, also produce pop-up ads for pornography, add dozens of bookmarks—
some for extremely hard-core pornography websites—to Internet Explorer’s
Favorites folder, and can redirect users to porn websites when they mistype