P2P users; you're all suspects Was (back in November) Crimes Act as protection against govt-agency "

Discussion in 'NZ Computing' started by Steve B, Jan 16, 2004.

  1. Steve B

    Steve B Guest

    A kind of oblique reply to my concerns about the Dept of Internal
    Affairs "fishing" through user folders on P2P services and the
    potential for incrimination and wrongful conviction.

    QUOTE DIA media release, 14 January 2004.

    "For the first time, two people who used what is known as
    "peer-to-peer" or "P2P" software were convicted for trading child
    pornography. These were two separate cases.

    "Such software allows users to set up a computer to automatically
    share selected files. A person does not then have to be at their
    computer when it shares the files. After they have chosen which files
    they want to share, they can leave their computer. It will then
    automatically share those files when another computer searching for
    those sorts of files contacts it.

    "The Department's view is that if a user sets up a computer to
    automatically share child pornography files, then they are responsible
    for the trading that eventually occurs even if it happens when they
    are not sitting at their computer. This view is yet to be fully
    tested in court, as both defendants pleaded guilty."

    So there you have it. By participating in a P2P service you have, in
    the opinion of the DIA "set up a computer to automatically share child
    pornography files." I'm sure this will be news to a large majority of
    P2P users.

    And if you download the file "VJday.mpg" expecting it (from the
    accompanying description) to be something erotic on the theme of the
    end of WWII in the Pacific, then you are accountable for possession of
    that file - especially if you are "not sitting at your computer" when
    the download completes (and the DIA inspector's upload begins),

    DON'T download VJDay.mpg; I definitely advise against it.

    And you thought RIAA/RIANZ were the only people after you?

    Question (asked in an email to my editor on the subject):
    "And if a DIA inspector, fishing through Kazaa folders on a promising
    phrase such as "little girl" uncovers only many, many copies of songs
    (c) Ritchie Valens and Danny L Tolbert, are they duty-bound to inform

    Steve B.
    Steve B, Jan 16, 2004
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  2. Steve B

    KS Guest

    So there you have it. By participating in a P2P service you have, in
    Hi Steve. This reiterates the comments I made late last year, perhaps
    without the wording "automatically share child pornography" ! If you use
    P2P, you are leaving your computer open to share your files with others. As
    they are your files on your computer - note the wording

    "After they have chosen which files they want to share, they can leave their

    If you have in your possession objectionable material, then there is a high
    chance of being prosecuted. What the file is called, how you obtained it -
    both are irrelevant.

    Possession is possession. By not being at the computer is no defence. Look
    at people who have a magazine for example in their bedroom. Just because
    they are not at home while the magazine is, doesn't absolve them from

    However, let's look at it a little more closely. Say you downloaded your
    vjday.mpg example, expecting it to be something else. And it turns out to
    contain objectionable material.

    Are you in breach ? Absolutely. Could you be prosecuted ? Absolutely. Would
    you be prosecuted ? Probably not, due to the high workload already in place,
    and the time and resources used for prosecution of a single file. Please
    note the word "probably".

    If in the course of the investigation it is discovered that you are sharing
    a considerable number of files that match known files in the databse, my
    advice to you is get a shrink and then a lawyer.
    This does get back to the original discussion on the fishing expeditions.
    Known files were targetted. When the same IP shows multiple returns, it's
    then pretty simple to investigate and then prosecute. Although as previously
    mentioned, there has been a small number of prosecutions, but both parties
    pleaded guilty.

    and we're not talking about one single file. We're talking about possession
    of *thousands* of files of objectionable material. Hardly an "accidental

    The moral of the story ? Possess or trade in objectionable material = you
    will get prosecuted. Perhaps not today, but like Rachel says in the advert
    "it may not happen overnight, but it will happen" !

    What beggars belief is why people bother to do so in the first place.
    KS, Jan 16, 2004
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  3. Steve B

    Stuart Guest

    Perhaps the safest way to avoid this would be to set all downloads going to
    a folder which you don't share; after you've reviewed them you could move
    them to a shared directory.

    Stuart, Jan 16, 2004
  4. Steve B

    Steve B Guest

    Is that possible on Kazaa? I asked previously (on nz.general and/or
    PCWorld's PressF1) exactly that qyuestion, and I don't think I got an
    answer - other than "turn off uploading and don't share", which is not
    IMO in the spirit of P2P.

    I certainly can't see a way of doing it.

    Steve B.
    Steve B, Jan 16, 2004
  5. Steve B

    Steve B Guest

    Is this a just law? IMO probably not.
    I agree there; not excuse, since such sharing is clearly intentional.
    But to prosecute on the strength of one file acquired in ignorance of
    its nature ("probably" and depending on a "lottery" factor like the
    size of the Censorship Compliance Unit's workload) appears unjust to
    me; and open, as I say to incrimination and to possibly corrupt and
    biased application of the law.

    If you are in a position to decide who shall be prosecuted and who
    shall not, and my political views (say on the censorship question)
    don't agree with yours, or those of your superiors in the dept or
    higher in govt) or you just happen personally not to like me, then
    this may influence your decision to prosecute.

    If an accidental downloader is balanced on that kind of knife-edge,
    then a deliberate decision to "go get" a politically irritating
    individual would be that much easier to make. And that's where
    justifiable censorship of exploitative material might start shading
    into political censorship

    A definite statement that non-culpable lack of knowledge (as in "I
    could not have reasonably expected that this filename and description
    would correspond to this content") should be a defence, may be a
    deterrent to such unfairness in making a decision to prosecute.

    I will recommend such a course in my submission on the FV&PC Amendment
    Possibly, in a certain proportion of cases, because they genuinely
    didn't mean to. Or because they need psychiatric help, which they're
    unlikely to get through a prison sentence or (less so) a fine.

    Steve B.
    Steve B, Jan 16, 2004
  6. Steve B

    Warwick Guest

    I believe I answered the question, and I also believe now I got it wrong !

    It is possible in Kazza and the DC++ client I use to sepcify the folder(s)
    you wish to share. These folders do not have to automatically include the
    dowload directory. However I have noticed uploads of files I have just
    downloaded on Kazaa, so perhaps that particular application automatically
    includes the downloaded dir regardless of user defined settings ?
    I may write to them and ask, and perhaps ask if they would consider a
    different approach.
    Stuart is correct, control of sharing to the point the user can review the
    material before it is shared removes the risk of accidental prosecution of
    If you were concerned you could write a windows type Daemon that parsed the
    dload directory at regular intervals, any file that does not have a .dat
    extension could be moved to a quarantine area perhaps.
    I won't be bothering, I dont use the applications for sharing adult
    material and I hope to Christ none of my songs or movies are considered
    objectionable (Frank Zappa Bobby Brown maybe :) ).

    Warwick, Jan 17, 2004
  7. Steve B

    ~misfit~ Guest

    I use Kazaa Lite and I can specify what goes where and choose not to share
    the dowloaded file folder. I never accept the defaults, always make my own
    folders for shared and downloaded (and ripped), moving files as I see fit.
    ~misfit~, Jan 17, 2004
  8. Steve B

    Lebowski Guest

    There's no such thing as "can't"... :)
    Lebowski, Jan 17, 2004
  9. Steve B

    K & S Guest

    Have you tried the New 2.6 one, I read that is has a few new features..
    K & S, Jan 17, 2004
  10. Steve B

    Brendan Guest

    There are two major problems I think:

    1. Possession of objectionable material can be unintentional.

    2. Technically, any material without prior approval of the Censors could
    lead to prosecution even though it's no worse than other approved material.

    For 1, it's TOO easy to download material you think is of one type only to
    find it's of another, unattended, while you are at work. The software will
    typically automatically share those files. Normally a criminal prosecution
    needs to prove the intent to offend; it seems that our laws in this area
    are too broad. (and contradictory. and arbitrary. and variable. and
    religion derived. and....).

    I would like to think that in the case of 2, any judge would find no cause
    from charges and award costs to the defendant.
    It's genetic and cultural, and has existed since before we came out of the

    It's only in the last 200 years or so that it has become illegal. Note: I
    do not find children a turn on. I find them annoying usually. But it's
    interesting to question the basis for such prohibitions.


    .... Brendan

    "Fear is the parent of cruelty." -- James Anthony Froude

    Note: All comments are copyright 17/01/2004 12:23:17 p.m., and are opinion only where not otherwise stated, and always "to the best of my reccollection". www.computerman.orcon.net.nz.
    Brendan, Jan 17, 2004
  11. Steve B

    Mainlander Guest

    The internet has not existed for 200 years as well you know Brendan.
    Mainlander, Jan 17, 2004
  12. Steve B

    KS Guest

    2. Technically, any material without prior approval of the Censors
    Well you'd find that the issue wouldn't reach the courts by that stage.
    Prosecutions don't happen by choosing some person by spinning a bottle.

    Just as you won't find the Police prosecuting for travelling 52 kph in a
    50kph zone. Technically you're exceeding the posted speed, and become liable
    for prosecution. But practically ? Not a chance in hell of a prosecution. So
    technically, yes, you are correction in that possession of material without
    prior approval is a breech. But would you be prosecuted ? Probably not.

    There's always a grey area in deciding what constitutes the breech on an
    Act. Worrying about having a single file unwittingly in your possession
    really isn't a problem.

    BUT ! Do you intentionally seek out objectionable material ? Well, not you
    personally Brendan, but you know what I mean...

    Also, note that the two successful prosecutions for trading and possession
    of objectionable material, sourced via P2P users, happened quickly because
    those two pleaded guilty. And they had THOUSANDS of files in their

    Certainly not obtained by unintentional downloading.
    KS, Jan 17, 2004
  13. Steve B

    Brendan Guest

    I'd hope not. But you only need one out to make a name for himself...
    I didn't think so either.
    Proving it is the problem. One can be explained away maybe, two ? Four ?

    Where is the line drawn ? It's just as easy to be tricked with 10 files one
    day as with one, especially if like most you leave your computer to finish
    the download while you are doing something else.

    So what if you had 5 of these files the DIA had tagged, downloaded over a
    period of a couple of days (maybe you were going to sort them out when
    they'd all finished) ?
    Pretty clear cut case then. Thousands if definitely over the line.

    But were they THOUSANDS of objectionable pictures or were there a few dozen
    amongst thousands of legal porn ?

    Had the objectionable ones been classified as objectionable, or were they
    merely similar to other objectionable pictures ? (I don't expect you to
    have the answers but I am trying to get at how much of the prosecution
    rests on the say-so of the DIA).
    Not likely, no. And since they admitted it, it's likely correct of the DIA
    to have pursued them.

    But my concern is similar to Steve's: just how many innocent people are put
    through the wringer to get the odd perv, and even if later "let off the
    hook", how much stress and expense did it cause ?

    What will the DIA do when encryption of p2p packets becomes the norm ?

    Surely email is the MAJOR means of child porn swapping - how can the DIA
    monitor that without breeching the privacy act or if the email is encrypted
    (as it would be with any pedophile with half a brain) ? What will we have
    to give up so that we can catch the 1 in 100,000 who is a pederast ?

    Also, how do we tell the difference between a young looking woman posing
    legally and an illegal picture of a child here at home ? Can we likewise be
    in trouble for have "thousands" of pictures of our kids nude at the beach ?

    It just seems to me that while the goals of the DIA may be laudable, the
    practicalities are a minefield.


    .... Brendan

    "I'm writing a book. I've got the page numbers done." -- Steven Wright

    Note: All comments are copyright 17/01/2004 11:13:40 p.m., and are opinion only where not otherwise stated, and always "to the best of my reccollection". www.computerman.orcon.net.nz.
    Brendan, Jan 17, 2004
  14. Steve B

    Steve B Guest

    And what about the 109 people "investigated" in this way and NOT
    prosecuted? Was their privacy unjustifiably breached? What "evidence"
    was there that they were trading illegal material? And why didn't it
    stand up?

    I repeat, two successes out of 111 sounds like "fishing" to me.

    Or are you hinting that the other 109 are still "in the gun"?. Even if
    theyt are deperately defending themselves, then surely, if the
    "evidence" is there, they can be prosecuted, and we might have
    expected at least a few more by now?

    Steve B.
    Steve B, Jan 17, 2004
  15. Steve B

    Steve B Guest

    Well, will someone tell me how to; in detail, for KazaaLite++. By
    email (remove the obvious from the address) if you'd prefer.

    Steve B.
    Steve B, Jan 17, 2004
  16. Steve B

    Lebowski Guest

    Go to Options-->Kazaa++ Options-->hit the "Traffic" tab-->under "Shared
    Folder", change the folder for downloaded files to another directory of your
    choosing, apply and ok.

    Lebowski, Jan 17, 2004
  17. Steve B

    Warwick Guest

    But the app may automatically include the dload folder regardless of the
    users preferences in Options.

    I said the same thing as you in a much earlier thread - when I too thought
    specifying the shares was as simple as you indicate here.

    BUT I notice uploads of files I have just downloaded. I haven't listened to
    them or moved them and they are available for share, and I have
    specifically not shared the download directory in Kazzaa options.

    If you want to find out for sure send me an email and we can do some
    searches on files that are not supposed to be shared, but are in our
    respective download folders, and see if they come up in search results.

    Warwick, Jan 17, 2004
  18. Steve B

    Actavail Guest

    Hi Steve (and anyone else),

    From right around the world I came across this thread and thought you might
    be interested in the discussion forum at www.madbadorsad.org/sadbbs. It was
    recently setup to help people (and their families) caught up in Operation
    Ore, the UK based child porn 'sting' and other similar 'busts'. It is there
    to lend support and to help counter the grossly distorted picture of this
    subject which appears in the world's media. There are no illegal images and
    no links to such, just a load of comments, some personal stories and a lot
    of interesting (and quite balanced) links at the parent www.madbadorsad.org

    If you are interested, any contribution on your understanding of the
    position in New Zealand would be most welcome.

    Actavail, Jan 18, 2004
  19. Steve B

    KS Guest

    Steve, I'll get back to you later today after I check some things at the

    But I haven't forgotten your post.
    KS, Jan 18, 2004
  20. Steve B

    Dogg Guest

    Same here. Notice how Kazaa Lite sticks itself in the "My Shared
    Folder" folder? LOL.
    Dogg, Jan 19, 2004
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