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Innovation in Information Security

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Tech Community Pressure Helps get Case Turned Over

A common problem that can plague Windows-based systems are uncontrolled popups whenever the system is connected to the Internet. Although all browsers can be at risk of advertising popups (or interstitials, as some companies like to call them), Windows systems are also prone to advertising popups via the Windows Messenger service (not to be confused with MSN), especially for systems compromised by spyware or other malware.

When Julie Amero, substitute teacher at a Norwich middle school, encountered pornographic popups on a classroom computer while teaching a class of seventh grade students in late 2004, she was arrested and hauled off to court where she was found guilty of 'risk of injury to a minor' and potentially faced 40 years imprisonment.

An almost unanimous outcry by technical experts amongst the online community following the January 2007 conviction (sentencing was to follow at a later date), over the extremely poor standards of technical 'forensic' investigation that were used to confuse the jury (more relevant and accurate defence forensics were excluded from the case), was cause for criticism from the judge who overruled the original verdict - sending the case back for a retrial (which is unlikely to happen). In the judge's ruling, they claimed that the public criticism of the case was "improperly influenc[ing]" the court.

Following the overturning of the earlier conviction, many technical experts sighed a collective sigh of relief that accurate technical knowledge helped keep an innocent person from facing significant jail time.

8 June 2007

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