Criminal Justice

Viruses Can Infect Computers with Child Porn, Leading to Legal Charges

Viruses can infect your computer, allowing pedophiles to view child porn when your PC is online or to use your computer to surf child porn sites.

An infected computer may be the least of your problems, the Associated Press reports. “An Associated Press investigation found cases in which innocent people have been branded as pedophiles after their co-workers or loved ones stumbled upon child porn placed on a PC through a virus,” the story says. “It can cost victims hundreds of thousands of dollars to prove their innocence.”

AP cites the case of Michael Fiola, a former investigator with the Massachusetts agency that oversees workers’ compensation. An Internet bill for his state-issued laptop showed he was using more than four times the online data of his colleagues. An investigation found child porn stored in a folder that contains images viewed online.

Fiola was fired and charged with possession of child pornography. He spent $250,000 on legal fees before prosecutors dropped charges. An inspection of the laptop had found it was programmed to visit as many as 40 child porn sites per minute.

“It ruined my life, my wife’s life and my family’s life,” Fiola told AP. He said he has sought to hire lawyers to sue the state, but no one will represent him because of a cap on damages.

Some prosecutors, however, scoff at the notion that infected computers are leading to wrongful charges. “We call it the SODDI defense: Some Other Dude Did It,” James Anderson, a federal prosecutor in Wyoming, told AP.

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