Column: Chat, Copy, Paste, Prison
When a New Hampshire judge threw out chat-log evidence against an accused pedophile, he illustrated just how jumbled and confused Internet privacy law can be.When a New Hampshire judge threw out chat-log evidence against an accused pedophile, he illustrated just how jumbled and confused Internet privacy law can be, said SecurityFocus columnist Mark D. Rasch. On August 22, 2002, as part of his official duties, Detective Frank Warchol of the Portsmouth, New Hampshire Police Department signed on to a chat room on America Online, posing as a fourteen-year-old girl. A man named Roland MacMillan also signed on to the chat room, and solicited what he believed to be the 14-year-old for sexual acts. Shortly thereafter Mr. MacMillan was arrested. The detective used screen capture software to record the chat, but New Hampshire statute requires that the recording of the conversation be made with the consent of all parties of the conversation -- not just one of the parties.
On February 23rd, Rockingham County Superior Court Judge Robert Morrill ruled that the results of the recording were an unlawful wiretap, and that they could not be admitted into evidence.