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File-sharing leads to child pornography charges in New Jersey, part one

The use of peer-to-peer networks are behind child pornography charges that have been lodged against 27 people in New Jersey. With the potential for 10 years in prison, the charges make it clear that peer-to-peer networks, also known as P2Ps, are more dangerous than they first appear. While P2Ps can be a great way to share information, unknowing users could be not only be guilty of possessing, but of sharing child pornography.

Peer-to-peer networks have lead to numerous lawsuits regarding copyright infringement and distribution of pornography, including cases involving the filing-sharing software company Limewire.

When multiple computers are on the same network, P2Ps allow everyone on the network to access files on all the other computers. This means that if you have confidential information, music, pornography or any illegal documents, everyone else on the network could have access to this information.

Possessing child pornography and sharing or distributing child pornography are criminal offenses. With P2Ps, the risk of accidentally downloading child pornography increases, and a user could be subject to serious penalties for simply using a P2P network. Here is what can happen:

A P2P user places child pornography in a folder to which other network user have access. According to a New Jersey case, that in itself constitutes distribution of child pornography. Once in the folder, everyone else on the network has access to it. Perhaps the file name is not indicative of its content, or perhaps a user downloads the wrong file.

Either way leads to the same result: one of those other users could accidentally download the child pornography file. Once the other user does so, the crime of possessing child pornography is done, whether intentional or not.

Source: NBC 10 Philadelphia, Major Child Porn Bust in NJ, by Jackie Gailey, Apr. 27, 2012

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