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Child porn bust lands the military in hot water – but not why you may think

Child porn bust lands the military in hot water – but not why you may think
photo courtesy of shutterstock

A child pornographer lands in prison, thanks to some advanced military technology. But now the U.S. military is ripped for how it uncovered the illegal stash.

In 2010, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, better known as NCIS thanks to the popular TV show, helped police in Washington catch a man with child pornography by tracking illegal images back to the man's computer. This sounds more like a television script than real life, but it actually happened.

NCIS used a law-enforcement program called RoundUp to track the man's activity on a file-sharing network called Gnutella. File-sharing networks allow users to download content from other users' computers. They're not always used for illegal activity but have drawn criticism in the past for letting users illegally download movies and music and share illegal content like child pornography.

On the surface, that sounds like a great story. The Navy used its technology and expertise to get a sick criminal off of the streets. But, the way NCIS went about collecting the incriminating evidence raises some very tricky questions about civilian privacy.

In fact, NCIS' methods are now under fire from the courts because they could put innocent civilians' computers under warrantless surveillance from the military. And, that could have some really serious consequences.

Next page: What the court said
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