Court blasts US Navy for scanning civilians’ computers for child porn

Every Gnutella user in the state of Washington was checked by the NCIS.

A federal appeals court said the US Navy's scanning of the public's computers for images of child pornography constituted "a profound lack of regard for the important limitations on the role of the military in our civilian society."

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) practice led the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals to suppress evidence in the form of images of child pornography that an NCIS agent in Georgia found on a Washington state civilian's computer. The agent was using a law-enforcement computer program called RoundUp to search for hashed images of child pornography on computers running the file-sharing network Gnutella.

"...RoundUp surveillance of all computers in Washington amounted to impermissible direct active involvement in civilian enforcement of the child pornography laws, not permissible indirect assistance," Judge Marsha Berzon wrote for the San Francisco-based appeals court.

The court ruled 3-0 Friday that the Obama administration's position on the case would render "meaningless" the Posse Comitatus Act (PCA), which largely prohibits the military from enforcing civilian law. The PCA was first passed in 1878. Continue reading

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