CNET has uncovered an unusual and controversial investigative technique in which FBI agents post hyperlinks that purport to lead to illegal videos of minors having sex and then raid the homes of people who click on them. The links directed users to a secret, government-controlled server that had no illegal images on them. But …
I don't know who I despise more: The FBI, or the child porn purveyors. Maybe both!
Copy and paste
Could you imagine getting hold of these URL's and wanting to pull a few pranks?
Just send the links over MSN / Post on a forum and watch people get raided from the comfort of your own front room.
Its like they are *trying* to make it easy.
Paris: Even she could figure out how to copy and paste a link.
Terrorists and kiddie fiddlers...
...are the government's most powerful tools.
I have kids. I have a router, I have a porn blocker installed (through OpenDNS), because some of the kids are teenage boys and they fit their stereotype. I hope to hell that the FBI registers their honeypots with the porn-blocking services, so that I don't have to worry about my hormonally enhanced kids getting curious what the heck the fuss is all about, and calling in a raid from the morality commandos.
If nothing else, consider the possibilities for sending people spring-loaded FBI-triggering spam.
... with child porn. Then you see links like: "Lolz, look at these pics of a hippie burning a flag!!" *click* *BANG* "FBI! GET DOWN SCUMBAG!!!"
Of course it is, but that's what Americans put up with anymore. And as long as we continue to endure judges like Judge Hunt, the merry game will continue. It seems as if every law enforcement and investigative agency has been flexing its muscles above and beyond the call of constitutional law, to say nothing of simple decency. It was all happening before the current presidency, but Mr. Bush has accelerated the trend enormously. Civil rights rest in peace.
Classic China method of solving crime, they round up 1000 people for dealing drugs and shoot them in the head. Result is most of the drug dealers die
open wifi dangers
A malicious person could get a lot of innocent people in hot water with a honeypot URL and a bit of wardriving+piggybacking, especially with the amount of unencrypted and easily crackable WEP encrypted routers out there.
Also as "no" pointed out, it would be very trivial to get people to visit a honeypot URL just by posting it somewhere - it could be obfusicated by using tinyurl or the like and you wouldn't know the destination unless you clicked it, but more frightening is how easy it would be to make their browser automatically visit a honeypot URL just by using an img src tag in a forum/messageboard post.
... while I find the defense of those who actually clicked links corresponding to titles like "4 year old girl does anal and oral!!" completely absurd....
I think it's completely brilliant that now we can send such links to our hat-- err loved friends and associates, say, disguised as "Hey, want free <object of interest>? This website is giving it away for the next few days."
@Copy and paste
Reminds me of swating. Where you use VoIP to call up the local police and tell them that at address X person Y is holding person Z hostage. Person's Y's home is then duly surrounded by lots of shiny, tazer wielding, bean bag shooting coppers ready to dispense some sweet sweet street justice with said tazer.
Mine is the Faraday cage grounded one.
Easy to throw a spanner in the works...
Just send one to the cops.. "Click here for free donuts"
End of problem.
...but it's becoming more common in the UK, too. Whatever the crime, police shouldn't be tempting people to offend.
Not to mention the fact that a dude who clicked one link and had one thumbnail image on his hard drive is probably not the most dangerous guy in the country. Think about it - anyone who's been tricked into viewing Mr Goatse (don't Google it) has a horrible image in their browser cache. What's to say it wasn't an accident, or simply misguided (and admittedly reprehensible) curiosity? Not sure a 5 year jail term is the most appropriate punishment in such a scenario.
The possibilities are endless...
Go to the <<political party of your personal dislike>> website/blog/forum, add various links to this "honeypot" website and wait for the fireworks.
Finnish Internet Block List
Now you understand why all those American sites are on that blokes Finnish Block list! The ones with the young teen girls photoshopped from regular porn.
Those are the FBI gateway site that mix the older kiddie stuff with the regular teen porn, you click a (legal) teen girl and you would be drawn to a set of jail bait younger offerings, click one of those and bingo you're facing prison time.
Also some of those forums that FBI 'posts' to are FBI controlled. They are not exactly innocent.
They're relying on the emotional convictions, so that people will turn a blind eye to the FBI putting kiddie porn on the internet.
Chum ...... or Real BaiT
Are FBI Agents susceptible to IntelAIgents Lures? The Inherent Weakness and Vulnerability [Virtual Strength] in any SMARTer machine.
Phishing for the FBI though would presumably mean you really like their dDeep C++++ Phish.
Welcome to 21st Century Networks InterNetworking RobotIQ Likely.
@F&cking Great, FBI worlds biggest kiddie diddler
I'd put disk encryption on your kids computer just in case. I assume the USA sites are blocked, but once one overzealous police force does this, it's only a matter of time before many overzealous police forces do and there's not much coordination between zealots.
Personally I'm worried more that the FBI is conditioning my kids to think of other kids as sex objects. There aren't many kiddie prn sites on the net, they get taken down very quickly, but the FBI sting ops last and last, so they're the ones that will likely to be spreading the kiddie diddling stuff and teaching my kids that other kids are for sex.
Sad world when I have to protect my kids from the FBI.
When they gonna break into Google and arrest googlebot?
Honestly, I have absolutely 0 respect for TRUE, 100% guilty (beyond ABSOLUTE reasonable doubt) paedophiles, and would be very happy if they all got locked away... but on the other hand, this investigative method is absolutely appalling. I won't even begin to list the ways you could incriminate someone with this. I also fail to see how clicking on A link on the public internet constitutes guilt. And let us not forget, this crime is one you need to be SO SURE about... as history has proven... it really doesn't matter if an accused is later found innocent in paedophile cases... even if they are absolutely 100% PROVEN innocent... they are always guilty in the eyes of society who think that they, in some way, avoided conviction - be it through lack of evidence or some legal loophole. So such shaky investigative methods are ludicrous for this kind of crime. Anyway.....back to the article... To begin with, I find the argument about a neighbour using the WiFi, entirely plausible, and also very probable. I am sure a child-porn surfer would use someone else's WiFi rather than his own connection, to avoid detection. Furthermore ONE thumbnail on his machine!!!!! jeeez... I dunno about anyone else, but after surfing the web and getting pop-up bombs from various sites, its very hard not to get such filth in your internet temporary files. Very few of us are ever aware they are even there. I find it EXTREMELY hard to believe that someone who regularly surfs child-porn would have a mere single thumbnail on his machine. If he had really been on this forum clicking links, shouldn't there be more???
I am currently in the process of building a web crawler (as a PRIVATE person for a university project)... would that make me guilty because my web crawler happened upon this forum and followed that link? This is CLEARLY entrapment, but furthermore a gross misunderstanding of how the Internet works (which does not surprise me in the least from the US government and a US judge... do we all remember Julie Amero?) Furthermore, despite the links pointing to this FBI honeypot, and presumably showing some kind of not found message or innocent picture.. the FBI are actually contributing to that forum by writing filthy text. So what if the links are broken... you are still feeding these sexual predators with ideas... just look at the text... I cannot believe a serious law enforcement agency could EVER stoop this low.
I am not sure who is to blame here. The US gov. for methodically chipping away the civil rights of its citizens... or its citizens for letting them do it?
Scary... *shakes head*
p.s Guess I am red-flagged now huh? They are probably watching these comments closely....
eh ? @ no.
hmmm I think they would realise when all of a sudden there was an increase in clicks that maybe it had been posted somewhere else.
if that's your idea of fun then it shows just what an idiot you are, the link was posted with the message describing a 4 yr old having sex with their father any twat clicking on it is quite clearly not expecting a busty brunette flashing her garage doors.
I don't particularly agree with their methods, but I certainly don't agree with you.
(and any idiot that has a wifi router unsecured, un-logged and not locked down by mac address deserves all the fun they get)
Paris because you're as thick as her.
Reading slashdot something struck me
Here they posted links to entrap people in order to get the search warrant. They then find two *other* images in a thumbs file from that search. He was prosecuted for those 2 images, not the ones the FBI served up (I presume to avoid an entrapment defense).
What happens if the other two images were from the German sting operation. Or even from a different FBI office's sting operation...
I mention this because I bet they don't tell the judge the full extent of their sting op, I've complained repeatedly about two clusters of sites (about 100-120 sites , US hosted, with obvious names, often cohosted on just a few serves that usually trace to Florida or Texas) and never managed to get those sites removed, so I always assumed they were FBI stings. But I reckon the Judge only gets told about the images that this particular sting operation planted not all the others and certainly not the foreign countries sting operations.
FBI raid on Google campus.
Can't wait until one of Google's webcrawlers stumble upon the site, go through the link, index the site, and draw heavily armed FBI agents to their secret Mountain View base.
Blue scientist guy, just because he looks omnious.
Therefor you are!
Concieved by Simpletons.
Implimented by Morons.
Enforced by Zealots.
Possibly the most flawed piece of thinking since the Third Reich.
Only in the Land of the (formerly) Free!
(expected on a Plod.gov.uk initiative anytime soon!)
Well if there is no KP on Travis's computer then he doesn't use it for looking for KP, does he.
In which case his defense is fully justified.
Even if they do find unqiestionable proof, the problem is that this technique will be extended to any other criminal activity (salami technique). And to stop it, ignoring the requests is needed. Not to protect kiddie fiddlers but to protect everyone else.
What about pre-loading in browsers?
If I'm not mistaken my browser is set to start loading any links on the page I'm viewing so that should I click on them later they're already downloaded.
So all I have to do is look at a page the FBI has hacked and I'm getting more bottom action than I ever anticipated!
Oh the land of the free....
Sad really , but stupid is as stupid does , and yet the annual FTC report shows billions of dollars in white collar crimes goes unpunished and flourishes totally ignored by the FBI at the same time !
Now if these wankers were so diligent in their duty and given the A-T laws they could easily clean up all the Wall Street Gordon Gecko clones/crooks from one end to the other in less then five years , although I suppose if you cart off 99.985% of the entire streets brokerage firms occupants including the SEC staff for a good measure as well to the nearest club fed , who indeed would be left to run the market ?
Think also of the killing the IRS agents would have with the unpaid back taxes plus interest on the undeclared earnings too !
Until Google Starts indexing those links. It'll be mayhem
I bet that GoogleBot also clicked on that link.
Ride them too!!!
Care to discuss?
An obvious example of entrapment, which they no doubt hope will not be discussed in detail by the public, since they chose a taboo subject. Very sneaky.
Since there were no real images involved, it begs the question of whether their motives are to help children, or whether they are driven by hatred of pedofiles.
This will do nothing to stop actual offences being comitted in the real world against real children, sadly, but could quite possibly be a crowd pleaser -in a Circus Maximus kind of way.
The clear-up rates of entrapment crimes are probably higher than other types of crime. Will government-provided statistics be trotted out to this effect?
It's always an armed raid in the USA
All their cops have guns.
It's always an armed raid.
And, if it's anything like what we hear about British computer crimes, they take away the computer and all the backups.
Yeah, set up a faked link, going to the same honeypot URL, and you could really mess with somebody. You might be able to spot that with referrer data, but would they bother. It's off to the judge with probable cause.
It does look as though the reported cases might have turned up more evidence, although it seems a bit thin. What we don't know is the proportion of cases which don't turn up any evidence. And this trick makes it hard for the innocent to make a fuss. "You clicked on a link to child porn" is pretty damning, even if it isn't a crime.
Anyone who clicked on this story is going to get a visit now. Clearly this sort of thing is relevant to your interests. Just sit patiently the van will be along soon.
No matter how large the writing above the link, saying DO NOT CLICK THIS, how many people would actually click the link if it had been in this article.
Or even if most Reg readers would be aghast, imagine running this article on bbc news website, and see it then???
While I'm sure the FBI mean well, the potential for abuse of a system like this is staggering. Don't like your neighbour / teacher / fallen out with someone lately ?
And in other news <.xxxxxxx> claims your IP address isn't personal information.
I remember, when I thought a website was interesting, I used to program a script to download automatically all the images that were linked from it...
I guess it would be a bad idea to do that now...
RE Copy and Paste
"Could you imagine getting hold of these URL's and wanting to pull a few pranks?"
That's the whole dilemma. It's similar to someone being able to spoof a phone number in order to call in bomb threats to a police agency.
The problem here is that FBI is actually promoting the ability and the tactics to smear someone else.
I'm glad they are doing this to capture pedophiles. On the other hand there are many other ways to capture criminals that don't PROMOTE criminal behavior.
Illegal and stupidity
First of all, this is entrapment. Last I checked, entrapment was illegal (at least on the local level).
Second of all, I would guess that most of here have been to various porn sites. You know the type -- they have a lot of thumbnail images and you click on the one you like and hope you're not redirected a thousand times. My point is that these pages sometimes contain things you're not looking for. They may have 98 images of two (or more) consenting adults. But a small percentage of those images may be of two gay males (illegal in some places, not everywhere, but certainly not what you visited the site for), and a small percentage of those images may be of what appear to be underage women. And yet, when you're raided by the FBI like in this article, you'll be arrested, tried, and jailed for child porn because of those images that you did not actively seek and did not wish to see.
That's the problem with the internet. You don't know what you're going to see until you actually see it. I know it comes as a shock, but people lie. They can put one thing in the link text when the link is something completely different. I know friends who have done this as an innocent joke. One I saw recently was an email sent to a friend that said "Greatest peepshow", and it was a picture of those marshmallow Peeps decorated and situated as if they were dancers and visitors in a strip club. That was an innocent swap. We all know the opposite happens -- you're sent a link to a seemingly-innocent site, but the site is anything but. I imagine many of us have been led to goatse at one time or another. Yet, in this Era of Morality, you could be jailed for visiting that site, even though you didn't know what it was before you visited it. It doesn't matter if you closed it within a tenth of a second, as soon as you saw it wasn't what you intended to visit.
Now, having said that, this article mentions a suspect who was found guilty by a jury because he had *A* (let's be specific -- *A* means *ONE*) thumbnail image of two naked minors. Unless the image was explicitly sexual, there is nothing illegal about that image. Nudity is not illegal. If it were, there would be no such things as nudists and nudist camps. Nudity does not equal pornography (no matter how much the "right" tells you it does). But I bet the prosecutor never made that clear to the jury.
People actively taking part in child pornography, whether they are producing it, publishing it, viewing it, or simply encouraging it, should be wiped off the face of the earth. But we should be going after and prosecuting the real criminals, not those based on speculation at most. We used to require proof before we put somebody behind bars. I fear the saying "innocent until proven guilty" is taken too literally nowadays -- taken to mean that everybody is guilty and it just has not been proven yet.
If only Tasers and bean bags were all we had to fear. 'SWAT' stands for Special Weapons And Tactics. The Tasers and bean bags are for community plods - SWAT teams use military shotguns, assault rifles, grenades and occasionally an armored car, and they never knock before shooting the door off its hinges. Mostly all they ever do is serve warrants, so busting a potential nonce is an exciting upgrade in responsibility for them.
Mine's the full-body Kevlar suit - the black one.
lol @ tim
That was quite possibly the funniest comment I've ever read on the Reg.
It was clear you didn't even read my post. Perhaps you would like to quote me, exactly where I said it would be funny?
The point I made was that anyone who had this link could simply copy and paste it to whoever they wanted. I've no idea why pointing out something so obvious made you feel the need to burst out into personal insults? Were you abused by a hyperlink or something?
Lets not even get into the possibility of embedding a link into a page via an IFrame....
I got raided in the UK...
and what did I do wrong ??. Well I let my female friends son and daughter use my internet connection to post messages looking for penpals. Some guy then collected all the messages orginating from my computer ,made a complaint, posted a message on the internet saying he had "got rid of me" by making a complaint and sat back and waited. Next thing I know I have several officers at my front door early in the morning. Now let us not forget that this could happen to anyone who has more than one age group using a computer system. As for the police, complete arseholes, not for doing the search so much but for how they acted afterwards to try and cover their own lying arses.
Not from the story but the google ads below are hilarious.
My Poor Door
I have webspiders running all day collecting data for my own site. How long before they brake down my door? and yes I do scan black IPs for whois data. I wonder how many other sites with web spiders will now be flaged?
You US idiots should stop being to lazy and do some investigative work for a change.
Hollywood hates children
OK, maybe a little overstated, but there is a lot of truth in it.
Ever since Buffalo Bob and Howdy Doody gave kids the Hostess Cupcake Hard Sell by lingering over cream-filled centers and chocolatey goodness, children have been relentlessly singled out, isolated and manipulated by both the advertising and entertainment industries.
One part of the dynamic is to turn the poor kids into miniature acquisitive adults by constantly reinforcing the equation "possessions = happiness", truncating their childhoods.
Another part of the dynamic is to blatantly sexualize children, leading to enormities like the Jon Benet Ramsey case. I'm sure that this is responsible for a large part of the kiddie porn industry, and that it contributes to hazy thinking that children and adolescents are legitimate objects of sexual fantasy and worse. The industry take seems to be that if it helps move lipstick and designer label clothes, too bad.
This is the real problem. The use of entrapment has serious legal issues, but it's just a sideshow compared to the abolition of childhood. Deal with the cultural issue, stop manufacturing predators and the need, or perceived need for pre-emptive entrapment will become much less of a problem.
The travis case (the one with the open wifi) is suspect... and I hope there isn't handwaving done by the FBI to lock a possibly innocent man up for child porno charges, when it infact, could be one of his pervy neighbours who decided that it'd be smarter to dig for child porno on someone else's line.
The guy from Temple University looks absurdly guilty, with the attempt to destroy his harddrive and all that. (Think that clipping was from BBC)
Somehow I suspect the lot will be locked up using fallacious arguments for the wifi case. Whether or not it's true that all three of them were pedophiles is open to debate.
this is really silly....
Any hardened kiddy fiddler on the internet, you know the type that needs to be put down via assorted shotguns, knows all about vpn tunnels and annonymizers. infact, I really can't imagine that those people wouldn't use ip cloacking techniques especially after all the publicity that raids and arrests have generated. And of course, there is no shortage of material out there with instructions on how to do that. And what kind of serious fiddler, would click on a link like that? fiddlers are a careful bunch by nature and only frequent private forums and groups.
So it seems to me that the real hardened offenders and criminals won't be caught by this method, and are still loose out there, whilst mostly innocent people, perhaps by mistake or curiosity are behind bars. Maybe the FBI only cares about being perceived as victorious in its pedo busting activities, more than it cares about actually putting the guilty behind bars and protecting the children.
................. mine's the one with "fiddler on the roof" ........
Move over, YouTube
I sense a whole new era of RickRolling.
Less kiddie fiddlers the better!
"The links directed users to a secret, government-controlled server that had no illegal images on them. But that hasn't stopped FBI agents from staging armed raids on the homes of at least three individuals alleged to have clicked on the links, according to the story."
At least 3 raided? Well im sure they have been doing this for years, kinda makes sense, and the more kiddie fiddlers of the street the better! And im sure they would research the case before raiding!
don't know that it's entrapment, really
I think a lot of us are thinking "look, it's a *click* of a *mouse* for christ's sake. We're at risk of an armed search party?
In the US, posession of child porn is an offence full stop. It doesn't matter if you knew you had it or not. (The legal term of art is it's a "strict liability offence") I'm not surprised that following a link that purports to lead to kiddie porn is enough to justify the search warrant.
What is alarming as hell, though, is that there is now also a law making it an offense to follow an illegal hyperlink. I do hope that that is a) not accurate reporting or b) on its way to being overturned by the court. Yes, any of the spidering scenarios above would come under it, and so could the use of many pretty normal site hoovering utilities.
It isn't that surprising to me that wanting kiddie porn badly enough to visit the vatican library online, excuse me, follow the link to the photo of J Edgar Hoover in his nightie, again, I apologize I'm having a line noise problem here, visit the link the FBI set up which won't download any porn at all but will get you in their database is enough for at least some judges to sign a search warrant.
It's astonishing, if it's true, that following a link can be designated "illegal." How do you prove that the user knew what the link was?
If they get there, and you've been trying to track down keygens for your apps and spending time in the twilight between keygen sites and the smut sites they pimp themselves to to pay for their bandwidth, you may be in trouble.
Back up to "strict liability" - intention is not needed, nor is knowledge of the posession. Accidentally and unknowingly having kiddie porn around is an offence in the US.
How likely is the scenario? Not real likely - but the fact that one of the defendants here was busted for two thumbnail images (as well as allegedly destroying evidence, and the astonishing 'following an illegal hyperlink' crime.)
Well, boy, howdy.
Anyone think the MPAA might be interested in planting some kiddie porn in popular torrents, and then calling in the law? They wouldn't get a settlement, but the chilling effect of that on file trading would be extreme. And if the MPAA obtains evidence illegally, and then turns it over to the law, the evidence can be used.
Furhter, with a strict liability offence, it does not matter how the smut came into your posession. It's illegal, you are done. The MPAA could have come in while you were out, copied it to the harddrive - and you'd be liable for it.
Sounds like a new form of SWATting to me - just give someone a tinyurl that redirects to one of the URLs, or wait until they leave their computer unattended and type the URL in, then watch them get arrested.
All I have to do is send you email in html form (which Outlook express will render) with the lines:
"here's an amusing joke:
<a href=http:/kp.fbi.gov/dirty_4yo_sks_ckc> http:/youtube.com/frou8jiofw34</a>"
And you're done for clicking on KP when you thought it was a youtube link.
Trust the FBI?
This is the organisation whose "intelligence gathering" was so good they failed to act when it was reported to them that Arabs were learning to fly passenger jets but NOT learning how to take-off or land them.
The same FBI that gave America NO warning at all of 9/11 or Oklahoma or.....
And British police and intelligence? Are they better? Yeah. Right. Look at the witch-hunt cock-up that was Operation Ore. Look at the way the plods shot the Arab terrorist Charles de Menezes. And look at how our brilliant boys in MI5 and JIC told Tony Blair that Saddam definitely had WMD ready to go in 45 min.
Why the fuck do politicians, judges and juries swallow the at-best speculative and at-worst falsified "evidence" the spooks and the filth present to them? If they do it in matters of national security and life-or-death, what hope can we have that they'll excercise due scepticism in matters of IT forensics?
Mention kiddies and people turn off their reason. Don't get me wrong - I am a father and I would happily see proven paedophiles banged up til the sun goes out. But the case must be PROVEN beyond reasonable doubt - and being tricked by the feds or having some fuckstain IT git on the plod's payroll planting "evidence" on a hard drive is NOT proof.
Proper criminal investigation, yes. Witch-hunts, hysteria, and fabrication of evidence, no.
@Move over, YouTube
Maybe FbiRolling, or Kiddy-Pr0n-Rolled.
Leading to expressions such as "Megalolz, you just got FbiRolled" etc.
Also, how messed up are these FBI guys (and American legal system generally)? Shouldn't they be going after the people who actually abuse the children and *produce* the KP. Once the KP is out there on a public server, it hardly should be illegal to click on a link accidentally that takes you there. Add to that the fact that there _was_ no offensive content on the FBI servers anyway, and it just makes this particular US governmental department look like a complete luser-farce.
The politicians et al? Because they get away with any level of incompetence and therefore would rather condemn a million people to make sure they get the one, then risk not getting that one straight away. Lazy lying little shits.
Why has TB never been called before a hearing concerning WMDs / Iraq? There doesn't need to be a lynching, or sentence. Just a hearing. Lets show he is innocent or guilty, and not just say "Well you led us to war against a country, and stirred up a huge pile of potential trouble. It may have been wrong. Who cares".
Ah, you get it, right, Ok, I guess I'm just bitterly agreeing with you.
Anywho, back on topic. Does anyone remember that show by Dr Bob Winston. Make sure you don't have it on video. Damn the Human Body (the show, and actual body) for all it's sick evilness.
What if the pic was of his own kids..... (Ok that would have been mentioned if it was, I'm sure, but the question stands)? What would have happened then.
Oh well, off to open the door in hope the police don't break the hinges on the way in.
Nuked Houses of Parliament icon: Because it's what... Ah crap, no icon for it.