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Months after arresting a man for having child pornography images on a state-issued laptop, prosecutors dropped the charges when a defense-sponsored forensic investigation showed that a poorly configured laptop that had become riddled with malware was to blame. The victim -- besides the children in the images -- was Michael Fiola, a former investigator with the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents. After he was given a sloppily configured replacement laptop running Windows XP with SP2 in November of 2006, he was fired in early 2007.
Why is it that I am constantly finding that government run IT seems to attract incompetent people? I am sure that not all government IT folks are incompetent, but across the board, there does seem to be a problem.
For prosecutors: it is extremely easy for computers to be hijacked by various forms of malicious software. You CAN'T just assume the party in question is guilty. Forensic investigation on the pc must be performed as part of any case like this. There needs to be a procedure for handling cases like this.
If you find the forensic investigation seems to point to guilt - it may still not be caused by the suspect. Other people may have used the computer at some point, even when the person was logged in using a password. Most people don't know how to lock a workstation when leaving it unattended.
In short, with computer crime - the prosecutors really need to TAKE SOME TIME and have full investigations done before charging someone.
Here's what will change as a result of this sad story: zip. Also, zilch, squat, and nada.
Prosecutors adore child porn cases. They enrage the public (justifiably) and appeal to the prurient subconscious, bringing more attention than any other type of case to the prosecutor -- along with a nice "child protecting hero" veneer. Add to this, over the past twenty years (and especially since 9/11) Americans have been tripping over each other in a non-race to see who can be more complacent about the disintegration of civil rights. The drivers for prosecution continue to firmly favor "shoot first, act questions later (or never)."
Maybe you're next. But of course, odds are you won't be, so don't worry about it.