back to article Old timer cleared of extreme porn charges

Fresh confusion arose last week as to when an individual may be found guilty of possessing extreme porn, with the acquittal of a pensioner on the grounds that no one could be sure when he actually downloaded the images in question. While this may be heartening news for those with poor memories and ageing hard drives, The …

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Happy

So...

..ignorance IS a defence then.

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Anonymous Coward

Depends on what you're ignorant of.

Ignorance of the law is no defence. Ignorance of the facts is another matter. In this case, Silk was ignorant of various facts about computers, and it was his ignorance of these facts that meant he wasn't in possession of the images.

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FAIL

hrm

So Just buy all your HDD's 2nd hand of ebay then?

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FAIL

hmn

How is visiting a dodgy site and watching a video online any different from downloading it and then viewing it once it has arrived locally?

If its a case of 'accidental' vs deliberate then why not make it the number of times you have viewed the same media or similar much like 1 lump of weed gets you a caution and 1 kg of weed gets you a custodial sentence for dealing. Or just go off the search terms and routes the media was discovered through.

Wonder if his pc is second hand and these images were from a previous owner, though you can never trust a comedian they are p<0.05 tortured souls. Torture (T) is directly proportional to success ($).

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Silver badge

I think what they're saying is...

He may have downloaded it before doing so was a crime, and because he didn't *intentionally* keep it, he wasn't for practical purposes in possession either. That doesn't seem like such an unreasonable interpretation, as such things go. Though I have to wonder if (and hope) there is some element of the government backpedaling from an obviously foolish law.

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Big Brother

'Viewing' is a serious offence...

I remember reading some time ago about police 'concerns' over paedomonsters ability to simply view images on screen without downloading them, or to merely watch streaming video - again without actually downloading any of it. For this reason simply 'viewing' such material was made an offence (no actual possession required). How that works in court, when tested by law, seems to be a central part of this news story.

But the police have been very busy in tying up these irksome little caveats, with the help of a more than willing government and judiciary, of course. Because simply 'viewing' often results in the creation of a saved image in the browser's cache, the defendant can then also be charged with the highly misleading offence of 'making' an indecent image - whether the accused knew the irretrievable images were on their PC or not. For the coppers, it's a perfect offence: there is no defence.

Who would have imagined just ten years ago that so many tiny, barely visible images, secreted away on thousands of HDDs unbeknown to their owners could wreak so much havoc and ruin quite so many lives, creating a whole new criminal class of middle-aged men with no prior criminal record, their numbers steadily swelling the already precarious prison numbers as Plod dutifully goes about it's business busting down doors and seizing digital storage devices as a matter of routine, confident in the law of averages and it's unfailing ability to deliver the goods on even the most unlikely individuals?

Policing, at it's finest.

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Anonymous Coward

This is what happens

When you let the Daily Fail and similar panic merchants influence government.

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Bronze badge
FAIL

@ 'Viewing' is a serious offence...

You are spouting BS.

"...a whole new criminal class of middle-aged men with no prior criminal record, their numbers steadily swelling the already precarious prison numbers..."

How many are in this "whole new class" of yours, "swelling" the prisons? The fact that a case like this makes such splash suggest that they are really not very common. And I've not seen any police busting down doors at random looking for this stuff - from TFA it seems that the police happened on it in the course of pursuing an unrelated investigation of forgery (with good reason). Goes to show that you should never do more than one wrong thing at the same time.

You sound just as hysterical as some of the guys here say the Daily Mail is, but with a different angle.

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Big Brother

a

So if you are computer literate they bust you but if you are a pleb they let you go about your business ...

Am I the only one thinking that this is a great way of getting rid of those pesky intellectuals without alerting the general populous?

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Megaphone

@AC 10:18

Pedant Alert...

"the general populous"

I think you mean "the general populace".

Historical Note: Bullfrog named their 1980s computer game Populous. I always had a suspicion at the time that they really meant "Populace".

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Anonymous Coward

@Mike Bell

"Historical Note: Bullfrog named their 1980s computer game Populous. I always had a suspicion at the time that they really meant "Populace"."

According to Merriam-Webster:

Main Entry: pop·u·lous

Pronunciation: \ˈpä-pyə-ləs\

Function: adjective

Etymology: Middle English, from Latin populosus, from populus people

Date: 15th century

1 a : densely populated b : having a large population

2 a : numerous b : filled to capacity

I am of the opinion Bullfrog knew precisely what they were doing.

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Reg Readers Stuffed....

Since reading the Reg implies at least a limited degree of technical knowledge, we're all buggered.

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private modes

I can see FF and IEs private browsing modes taking a leap in usage after this. One wonders how long that stuff had been in the guys cache.

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Scrolling

My defence is ...

You see that image at the right hand side of this very page "Ultra Fast Broadband" well I only "viewed" that when I SCROLLED DOWN but of course it is still in cache.

Had I not scrolled down I would have no knowledge even of its existence, which is important if it had been, for example, a woman having sex with a tiger.

Therefore I say that the presence of an image in cache does not prove that I even viewed said image, and the prosecution needs to prove that I did, personally, and not another person using this same computer too.

Next.

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Unhappy

@ ShaggyDoggy...

You're right of course - and it's a point that by now has been made 1000 times, both inside courts and outside. The population seems to be divided into two main groups. The first group understand perfectly that caches can contain data unseen by the user. The second group either cannot grasp (or refuse to grasp) this - or indeed most elementary facts about computers and the internet.

The great problem is that the second group seems to contain roughly 99.999% recurring of the entire legal, judicial and police professions. The 'expert' evidence they call upon is sometimes quite ludicrous - but it seems to go largely unchallenged.

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FAIL

So, the guy is still a pervert

At no point in the story does it say that he did not download and view those images, just that it may have been done before it was illegal.

I think he might have to move house very soon.

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Anonymous Coward

Why?

It's not child porn, or that is clearly what he would have been charged with.

Even if he viewed the pictures, it still doesn't involve children so why would he have to move?

Unless of course the knee-jerk, non thinking, sheeple reactionaries have been convinced by those that keep equating extreme porn with child porn (which makes my blood boil - all offences are not equal. If someone interfered with my child and then tried to claim it was no worse than viewing a picture of a donkey I'd have something to say about it).

It really saddens me that suggestion and hearsay are sufficient "evidence" for some people.

The fact that the evidence does not corroborate the allegation that he broke the law means he is not guilty, not that he "got off with it".

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This post has been deleted by its author

Anonymous Coward

Re: Why?

Because many of us have pets. What happens when Tiddles wanders next door for a bit of a nose around? It doesn't bear thinking about.

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Anonymous Coward

Good point

I believe a lot of people have photographs of animals on calendars in their homes. This is how it starts, and this soft animal porn nearly always leads to actual animal abuse. We should employ literature inspectors to check everyone's house daily. It would solve the unemployment too.

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Well done everyone who slated my post

Firstly, I did not say he had done anything wrong. Owning and viewing a picture of something happening does not mean that you did, have done, or will do whatever is depicted any more than watching a car chase on a Cops Worst Moments IV show makes you a car thief. I'm with everyone else who thinks that laws regarding possession of images which are obviously objectionable in western society should not be illegal, no matter how I feel about the subject matter contained in that image. Excluding evidence of participation, obviously.

Secondly, to anyone who took a snipe at me: Ad Hominem. Your ideas are rejected.

Thirdly, you, I, and the rest of the liberal and sane world are not the other 90% of the Daily Mail-reading proletariat. This man *will* have to move house, because anyone who lives around him who owns a pet will smear their excrement on his front door and throw things at him from across the street. Bars will not serve him, shops will ask him to leave without explanation, and all in all he'll have a miserable life because of the closed-mindedness of the "Think of the Children!" crowd.

I hope that's cleared that up for everyone :)

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Anonymous Coward

sorry mr Ash

You are no longer a cock.

I withdraw my previous insult lol.

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Anonymous Coward

More likely

No one will give a fig or maybe give him a wide berth as a weirdo. He won't have to move.

It does raise the issue of why his non conviction has been publicised and in whose best interests that is. They could have made the same arguments anonymously without naming hime and making him the centre of a public finger pointing exercise.

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Alert

Knee-jerk

We should definitely ban pictures of knee-jerking. And written descriptions of it. (Whoops, that bans Hansard.)

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Happy

@John Sturdy

"We should definitely ban pictures of knee-jerking. And written descriptions of it. (Whoops, that bans Hansard.)"

Indeed. It starts by knee jerking. But this can clearly lead to something else, and I think it's pretty clear* that that might lead to something else.

I can't be much clearer that that.

*Clear that is if you're a labor back bencher and part time Lenin impersonator that is.

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Silver badge
WTF?

@ Why

The Original Ash made no reference to child porn or children whatsoever. Unless you consider the words pervert and paedophile synonymous. Surely there are other kinds of perverts.

Won't someone think of the puppies?

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Anonymous Coward

@Pablo

"Unless you consider the words pervert and paedophile synonymous". That was the exact point I was making Pablo.

But who gets to say what a pervert is? My definition might not be the same as yours, or his. Who's definition is most valid in a conflict? Yours? Mine? The state's? The mob? Why is someone pejoratively called a pervert anyway when their desires differ from yours?

Perhaps people need to mind their own business and leave other people alone to live their lives as they choose unless they actually break the law.

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FAIL

The future

One day they will invent the orgasmatron or something similar to the unit in Woody Allen's "Sleeper" and all this will be unnecessary.

I do however think that they are trying to legislate against peoples curiosity. Just being curious does not mean that you want to do it. Witness the rubberneckers on motorways when there is an accident. It does not mean they want to have an accident too. I have books that document and illustrate the holocaust. That does not mean that I'm planning to build a camp and crematoria in my backyard. There is a difference in having knowledge, and wanting to act on that it. Recently we have seen people imprisoned for allegedly planning terrorists acts, and one of the charges is having possession of the Anarchists cook book or similar. Whilst you can still buy these books from Amazon.co.uk

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Anarchist-Cookbook-Peter-M-Bergman/dp/0974458902/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1277204541&sr=8-1

These laws are badly designed by Labour puritans and ideologues, bent on socially engineering their socialist utopia complete with non questioning drones.

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Headmaster

rubber neckers

I take your point, but rubber necking is a myth. If you are driving on the motor way and see lots of smoke and blue flashing lights ahead. What would you do? Would you carry on driving at full speed or slow down? As you approach the incident you realize that is on the other carriage way. So you speed up and go about your business. Unfortunately all the other awake divers behind you see your brake lights and the incident. So not wanting to crash, they slow down. This chain repeats, times all the cars for 5 miles. This is the cause of 'Rubber-necking', not people being curious.

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Partially true

The knock-on effect of one person slowing down is, of course, well known and proven.

But you will see people slowing down when they obviously don't need to so they can gawp and hopefully see another human being in pain. Or some blood.

There's an awful lot of scumbags in this world.

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Thumb Down

Rubber Necking is not a myth

Agreed, you slow down to a safe speed appropriate to the road conditions.

As anyone who does regular motorway driving will know, as you go past the incident cars are doing ~ 5 mph - and those that are actually watching the road and vehicles in front can see other drivers clearly looking across to have a good gawp!

This is not slowing down for safety then moving on once it is clear you can do so - it is rubber necking, and the bane of those who just want to get on with their journeys.

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Anonymous Coward

No

It is that well known phenomenon on motorways described above where the first driver brakes a bit, the next brakes a bit harder and so on down the line until the line is almost staionary.

What would you prefer? People to drive towards all the warnings and blue lights without slowing down until they can see what it is? I bet you'd be the first to to complain if someone didn't slow down and drove into a lorry overhanging the central reservation causing carnage on the other side as well.

The idea of the blue lights is to make people think "ooh, something has happened and i need to be careful including slowing down until I can see what it is". It's a bit much to then accuse them of rubbernecking when that is what they have done.

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Headmaster

2 cars cannot occuply the same space, without a collision.

How can you accelerate when the cars in front of you are going slowly? And if you are forced to do 5mph, who wouldn't look across the carriage way to see why they were delayed? You arrive at your destination and are asked why were you late. You reply 'I don't know I didn't look, but there were lots of flashing lights'.

So in the future when i see an accident I'll speed up and plow blindly through the cars in front, safe with the knowledge that I didn't rubber neck. The Authorities would throw the book at me, and rightly so.

Rubber-necking is a myth.

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No!

what about when there is no accident and just a car broken down at the side of the road, everyone clearly safely out the car on the reservation. People still slow down from 70 to about 50! to have a good look (I have seen this in light traffic). I am not saying large tail backs are not made worse by the explained breaking affect however, the breaking is often made worse by people slowing to have a good look. (I saw some one the idea day bump into the back of someone on the motorway going 5 miles an hour because they where to busy having a good look trying to see if there was a body on the road)

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Silver badge
Stop

Rubbernecking exists...

... and is very common. If I am alone in the car and I see blue lights, I make damned sure that I am no longer in the outside lane, and watch my mirrors and the cars in front like a hawk so that I'm prepared for the drift/late braking/cameraphone operation (oh, yes!). I could not tell you anything abou the incident requiring the blue lights - how many or what type of emergency vehicles, type of incident, vehicles involved - because my attention is firmly on what is happening around me. If I have a passenger, my comment is always the same "You look if you want to, I'll drive"!

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WTF?

How?

Does a court define what "Computer Literate" is. My mother is computer literate but would have absolutely no idea how to retrieve deleted files. Is this the same as the press calling someone a "Computer Expert"? I'd be interested in the definition of computer literate in a Crown Court, especially when liberty is at stake (or being forever tarred as a sex offender).

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Bronze badge

What does computer litterate mean.....

Its a bit like the law, it's just so vast, no individual can possibly retain the knowledge of how any individual component behaves. I know all about UNIX, RDBMS Systems and ERP, but I have little idea how IE or Firefox work, nor any interest in doing so, if I want too, I know who to ask, but so far as I'm concerned they do what I require. Does the law require that all lawyers and judges know all law, no or course not, so why should the fact you use a computer or even write programs mean you should know how it all works.

BTW I remember from my younger days that the Squadies and Rugby players used to have a little ditty about Bestiality being best, boys, so perhaps that's a good place to start looking for extreme porn, hmm don't a lot of coppers play Rugby.

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Anonymous Coward

'computer literacy'

"Simply deleting an image will not save you if you are computer literate enough to retrieve it. Contrariwise, it appears that if you are a total computer illiterate, that might be enough to get you out of a fix."

Are you computer illiterate until proven literate or the other way around? How would one go about proving someone's level of computer literacy? How would someone prove that they DON'T know how to do something? And of course the all important question: Why was this ridiculous and nonsensical law introduced in the first place?

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FAIL

So does this mean...

that stupid people get free reign and license to browse at leisure and anyone who tries to scam them because of their ignorance is breaking the law? If so, I say bring on the lobotomy!

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Anonymous Coward

Isn't there some kind of constitution or human rights act

that would make it illegal for the government to pass laws that criminalise activities that do not affect other people?

There is no way that possessing or viewing any kind of image should be a criminal offence.

Politicians might be scared of seeming to support perverts, but I'd be interested to see the result of some kind of survey to find out how many MPs and how many people really support these stupid laws.

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Troll

But on what grounds...

did the police seize his computer in the first place?

He's old and he hadn't washed his mac in some time?

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Anonymous Coward

Quite possibly?

He's offended someone with enough petty power (and police connections) to make his life a misery?

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Re: Isn't there some kind of constitution or human rights act

".... that would make it illegal for the government to pass laws that criminalise activities that do not affect other people"

Try shagging a bike in a locked room.

So, no, there isn't.

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Pirate

Yyyyeah, but what about....

... this classic example :

One of your brilliantly tasteful friends sends you a link, or you click on something somewhere on the net (for the sake of argument) and you end up in some disgusting pedo or bestiality site. You immediately click off, but your rig already cached the filth.

What happens then?

I suppose due process is meant to clear you of charges and the like in such a case, but i still find all this damned orwellian bullshit unnerving at times.

Searching phones, ipods and laptops at borders, getting histories from ISPs -- it's enough to make an honest guy freak.

And before anyone chimes in with that tired "if you've got nothing to hide..." chestnut, i'll remind you that MOST people get nervous around the cops regardless of their spotless record. It's just human.

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Big Brother

Yyyyeah, but what about...

Clearly you have to report your friend to the authorities, and hope they take it easy on you for being a good citizen.

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FAIL

Hmmmmm

WHat about all the old grannies who want to convert the pictures of their now adult as when they were babies back in the 1960's peeing in the back in their garden?

Pictures of nude children peeing in the garden back then used to be THE IN THING.

So I guess these grandmothers would now be sent to jail for having pedophile pictures.

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Its scary how long files can remain on a hard drive.

I recently attempted to recover someone's family photo from a formatted hard drive. I also found a couple dozen photo's from the previous owners.

Nothing is really "deleted" until a new files is written to the exact same location on the hard drive. Some files get overwritten in seconds others manage to miraculously survive years of formatting and OS re installations.

Also sometimes you recover the file, but lose its file name, original location, date created.

My advice is that whenever a used hard drive comes into your possession you use a free utility to wipe its free space.

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Happy

buy all the used hard-drives you can

If you want semi-free porn, just buy used hard-drives and use a recovery program...

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