State worker's child porn charges dropped; faulty laptop security blamed

from ComputerWorld:

State worker’s child porn charges dropped; faulty laptop security blamed

June 16, 2008 (IDG News Service) Prosecutors have dropped child pornography charges against a Massachusetts state employee after an investigation determined that his government-issued laptop was poorly configured and riddled with malicious software.

Michael Fiola, a former investigator at the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA), had been facing two and a half years in prison after being charged last year with possession of child pornography.
But those charges were dropped on June 10 after an investigation by the Massachusetts attorney general’s office found that the state couldn’t prove that Fiola had downloaded the images. “We could not meet our burden of reasonable doubt,” said Jake Wark, a spokesman for Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley.

The case shows how easy it is for someone to be charged with illegal computer activity that they may know nothing about, said Fiola’s attorney, Timothy Bradl. “This type of thing could have happened to anyone with a work-issued laptop,” he said.

. . . . .

Fiola, a former firefighter with no criminal record, was ostracized by his community after being criminally charged in August 2007, Bradl said. “His life has been destroyed,” the attorney said. "His friends ran for the hills; his family mostly ran from him."
DIA spokeswoman Linnea Walsh was quoted in the Boston Herald newspaper on Monday saying that agency officials “stand by our decision” to fire Fiola. When reached by IDG News Service, she declined to comment on the matter, saying only, “We don’t want to go there right now,” before abruptly hanging up the telephone.

So, if any of you have a work-issued computer you better hope you IT dept. knows what they are doing. I feel so bad for this man, a lot of people will never believe he was innocent.

I sell IT equipment for a living and I know a thing or two about security.

Either the guy is lying or he’s pretty darned stupid.

Yeah, I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer. But you don’t pick up kiddie-porn spy ware from visiting BettyCrocker.com

I listened to a Boston talk show yesterday, on my way to work, and they were talking about this case.

It turns out the guy had moved into a new job position, to replace a former employee. He was given a used lap-top computer, which had the child porn on it. The IT forensic company who did the research, found that the child porn was downloaded onto the lap top, through spam, before the accused man took the job.

The man isn’t stupid, just not a computer expert, just a user.

Jim

Then that makes the previous laptop owner the pedophile!

My point was that the porn didn’t just get there by itself.

Did they mention anything about attempting to find out who the previous user was?

Not according to the IT Forensic report. They said the porn came by way of spam, that the original user of the computer, was probably unaware of.

BTW, I’m going from what I heard on the radio, so don’t blame me if a detail isn’t correct.

My point is, we often take for granted, the level of computer literacy people have. Some people, like my wife, have a very elementary level of knowledge on computers. She’s a user, and thats about it. She got burned through a phishing email and had no idea until the bank called about a suspicious credit card charge.

Accusations are easy to make. Proving yourself innocent, is difficult. And remember, under the US Constitution, we’re innocent until proven guilty.

In the case of this poor man, he was convicted before proof of guilt was made, especially by the media.

Jim

Exactly. I went to college for computer networking and so I know a thing or two about computer security. You don’t pick up child porn spyware from visiting ordinary websites. You’d have to at least be on a porn site to pick that kind of thing up and more than likely a child porn site. I am not saying that the man is guilty. Just that I don’t know that he’s innocent.

Then you’d know that by opening up an email with a computer virus, you can infect your computer with a script file, which will go to the porn site and download pics without your knowledge.

You can also open a Spam email that looks innocent, and instead it connects you to a porn site. Once connected, the cookie is on your computer.

If it was all so fool proof, we wouldn’t see big corporations with all their IT support, being hit with viruses and hackers.

Don’t assume that every one is computer savvy as we are.

Jim

Reputation is a fragile thing. Once gone, it is, well, gone. Without a good reputation, there are a number of things you cannot do. For example, you cannot do as much charitable service to others. Those in charge of it usually won’t let you. In some cases the best idea would be to move, get another job, etc. A number of people will never talk to you again.

I would say, unless they can prove this guy downloaded the porn deliberately, someone’s going to be looking for a hefty settlement.

How’d you like to be the lawyer defending these guys in front of a jury?

I bet the gentleman is thankful you’re not in charge if the investigation or that his acquittal rests with you.:slight_smile:

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