Matthew White, of Sacramento, California, has found himself in a rather unfortunate situation; he's been accused of downloading child pornography. On the advice of his public defender, White is pleading guilty in hopes of cutting his potential 20-year sentence down to three and a half years. After serving his time, White will have to serve 10 years of probation and register as a sex offender.
What makes this unfortunate is that the 22-year-old White claims he downloaded the child pornography on accident from the file-sharing service LimeWire. According to White, he was attempting to download a 'Girls Gone Wild' video two years ago, but when he opened the files, instead discovered images of underage girls. White claims to have immediately deleted the images and never looked back -- at least until the FBI showed up at his door a year later.
So, just HOW did the FBI know that this totally random individual had downloaded this particular "Girls Gone Wild" video, and more to the point, how did the FBI know that this particular "Girls Gone Wild" was really child porn?
Just how is it that they knew to knock on his particular door?
Where is the crime? There was no intent to acquire the child porn. The file in question did not reveal its contents ahead of time. The computer user deleted the file. So there was no intent.
In other words, there seems to be no probable cause and no way for the FBI to know about this "crime" unless the FBI itself planted the file at LimeWire.
What is next, emailing child porn to everyone in the USA to generate arrest numbers? I guess real crime in the USA is so non-existent that the FBI has time to spend hunting for online porn abusers. On the other hand, given that the FBI's advice is to notify it when you recieve child porn and let them take your computer, then by the simple expedient of emailing you a child porn image, the FBI gains access to your entire computer WITHOUT A COURT WARRANT!
Not quite the image J. Edgar Hoover worked so hard to craft in Jimmy Stewart's "The FBI Story", is it?