Illegal software allowed to be used for just cause?

By: Roman Tol
On: May 30, 2007
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About Roman Tol
Roman Tol is an Ecommerce specialist. Both techical and as a marketeer. Hands on and with vision. Keyword: Innovation.


On March 3rd 2005 Joseph Catterson, a British 44 year old man, was arrested in England because it was suspected he possessed child pornography on his computer. Previous to his arrest Catterson had removed all 1500 pornographic photographs and deleted the search history from his computer. Yet, the police were still able to trace the illegal pornography. Consequently last Sunday Teesside’s court sentenced Catterson to enter a 3 year rehabilitation program.

The police were able to find proof the computer once contained child pornography with the use of a keylogger. A keylogger is an illegal spyware application that saves the keyboard actions of the user. A keylogger is installed without the knowledge of the user by means of a virus or a software package containing spyware. A keylogger is walware and for that reason against the law.

Just for the record, I am 100% against any forms of illegal pornography and am very pleased Catterson is charged. Yet, I am not completely sure the actions taken by the police are proper. If a keylogger is illegal then it is not right when authorities make use of it, even if the cause is just. I assume the walware was installed before the police confiscated Cattersons computer, still, I recon the use of it is questionable and perhaps even illegitimate. What if in the future someone gets arrested on milder charges, say possession of Spiderman 3 in divx format: is the police allowed to use spyware to gather evidence?

I recon the British police did not put the keylogger records forward as evidence, but used it to force the suspect to confess, still this may lead to further breaches of privacy; following this logic governmental authorities may distribute walware and use it, as long if it is not put forward as proof but used as a means to pressure suspects.

Luckily I saw Spiderman 3 in the cinema… actually let me rephrase that…. sadly I saw Spiderman 3 in the cinema… I wasted 10 euro’s on a terrible movie.

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