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JJacobs
07-10-2007, 13:31
I'm wondering what the legality is in the US and Canada of viewing websites that have illegal content on them.

Like, I'm thinking videos of people killing themselves or underage sex, or sex with animals, or classified information that's published offshore, or videos of people doing illegal acts.

Is the same stuff that's illegal to document, possess and distribute also illegal to watch from someone else's server? Would the cookies and temp files be considered 'possession' and would you be exempt from possession if you cleared your browser cache after visiting?

I'm curious as to whether your ISP is allowed to track your viewing habits, turn that information over to police, and your computer could be confiscated. In this case, if there was evidence of you visiting websites that had illegal content, but not participating in its distribution in any way, would it be grounds for being arrested?

I understand that although many laws exist, they often go unenforced. I guess it's also important to ask whether online voyeurs get busted for looking, or whether it's a waste of time.

Speaking of which, thanks for your time.

garuda
07-10-2007, 22:43
Very interesting question and difficult to answer, but people are busted and prosecuted all the time for child porn on their hard drives in both the USA and Britain.
And I don't think the government cares whether the images are in your browser cache or in my documents.

Someone engaging in this would be best to use Tor and portable firefox running off a thumbdrive, this will leave no trace of what is being viewed with either your ISP or on your hard drive.

SPUNK
07-10-2007, 22:49
I am far from a computer expert, but I have a friend who is a computer security major, and he looks at fucked up shit on the internet all the time (beastiality, suicide, terrorist websites). He says that there is no way that it could be tracked to his computer, b/c the IP address that his computer is under, is the same IP address that everyone in his apartment uses (im guessing this is because the entire building uses the same wireless portal, or whatever its called)

From my understanding, the only way that you could get in trouble is if you were served a warrant, and the police were to check your internet history.

center
08-10-2007, 02:33
Like, I'm thinking videos of people killing themselves or underage sex, or sex with animals, or classified information that's published offshore, or videos of people doing illegal acts.
Every webserver has incoming traffic logs. Despite the IP address being similiar or the same to everyone on the wireless portal---the machine addresses of the wi-fi connected computers are easy to see. The only true way you would get in trouble is if the law enforcement agency seized the weblogs of the illicit website and got your information via your IP. If the IP is a wireless network, be sure that if the agency involved wants to catch you then they will. If needs be they would provide a search warrant for each seperate dwelling in the building.

Will they do all that over an animal porn website? I'd highly doubt it. Would they pursue any terrorist/criminal involved in the distribution of sensitive government data? Bet your ass. You fucking bet.

Infinite Jest
08-10-2007, 03:15
Well, the underage sex one is easy. Viewing child pornography is a crime. Viewing someone killing themself, or robbing a bank? I doubt it. Classified information? Perhaps.

Where I am, the copyright laws as written have been interpreted to mean that even caching a webpage is breach of copyright, because you're downloading and copying someone else's intellectual property. Of course, it's recognised that this is stupid and needs to be changed, but right now a cached copy of someone else's website is considered to be in the viewer's possession. So no doubt they could apply that argument in the area of porn or illegal content.

JJacobs
08-10-2007, 12:22
So, I haven't really gathered much from the legal side of things.

If there is no trace of viewing illegal content, would they have to catch you in the act in order to arrest, or would a siezed server log that points to your computer be enough, without any supporting evidence?

Also, are ISP's able to track where their customers are going?

JJacobs
08-10-2007, 12:25
I also read a while back that they're working on a caveat to the law which would allow reporters and professional researchers access to sites such as child pornography in the interest of reporting and studying.

This is interesting to me, because if an exception were made, it becomes clear that they don't believe the act of viewing illegal images a crime, but are interested in criminalizing thoughts, or percieved guilt while viewing those images. Very slippery issue, and I'm not sure how far they got with that.

garuda
08-10-2007, 19:53
So, I haven't really gathered much from the legal side of things.

If there is no trace of viewing illegal content, would they have to catch you in the act in order to arrest, or would a siezed server log that points to your computer be enough, without any supporting evidence?

Also, are ISP's able to track where their customers are going?

A seized server log would probably be enough to get a warrant to search your hard drive depending on WHAT we're talking about, most of the child porn cases I have seen the search warrant is based off someone's credit card information that is seized. And child porn is about the only thing you listed that could bring the law down, unless you start getting into matters of national security and espionage.

ISP are absolutely able to see every webpage and IP address your computer connects to, they have to be able to for the internet to work. The way to have privacy from your ISP is either to use a proxy server or even better Tor:

http://tor.eff.org/

Infinite Jest
08-10-2007, 23:09
I also read a while back that they're working on a caveat to the law which would allow reporters and professional researchers access to sites such as child pornography in the interest of reporting and studying.


Got more information on that?

I'm inclined to guess that it would be difficult to get a conviction without some sort of record on your hard drive (whether in My Documents or in a temp internet file), but I don't have any real evidence to back that up.

frizzantik
08-10-2007, 23:45
your web browser usually caches every site you visit.. if you view illegal material you could end up being in possession of it without even necessarily realizing.

Santiagod
09-10-2007, 07:18
My guess is that Child Pornography will land you in Jail. For sure.
Terrorist websites will just get you investigated, I doubt this is illegal since many journalists frequent these sites, and news programs show these videos on their reports (ie, binladen videos ans so forth)

Now as for crimes, and suicides, I doubdt there is any legal danger in watching these. There are plenty of popular US based websites which host these sort of videos. Particularly of Terrorist beheadings, suicides and accidents. Ive never heard of anyone getting in trouble for watching these videos online. They are rated for Mature audiences so the only legal binding is that the viewers are over 18.

JJacobs
09-10-2007, 12:36
Um... ok.

So if a child or teenager were to commit suicide (as disturbing as that sounds) and video tape it, that would be legal?

But if that same child were to pose nude.. that would be.. illegal?


O.o

uacvax
11-10-2007, 01:17
I am far from a computer expert, but I have a friend who is a computer security major, and he looks at fucked up shit on the internet all the time (beastiality, suicide, terrorist websites). He says that there is no way that it could be tracked to his computer, b/c the IP address that his computer is under, is the same IP address that everyone in his apartment uses (im guessing this is because the entire building uses the same wireless portal, or whatever its called)

From my understanding, the only way that you could get in trouble is if you were served a warrant, and the police were to check your internet history.

what about the mac address

Cyc
11-10-2007, 01:27
MAC addresses will only tell you what the make and model your ethernet card is. It can help when used in conjunction with a warrant, but wouldn't really prove anything on its own.

garuda
12-10-2007, 12:38
what about the mac address

http://www.gorlani.com/publicprj/macmakeup/macmakeup.asp

But one of hundreds of MAC spoofing programs, its easy as pie to spoof your MAC address.

Just recently interpol put out the face of a man who appeared with young boys in pictures he released to the internet. They have been unable to catch him, but the fool just used the swirl tool in photoshop over his face.8)

LAST PARAGRAPH EDITED. Sorry garuda, but seeing as your post involves the subject of child pornography, I can't let you post advice on how to safely obscure your face in an image. --Johnny1

Carden
13-10-2007, 00:38
I'm curious as to whether your ISP is allowed to track your viewing habits, turn that information over to police

I work for an ISP (only a tech support phone monkey), and from what i have seen we do not record any of the websites you view.

A year or so ago I was seeding/torrenting some software illegally, and a company (based in china, funnily enough) 'caught' me...
The only thing they could do was send an email to my ISP warning me to stop, presumably because they could not actually find my details in the torrent.

My ISP forwarded this email to me, and I freaked out 8o ... Deleted everything i was torrenting and considered formatting my HD ... But my ISP didnt give any of my details to the company, apparently due to some privacy act they are bound to. :\

But anyway, an ISP wouldn't want to get you in trouble, because everyone would hear about it and nobody would want their services.

Im off to work in a couple minutes, ill ask around and see what they say.

LuGoJ
13-10-2007, 07:49
I work for an ISP (only a tech support phone monkey), and from what i have seen we do not record any of the websites you view.

A year or so ago I was seeding/torrenting some software illegally, and a company (based in china, funnily enough) 'caught' me...
The only thing they could do was send an email to my ISP warning me to stop, presumably because they could not actually find my details in the torrent.

My ISP forwarded this email to me, and I freaked out 8o ... Deleted everything i was torrenting and considered formatting my HD ... But my ISP didnt give any of my details to the company, apparently due to some privacy act they are bound to. :\

But anyway, an ISP wouldn't want to get you in trouble, because everyone would hear about it and nobody would want their services.

Im off to work in a couple minutes, ill ask around and see what they say.

There are plenty of ISP's that keep records and they will happily give them over to the law if they have the required warrant/subpoenas, it is very very easy for them to log what people are doing. If they don't keep records you can be pretty sure that will track everything you are doing if the police ask them to.

garuda
13-10-2007, 22:55
LAST PARAGRAPH EDITED. Sorry garuda, but seeing as your post involves the subject of child pornography, I can't let you post advice on how to safely obscure your face in an image. --Johnny1

I was actually just using that as an well known example, as the topic is online privacy. There are a great many people posting scans of very sensitive information or photos of themselves next to their meth lab and relying on a blur or fog effect to protect them and its not to be relied on.

Johnny1
13-10-2007, 23:47
If they're posting photos of themselves next to their meth lab, then they're committing a crime, and it's against forum guidelines to give advice on how to commit a crime.

MDPVagrant
13-10-2007, 23:54
your web browser usually caches every site you visit.. if you view illegal material you could end up being in possession of it without even necessarily realizing.
That's so idiotic, I'm tempted to turn off my browser's cache. WTF is to stop a website from redirecting you, or framing another one... thus literally framing you into possession of illegal materials. 8)

amor fati
14-10-2007, 11:44
Better safe than sorry, i ordered GBL online and got a letter telling me my package was intercepted and am now on some sort of D.E.A. watchlist. Me being the paranoid fuck i am took my hard drive out, put a nail through it, threw it into a lake, and replaced it. Needless to say, if i want drugs now, i get them in person with people i know.

Johnny1
14-10-2007, 22:16
^ I don't think this was too wise. (1) If they really wanted to get the data off the drive, they would still be able to. (2) Someone could have seen you throwing something into the lake and that can attract attention. (3) You could have committed a crime by throwing the drive into the lake.

But I understand your rationale: better safe than sorry.

tiger-bunny
19-10-2007, 20:51
when it comes to destruction of a harddrive, i wouldnt stop at anything short of taking a router/grinder to the platters. its fucking crazy what they can do to restore data these days....

Cyc
26-10-2007, 02:06
If you put a nail through the middle of a HDD and soak it in water for a week, nobody is getting shit off of it.