2 posts • joined 6 Dec 2008
Evaluating the image in question seems to be a highly subjective issue. Does it eroticise a naked child or not? IWF obviously thinks it does. The law, as per R. v Oliver, Court of Appeal 2002, gives the following guidlines defining levels of indecent child images:
"Sentencing those having indecent pictures of children
For the purposes of sentencing those convicted of offences involving indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs of children, the two primary factors determinative of the seriousness of a particular offence were the nature of the indecent material and the extent of the offender's involvement in it.
As to the material, pornographic images were to be categorised by the following levels of seriousness:
(i) images depicting erotic posing with no sexual activity;
(ii) sexual activity between children, or solo masturbation by a child;
(iii) non-penetrative sexual activity between adults and children;
(iv) penetrative sexual activity between children and adults, and
(v) sadism or bestiality.
As to the nature of the offender's activity, the seriousness of an individual offence increased with the offender's proximity to, and responsibility for the original abuse."
Why removing original material is bad
I have no sympathy whatsoever for the the police suffering problems when storing seized equipment after having discovered examinations are carried out in situ in other countries - eg.Western Australia's SIMPLE (Simple Image Preview Live Environment) see
http://news.zdnet.com/2100-3513_22-190993.html . Presumably in the UK the alleged criminals are on bail until the examinations are complete so are at liberty to commit further crimes. Furthermore I would have thought removing a disk without leaving the owner a forensically uncontroversial record of its contents - eg. MD5 hash of the drive image plus hashes of every single file - would leave police evidence vulnerable to challenge. After all (Anon Copper) how hard is it to alter the timestamps on a file with a hex editor if one wants to? Her arguments about keeping the original equipment for court hold no water either. If a copy is to be analysed and "pulled apart" then another copy can have been made. As many clones as are needed in fact: just as long as they all preserve the set of hashes then they can be considered identical. If copies of documents are acceptable evidence then surely copies of digital information should also be? This is just another example of legal understanding lagging decades behind the requirements of the current situation.
Whilst I don't feel the delays amount to extra-judicial punishment, they obviously create unnecessary hardship. The Liberty 'Your Rights' website includes, in it's definitions of rights regarding retention of seized property, the following: "Lawfully seized articles may be retained so long as is necessary, for example, for production in court, but the articles cannot be kept for use as evidence in a trial or for forensic examination if a photograph or copy would suffice". I suspect there are other rights issues being contravened here too; for example the right to work.
False accusations and misinterpreted evidence eg.assuming guilt if the credit card or ip matches, abound in this backwater of technological ignorance too. It is high time the government looked at these issues & regularised it for the good of populace and policing.
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