Malware not man blamed in child abuse download case
Replacement PC was 'ticking time bomb'
A Department of Industrial Accidents investigator has been cleared of child porn possession charges after a forensic investigation revealed that malware was to blame for depraved smut on his company laptop.
Michael Fiola, 53, of Rhode Island, went through a massive ordeal after images of child abuse were discovered on a replacement machine he received in November 2006, following a laptop theft. He lost his job in March 2007 after an internal investigation, prompted by a Verizon wireless bill four times higher than his colleague, unearthed the suspicious content. Fiola had worked for the agency investigating workers' compensation fraud for seven years prior to his dismissal.
The case was forwarded onto the authorities who filed a criminal complaint in August 2007.
But subsequent forensic investigation discovered that malware was responsible for silently downloading images of pre-pubescent kids onto the machine. Computer experts hired by both the defence and prosecution agreed with this analysis.
Computer forensic analyst Tami Loehrs said that malware surreptitiously served up pre-teen pornographic images onto the machine without the awareness of its user. Loehrs described the case as "one of the most horrific" she'd ever dealt with.
In her report to the court, Loehrs said "the laptop was compromised by numerous viruses and trojans, and may have been hacked by outside sources."
All the offending images were loaded into locations reserved for cached web pages. Crucially there was no sign that any user had viewed or attempted to access this content.
“There is no evidence to support the claim that Michael Fiola was responsible for any of the pornographic activity,” Loehrs wrote.
Two computer forensic experts hired by the prosecution came back with the same conclusion.
"The overall forensics of the laptop suggest that it had been compromised by a virus," said Jake Wark, spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley.
The case against Fiola has been dropped, but he still wants his day in court following months of hell when friends turned against him, leaving his faithful wife Robin as his only supporter. Fiola, described by his wife as "computer-illiterate", intends to sue his former employers over their actions in the case, the Boston Herald reports.
DIA spokeswoman Linnea Walsh said that the agency stood by its handling of the case.
Fiola’s lawyer Timothy Bradl criticised this stance: "Imagine this scenario: Your employer gives you a ticking time bomb full of child porn, and then you get fired, and then you get prosecuted as some kind of freak," he said. ®
hmm its worthwhile reading that report,it would seem pretty clear that Mr Fiola is innocent and Mr Glennon is rather incompetent indeed, i would be suing the crap out of him.
also the report states that all different types of images were found on the laptop not just child porn, but its cp that grabs the headlines i guess..
"PLEASE stop referring to child abuse as child porn. There is no such thing as child porn."
Yes, there is. Child porn is a quantafiable thing. If you look at a photograph, and if a subject of that photograph is a child, and if the portrayal of that child is sexually obscene ... then it is child porn.
"Child abuse" is a broad term. It applies to many forms of abuse, many non-sexual.
"Child porn" is just one possible form of "child abuse" in turn.
"Child abuse" therefore is not always "child porn."
See? Basic reasoning isn't so hard.
Unfortunately, there is a move underway to erase from the public's mind the narrowly-defined notion of "child porn" and make the broad notion of "child abuse" indistinguishable from it. This is dangerous. Under such "logic," anyone slapped with the "child abuse" label would be presumed to be involved in the worst possible form of it -- the sexual kind. Even the very sound of the phrase "child abuse" would elicit the mob-like reactions that the term "child pornography" now conjures up. Child porn has become as much a sexual epidemic as a witch hunt epidemic, and we already have a society where people are charged with "child abuse" for such comparatively trivial "offenses" as forgetting to properly buckle child safety seats. Do we honestly need something that almost anyone can be charged with becoming socially synonymous with something that only the worst people are capable of?
Read 1984. See the bits about corrupting language to the extent that exculpatory concepts are eliminated outright or re-defined to mean the inverse.
Frankly, in general, I'm becoming excruciatingly tired of the kiddie porn witch hunt. I'm sick of even hearing about the subject itself. Already, efforts to fight child pornography are being thwarted by the terror of even being associated closely enough with it to merely report it. In my mind, the kiddie porn hunters have become as obscene and repugnant as the kiddie pornographers. How is destroying some kid's childhood through sexual exploitation MORE vulgar than destroying an adult's entire family, life, and career because of photos of bathing infants, home videos of gymnastics recitals, and common malware infections? I dare say they're exactly as bad. In fact, I say the "won't SOMEBODY PUHLEASE think of the CHILDREN?!!?" screechers should all commit suicide. Children aren't the only people who's lives have value.
"The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation." --Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf
LOL, is Ricky still reading this?
Cos the next stage of this guilty until proven innocent has already been demonstrated in the Middle East.
You could easily substitute WMDs in there for the child porn images.
The fact that we are all IT literate (plenty of logs at El Reg to show this) and have no evidence of Child Porn on our computers is evidence of our nefarious behaviour and our expertise in hiding them!
In fact Ricky probably wants to know if either of the investigators was any relation to Hans Blick.