Michael Portillo, P2P, and Kiddie Porn?

No, Michael Portillo wasn’t arrested for downloading kiddie porn. I think John Major made the comment that the Conservatives didn’t invent sex in regard to scandals, which I just wanted to say even though it isn’t really relevant to this post. Michael Portillo is an upstanding chap: maybe a touch boring, but upstanding.

This refers to my being a bit of an anoraky train enthusiast (not to the extent of train spotting) and wanting a copy of the complete Great British Railway Journeys presented by Michael Portillo. I had downloaded the series from iPlayer, but found out two episodes were unwatchable after it had expired. One, Todmorden to York, had been available in a signed version, but I find signing distracting. Anyway, 14 of the 20 were downloaded in hi-def and it’s so interesting to know that the ticket he buys in the opening sequence is from Exeter St. David’s to Exeter Central. Also, you get to see all the grafitti on the viaduct in the same opening sequence when you see it in hi-def!

Seriously, I felt that I wanted the whole series complete and in hi-def and it was no longer available through the “official channels”, iplayer and just plain off buying it (Likewise The Truth About Christmas Carols is also history meaning that I have to suffer with a low def version–unless the Beeb rebroadcasts it next year). What does one do in such a circumstance?

One goes to the internet and hopes to find a download, which is possible for some popular programmes (e.g., Torchwood, Doctor Who, Being Human, Hotter than my Daughter, and so on). Less so for the arcane (e.g., The Truth About Christmas Carols and Great British Railway Journeys). Actually, Great British Railway Journeys was available on a torrent site, which is where my story takes me.

It seems that P2P technology is an up and coming area in the Child Pornography world. Pornography (and child pornography) has always been available on the internet. Clever distributors have used P2P as a method for sharing this stuff. Quite possibly, very clever ones could hide their wares under titles such as Michael Portillo’s Great British Railway Journeys or some other innocuous title.

US v. Borowy details how the kiddie porn images are red flagged. It also mentions how Borowy used LimeWire (a P2P sharing programme) to download this stuff. Furthermore, the fact that one is using P2P to open up your computer to share files means that you are giving up a privacy right. Not that you aren’t waving a red flag to law enforcement by downloading this stuff anyway. I’d like to think that one could claim innocence if you truly thought you were downloading Michael Portillo’s Great British Railway Journeys and found yourself watching something revolting instead.

Common wisdom is that you immediately delete the files with some sort of secure wiping software the moment you realise that you are not watching Michael Portillo and the shock wears off. I am not sure how long a period of grace exists for the shock to wear off, but hope that it doesn’t linger more than a couple of hours, or the time it takes for the heat to secure a search warrant. I do like to say that common wisdom isn’t always good legal advice, but it won’t hurt if you are a truly innocent train enthusiast with a love of Bradshaw’s Railway Time Tables and their applicability to modern Britain..

My point is that most of my clients use P2P file sharing in a more menacing way than just downloading songs in the mistaken belief that they won’t get nabbed. The reality is that these images are red flags to law enforcement. Law enforcement’s software is such that nabbing kiddie porn enthusiasts is akin to catching fish in a well stocked barrel. They have their hands full with people downloading vast quantitites of images. You aren’t really anonymous when you do P2P. For example, bit torrent has the possiblity of obtaining the IP addresses of all current, and possibly previous, participants in a swarm from the torrent’s tracker.

Unlike music file sharing, law enforcement is down on the kiddie porn crowd like flies on shit. So, BEWARE!

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