From The “Ethics Isn’t Easy” Files: The FBI, Child Porn, And “Playpen”

key-computerIn order to probe “the dark web” and to apprehend those partaking of the pleasures of child pornography, the FBI emulated the illegal conduct of hackers, using a warrant to surreptitiously place malware on all computers that logged into a site called Playpen. When a user connected, the malware forced his computer to reveal its  Internet protocol address. Next a subpoena to the ISP  yielded his real name and address, and a another warrant allowed a subsequent search of the user’s home. Incriminating evidence, indictments and trials followed.

The problem of tracking computer related crime is far ahead of the law, and in the vacuum, ethical principles are being nicked, mashed, or ignored. Ahmed Ghappour, a professor at the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law, says, “It’s imperative that Congress step in to regulate exactly who and how law enforcement may hack.” If hacking is illegal, and wrong as an uncontested intrusion on privacy, when is it ethical, and thus legal, for law enforcement to do it? Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Week (“Believe It or Not!” Division): The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

“We fail to see any reasonable connection between this defendant, his conviction more than a decade ago, his failure to fill out paperwork, and the government-mandated measurement of his penis.”

—- The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, rejecting as “extraordinarily invasive”a Vermont sex offender treatment program that required David McLaurin, who was convicted of producing child pornography, to submit to “penile stimulation treatment” as a condition for supervised release. He was shown child pornography images as the blood flow to his penis was measured.

Cheer up, Alex...it could be worse, You could be in Vermont...

Cheer up, Alex…it could be worse, You could be in Vermont…

McLaurin was arrested in 2011 for violating the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, which requires offenders to register and keep current their address information. He  received a sentence of 15 months imprisonment with five years of supervised release.

“The size of the erection is, we are told, of interest to government officials because it ostensibly correlates with the extent to which the subject continues to be aroused by the pornographic images,” the opinion states, dryly. The testing was apparently developed by a Czech psychiatrist and used by the Czech government as a way to identify and “cure” homosexuals.

Uh, yes, I’d say the court got this one right.

Unbelievable.

______________________

Facts: ABA Journal

 

 

This Story Leaves Me Speechless

All I can do is scream...

From The Daily Mail Online:

“A Catholic Church child safety co-ordinator who was in charge of investigating sexual abuse allegations was jailed for 12 months today for internet peadophile offences.

“Christopher Jarvis, 49, a married father-of-four, investigated historic claims of child abuse, interviewing the victims when they were adults. He was responsible for child protection at 120 churches and parish community groups for nine years. He also, as a member of the Devon and Cornwall Multi-Agency Safeguarding Team, had access to police and social services information about victims of child abuse.

“As a result of the conviction and sentencing, the Roman Catholic Church has ordered a review of child protection across the South West of England.”

I…I..this shows…it’s…when a….oh, to hell with it.

I have no idea how to react to this, besides screaming or jumping out the window.

Anyone?

Smearing John Kerry

Quick---Who is this man, and why should his problems be news?

Guilt by association isn’t always an unethical suggestion. If all of your closest companions are members of the Mafia, I think it’s fair for me to question your values and taste in friends, if not to assume that you might leave a horse head in my bed. More often than not, however, guilt by association is unethically used for character assassination by applying the unfair presumption that an adversary’s associates’ misdeeds can reasonably be attributed to the adversary as well.

You will seldom see as pure and despicable an example of this than the current effort by some on the political Right to smear Sen. John Kerry based on recent revelations about Wade Sanders, like Kerry a Silver Star awardee, who introduced the Massachusetts Senator at the 2004 Democratic Convention.  Sanders knew Kerry when they both were Swiftboat commanders in Vietnam, and  when the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth questioned the legitimacy of Kerry’s record of heroism during that war in their infamous series of attack ads, Sanders led the counterattack. Now Wade Sanders is in Federal prison, serving a 37-month sentence for possessing child pornography, and the Navy Times reports that Secretary of the Navy has revoked Sanders’ Silver Star due to “subsequently determined facts and evidence surrounding both the incident for which the award was made and the processing of the award itself.”

What does any of this tell us about John Kerry? Absolutely nothing. Continue reading

Outrageous Prosecution: The Eric Rinehart Story

Asst. U.S. Attorney DeBrotas predecessors

Eric Rinehart, a 34-year-old police officer in  Middletown, Indiana, began consensual sexual relationships with two young women, ages 16 and 17. Rinehart was going through a divorce at the time, and in Indiana, he was doing nothing illegal, for 16 is the age of consent in the Hoosier state? Unethical? I tend to think so, but that isn’t part of the story.

One of the girls told Rinehart that she had posed for erotic photos for an earlier, presumably younger boyfriend, and suggested that she do the same for him. So Rinehart gave her his camera, with which she took the lascivious photos. This inspired Rinehart to take some more sexy photos and at least one video of both girls, which he downloaded to his computer.

For this, Rinehart was convicted on two federal charges of producing child pornography. Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “Unethical Quote of the Week: Walmart”

The Comment of the Day on Walmart’s jaw-dropping justification for its new line of make-up for the under-12 set,  from Steven Mark Pilling:

“… This sort of thing is repugnant by nature. We’ve all seen other clothing lines for kids that reflect this sort of thing, to include sexy lingerie for little girls. This is unrelentingly vile, as it not only sexualizes children further in the eyes of predators, but that it normalizes it in their own developing minds. This is the same argument, of course, that I’ve long employed in my opposition to films employing child actors in R-rated performances. And, I maintain, just as valid. In other words, this is a case of pedophile bait.

“That slickly worded announcement from Walmart that you quoted even resembles that of filmmakers who present such things. The bottom line is profit… regardless of means. The excuse is in shifting the onus onto the parents who, while distracted by other items, will absentmindedly consent to their children (who have been attracted by some colorful, glitzy item- as children innocently are) and indulge them… only to later discover (maybe) the true nature of what they’ve bought. But the damage will have been done.”

Unethical Quote of the Week: Walmart

http://www.ketknbc.com/news/how-young-is-too-young-for-makeup

“The geoGIRL line was developed in partnership with our customers to give parents a healthier, age-appropriate option for their tween girls who ask about wearing make-up. The decision of what is age appropriate to wear makeup rests solely with the parent. The line will be marketed to parents and targets a certain life stage as opposed to a certain age of girl so parents can make informed decisions whenever they feel it’s appropriate for their child to wear makeup.

—-Walmart, in a statement addressing criticism of its new makeup line called geoGIRL that targets “tweens”–or 8-12 year old girls.  The products include a cleanser, blush, eye shadow, mascara, and more. Continue reading

Pole-Dancing for Kids: Icky or Unethical?

The latest issue of “Pole Spin,” the “international pole dance and lifestyle magazine,” features “the world’s youngest pole dancer” and a proud family with four  pole-dancing teenagers.

Is this wrong? Child porn? Bad parenting? What the heck is it when something with sexual connotations is used by children in a non-sexual way? Continue reading

The Ethics Verdict on GQ’s “Glee” Spread: Ick

The watchdog group Parents Television Council is condemning the Gentleman’s Quarterly’s buzz-generating photo spread of actresses from “Glee”adopting sexually provocative poses more or less in character. Since their characters on the show are teenagers–minors—the Council equates the feature to pornography and pedophilia. “It is disturbing that GQ, which is explicitly written for adult men, is sexualizing the actresses who play high school-aged characters on Glee in this way. It borders on pedophilia,” said PTC President Tim Winter.

He’s right, of course. Continue reading

The Most Unethical Businesses and Viatical Settlements

A British website has posted its list of the “10 Most Unethical Ways to Make Money.” Like all such lists, there are some eyebrow-raising choices, both in what is included and what is not, usually attributable to the political and ideological biases of the list-makers. For example, until we have figured out a way to run civilization without oil, it is more than a bit unreasonable to declare the entire oil industry unethical, climate change or no climate change. Oil is on the list, though, while child porn, drug dealing and gambling are not. The list could be the result of a collaboration among Greenpeace and Ron Paul.

Still, most of the inclusions on the list, like blood diamonds, ivory, and sweat shops are neither surprising nor controversial. Placing one of the businesses on the list, however, qualifies as a public service. Most people have no idea what the industry is, or what is unethical about it.

That business is the viatical settlement industry, which preys on human impulsiveness and irresponsibility to make large profits. Unfortunately, the list’s brief explanation of the industry misses its most unquestionable and sinister incarnation: buying structured settlements. Continue reading