back to article German Pirate Party MP charged in child porn case

A German MP who recently quit the Social Democrats for the Pirate Party has been charged with possession and distribution of child pornography. Prosecutors in Karlsruhe said Joerg Tauss is suspected of acquiring child porn in over 100 cases between May 2007 and January of this year, and saving it to his cell phone. They also …

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Pint

CP witch-hunt?

So when are they going after Google et al...

You can do a search in Google Images for specific words and get images of CP as well.

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Stop

Mixed Signals

It seems like the message here is that it's OK to possess child porn, as long as you're voting the right way.

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Gates Horns

one word

Tausser!

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Bronze badge

Sounds right

Countless people who have investigated how to fight child porn have later been charged with having investigated child porn. I can't say for certain in this case but it seems very much like why these days, if I click on a spam link that redirects to dodgy porn I will secure erase my webcache where 15 years ago I'd have told the police.

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CP images on phone.

I'll bite. How exactly does keeping child porn on your phone help fight child porn? If I wanted to fight child porn, I'd immediately report any child porn URL I found to the FBI, cybertipline.com or some other legal agency. Then delete the damn image. What's the point in keeping it?

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Who's allowed to access it?

Something doesn't seem right (perhaps it's just me). This politician claimed that he was justified in accessing child porn because he was a law MAKER? I don't know how it is in Germany, but logic tells me that that should not be a valid defense. If he had been a law ENFORCER, or working WITH law enforcement, then that would be different. I won't judge him since I don't know the facts of the case, but being a law maker should not be a valid defense for committing a crime. Lawmakers make the laws. Law enforcement investigates and enforces the laws.

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fundamentals.

CHARGED, not convicted yet. Which means that in most western democracies he is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Not "guilty until smeared by the press", which is what the Register and others seem to be trying to do while completely ignoring one of the fundamentals of the western legal system.

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Pirate

Stooopid...

...because he's an idiot, seriously, how does keeping it on your phone make sense in fighting CP!? Is he believing himself!?

And by associating himself with the Pirate Party, he makes it even easier to associate everybody trying to counteract intrusive internet censorship with criminals. And the German Pirate Party accepted him *facepalm*

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Very strange indeed

So we have exactly one lawmaker from the two large parties who publicly admits to having understood the technology and philosophy of internet censorship - and that man collects smut on his phone, giving a reason that would be hilariously naive if we were talking about a traffic citation - but we are talking about a potentially ruined life. His potentially ruined life.

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Pirate

Yawn

You know what, despite the completely lackluster campaign, this close to the election I tend not to give a flying fuck about "scandals" like this. It's not exactly news anyway. As you wrote, the case came up long ago. At this point, it rings my nasty-tactics-bell.

I also wholeheartedly support the concept of innocent until proven guilty. Someone involved with CP-related legislation should, in my view, be exposed to CP, to know what it is actually about. And these people are actually very busy and mobile - one sort of expects them to store stuff on a mobile device.

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Flame

The law why he left the SPD was NOT against CP

Actually, the law over which Tauss left the SPD was about creating a secret list of web adresses which all german providers should no longer relay data from (but rather redirect users to a "stop-sign").

The law does not state a controlling insturment, nor a review of the blocked sites. Also, it is not limited to CP and -guess what- copyright holders have already shown interest.

Furthermore, the german pirate partys program can hardly be boiled down to "free rein for computer users to swap copyrighted content", so please check your facts.

Flames, since this is about politics AND CP.

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Pirate

It seems that the neo-nazis are passe

It used to be that any new political party with the Wrong Ideas would be linked, somehow, to Neo-Nazi organisations. I suppose the bogeyman du jour is now the child molester. I see it as a sign that the other parties are mildly worried.

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Bronze badge

FFS

"Tauss admits to possessing the images, but insists he was merely conducting legitimate research..."

If he had evidence relating to a child porn ring why had he not handed it over to the authorities? Why, indeed, had he not even made the authorities aware of what he was doing?

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Thumb Down

Innocent until proven guilty?

The politicisation of public prosecutors in Germany is a very scary thing for democracy. Where the feel the desire - out of personal or political grounds - the selectively put evidence into the public arena and destroy reputations before a case even goes to court.

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Flame

@ the first A/C

Your is the usual retarded, ill though out answer I'd expect.

There is a hell of a difference between an automated, web crawling, bank of servers getting links to questionable sites than someone going click, view, save to...

Last i know know severs don't get sexually aroused by pictures of kids....

And why are you typing in these keywords to Google?

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Joke

erm...

"Pirate Party, which demands free rein for computer users to swap copyrighted content"

there's a (little) bit more to it than that. Is like saying EFF is a bunch of lawyers who defend bloggers, or El Reg is a place for serious IT news ;)

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Silver badge
Big Brother

@Grease Monkey et al.

He's an MP or what ever the German equivalent is. That makes *him* the 'authorities'

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to could be research

"Tauss admits to possessing the images, but insists he was merely conducting legitimate research..."

if he was recharching how the german verson if the IWF or even how our IWF works and weather the sites they block are cp sites in his capicty as a law maker intrested in that law (and as a member of the pirate party he would be) then it is posible he went to thouse sites on mutipule devices including his phone to investergate there contance or how easy it is to cercomvent the tech they are going/are using

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Big Brother

@ Bounty

"If I wanted to fight child porn, I'd immediately report any child porn URL I found to the FBI, cybertipline.com or some other legal agency. Then delete the damn image. What's the point in keeping it?"

Good luck with that, after "they" come knocking to see what other CP images you might have stumbled accross

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Grenade

who knew what when?

> had he not even made the authorities aware of what he was doing?

you're quite sure he didn't?

It wouldn't be the first time something like this happened.

The recipie, if your grandma never told you, is:

1 take a politician 'P' campaigning for online rights

2 suggest to a anti-CP campaigner 'A' that P would help A's cause, given understanding of the seriousness of the issue

3 A send P some CP

4 inform jobsworth cops that P as CP

5 jobsworth cops investigate P

6 P is toast

Serves 1 media organisation which benefits from the commoditisation of cultural artefacts.

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Thumb Down

@ Mycho

I've posted this before elsewhere, possibly here, but here it is again.

A local in my pub received an email with some generic innocuous heading from an address he didn't know, and being the non-net savvy type he opened it, only to be presented with an indecent image of a child. He calls the police.

Copper turns up at the door, is invited in , and sees the image on the screen. He looks at the guy who called him and says "I'm going outside for a cigarette. When I come back, you will have deleted that email and have forgotten all about it. If you don't, I have to arrest you for viewing an indecent image of a minor."

The law in the UK as it currently stands makes it illegal to *see* images of child abuse. You can't report it, unless you're currently in a capacity where you're immune from prosecution (checking infraction logs from filtering software, if it is part of your workplace duties, for instance). Working in a school, it puts me in a *very* dangerous position, one which sometimes makes me think of resigning.

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@Monstor Astrakan

TPB *are* linked to Neo Nazism (their money comes from Karl Lundstrom), they used to list torrents and run trackers for child porn and they to a very long time indeed to drop them. Why would anyone think that the PirateParty wouldn't be the same?

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I don't know

I'm alos in two minds about this. His excuse sounds almost too stupid. On the other hand, I think even as a lawMAKER he has the right to investigate. Because if he sees for himself how CP works (or other things), he can make better, more efficient laws. Not like the others, who have no clue at all.

And, as said before, he is innocent until proven guilty and the Pirate Party accepted him on that grounds.

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Anonymous Coward

He's a witch!

I find it depressing that we seem to forget all about the normal rules of prosecution whenever a person is suspected of breaking this particluar law. Normally, there has to be evidence, then a charge, then on conviction the making public of the offender's name.

Not so in these cases, or indeed accusations of rape where a man's life can be similarly trashed without reason, merely on the word or whim of another person. The accused is named when accused and then if subsequently completely exonerated of any wrongdoing, all anyone remembers is the accusation and that "he must have been up to something". Worse still, potential jurors are likewise influenced by the feeling that "there is no smoke without fire" by press coverage before the trial.

Once convicted, it is a different matter, but when accused, it is wrong to be smeared in the media before any trial happens.

As I said - depressingly reminiscent of the witch hunts of yesteryear. Perhaps each age has it's version of the witch or bogeyman for whom fair trial is not necessarily required, just the accusation.

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Grenade

standard defence

From past cases of dirtbags caught out with kiddie porn it looks like "research purposes" is the go-to excuse. Not buying a word of it.

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If I had a Pfennig

for every time someone claims to be conducting 'legitimate research'. In what capacity? Oh yes . . . . .

"Tauss admits to possessing the images, but insists he was merely conducting legitimate research aimed at breaking up a child pornography ring in his capacity as a lawmaker."

Clearly this 'research' wasn't officially sanctioned, or through any of the recognised bodies who actually have some expertise in investigating this stuff, but just as a freelance interest.

Now this 'lawmaker' might, one presumes, have sufficient awareness of the sensitivities of the issues to go through the proper channels if this was a legitimate investigation. The fact that he didn't is significant.

But perhaps more pertinent is what he thought he could bring to the table. What expertise in breaking up these rings does he have? Network forensics? Image analysis? If we add to this his interest in anti-censorship then I don't know about anyone else, but it smells fishier than a month old haddock to me.

Research? Possible but somewhat implausible. He's either criminally stupid in not getting official sanction for his activities, or more plausibly simply a criminal.

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Coat

@Fraser

TPB were accused of listing CP by TPTB.

TPTB then asked TPB to check all torrents for CP and let them know about it.

TPB declined, as the only way to check would be to downland the alleged CP, leaving them wide open to criminal prosecutions from TPTB, if the torrent turned out to be CP.

It also left the door open to the RIAA ,MPAA, BPI etc. to ask TPB to do the same thing for torrents they didn't like.

IGMC.

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@AC 1300

That's not good enough, every other publisher/ISP on the internet (who isn't in the business of serving child porn) manages to not publish child porn, what makes TPB different?

Also, see this, the first hit on google:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/09/03/another_pirate_bay_police_case/

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Flame

You're kidding, right?

Research has to be sanctioned? Since when? Who is high enough, powerful enough to sanction such research? Where....come on, out with it?

It's easy to know why he would have to keep the CP. It's a well known fact that many CP images are old and have been floating around for a long time and that new ones appear from time to time. Many of the old ones are "well known" and the victims are long past that age; whilst the newer ones are not and investigations can help to free them from their circumstances. if you don't know; learn.

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Bronze badge
WTF?

@John G Imrie

"He's an MP or what ever the German equivalent is. That makes *him* the 'authorities'"

No it doesn't.

An MP is a lawmaker in so far as it is an MP's job to debate statutes, not to police or enforce them.

The police police the laws.

The courts enforce them.

Unless of course there's something in the JD of a German MP that says they have to wear their trolleys outside their kecks and fly around fighting crime at night.

I don't know about Germany but in the UK you'd be in trouble if you downloaded that stuff without a warrant even if you were a police orifice. For a politician it's political suicide to do so without express legal permission in triplicate.

Either the man's an idiot for doing it or he's an idiot for expecting people to believe his excuse. If it's the latter case the it has to be said it's sort of understandable, politicians spend so much time believing each other's bullshit that they start to believe their own. You only have to look at the spectacular crap spouted in support of bogus expenses claims. Why did they all get away with no more than a slapped wrist? They all had to let the others' excuses slide because they're all frightened of getting caught out or at least their close colleagues getting caught out. There's o point baying for the blood of an opposing member if there's a chance some of your own will get the treatment next week. In this case however I doubt there are many of his colleagues in any of the parties stupid enough to have done what he has so we can expect him to be rapidly disowned by all sides. Of course nobody will actually brand him a paedo in case he is found not guilty or it never comes to court, but nobody will stand up and support him for fear of getting tarred by the same brush (quickly followed by feathers, presumably). It's happened often enough with other public figures.

And if it all blows over? Politicians on all sides will rally round saying they supported him all along. Set of multi-faced shit hounds that they are.

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No, I'm not kidding

"Research has to be sanctioned? Since when? Who is high enough, powerful enough to sanction such research? Where....come on, out with it?"

So you don't think that research which involves doing something that is technically illegal has to be channelled through the appropriate authorities?

Tell you what, why don't you conduct independent research that involves keeping a large quantity of heroin? Perfectly legitimate, according to you, and something you wouldn't need to have permission to do?

I have worked on child protection technologies and I have had some contact with those who know and who are actively involved in investigating these crimes. It is most definitely NOT acceptable for some individual to claim to be conducting independent research. I'm well aware of the statistical studies and analysis of these images - maintaining a database of existing images so that potential new cases of abuse can be investigated (amongst other things). However, this research is done by professionals with the appropriate skills and authorisation to access and investigate illegal material - and not by some amateur.

I think it's you who has to 'learn', my friend.

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Anonymous Coward

No I'm not kidding

What is worrying following that argument is that once something is declared illegal, it cannot be questioned, as the mere act of questioning it is assumed to put you in breach of said illegallity.

Only the state can authorise "appropriate authorities" or "professionals" who can investigate, and those people who by virtue of their living being provided by being employed by the state, can hardly be called unbiased. Truly independent people cannot question the state's motives without being labelled as a witch. Sorry, child molestor or terrorist or whatever the current flavour of "criminal that is so dangerous we don't need to actually prove they are a criminal" may be.

The guy in question may be guilty as charged, and I wouldn't defend him if he is. There seems to be evidence of a crime and stated mitigating circumstances in defence, but there has been no trial to test the validity of either and as yet no conviction. I do wish as a society we would stop condemning people BEFORE they are convicted after due process in law, or on the basis that they MIGHT commit a crime in the future.

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but he isn't 'innocent'.

"What is worrying following that argument is that once something is declared illegal, it cannot be questioned, as the mere act of questioning it is assumed to put you in breach of said illegallity."

Well I'm not 100% sure of German law, but let's suppose it's pretty much the same as in the UK on this issue. Possession of these images is illegal, unless one has authorisation (i.e. any professionals who are duly authorised to possess these images for the purposes of their profession). No ifs or buts.

Possession of these images, which is not disputed by this MP, is not the same thing as questioning. Question the law by all means - but you don't question the law by breaking it (leaving aside thorny issues of repressive regimes and freedom of speech and other things like that).

I totally agree with the principle of innocent until proven guilty. However, in this instance the man has admitted his guilt. He is in breach of the law by possessing these images - and is claiming an exception because he was doing 'research'. I stress again, possession of these images can in no way be construed as 'questioning' the law.

Even his claim of 'research' is somewhat dubious. If he was interested in researching legal issues surrounding these pictures - then one has to ask why he didn't approach the appropriate people, with the relevant expertise and authority, so that a more comprehensive research exercise could be performed. Or maybe he had another motive?

The balance of probability, on the facts before me, leads me to suppose his research was in the area of the effectiveness of wrist strengthening exercises.

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Thumb Up

I don't think our views are that far apart

I take your points. I wasn't suggesting he was not guilty or otherwise really, in fact I was trying to leave that to the courts to decide. It is the idea that we need the state to have certified us to be trustworthy (and charged us for the certificate!) before we can trusted that I object to.

Playing devil's advocate for a moment, if any law was unfair and someone needed to view a document that the law prohibited in order to make a case for that law to change, if that person was law abiding, they could never change the law.

I agree, the whole thing is very dubious, but it is easy to rush to judgement before all of the facts, even his "admission", have been heard in court.

Have a good weekend! :-)

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@I don't think our views are that far apart

No, probably not - I think there are dangers with certain 'laws' - witness the complete clusterfuck surrounding the anti-terrorist legislation (amongst other things) and the imaginative interpretations of it that seem to have been applied by plod to restrict everyday, normal activities. As you say . . .

"It is the idea that we need the state to have certified us to be trustworthy (and charged us for the certificate!) before we can trusted that I object to."

However, I really don't think the possession of child pornography really falls into this category. These are images of actual, real child abuse - with real victims and if you've ever met a victim of child abuse you'll know the deep and lasting harrowing pain that it invariably causes.

Clamping down on these images isn't some attack on civil liberties, or restriction of freedom, but a real, determined and genuine effort to prevent the appalling suffering that is the consequence of child abuse. We could argue about whether 'using' such images constitutes abuse, or a crime, but in my book anything that helps to discourage the perpetrators has to be good.

Some things have to be the subject of legislation and safeguards - working with hazardous chemicals, research into radioactive materials etc etc. Who else but the government should make the decision on who can be trusted?

But as with all things there is a balance to be struck - with things like the anti-terrorism legislation and the enhanced CRB vetting checks we may have tipped that balance a bit too far in the wrong direction.

Have a good weekend too.

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