Thursday, March 8, 2012

Privacy software, criminal use

Original Article


By Jenifer B. McKim

Unintended consequence of Walpole firm’s technology

A Walpole nonprofit company, largely funded by the federal government, is inadvertently providing child pornographers, drug dealers, and other criminals around the world with software that allows them to remain anonymous on the Internet.

The little-known organization, Tor Project Inc., says its free program is designed to help people protect themselves from Internet surveillance. Users include those speaking out against oppressive political regimes in other countries, corporate whistle-blowers, law enforcement officials, and domestic abuse victims.

But the software, which can easily be downloaded from the Tor Project website, also is attracting a growing number of people who trade illegal pornographic material and buy and sell drugs on a part of the Web known as the “darknet,’’ according to federal authorities, advocates for children, and Internet specialists.

Its use for illicit purposes creates new challenges for law enforcement officials hunting increasingly technologically savvy criminals, and highlights the sometimes unwanted consequences of protecting free speech online.

The darknet is “a secret Internet,’’ said Chester Wisniewski, senior adviser at Burlington computer security company Sophos Inc. “It’s free speech to the extreme. It’s really tragic there are some sickos using this same technology for their purposes.’’

The Tor Project is widely considered the largest service in the world that allows users to navigate the Internet anonymously. Andrew Lewman, the organization’s executive director, said he is approached regularly by law enforcement officials whose investigations have been frustrated by Tor technology, which hampers authorities’ ability to identify suspected online criminals and masks the origin of child pornography and drug-dealing websites.

But Lewman said Tor Project and its software can’t be blamed for aiding crimes in the same way cellphone and computer makers should not be held accountable for the misuse of those devices. He has rejected informal requests by law enforcement agencies to create a way for them to identify Tor users, saying it would defeat the purpose of the software. But Lewman said he is willing to help investigators better understand the technology, and provides a link on the Tor website for anybody to report evidence of child pornography.

I’m not going to compromise Tor,’’ said Lewman, who works out of a small storefront office on Main Street in Walpole. “‘Good’ is so relative around the world. I bet the Egyptian government didn’t think their activists were good.’’

Tor stands for “the onion routing’’ project, initiated by the US Naval Research Laboratory in the 1990s to camouflage government communications by sending messages through a system of computers. The project was expanded in 2001 by two Massachusetts Institute of Technology students who made the technology more accessible to civilians. An added feature called “hidden services,’’ launched in 2004, allows people to publish and visit websites without being identified.

IL - Proposed bill would expand registration requirements for sex offenders

Original Article


A bill has been passed out of the Senate Criminal Law Committee that would increase the penalties and expand registration requirements for sex offenders.

The bill, Senate Bill 3359 (PDF), would make Illinois law more compliant with the requirements of the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006. The bill now heads to the Senate floor for consideration.

If passed, the bill would create a three-tiered sex offender registration system. The first tier is an increase in the registration period for all misdemeanor sex offenses from 10 to 15 years. The second tier requires lifetime registration for all current sexual predators and that registrants update their registration on a quarterly basis. The third tier requires a 25-year registration period for all other related offenses.

"I have worked extensively with the Illinois Attorney General and the Illinois State Police to make this state a leader in holding sex offenders accountable for their criminally deviant behavior," Sen. Bill Haine, D-Alton, said in a news release. "This bill further strengthens the sex offender registration system and guarantees that our law enforcement officials have the resources they need to conduct these cases and bring offenders to justice."

The bill would also add unauthorized video recording and live video transmission of victims under 18 to the list of offenses requiring registration as a sex offender. In addition, when a court assesses a petition to terminate an individual's registration status, the court must consider whether the victim was 13 to 16 years of age and if the offender was less than five years older than the victim.

"With the promulgation of Internet crimes and child exploitation, it was imperative that we add this offense to the criminal statutes," said Haine, who is a member of the Criminal Law Committee.

MN - Former Minneapolis police officer (William Jacobs) pleads guilty to lesser sex crime charges

William Jacobs
Original Article


MINNEAPOLIS - A former Minneapolis park police officer who was charged with molesting a young boy avoided trial Thursday by reaching a plea deal.

William Jacobs was charged with first degree criminal sexual conduct for allegedly molesting a 15-year-old boy over a three-year period. Prosecutors also charged him with possessing child pornography.

Under the plea deal, Jacobs will plead guilty to three counts of second degree criminal sexual conduct and three counts of possession of child pornography.

Prosecutors say Jacobs inappropriately touched children as far back as the early 1960s.

Jacobs was a once a Minneapolis park police officer as well as a camp counselor and teacher.

The victim in the current case, now 17, did not want to speak after the plea hearing but did say through Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman that his long nightmare is over.

The attorneys on both sides agreed that Jacobs should serve between 12 and 18 years in prison. He will be sentenced sometime next month.

Jacobs' trial was set to begin Thursday.

VA - Virginia Prison Guard (John Bernard Bland Jr.) To Face Charges Of Having Sex With Inmate

John Bernard Bland Jr.
Original Article


TROY (AP) - A former guard at a Virginia women’s prison with a history of sexual misconduct is facing charges for allegedly having sex with an inmate.

John Bernard Bland Jr., 40, was arrested Feb. 28 and charged with three counts of carnal knowledge of a prisoner while he was a guard at Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women, Virginia’s largest women’s prison. Bland is scheduled to appear in Fluvanna County Circuit Court on Friday to inform the judge whether he will hire an attorney or needs one appointed to represent him.

Bland is accused in three incidents in June and July of 2011 involving the same inmate, said Fluvanna County Commonwealth’s Attorney Jeffrey Haislip. Haislip refused to further discuss the allegations.

Department of Corrections spokesman Larry Traylor said the agency investigated the allegations and turned over its findings to Haislip’s office.

A telephone message left at Bland’s home was not returned.

Problems with sexual misconduct have plagued Fluvanna since it opened in 1998. In 1999, an internal report sparked by a series of Associated Press articles detailing sexual abuse at the prison found that 13 guards had been fired or resigned over allegations of sexual assault, harassing or fraternizing with inmates. In January 2009, former security chief Patrick Owen Gee was sentenced to five years in prison after being convicted for having sex with female inmates in his office.

AK - Was Officer (Anthony Rollins) Sex on the Job Acceptable at the Anchorage Police Department?

Anthony Rollins
Original Article


By Corey Allen-Young

Rollins case raises questions about what was tolerated at APD

ANCHORAGE - With convicted serial rapist and former Anchorage Police officer Anthony Rollins waiting to find out how much time he will spend in prison, new details on his behavior and how it was dealt with raise the question of whether sex on the job is part of the department's culture.

This all comes from summaries that an attorney for five of Rollins’ victims acquired as part of a lawsuit against the city, which say he was kept on the job even though APD knew he was having sex on duty.

If you read the partial reports or even listened to the Rollins trial, you have to decide for yourself if what Rollins was doing was being ignored. With a bold claim that other officers were having sex on the job just like him, for the former officer – convicted of serial rape in February of 2011 – it turns out sexual misconduct was happening long before he was caught.

This pattern of conduct was going on before we got the complaint that opened up the investigation,“ said Chief Mark Mew on February 23, 2011. “But once we got that complaint, I think we pulled out all the stops.” It was already too late for five of the women, who are now suing the city. They cite APD's Internal Affairs reports in saying the city and the department knew about Rollins' behavior for years, and turned a blind eye.

The Internal Affairs Department is directly answerable to the chief of police,” said APD spokesman Lieutenant Dave Parker. “Certainly any discipline that comes out, the chief has to sign off on every disciplinary matter.” According to the latest court documents on the Internal Affairs report, mayoral candidate Paul Honeman, who was a police lieutenant at the time, believed Rollins having sex while on duty back in August of 2005, four years before he was arrested for sexual assault.

"Contrary to what was reported, I did not walk away,” said Honeman. “I would never walk away." "I reported my discovery to my direct report boss, Deputy Chief Rob Heun, at the time. He was unavailable; I left a message for an urgent response.”

"I'm personally proud to wear this uniform, and I’m appalled that this officer might have dishonored it," say Heun on July 15, 2009, the day that Rollins was arrested for multiple sexual assaults while on the job. Heun is now Alaska's U.S Marshal. KTVA called Heun multiple times to ask about his knowledge of Rollins or any other officers having sex on the job. He did not return any of our calls.

But current Chief Mark Mew said last year it has happened a few times. “There have been employees who have had consensual sex with each other while on duty,” said Mew. “These people have been disciplined. There have been a few employees who have had on duty consensual sex with members of the public. The few who didn’t lose their jobs outright were punished severely.”

Now, APD has a policy. “It says that you are not to have sexual relations while on duty,” said Parker.

But does that policy change a culture within three years?

People understand because it’s clearly enunciated that that will not be tolerated on duty,” said Parker. They're now asking the public to trust that policy is being observed. There are a total of nine civil lawsuits against Rollins and the city. One was already settled though with a payout of $52,500.

FL - Justices OK sex offender detention program

Original Article



See Also: A Record of Failure at Center for Sex Offenders

TALLAHASSEE - Detaining a sex offender without a civil commitment hearing for nearly 10 years did not violate his constitutional rights, the Florida Supreme Court ruled (PDF) Thursday, but it urged judges to act much more quickly in such cases.

Florida's "Jimmy Ryce Act" lets the state detain sex offenders even after they have completed their prison terms if courts determine they are a danger to the community. They cannot be released from involuntarily commitment until they've received treatment and a judge rules they no longer are a danger.

The law is named for a 9-year-old boy who was kidnapped, raped and murdered in Miami-Dade County.

The justices wrote in an unsigned opinion that the lengthy delay in the case of [name withheld], who was convicted of rape in Broward County, was permissible because he sought it himself for "tactical reasons."

They also found [name withheld] is not entitled to treatment while being held as a non-committed detainee and that he failed to establish the state's treatment program is constitutionally defective.

Despite those holdings, the justices wrote that neither court rules nor state law "contemplate extended delay in a detainee being brought to trial under the Jimmy Ryce Act."

"Accordingly, we urge all trial courts to take immediate steps to ensure that these cases are timely tried," the high court wrote.

Justice Barbara Pariente used stronger words in a specially concurring opinion.

"Keeping an individual detained for years and years without ever bringing him or her to trial offends basic notions of due process," she wrote. "We would not tolerate such delays in a criminal case, and we should not tolerate it in a Jimmy Ryce case."

Pariente also suggested that courts conduct periodic status hearings to monitor the progress of cases that have been delayed.

The justices also asked their court rules committees to make recommendations on whether procedural changes are needed.

[name withheld], who had been acquitted of a 16-year-old girl's 1978 murder, later was convicted of kidnapping and raping a Boca Raton woman after she asked him for a ride in 1994. He was sentenced to a 10-year prison term for that crime, but a judge reduced it to 3.5 years in 2002, and he was immediately eligible for release.

He subsequently was sent to the Florida Civil Commitment Center in Arcadia, where an interdisciplinary team including two psychologists determined he was a sexually violent predator and required intensive treatment before he could be released.