Posted by Andrew Cheetham Posted on 1 May 2019

US Prosecutors Dropping Child Porn Cases to Protect Monitoring Software – Report

Federal prosecutors have been dropping child pornography cases for years in an effort to avoid scrutiny of the software used to bring the charges, a report by ProPublica has found. The Department of Justice’s actions raise questions about the accuracy and legality of their methods.

ProPublica has “found more than a dozen cases since 2011 that were dismissed either because of challenges to the software’s findings, or the refusal by the government or the maker to share the computer programs with defense attorneys, or both,” according to an April 3 report.

Everything You Need to Know But Havent Been Told

Other groups have raised concerns about this as well, including Human Rights Watch, which lamented in a February letter to the DOJ, “Since the system is designed to flag people as suspected of having committed crimes, both its error rates and its potential to exceed constitutional bounds have implications for rights… it is unclear what information the Justice Department has about CPS’ potential for error (and on what basis).”

Child Protection System (CPS) is just one of the software tools used by investigators to identify suspects, but it’s owned by a private company, TLO, which has intervened repeatedly in federal cases to put an end to questions about how much data the program accesses and stores, Reason noted.

It’s been a repeated problem: DOJ partnerships with private companies providing their secretive digital surveillance tools result in those companies blocking scrutiny of the functioning, efficacy and accuracy of those tools in the name of protecting “trade secrets.”

HRW said it was afraid “the government may be shielding its methods from scrutiny by relying on its arrangements with” private entities.

Forensics expert Tami Loehrs told ProPublica she was aware of more than 60 cases in which defense lawyers have tried to vindicate their clients by focusing on the software used to present evidence against them.’

Read more: US Prosecutors Dropping Child Porn Cases to Protect Monitoring Software – Report

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