Wrong IP Address Puts Man In Prison For 50 Days

from the sorry-about-that dept

As many companies would still like to believe that an IP address is all you need to identify a person using a computer, it's worth remembering that not only does an IP address not definitively identify who was using a computer, but it can easily get mixed up. A year ago, we had the story of someone whose house got incorrectly raided (by Shaquille O'Neal, for some unexplained reason) for child porn after an ISP gave investigators the wrong IP address info. It sounds like something similar has happened in India, where a man spent 50 days in prison for posting insulting pictures to Orkut. The only problem was that the guy had nothing to do with it. His ISP handed over the wrong information. This was only discovered once police found and arrested the people who actually uploaded the image. We won't even get into the question of why people are being arrested for uploading insulting photos, but this should serve as a warning to anyone who thinks that relying on an IP address as the sole piece of evidence is reasonable.
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Filed Under: ip address
Companies: airtel, google

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Nov 2007 @ 7:12am

    Those who rely on the IP address as the end-all fall into two main categories: 1) lacking realy technical knowledge AND not really feeling the need to improve that knowledge; 2) Have a vested interest in NOT digging further.

    The police rely on it because they WANT that arrest, they WANT to get that "predator" off the street "for the good of the children". That is paramount. In the India case it was those "insulting" pictures, in Florida it was child porn. They ignore any possibility that they should verify the information and consider if it's actually valid as it is.

    Other's (like *cough* RIAA, MPAA *cough*) don't really care whether the person is actually guiltly of what ever infraction-du-jour may have been committed. They want the results of "proving guilty" anyone. Stopping the offense is not the real goal it's the publicity of "got another one" that's the goal.

    In both cases the potential consequences to the people who are actually innocent are ignored or minimized. In most cases the innocent party is told "oh, sorry. Well, have a nice day". Until there are REAL consequences to the people who are actually doing this there will continue to be stories like this, with the victims just shoved out the door to make way for the next time.

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