FBI posts fake hyperlinks to snare child porn suspects (Posted at News.com from C|Net, 20 March 2008)
The general idea is this: An FBI agent went to a forum they suspected was frequented by child porn downloaders, and posted a link to a new website. The FBI had created this new website, but it really had no content a child pornster would want. But if someone clicked, they would be able to trace who it was and go find him. It’s a crime in the U.S. to attempt to download child porn, even when no files are actually downloaded.
It’s hard for me to defend those into child porn; in fact I’m amazed there have been so many busts for it (every one gets tons of media coverage)—how could there be so many into this, um, sick filth? But this method of apprehension just seems too much. Remember those early days of the Web when when you could click on a link—maybe you were feeling adventurous, or maybe you were expecting something totally different. Whatever, the website you found with those photos was something you didn’t want, so you tried to close the browser or go somewhere else. Suddenly a lot of windows would open, and they’d all be sites you really shouldn’t have looked at (and probably didn’t want to), and they keep coming and the only thing you could do was pull the plug? Now, what if an illegal FBI-created site was somehow inserted among those pop-ups? Granted, the endless popups don’t really happen anymore, but mistakes could still be made.
Moreover, it’s easy to see how this sort of thing can be taken further into other areas. It’s the sort of technique that wouldn’t be so chilling if certain sectors of the federal goverment hadn’t proved untrustworthy over the last few years.