Monday, January 15, 2007

Teacher faces 40 years in prison because she lost control of her classroom computer.

Just in case you still don’t think that Matt Brandy is telling the truth what would you think if I told you that someone else was a victim of the same sort of problem. Julie Amero was a school teacher. On October 19, 2004 Amero was a substitute teacher for the 7th grade at Kelley Middle School.

She was using a computer in the classroom when it started spewing up page after page of hardcore porn. She said: “The pop-ups never went away. They were continuous.” She says she went to a website on hair styling and instead got page after page of porn. Ten of the students in the class claim they saw the images.

To cut to the chase she was found guilty of allowing minors to view sexual images. She is now awaiting sentencing and can face up to 40 years in prison. Forty years in prison because students got a glimpse of sexual images. Only in America.

A defense expert W. Herbert Homer said he did a forensic examination of the computer and claimed that Amero could have been redirected to the porn by malware which allowed the pop-ups. The brains in the prosecutors office responded that she was guilty anyway: “You made the choice to allow this situation to happen as opposed to turning it off.” So because she didn’t pull the plug on the computer was the reason she was guilty.

According to the local press the police admitted “there was no search made for adware, which can generate pop-up advertisements...”

Why the pop ups? As usual follow the money. Websites pay to have their sites promoted. They pay on the basis of clicks to their sites. Now they want real customers who come to the sites because they are interested in purchasing their services. So they are willing to pay for click throughs to their site. With malware a dishonest outlet can generate click throughs to the porn site that appear to originate from them thus earning them revenue. But the click throughs were imposed on unwilling people -- perhaps even teachers sitting in class!

And the more spy-ware on your computer the worse it can get. “When multiple spyware programs interact, they are particularly likely to show sexually-explicit images without a user requesting any such material.” Follow this link for some technical discussions as to how individuals can be dragged into porn pop ups even when it isn’t supposed to happen. It shows how a chain of spyware can redirect viewers and who gets the money.

I must keep making this point. We have insecure computers where we can't easily keep control of the content on our computers. We also have a criminal justice system that assumes images on a hard drive are sufficient evidence to send people away to prison for a very long time. This is placing millions of people at risk and justice is being perverted.

UPDATE: For a follow up on this case you might wish to read our slightly mischievous essay "Save the Children, Right!
" For an update of imporant information regarding this case go to this post.