Wednesday, June 02, 2021

People v. Lund (Cal. Ct. App. - June 1, 2021)

It's another child pornography case; there are a lot of these.  That whole "looking for kiddie porn" thing is -- to put it mildly -- super fraught with danger, wholly apart from its many other unsavory aspects.

Lest anyone believe that these things aren't super easy to discover, Justice Brown's opinion goes into detail about the automated system that apparently thousands of police officers are using every single day to find people sharing kiddie porn:

"In August 2014, Vacaville police detective Jeffrey Datzman was investigating child pornography cases over peer-to-peer networks. One of the tools Datzman used was privately developed software called the Child Protection System (CPS). CPS is the web interface for viewing results from a suite of several software tools that each search for child pornography on a specific peer-to-peer network. It is used around the world in 84 countries by over 10,000 users, all of whom are law enforcement personnel.

The CPS software suite automates the process of searching peer to peer networks. Previously, law enforcement officers would have to manually input keyword search terms to discover computers that were hosting suspected child pornography and then further investigate those GUIDs. By contrast, CPS sends out search terms continuously. CPS also compares the files listed in response to the keyword searches against CPS’s database of hash values, which contains the hash values of files that law enforcement officers somewhere in the world have previously tagged as being child pornography. If there is a match between the hash values for the files listed in response to the search and the hash values in the CPS database, CPS logs the details of the event in a CPS database for police officers to follow up on later. CPS logs the filenames and hash numbers of the suspected child pornography files being offered; the GUIDs, IP addresses, port number, and, in most cases, software used to offer the files; and the dates and times CPS detected the GUID with the files. Police officers obtain records from internet service providers to determine the physical location of the computer associated with the GUIDs, IP addresses, and port numbers logged by CPS."

So unless you're sharing child pornography (or have it on your computer) that's totally unique and not seen by any officers before, it looks like it's probably going to have a "hash value" and be discovered.

Not a risk I'd take -- at all -- even for things that aren't immoral, harmful and incredibly sleazy.

The other fascinating thing about this opinion is how it begins.  I'm very familiar with the kinds of sentences that are routinely handed out in these types of cases.  The opinion begins by describing the offense:  "A jury convicted Eric Lund of one count of possession of more than 600 images of child pornography, at least 10 of which involved a prepubescent minor or a minor under 12 years old, in violation of Penal Code section 311.11, subdivision (c)(1)."  I totally expected the next sentence to read something like:  "The trial court sentenced Lund to 60 years to life in prison."  But, in reality, the next sentence read:

"The trial court sentenced Lund to five years in prison."

Dude!  Mr. Lund should thank his lucky stars that he only got five years.  Plus it's in state court, which means he likely gets out in two and a half.  In federal court, dollars to doughnuts says he's in prison for more like 15 to 20, minimum.

Why only 5 years, I thought?  Maybe because he's otherwise a "good guy"?  (Apart from the interest in viewing the sexual exploitation of children, I guess.)

Perhaps.  Though once one reads further in the actual opinion, one discovers yet another interesting fact about Mr. Lund.

He's a cop.  Who was viewing the kiddie porn for the most part while on duty.

The guy's not a total idiot.  He'd go to publicly available wifi addresses -- e.g., the Yogurt Beach Shack -- and download the stuff there.  That way it's not linked to his home address.

But you can still totally get caught.  For example, with Mr. Lund, here's how they first caught onto him:

"During the surveillance, Datzman connected to the Yogurt Beach Shack’s router so that he could observe whether any devices connected to the router and see such devices’ “mac ID,” which is a unique specific identifier for a device. On one night, at around 1:00 a.m., Datzman saw a device connect to the router, and he recorded the mac ID. Datzman then drove around the outside of the building to see who was nearby that could be using the device. Datzman noticed a California Highway Patrol (CHP) vehicle parked near the business. Lund was the sole occupant of the vehicle, seated in the driver’s seat and looking down and to his right at a lighted object. Datzman then contacted Sergeant Jason Johnson in the Vacaville Police Department. Johnson agreed to contact Lund using a ruse to determine his name. The ruse succeeded and Lund told Johnson his name. After Johnson spoke to Lund, Lund drove away, and Datzman noticed that the mac ID of the device that was using the Yogurt Beach Shack router dropped off at the same time. No other devices connected to the router that night."

So they get warrants, find flash drives and the like, find more kiddie porn, etc.  For example:  "The external hard drives together contained over 10,000 files that Datzman suspected to be child pornography, based on their hash values’ matches to the CPS database. Datzman reviewed a sample of 73 videos from the hard drives and confirmed that they were child pornography, with almost all of them containing at least one prepubescent minor."

But, still, despite all this evidence, Mr. Lund's first trial ends up in a mistrial, and even after he's convicted at the second trial, he still gets only 5 years.

Not the way these cases usually come out.  At all.

In any event, you wouldn't expect most police officers to be into kiddie porn, right?  Much less to take the risk.

But there you have it.  At least here.