Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Privacy Your Rights Online

Germany Searches Credit Cards For Child Porn Payments 283

Posted by kdawson
from the variable-pricing-coming-soon dept.
narramissic writes "According to an ITworld article, police in the German state of Sachsen-Anhalt have teamed with credit card companies to sift through the transactions of over 22 million customers looking for those who may have purchased child pornography online. To date they have identified 322 suspects." From the article: "German data privacy laws allow police to ask financial institutions to provide data about individuals but only if the investigators meet certain conditions, including a concrete suspicion of illegal behavior and narrowly defined search criteria, according to Johann Bizer, deputy director of the Independent Center for Privacy Protection... In the case under investigation, police were aware of a child pornography Web site outside of Germany that was attracting users inside the country. And they asked the credit-card companies to conduct a database search narrowed to three criteria: a specific amount of money, a specific time period and a specific receiver account."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Germany Searches Credit Cards For Child Porn Payments

Comments Filter:
  • WHY?! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Virak (897071) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @02:49PM (#17526902) Homepage
    Why the hell do people pay for *any* porn, and especially why would you pay for porn that's *already illegal*?!

    People make my head hurt.
  • by mingot (665080) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @02:49PM (#17526904)
    Uh, doubt it. Perhaps "query".
  • Darwin (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NineNine (235196) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @02:51PM (#17526940)
    Well, I gotta say that somebody using a credit card to buy kiddie porn is a fine example of natural selection. Honestly, I had no idea that there were people that stupid out there. I mean really, if you're going to do something that is universally both illegal and reviled, why in the hell would you use a credit card?!?! Hell, I don't even use a credit card to buy incense at my local head shop!
  • Done correctly (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MobyDisk (75490) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @03:02PM (#17527168) Homepage
    I bet this is big news to Americans: a government that can responsibly deter crime without infringing on the rights of the citizens. How did those darn Germans do it? Some sort of miraculous new technology? Maybe they've invented a porno-detector? Let's take a look!

    only if the investigators meet certain conditions, including a concrete suspicion of illegal behavior and narrowly defined search criteria
    Sounds like a warrant.

    The database search was conducted by the credit-card companies, not the German police, which have no direct access to the financial records of people registered in Germany...They must have a concrete suspicion and provide very exact and limited search criteria.
    Sounds like responsible conduct.

    Bizer warned that credit-card data monitoring could lead to mistrust, especially if customers aren't properly informed.
    Sounds like an understanding of government, law, and proper oversight.

    Amazing!

  • Fine by me. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NNKK (218503) <nknight@runawaynet.com> on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @03:05PM (#17527248) Homepage
    If the site were in-country with in-country bank accounts, the authorities would just search those records directly. This gets them the exact same information. No more, no less. The parameters are narrowly-defined, reasonable, and the activity in question clearly illegal. The risk to innocents is at least as low as going at it from the other direction (looking at the records on the receiving end).
  • My card was stolen (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @03:12PM (#17527362)
    I wonder how many cards will now be reported stolen
  • Define "Broad" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 15Bit (940730) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @03:12PM (#17527384)
    The article clearly states that "The police are not allowed to ask credit-card companies or banks to run a very broad database search". However, the search criteria "a specific amount of money, a specific time period and a specific receiver account" reads to me as "we know the subscription fee, bank account number and the date the website went up. Could you tell us about all the germans who paid that subscription amount to that bank account please". That sounds like a pretty broad search criteria to me.

    A specific search would be "We have sound suspicions that a bloke called Wolfgang has been accessing this list of kiddie porn websites. Could you provide us with a list of transactions Wolfgang has made to them please."

  • Re:Done correctly (Score:1, Insightful)

    by smooth wombat (796938) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @03:15PM (#17527456) Homepage Journal
    a government that can responsibly deter crime without infringing on the rights of the citizens.


    Considering the chimp-in-chief considers the Constitution a "goddamned piece of paper" [indymedia.org] while the Attorney General considers it "an outdated document" [timsteil.com], you don't think he really cares about infringing the rights of citizens, do you?

  • by Kaz Kylheku (1484) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @03:18PM (#17527518) Homepage
    One reason might be that it's stolen?

    Someone steals your number, buys kiddie porn, and now you're the suspect.
  • Re:Done correctly (Score:5, Insightful)

    by camperdave (969942) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @03:26PM (#17527698) Journal
    How did those darn Germans do it?

    Hmm... The population of Germany is roughly 82 million, and they are going to "sift through the transactions of over 22 million customers". It seems to me that those darn Germans are going to do it by considering half the adult population as suspects.
  • by geoffspear (692508) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @03:27PM (#17527704) Homepage
    Right, those non-suspects records were "ploughed through" in the same sense that if the police requested one record with a specific transaction ID from the creit card company's database, all of the records were "ploughed through" when the query to retrieve that record was run. You're either a troll, have no idea how a database works, or don't know how to read.
  • honesty (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @03:33PM (#17527878)
    I am not quite sure I appreciate your honesty.

    Please, this is Slashdot.

  • Re:Darwin (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fafalone (633739) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @03:35PM (#17527912)
    Child porn sites are typically hidden from the general public, so you need to be a little more experienced with the net to find them. So the people who do find them are smart enough to use stolen ccs to pay for it, I'd bet 90% of the time.
  • Re:Define "Broad" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bcattwoo (737354) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @03:36PM (#17527956)

    A specific search would be "We have sound suspicions that a bloke called Wolfgang has been accessing this list of kiddie porn websites. Could you provide us with a list of transactions Wolfgang has made to them please."

    That's not a search at all though. That is just asking for Wolfgang's credit card statement, which could presumably just be done with a regular warrant given the sound suspicions. I don't understand how searching for records of people paying the subscription amount to a known kiddie porn purveyor during the time he was known to be in business could be construed as overly broad.

  • by jizziknight (976750) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @03:40PM (#17528036)
    Agreed. Now, If they were manually sorting through the records rather than running a db query, that'd be a different story. The fact of the matter is they're getting only what they searched for and nothing else. The only people having their records "ploughed through" are those who are suspects. So assuming no false positives (which shouldn't happen with a well written query), and no records are missed (which also shouldn't happen with a well written query), they're getting a 100% success rate. The hit rate of .00146% as put forth by the GP would only be correct assuming all 22 million of those people were guilty and they were only finding .00146%. Or at least that's the way I see it.
  • by poptones (653660) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @03:45PM (#17528210) Journal
    I exploit my knowledge and skill every day. If you have anything, so do you. People exploit the natural resources around them - cut trees for firewood, fish in their ponds, etc. It seems you've been confused by the mass delusion spread by the politically correct.

    We live in a world now where parents have scant real freedom to raise their kids as they deem fit. How I raise my kids - how I let them dress, what beliefs I teach them, how they are educated - is not your business, not george bush's business, and not the business of the school board... well, at least it wasn't before the feds decided to bend over for the feminist left in the 1980s and make a whole new set of crimes for this shit... never mind those existing laws pretty much covered any REAL sex crimes against americans regardless of age.

    I'm more or less all for the police just posting a list of those who bought the child porn and let society takes its normal course of false morality and prejudice against them.

    Oh yes indeed, that would work perfectly.. it certainly worked well in the south for folks like Emmet Till. While we're at it, how about posting the names of all those folks breaking the other laws, too? Like the whites who married blacks, the ones who buy marital aids, the ones who practice the vile arts like sodomy and cunnilingus and felatio...

    And what about the guy who beats his wife? No chance someone like that might be fucking his daughter or even his son, huh? Or beating them? Where are the calls to castrate these folks?

    The "civilized west" has gone abso-fucking-lutely batshit. How apt you should be deemed a "troll" by another of those "critical thinkers" spawned from this completely perverted society.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @03:45PM (#17528212)
    Pedos do not have rights. Infact, I hope they end up in federal pound me in the ass prison.
    I agree. Any man attracted to a 17 year-old girl is a sick, demented pervert. They should all die a slow, horrible death.
  • by nasor (690345) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @03:50PM (#17528376)
    It's not about the rights of the pedophiles, it's about the rights of normal people to not have the police scrutinize their personal financial records simply because some pedophile uses the same credit card company. The police knew that a few people had used credit cards to buy the porn, so they examined the records of all 22 million people.
  • Re:Darwin (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) <obsessivemathsfreakNO@SPAMeircom.net> on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @03:54PM (#17528456) Homepage Journal
    I mean really, if you're going to do something that is universally both illegal and reviled, why in the hell would you use a credit card?!?!
    An even better question is why if you were someone offerring something illegal and reviled would you accept payment from something as traceable as a credit card transaction?

    The conspiracy theorist in me suspects all may not be as it seems here, but the realist in me understands that both buyers and sellers are mercifully stupid.
  • To the contrary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BenEnglishAtHome (449670) * on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @03:55PM (#17528474)
    I have problems with this. I'll give the German police some slack and assume they are reasonable enough to only look for people who purchased materials that any reasonable person would look at and say "That's obviously vile child abuse." We cannot, however, trust the police everywhere to be as reasonable.

    In the U.S., people are being prosecuted right now for making and selling child porn even though the prosecution agrees that no nudity or sexual activity is depicted. In the U.S., at least one 16 year old girl has been charged with child abuse and child porn production for taking a cell phone picture of herself nude and sending it to a boyfriend. (Yes, the child she was charged with abusing was herself. Think on that a while, but don't blame me if your head explodes.) In the U.S., we have people sitting in jail convicted of possessing child porn for, among other things, having cartoons of young-looking characters having sex. (I'm at work, so filtering prevents me from searching for links; you can google them as easily as I can, though. For the first case, look for "Pierson" who's being prosecuted in Alabama.)

    Yes, everyone is probably right that in the instant case this is a reasonable way to proceed. But I'm still not comfortable with it. I don't trust LEOs to not be idiots, to not be grinding political axes. Dangerous stuff, this. If it's backed up with searches that find people in possession, great. But be warned - due to identity theft or whatever reason, there will be some false positives. The people who are the victims of those false positives are just a short distance away from having their lives utterly ruined without adequate justification.

    There must be better ways of investigating this sort of thing.

  • Re:WHY?! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by computational super (740265) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @04:14PM (#17528906)

    You're assuming they're using their own credit cards... remember, we're talking about people who are already commiting a crime to begin with. How'd you like to have your credit card # harvested and then find out about it by having the Gestapo kick in your door? Yikes.

  • by Josef Meixner (1020161) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @04:15PM (#17528928) Homepage
    The children are likely not German, so they're not protecting the german children. The servers are not in Germany, so they are not policing they're own internet. They are telling people what they cannot do.

    German law on child pornography is universial, as long as a German is involved, it is the business of the attorney. So a German tourist fucking a little girl somewhere on holiday can be prosecuted in Germany. The law was changed like this after it showed that especially Thailand would not do anything to protect its own children. So the law was changed to be able to do something about it here (yes, I am German).

    Therefore it is completely irrelevant, if the child was German or if the server was located in Germany. All what is relevant was that Germans were buying child porn, something which is very clearly forbidden here. Also what the headline doesn't tell, there are 20 teachers under the suspects and quite a lot of repeat offenders.

    I am not happy about this either, as my credit cards were probably among those that were checked. But it really seems as if everything was done to the letter of the law. The law enforcment officers never saw the CC records, the CC companies were doing the searches for an exact sum, to a fishy Phillipene billing company in a two month time frame. Sadly the trail stopps at the billing company for now, because much better than going after the buyers would have been to get the sellers.

    But to repeat, according to German law it is completely irrelevant where the child was, where the pictures were made and where the servers are located. And I think it was a good idea to change the law like this, because honestly I don't see why child porn from a German child should be prosecuted differently.

  • Re:Moo (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dgm3574 (153548) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @04:24PM (#17529154) Homepage
    Decrease the demand for illicit content and hopefully less supply is created to meet the diminished demand.
  • by computational super (740265) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @04:30PM (#17529296)

    But you're just guessing as to what the contents of the site(s) in question were - all you know is that some LEA said it was illegal. The actual content may have been much tamer than you're thinking (or even completely fictional) - we'll never know. And (regardless of the country in which you live, apparently) it's against the law for you or I even to look and find out if we agree that it is illegal (or should be). I beleive I read somewhere that Canada even made it against the law to find out how to find out (that is, just to find out what the name of the website was). One would presume that, if these folks go to trial (if they even get trials for these cases any more), then at least the jury will have a chance to take a look at what the accused was looking at and say, "yep, that's illegal alright"... but I'm afraid I wouldn't be terribly surprised if they didn't even let the jury look.

  • Re:Moo (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lehk228 (705449) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @05:06PM (#17530106) Journal
    S&W already invented a cure for p[a]edophilia
  • Re:Done correctly (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kjella (173770) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @05:28PM (#17530608) Homepage
    Oh, for the love of...., would you get off it. They're searching for a specific amount, to a specific account in a specific time.

    SELECT * FROM transactions WHERE account_to = '4234534543254' AND amount = '19.95$' AND transaction_date BETWEEN '2005-12-31' AND '2006-06-31'

    It's not slam-dunk evidence, because they might have operated legal sites which also got paid to the same account, cards get stolen and so on. But if your card has been paying the same fee to the same account as a kiddie porn site during the same time, that's plenty grounds for reasonable suspicion. This isn't a fishing expedition any more than if they asked the DMV who owns a blue Audi A4 1995-model, and they ran the query against the whole DB. If they don't hit, they get squat. Sometimes the anti-law enforcement brigade on slashdot really get their panties in a bunch over nothing.
  • Re:Moo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ozan (176854) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @05:38PM (#17530768) Homepage
    We're in a sad state of affairs. Germany here is no longer protecting its own citizens, it's preventing it's citizens from viewing things online elsewhere. Who are they protecting?

    They are protecting the basic principle of Article 1 of the German constitution AKA Basic Law AKA Grundgesetz.

    The children are likely not German, so they're not protecting the german children.

    What is your point? That foreign children are less to be protected from abuse? The first sentence of Article 1 of the Grundgesetz reads "Human dignity shall be inviolable.", not "German dignity shall be inviolable."

    The servers are not in Germany, so they are not policing they're own internet.

    Again, what is your point? That Germans shall be able to behave in illegal activities as long as these are taking place on foreign servers?

    They are telling people what they cannot do.

    Which is basicly encouraging child abuse by exerting demand for child pornography.

    What is the reason for banning viewing these things? The usual reason is protecting children from being exploited, but one, these are not German children, and two, there is no proof they were even exploited.

    Regarding the children not being German read what I wrote above. Regarding point two: It is common sense that children can not give informed consent to pornography, so child pornography is in its nature exploiting children, wether they are being forced or by other pressure.

    They are literally telling people what they cannot do in their own homes even when it doesn't hurt anyone.

    If you think that children are not hurt by degrading appearances of themselves in pictures or films, or even worse, by being photographed or filmed while being subjected to degrading or painful or injuring acts by others you seriously need to take a reality check.

    I know, i know, thinkofthechildren.

    Yeah, little people with extra need of protection. Think about it.

    It's only a matter of time before children are carted away and a young age to be protected from the evils of the world.

    There is no need to that. Instead, there are laws and law enforcement doing that job.

    And crap like this is getting modded "interesting", now even the mods are trolling.
  • by B5_geek (638928) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @06:00PM (#17531156)
    So that would mean that the investigation has a success rate of 0.001463636%

    Disclaimer: IMO anybody who hurts a child should be exterminated.

    What % of children die from disease or other 'preventable' causes in Germany?
    Would efforts be better spent helping them?
  • by gd23ka (324741) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @07:05PM (#17532164) Homepage
    A couple hundred kids are stripped naked and photographed by
    child pornographers every year. Some are traumatized
    by rape and other degrading sexual acts. For the most part
    however they are fed and live to see adulthood.

    On the other hand _thousands_(!) of children are maimed or die
    from such mundane causes such as traffic and wars each year.
    'Guess how many Iraqi children died in the last years at the hands
    of US and our "allies", how many died from the arial bombing, land
    mines, scarcity of food and medical supplies?

    Get a clue, moron

nohup rm -fr /&

Working...