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March 27, 2009

Click a link, go to jail

CNET posts a fascinating and, perhaps, alarming story about an FBI sting operation targeting online child pornography. Reporter Declan McCullagh writes:

"The FBI has recently adopted a novel investigative technique: posting hyperlinks that purport to be illegal videos of minors having sex, and then raiding the homes of anyone willing to click on them.
    Undercover FBI agents used this hyperlink-enticement technique, which directed Internet users to a clandestine government server, to stage armed raids of homes in Pennsylvania, New York, and Nevada last year.
"

The sting bait certainly was grotesque: according to a March 27, 2007 filing in the indictment of Pennsylvania resident Roderick Vosburgh, accessed through PACER, the FBI agents concocted the following lure:

"here is one of my favs - 4yo hc with dad
(toddler, some oral, some anal) - supercute!
Haven't seen her on the board beforeif
anyone has anymore, PLEASE POST
"

As McCullagh notes, the operation also raises questions about potential entrapment; although, in the post-trial filings for acquital filed by Vosburgh's current attorney Anna M. Durbin, and reviewed by Suits & Sentences via PACER, the entrapment issue doesn't appear to arise.

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Ariel

And what if someone who's just curious clicks the link? Like someone who can't believe something like is real and can't understand the attraction of child sex, but wants to take a look?

This FBI project is asinine.

KateyB

IMHO ~ and from what I have known of one FBI agent involved in the 'sex' investigation area ~ the investigator may well be as sick as the people they are after.

Antiquated is the best word for the above tactics discussed.

sadly ~Pedophiles are far more clever.

Michael Doyle

I have often wondered what it would do the mind and soul of a law enforcement officer who systematically takes on the persona used in a sex sting, it's got to do a number on the head eventually...

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mike

"Suits & Sentences" is a legal affairs blog written by Michael Doyle, a reporter for McClatchy's Washington Bureau. He was a Knight Journalism Fellow at Yale Law School, where he earned a Master of Studies in Law; he also earned a Masters in Government from The Johns Hopkins University with a thesis on the Freedom of Information Act. He teaches journalism as an adjunct instructor at The George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs.

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