back to article Facebook shopped BBC hacks to National Crime Agency over child abuse images probe

Facebook reported BBC journalists to the police after the reporters accidentally emailed them images of child sexual abuse, the social network's PR has alleged. The BBC was investigating private Facebook groups used to share both legal and illegal images, some of the latter of which featured children being abused. Its …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Answer

    Shut Farcebook down.

    What on earth are they thinking, demanding being sent examples of content already identified at best being highly inappropriate, and possibly illegal. Never mind being harvested from their own content.

    Note to BBC, just send them a link - don't duplicate the content and distribute it again - that is not helpful...

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Answer

      Unfortunately even sending the link means you must have seen the content, which (as I understand it) is in itself, illegal and has no defense.

      1. Baldrickk

        Re: Answer

        sending the link:

        Well, how do you report if if you stumble across it then?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Answer

          "Well, how do you report if if you stumble across it then?"

          If you want an easy life, you don't. It's not your problem unless you want it to be.

        2. Cereberus

          Re: Answer

          As I understand it, and I use Facebook as a point of contact for a fishing syndicate I am in and nothing else so have never really looked at the mechanics of how Facebook works, there is a facility to report the page or image built in to the system.

          The problem here is that these images were reported using this system then effectively ignored.

          What the BBC should have done is taken these links and referred them to the police stating they had been reported to Facebook who had refused to act on the information using their own internal reporting system and so were aiding in the distribution of unsuitable and / or illegal material. The police could then move in and charge Facebook with distribution as they had ignored a take down request if the images were illegal. From the BBC report at least one was illegal as it showed abuse.

          1. AMBxx Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: Answer

            Given that the BBC knew that they were investigating illegal material, they should have taken advice from the police before starting?

        3. jonfr

          Re: Answer

          Reporting anything to Facebook is useless and is more likely in some cases to earn you temporary ban or permanent one from Facebook.

          Why the Facebook HQ is not raided by the police is something I do not understand.

          1. Allonymous Coward
            Childcatcher

            Re: Answer

            Why the Facebook HQ is not raided by the police is something I do not understand.

            In this case, and as suggested by another commentard, the BBC should have reported the images to the police themselves. And also reported the fact they'd notified Facebook, who'd taken no action.

            This would have hopefully led to the sanctimonious Temple of Zuck having an uncomfortable session with Plod. Which would have been a good outcome.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Answer

          "Well, how do you report if if you stumble across it then?"

          Print it out on a bit of paper, stick it in an envelope marked "for the police", and post it in a post box somewhere between home and work. And take care not to get fingerprints on anything or put your return address on the back.

          1. PeeKay

            Re: Answer

            "Print it out on a bit of paper"

            Ooops! Too late - they found you. Remember that printers are recorded against users (particularly home users) much like TV sets - they also print invisible dots which can be traced back to that particular printer - supposedly to stop printing money, or something...

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Answer

            "Print it out on"

            Are you sure the printer doesn't uniquely watermark every page it prints? Did you use a self-sealing envelope or did you plaster your DNA all over it when you licked it?

            Anyone know where I can more tinfoil? Industrial grade only please.

            1. an ominous mass
              Coat

              Re: Answer

              @ John Brown (no body)

              "Anyone know where I can get more tinfoil? Industrial grade only please."

              You will be wanting a product called "Blackwrap"

              Try here

              http://www.gamonline.com/catalog/blackwrap/

              Heavy duty means it holds its shape well and for the truly paranoid its Matt black finish ensures zero reflection of the authoritiy's locating waves.

              My coat is the one with the really long sleeves that buckle to the front

        5. Wayland Bronze badge

          Re: Answer

          You have committed a vile crime for stumbling upon child porn and deserve the maximum the law can throw at you. It is both your duty and your own fault if you report it. If you don't report it you're going to hell and if you do then you're going to prison. I hope that's all clear now.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Answer

            'If you don't report it you're going to hell and if you do then you're going to prison.'

            Unless of course, you are a member of the cabinet, in which case you are given the wifi password for the House of Lords.

        6. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Answer

          You send the link to the authorities to show that FB is in violation of the Child Protection Act. Burn, Zuck, Burn!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Answer

        Unfortunately even sending the link means you must have seen the content, which (as I understand it) is in itself, illegal and has no defense.

        Here we go again with the hysterical misinterpretations of the law. Look at the CPS guidance on the subject; the third listed defence is as follows;

        "Unsolicited Photographs

        This defence applies to possession under section 160 of the CJA 1988 only (s.160(2)(c) of the CJA 1988).

        The defence is made out if the defendant proves that the photograph in question was sent to him without any prior request by him or on his behalf and that he did not keep it for an unreasonable time. By analogy, the burden is a legal one (R v Collier [2005] 1 Cr. App. R. 9)."

        So if you come inadvertently stumble upon some child porn, and report it by sending a link, you are covered by the "Unsolicited Photographs" defence. Moreover, by reporting it, you are actually giving weight to any future claim by you that you did not seek out said content, should it subsequently be found in your browser cache or whatever.

      3. Lotaresco Silver badge

        Re: Answer

        "Unfortunately even sending the link means you must have seen the content, which (as I understand it) is in itself, illegal and has no defense."

        It isn't seeing the image that is the offence, it is "making an image". Unfortunately there is fairly broad interpretation by the courts of what constitutes "making" an image. Having a thumbnail in your browser's cache is "making an image".

        The CPS gives the following examples:

        • Opening an attachment to an email containing an image (R v Smith [2002] 1 Cr. App. R. 13);
        • Downloading an image from a website onto a computer screen (R v Jayson [2002] 1 Cr. App. R.13);
        • Storing an image in a directory on a computer (Atkins v DPP; Goodland v DPP [2000] 2 Cr. App. R. 248);
        • Accessing a website in which images appeared by way of automatic "pop-up" mechanism (R v Harrison [2008] 1 Cr. App. R. 29).

        Then there is the more serious offence of "distributing images". This is the offence that traps people who send links because they are "distributing images".

        The CPS guidance on that is:

        • The anticipated showing must to be to a person(s) beyond the possessor of the photographs (R v T 163 JP 349).

        That is, sending a link is sufficient grounds for prosecution because the defendant has "shown" the image to another person.

        Quite charmingly, the defendant doesn't even need to have knowledge that the image is one of child abuse.

        I don't excuse paedophiles but I am genuinely shocked at how broadly the legislation is drawn and that the legislation makes even innocent acts illegal and it makes it difficult for a journalist to notify the authorities of the existence of this trash. I think in this instance Facebook successfully and rather nastily trolled the BBC journos.

        1. salamamba too
          Thumb Up

          Re: Answer

          "Then there is the more serious offence of "distributing images". This is the offence that traps people who send links because they are "distributing images".

          The CPS guidance on that is:

          The anticipated showing must to be to a person(s) beyond the possessor of the photographs (R v T 163 JP 349)."

          1. As Facebook t&c give Facebook a worldwide licence on all photos and videos posted, Facebook has clearly established that it is the possessor of these photos.

          2. In general terms, having the image appear on your screen means that you have made an image. This has been the decision in a number of cases, ranging from obscene images to copyright iinfringement.

          This means that, in terms of this investigation, Facebook has licenced explicit child images, then distributed them to other people. The company should therefore be prosecuted.

          1. veti Silver badge

            Re: Answer

            I hate it when spokesdroids say "xxx is against the law", without specifying what law, or even jurisdiction, they're talking about.

            BBC hacks? Well, who knows where they were viewing the images, but there's a good chance it was in London, so "CPS guidance" is relevant.

            Facebook moderators? Might have been based just about anywhere. But the company is headquartered in California, so California state and/or US federal law apply.

            These are two (well, three) different things, and what's "abuse" in one place might not be so in the other.

    2. creepy gecko
      FAIL

      Re: Answer

      "The BBC was investigating private Facebook groups used to share both legal and illegal images, some of the latter of which featured children being abused."

      Pardon me if I'm a little naive, but how can such groups exist on Facebook? Surely FB have some sort of self-policing system in place?

      I don't use Zuck's evil toy, so have no idea how easy/difficult it is to set-up a private closed group. Even so, I'm surprised that what appears to be a paedophile group was in existence on FB.

      Piss-poor effort from Facebook.

      1. m0rt

        Re: Answer

        "The defence is made out if the defendant proves that the photograph in question was sent to him without any prior request by him or on his behalf and that he did not keep it for an unreasonable time. By analogy, the burden is a legal one (R v Collier [2005] 1 Cr. App. R. 9).

        Right - key words here: " the defendant proves that the photograph in question was sent to him without any prior request by him"

        You have to prove something that doesn't exist. I think the hysterical interpretation is possibly justified in this case. The people usually enforcing the law are not about being justice driven, but results driven. It isn't there fault, it is the way the system is stacked and badly written and amateur (I hope, otherwise conspiracy) lawmaking.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Answer

          You have to prove something that doesn't exist. I think the hysterical interpretation is possibly justified in this case.

          No, sorry, but that is wrong. You are taking a small fragment, reading it literally, and not accounting for what other areas of the law say. In order for you to require that defence in the first place, you must have met the standards to be charged with possession, otherwise there would be no charge to defend. So let's look at another part of the same CPS guidance;

          "Possession" involves both a physical and mental element.

          The physical element is that a person must have custody and control of the photographs stored on a device in order to possess them. This means he / she must be capable of, or in a position to, retrieve them in the sense, for example, of being able to produce them on the screen, make a copy of them or send them to someone else (R v Porter [2006] 1 Cr. App. R. 25; R v Leonard [2012] 2 Cr. App. R. 12). This is of particular relevance in the case of deleted images. Proof of the physical element in such cases will depend on consideration of (a) where the photographs are stored on the device (b) the means by which they could be retrieved in the sense set out above and (c) whether the defendant has the wherewithal to retrieve them i.e. has the technical knowledge and software / other equipment required to do so.

          The mental element is knowledge. A defendant must knowingly have custody and control of the photographs found on the device in question.

          So explain to me how, having fleetingly seen an indecent image, reported it, and then deleted it, one can be said to " knowingly have custody and control of the photographs found on the device in question"?

          1. tr1ck5t3r
            Trollface

            Re: Answer

            Law enforcement/Military are testing people. Read this story to find out whats really going on in other domains besides politicial.

            https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/03/07/cambridge_analytica_dystopianism/

            Its not just happening on facebook, similar poorly designed tests are taking place on porn sites, craigs list, ebay and other sites, probably driven by the US Govt, but I cant help but notice the UK is not so dumb when it comes to innovation in all its forms either.

            The trick is to play their game up to a point, but bear in mind all your electronic transactions are used as well, so dont be surprised when imperial college lecturers buy things from you to see if you are horsing around or not.

            I do wonder what the ultimate agenda is though?

          2. m0rt

            Re: Answer

            Well responded. I withdraw my hysteresis.

          3. Adam 52 Silver badge

            Re: Answer

            "So explain to me how, having fleetingly seen an indecent image, reported it, and then deleted it, one can be said to " knowingly have custody and control of the photographs found on the device in question"?"

            The legal niceties don't matter too much in the real world. After having been arrested and charged your life and career are pretty much over anyway. And arrested and charged you will be in this case because the blame culture and paranoia means that everyone from the ISP to the CPS will be arse covering.

            The comment below about an expert witness is an example of where this has happened.

          4. Bakker

            Re: Answer

            Out of interest. Didn't Facebook solicit these photos to be sent to them? After they had been told of the content??

        2. Lotaresco Silver badge

          Re: Answer

          "You have to prove something that doesn't exist. "

          I acted as an expert witness in a case where a teenager was accused of "making" kiddie porn. When the hard drive of his PC was examined it became obvious that he had not requested the images. Quite the opposite. There were IRC logs that showed someone else asking him if he wanted to "look at some porn" he said "no". Then the other party said "I'll send it anyway." followed by "What did you think of that?" to which the defendant had replied "It's horrible, I deleted it." There was evidence on the drive that he had indeed deleted the image about two minutes after receiving it.

          That defence was successful, so it is possible.

          1. Richard 12 Silver badge

            Re: Answer

            A successful defence is however meaningless in this situation.

            You have already lost your job, your home, your family and your entire future.

            Because you don't have anonymity, the news and the local gossips have destroyed you before your lawyer even speaks.

            And the "enhanced" DBS will include this as well ("hearsay" is in there), so even if you move away your career is still ended if you were a teacher, care worker or other post where the Enhanced DBS searches are done.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Answer

        I would assume the groups have a standard set nicknames known by people who use that sort of thing?

        Although if a group has one of its images reported, surely facebook should be putting that group under heavy scrutiny.

    3. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Answer

      Pretty clear that the BBC have actually committed an offence. Their actions in sending the images back to Facebook do in fact breach the Indecent Images of Children (IIOC) as it is an offence to 'make; an image, i.e. download or print out an image under Section 1 PCA 1978. Give that they got away with Savile I hope that this time they really get clobbered.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Answer

        Two wrongs don't make a right. A prosecution here doesn't make up for anything related to Savile, where actual minors were being abused. Otherwise, Facebook should also be prosecuted for facilitating child pron rings.

  2. Richard Jones 1

    What the F*** Zuck

    What a bunch of really, truly stupid bozo's. Perhaps they want to be called kiddie choice book? I have never had any interest in the dummybook and preferred to refer to it as bumbook, but this latest stupid move does so much take the biscuit but the entire biscuit factory.

    Did you hear the really crass statement that the FB's UK dumb-nuts communications twit gave to the BBC when he or anyone else was too afraid to appear in person.

    I agree that it would be best to sent wallybook a link in future, perhaps a mass mailing of links relating to crap would be the way forward, but then the dodgy character in charge would probably blame people for finding FB were hoarding illegal material.

    Should FB be added to the UK black list of 'unsuitable sites' and give some of our population a reason to get a life once more?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What the F*** Zuck

      I'm so glad that our over-stretched and limited resources police are now burdened with dealing with this. What a bunch of tw@ts facebook really are.

      You're right, it's about time Facebook was put on the list of "dark net" sites that politicians keep going on about, for being evil and dastardly and leading to the slow self destruction of humanity and common sense.

    2. FuzzyWuzzys
      Facepalm

      Re: What the F*** Zuck

      The usual problem with these sites, they were set up by a load of students as a bit of a laugh. Sadly while the technology might scale the attitudes and abilities of the admins do not. This leads to the biggest sites on the internet being run by a load of people who never had any real IT systems or legal experience beyond what they learned at college and then applied to a multi-million dollar cash-cow.

      1. Esme

        Re: What the F*** Zuck

        - and a deficit in the ethics department. ISTR that the chap that started the company behind a lot of teh games on Farcebook openely admitted to doing just about every slimey thing going with customer data, at one point. What I never understood is why he wasn't then prosecuted

        1. Toni the terrible Bronze badge

          Re: What the F*** Zuck

          Obvious, He is rich, influential and American so no prosecution

  3. Steve Evans
    Facepalm

    LOL!

    Too funny!

    Sorry, but that just made me laugh.

    I would suggest that in future the reporter just skips Farcebook and their comical operations department, and just create give an anonymous report directly to the cops.

    I'll leave them to work out how to create an anonymous tip without being arrested by the cops for sending them the links/pictures, because I'm sure they'll be almost as comical as FB's muppets.

  4. SquidEmperor

    I have no love for Facebook...but...

    Why on earth would you even bother reporting it to Facebook. Contact the police. If you saw illegal images on a billboard on the side of a office building would you go in to the building and be happy to be instructed: "Sure, just fill in this form about what you saw and why you think it's illegal and we'll look in to it.." You'd report it to the police. That's what should be done online as well. Screw Facebook and their hopeless systems but let's not elevate them to guardians of law, decency and what is and isn't legal to be posted online.

    1. Steve Button

      Re: I have no love for Facebook...but...

      Why? Because they are investigative journalists, and it's in their mandate to give the people they are investigating a chance to respond. Also, it makes for a better story as they can report that FB have done something or nothing about it.

      If it was just reported straight to the Police, then we the public would be denied the chance to be outraged ^w^w do something about it.

      Yet another reason to quit FB.

    2. Tom Paine

      Re: I have no love for Facebook...but...

      Because the whole object of the exercise was to demonstrate that Facebook's self-moderation processes don't work, dumdum.

      1. SquidEmperor

        Re: I have no love for Facebook...but...

        No kidding? My point was not that it shouldn't be investigated, and nor was it that Facebook's manifest pathetic failings in moderating and deleting posts highlighted as illegal shouldn't be examined, reported on and publicised. My point was that not reporting a crime but relying on a third party who may or may not have vested interests is rather silly. Facebook might be negligent, some might even argue criminally so (I have no idea) , but if you see illegal images of children anywhere surely law enforcement bodies are who we should report this to?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Actually the FBI will direct you to a non profit

    Years ago I got some very disgusting images in a spam email. I forwarded it to the FBI and they directed me to an non-profit that investigate such things. They said that the non profit would pursue it and if they found anything they would forward it to the FBI.

    1. deive

      Re: Actually the FBI will direct you to a non profit

      Possibly cos the FBI have more important things to do, such as getting access to all your phone data and such?

  6. Fading
    Facepalm

    For all we know...

    the BBC may have posted the images on Facebook in the first place - wouldn't be the first time they attempt to make news rather than report it (just connected Saville's old work computer).

    Whilst not a fan of the anti-social FB this is another example of the lack of self-awareness over the BBC's own actions (just like taking helicopters to Cliff Richard's house).

    Will no one rid us (Licence fee payers) of this troublesome broadcaster?

    1. myhandler

      Re: For all we know...

      Troll

      1. Fading
        Trollface

        Re: For all we know...

        Given the BBC's history?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: For all we know...

      Calm down Mr Murdoch, think of your heart!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: For all we know...Calm down Mr Murdoch, think of your heart!

        His what?

        @fading

        "I give the BBC as much good faith over this investigation as I would the Pope and for similar reasons. "

        You're not terribly up on the new Pope, are you? He's been stomping on corruption in the Church as if he was Richard Dawkins on speed. I don't share any of his religious beliefs but he seems to be doing a good job.

    3. Ben Tasker Silver badge

      Re: For all we know...

      > For all we know the BBC may have posted the images on Facebook in the first place

      Whatever you've been smoking, step away from it.

      1. Fading

        Re: For all we know...

        Call me cynical - fake news has been cited by the more Liberal side of the media as the reason recent big votes went the way they did. One of the portals frequently blamed is FB. Is it beyond the realm of possibilities that certain unsavoury stories would be "investigated" to deligitimise said portals?

        1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

          Re: For all we know...

          > Call me cynical - fake news has been cited by the more Liberal side of the media as the reason recent big votes went the way they did. One of the portals frequently blamed is FB. Is it beyond the realm of possibilities that certain unsavoury stories would be "investigated" to deligitimise said portals?

          You're cynical. In fact, you almost sound like you've had a bump on the head.

          Leaving your view of the BBC's motivations aside for a second, ask yourself this:

          Is it plausible and reasonable to think that some might be sharing indecent images in "private" facebook groups? Bearing in mind most of the images are probably rendered indecent by the context rather than actually being that explicit when viewed on their own.

          Now, what seems more plausible - that someone at the BBC risked life and liberty (cos you will be jailed if caught) to both procure and then publish the images, purely to discredit a company that does a good job of discrediting itself,

          or that a bunch of... ahem... interested people shared some fairly risque (but not necessarily outright illegal, at a glance) images, and that Facebook's moderation & review mechanism happens to be shite, or more likely, based on a different set of law to what needs to be observed here in blighty?

          See, I'm more inclined to think that whilst option 1 isn't impossible, it's far, far, far less likely to be the truth than option 2. and I find it hard to believe that anyone could reasonably think it's more likely, especially given that if it triggers an investigation, it wouldn't take long for the investigators to piece together the messy trail the average journalist would leave when they believe they're anonymous.

    4. SquidEmperor

      Re: For all we know...

      Post something "insane" and try and detract from core issue. Propaganda tactics 101. You ARE Mark Zuckerberg and I claim ny $100.

    5. Milton

      Re: For all we know...

      For all YOU know, I think you meant ...

      ... but, beyond the witless trolling, there is a point here: compare Facebook, a mere regurgitator of almost entirely infantile, worthless drivel, lies, bragging, bullying and endless crappy adverts, with a public service broadcaster and producer which has been producing original, creative content, spanning every genre from news through comedy and drama and scifi, for nearly a century, selling its best work for tens of millions of pounds to audiences of hundreds of millions across the world.

      The comparison makes you realise how pathetically juvenile, shallow, tacky and superficial operations like Facebook really are.

      BBC: "We use real talent to make original stuff, to entertain and inform"

      FB: "We use computers to endlessly repeat other people's trash and then manure their eyeballs with marketing sewage"

      Seems to sum up the fundamental, mindless vacuity of the digital revolution rather well. I can see why BBC employees might feel proud of their work, for all Auntie's faults. But I realise now that I cannot imagine why anyone working for Facebook or Google or most of the other digital giants—little better than organs of regurgitation—would feel anything except slightly ashamed and embarrassed ... perhaps the same way you should feel ashamed if you worked for a distiller producing poor-grade, cheap liquor, knowing perfectly well it was purchased only by those with alcohol problems. Quite distasteful, isn't it?

      1. Fading

        Re: For all we know...

        I give the BBC as much good faith over this investigation as I would the Pope and for similar reasons. BTW I have not defended FB.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Any proscriptive law on media is badly drafted if it doesn't have a "public interest" provision to expose incompetence, hypocrisy, or corruption..

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      You're new to this law making business, aren't you?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "You're new to this law making business, aren't you?"

        No - I cut my teeth fighting some of the overreach in the Sexual Offences Bill (2003). That opened my eyes to the way the drafting of bills like that are effectively delegated to vested interests and lobby groups. Several times it appeared the thresholds of evidence had been reduced to almost nothing - "because it's hard to get convictions".

        It was the SOA 2003 that reclassified 16/17 year olds as "children". Previously they were a separate category recognising that they had almost adult maturity. Which is why back copies of the Sun Page 3 are now probably illegal to own.

  8. Dave Bell

    There's a lot of room for argument over who to blame, but I think it's the cops who need to take a hand now. It's not just about whether the BBC should have reported to them, or whether Facebook should have called for sample images. Some of it seems to be context driven, such as a not-all-that-blatant pic of a schoolgirl attracting a flood of abusive comments. I am not sure the cops can set all that definite a line, but they're the one who have seen the pictures, not us.

    At the end of the day, they might need to interview the people involved under caution, and ask to see the letters between Facebook and the BBC. We're not getting quite the same story from the two of them.

    Both could have made mistakes in this.

  9. Gordon Pryra

    What is the reasoning behind allowing this company in the UK?

    Surely when a non-tax paying organisation believes its internal policies trump British law then that company should not be operating in Britain?

    The UK can go back to "friends reunited" as a platform to bullshit their friends into believing they have a perfect life :P

    1. Your alien overlord - fear me
      Facepalm

      Re: What is the reasoning behind allowing this company in the UK?

      Are you talking about the BBC or Facebook?

      1. Dave 15 Silver badge

        Re: What is the reasoning behind allowing this company in the UK?

        Hopefully both, cant see life being worse without them both can you?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Legal Defense for reporting images

    The MOU referred to in the article provides a legal defense for people who may stumble across this vile content so they can safely report it.

    The MOU also specifically says:

    "Vigilantism is not merely unnecessary, it is unhelpful: anyone taking it upon themselves to seek out or investigate this kind of material where there is no legitimate duty to do so will be liable to prosecution"

    So whether the BBC activities can be considered vigilantism I leave for the reader to decide. The safer option should have been for them to report the images to the authoritative body for this (IWF) and used that as the basis for interviews rather than re-sharing the images which does not seem to bo covered by the MOU.

    Just my 2p

  11. wolfetone Silver badge
    Coat

    What? BBC staff being reported child sexual abuse?

    Well, I'm shocked.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nuke the entire site from orbit--it's the only way to be sure

    This is the problem, if you see the images then, as the law stands, you are guilty. I came across an email account some years ago which contained many really bad pictures - after some investigation the decision was made at a higher level that we would shut the account down and delete everything including all backups. It was feared that reporting the user would result in the mail server and everyone's computers being seized and the system admins facing prosecution. I think the PHB's were more concerned about the server than the people.

    Unsurprisingly the user never contacted us to ask why his account had disappeared.

    1. Tom Paine

      Re: Nuke the entire site from orbit--it's the only way to be sure

      This is the problem, if you see the images then, as the law stands, you are guilty.

      Rubbish. Read back up to where someone already explained this very clearly.

      1. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

        Re: Nuke the entire site from orbit--it's the only way to be sure

        rubbish. in the real world the cops are going to be all over you trying to get a conviction. you can say memorandum of understanding till you're blue in the face, but you're in deep shit.

    2. Gio Ciampa

      Re: Nuke the entire site from orbit--it's the only way to be sure

      "I came across an email account some years ago which contained many really bad pictures"

      Confession! Did you hand yourself over to the police?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Common problem when reporting crime or whistle-blowing.

    Law enforcement in the 21st century is not applied equally and not at all to the powerful, like Facebook or anyone with any ability or money to influence our political systems. It isn't suppose to be that way but it is as entrenched today as in the age of Monarchies.

    Whistle-blowing, or reporting crimes committed by the wealthy or powerful is very risky. Think of a crime or wrong doing you know of that came to light as the result of whistle-blowing. If you do not have first hand experience think Snowden, Watergate, Ad Scam or something you've read more than the headlines about.

    All such incidents came to light against massive resistance which included prison for some that didn't get the message to be quiet. If you find something or know something illegal then it is you who will face charges. It is obviously hoped that will keep the next upstanding citizen quiet.

    In a democracy crimes, particularly white collar and political but also child abuse needs to be reported, investigated and charges laid. Instead many crimes are never reported out of fear and when their are politics and power will decide the response. A response which can and does include attacking those trying to report such crimes and protecting those with power regardless of their crimes.

    To change that we will need to change the system but even there entrenched interests have restricted our ability to do so.

    1. Dave 15 Silver badge

      Re: Common problem when reporting crime or whistle-blowing.

      May has basically got her way in protecting the devils in power from troublesome whistle blowers with the revised official secrets provisions

  14. s. pam
    WTF?

    Mucho circle jerking going around there

    And the diskheads at Farcebook should have known better....!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Coundn't make it up

    What an odd story.I'm perhaps naively surprised that criminals would use something like facebook, for, well, anything. Are there seriously not more secure ways to share unpleasant or illegal material? People are that stupid? Or is the material in question creepy and unpleasant but falling within the law? As I say, an odd story.

    1. Tom Paine

      Re: Coundn't make it up

      "Community standards", local laws about what precisely is illegal and the level of enforcement varies considerably around the world. You may notice that not everyone on Facebook is British.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Coundn't make it up

        "[...] local laws about what precisely is illegal [...]"

        Even in the UK it is difficult to establish exactly where the legal line is drawn. The essence of the definition of a "child" is "someone who is - or looks as if - they are under 18". That's a wide field in late teens physical appearances.

        A man was convicted of viewing illegal material on a hotel room PC. The US web sites he had been viewing carried the certification that all their models were over 18. The police and CPS disregarded that fact in their prosecution - arguing that some of the people "looked under 18".

        Eventually he won on appeal with that same defence.

        There have been cases where the prosecution showed the jury perfectly innocent pictures - and then put a sexual slant on it that amounted to a charge of "thought crime".

        Most family albums probably have pictures of children that would fall foul of the classification of "clothed in a provocative pose".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Coundn't make it up

          In the UK, cartoon images of what appear to be children in provocative or sexual situations is also classed as child porn.

          I have heard of at least one person sent to jail for possessing such cartoon images.

          All you guys with the humping Jelly Baby decals take note.

        2. Lotaresco Silver badge

          Re: Coundn't make it up

          "The police and CPS disregarded that fact in their prosecution - arguing that some of the people "looked under 18"."

          That is the correct interpretation of the law which says "who is, or appears to be, under the age of 18". The CPS guidance is "The age of a child is a finding of fact for the jury to determine. Expert evidence is inadmissible on the subject..." That is, there is to be no objective evidence of any sort, the test in law is the opinion of the man on the street.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Coundn't make it up

            "Expert evidence is inadmissible on the subject..."

            No wonder the police and CPS try their luck in bringing prosecutions if factual evidence like a birth certificate doesn't act as an early veto. Trying to decide if someone is over 18 by their looks could include people well over 18. A Chinese friend was so petite that she had to buy children's clothes - and at 35 she was still being mistaken as her husband's daughter.

            On the other hand - one police force said that if the subject in a picture had definite pubic hair then they wouldn't waste their time pursuing a prosecution based on them looking under 18.

      2. Lotaresco Silver badge

        Re: Coundn't make it up

        "not everyone on Facebook is British"

        Indeed, but Faecebook operates in many different jurisdictions and imposes it's own and local morality in many cases. Hence it rigorously censors the mammary gland and associated apparatus. This seems to be for US sensibilities which hold the nipple to be some sort of evil that will bring doom upon the world. However they also cite other jurisdictions as the concerns for this censorship of even medical and fund-raising (cancer charity) images.

        Faecebook also censors to avoid political upset in repressive regimes. It's clear therefore that they have the capability to tailor Faecebook feeds to a local market. It's also clear that they have chosen to *not* do this for paedophile imagery.

  16. TheFinn

    Chilling effects

    Facebook to journalists: We did this to an organisation with the resources of the BBC. Investigate Facebook and be damned. Come and have a go if you think yer hard enough.

  17. Ian Tresman

    Facebook moderation is useless

    Facebook moderation is useless. There are regularly fraudulent adverts, and it is not even possible to report them.

    1. Roger Greenwood

      Re: Facebook moderation is useless

      Blame the algorithm?

      After all, how much does one report of "bad" count against 50 "likes" - I am sure it won't be a real person looking at this until the scales swing the other way. If these images were in a hidden/private group it shouldn't be a surprise they were appreciated by the members. I wonder if any accounts have been suspended yet? Any arrests? After all, the real names policy will make it easy to identify them . . . . . . .

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Investigating child porn is illegal

    It is illegal for a journalist to investigate and actively seek out child porn. Keeping said images is "copying", Sending images is distribution.

    1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

      Re: Investigating child porn is illegal

      I'm guessing the downvotes are because you're adding nothing of substance to the conversation.

      But you're not wrong (it's a strict liability offence, so mere possesion is enough, there's no mens rea involved), and in fact, there have been various high-profile cases where celebrities and the like have been caught with indecent images and attempted to use the defence that they were merely investigating it.

  19. Dave 15 Silver badge

    Bizarre

    So, if I am randomly surfing and came across something dodgy I am not able to report it because then I am guilty...

    The rules in the UK are clearly made by morons.

    1. creepy gecko
      Facepalm

      Re: Bizarre

      It was explained to me that under UK law cartoon images of child abuse are illegal; and (if you take this to extremes) drawings of stick-figures having sex could transgress the law if one of the figures was stated to be underage.

      I have no idea if that has ever been tested in court, but it's ridiculous if true.

      Won't anyone think of the (stick-figure) children?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bizarre

        "[...] drawings of stick-figures having sex could transgress the law if one of the figures was stated to be underage."

        Just "looks under 18" is sufficient. IIRC a 2012 Olympics logo potentially fell into that category - once people said it looked like The Simpsons cartoon characters.

        There is a scale of legal "indecency" that starts with nudity and then goes through "clothed in a provocative pose" - before you get to what most people would say was definitely showing abuse.

        IIRC "antique" drawings, paintings, and sculpture are largely excluded from prosecution. Someone recreating them today - without any live model - would probably be liable to prosecution.

      2. Lotaresco Silver badge

        Re: Bizarre

        "It was explained to me that under UK law cartoon images of child abuse are illegal;"

        Correct, that is mostly true. The elements are that the image(s) is/are:

        1. indecent

        2. photographs or pseudo-photographs of

        3. a child.

        Cartoons fall under "pseudo-photographs".

        1. Adam 52 Silver badge

          Re: Bizarre

          "Cartoons fall under "pseudo-photographs"."

          No they don't.

          "Pseudo-photograph” means an image, whether made by computer-graphics or otherwise howsoever, which appears to be a photograph."

          Cartoons (in the Simpson's or 2000AD style) don't look like photos.

          See http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1994/33/section/84

          There's probably case law.

          1. Lotaresco Silver badge

            Re: Bizarre

            @Adam 52

            "There's probably case law."

            There is case law and guess what? It shows that you are wrong. The Crown Court has already convicted someone of possessing prohibited images of children simply for being in possession of (manga) cartoon images. The Judge in that case also made it clear that he considered that "word of mouth, drawings or artistic impressions" fall under the legislation.

            Anime Fan Makes Legal History

            Note this: "The law covers still and moving images, and can include cartoons, drawings, and manga-style images."

            1. Adam 52 Silver badge

              Re: Bizarre

              That's not a good example. He pleaded guilty, so there was no examination of the evidence.

              1. Adam 52 Silver badge

                Re: Bizarre

                ...and in the only other case I can find the defendant accepted a Police caution, so effectively also a guilty plea to avoid trial.

              2. Adam 52 Silver badge

                Re: Bizarre

                OK. I think I've resolved this. Cartoons are not "pseudo photographs" under the Criminal Justice ... Act (for the reason given above) but they are a "prohibited image" under the Coroners and Justice Act 2009. That Act specifically excludes pseudo photographs [s65 (3)].

                The offence is slightly different - the images have to be obscene rather than merely sexual - good luck arguing that one.

                http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2009/25/part/2/chapter/2

  20. Pete 2 Silver badge

    You stab my back, I'll stab yours

    > Milner's condition of agreeing to the interview was for the BBC to send him examples of the images that had not been removed

    So hopefully the BBC will report the guy to the police for soliciting images of child abuse.

  21. John Jennings Bronze badge

    Technically, did the manager in FB just solicit child porn when he asked for examples?

    Nevermind BBC sending them....

    D'oh!

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There's something laughably sad about this.

    First Stacey Dooley of BBC3 complains about Japan for drawings, then the BBC themselves decide to send a fucking e-mail containing photos of children being abused or exploited to Facebook.

    Or... is it okay when the BBC do it?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "+ Comment: Yes, you had to call the cops – but you were dickheads about it"

    What does this mean? Facebook presumably had to notify the NCA when sent any such images, regardless of context, to protect themselves. How were they "dicks"?

    1. creepy gecko
      FAIL

      Re: "+ Comment: Yes, you had to call the cops – but you were dickheads about it"

      "How were they "dicks"?"

      They solicited the email with the images, and then told the authorities when the email arrived. That's one way in which they deserve to be described as "dicks".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "+ Comment: Yes, you had to call the cops – but you were dickheads about it"

        But that does not matter: as soon as they received emailed images that were borderline, for any reason including having asked for them, they _had_ to report it.

  24. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    Why *should* Facebook act?

    Facebook is neither a police force nor our moral guardian. There is no definition in the UK of what is and what is not an illegal image save that a judge or a jury consider it to be (a) a depiction of a child and (b) indecent in their opinion (there is no definitive definition of "indecent"). There does not need to be sexual activity nor nudity. While some images are very obviously indecent, how could we expect a Facebook moderator to know whether e.g. an image of a child in a bath, or kids running around at a naturist resort is or is not illegal? It need not be a photograph either. Pencil drawings, computer generated images and even cartoons are also included (and at least one person has been convicted of possessing an indecent cartoon of a child). Maybe the 2012 Olympic symbol is illegal because if you use your imagination it looks like Lisa Simpson engaged in an indecent act - should Facebook delete all such images just in case?

    Suspected illegal images should be reported to the police, and IMO all we have any right to expect of Facebook is that they fully cooperate with any police investigation.

    1. 2+2=5 Silver badge

      Re: Why *should* Facebook act?

      > Why *should* Facebook act?

      Because Facebook have taken it upon themselves to do so in the past.

      http://adage.com/article/digital/controversy-mounts-facebook-napalm-girl-censorship/305792/

    2. Ben Tasker Silver badge

      Re: Why *should* Facebook act?

      >how could we expect a Facebook moderator to know whether e.g. an image of a child in a bath, or kids running around at a naturist resort is or is not illegal?

      Context is fairly important when a court decides if lower-grade stuff was indecent.

      If you're a facebook moderator, looking at a reported image of a kid in a bath and all the comments basically say "Phwoooaaarrr", then use your gut.

      Giving FB the benefit of the doubt though, I suspect that those images which weren't blocked were probably looked at in isolation (i.e. they looked at the image and not the comments, rest of the group etc) and in a hurry. It wouldn't surprise me if they were images that'd be innocent in another context.

      Facebook should act, because they've taken it upon themselves to do so (not without pressure from Government of course).

      But, at the same time, gov.uk should also act to tidy up the emotive, knee-jerk legislation we have and provide some actual fucking clarity in what is actually quite an important body of law.

      People's lives get ruined by mere accusation of possession, so having the law so widely open to interpretation is stupid, and leads to situations like these where content platforms have no real way of knowing whether or not something would actually be illegal under law. All that does is make distribution of marginal cases easier, because some will inevitably slip through.

      I think the ban on cartoons is stupid, but it doesn't really matter as long as they provide a clear definition so that filtering and detection can actually be done based on fact rather than supposition. With the added benefit that no-one's going to find themselves prosecuted for an innocent photograph - because the subsequent acquittal really clears their name in the eyes of the public.

      1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: Why *should* Facebook act?

        "

        Context is fairly important when a court decides if lower-grade stuff was indecent.

        If you're a facebook moderator, looking at a reported image of a kid in a bath and all the comments basically say "Phwoooaaarrr", then use your gut.

        "

        You appear to be saying that a person's guilt or innocence should depend on how a complete stranger has decided to comment on something you have posted. So you post a photo of your 3 year old daughter enjoying an ice-cream, someone comments, "Nice tits," and you go to jail.

  25. Jonski

    Two can play that game

    Could the BBC report Facebook for soliciting these images as well when it was asked to send the samples?

  26. Stuart Grout

    FB vs BBC?

    Not sure which side to take when it comes to the two loathsome organisations.

    FB's main fault in this case is that it is unable to closely monitor 1.8 billion active users in the way the BBC would like.

    Now FB may well be cooperating with the Police in some of these situations as a way of gathering evidence, much like the FBI took over and ran some child porn servers to get evidence against pedos.

    But then again it is the BBC so I really can't take their side given that the membership of many of these pedo groups probably log on from their BBC works computers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: FB vs BBC?

      How do you class the BBC as a "loathsome organisation"?

      Please provide citations, references and links to back up your assertion.

      You make the claim that "the membership of many of these pedo groups probably log on from their BBC works computers". Again, some sort of proof that this is true would be good. e.g. court cases or disciplinary records.

      I'm sure you're not simply making this up, so we'd welcome your evidence. Indeed since you "probably" think that BBC people are members of paedophile Facebook groups, you must have something nobody else has.

      You can also contact the Met Police with your evidence, I'm sure they would love to hear from you. Indeed the right wing press in this country would probably pay you quite a lot of money for this.

      Or could it be you're simply a trolling twat with fuck all to do between wanking off to Pornhub.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apparently we don't report it to the police...

    From the NCA site

    "If you have come across content online that you feel involves child abuse, please consider making a referral to the particular website administrators, and/or contacting the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) who could possibly arrange for the content to be removed."

  28. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

    IANAL, but understood kiddie porn to be strict liability offence,so the beeb and zuckerbook both going down? unless there's one law for them and another for us.

  29. eldakka Silver badge

    So, basically, Big Black Cocks are involved in childporn?

  30. unwarranted triumphalism

    After this...

    Can anyone explain to me why I'm 'wrong' for having blocked Facebook in my hosts file?

    It's just a harmless fun website, isn't it?

  31. Conundrum1885

    The problem is

    When merely opening your browser, typing in a social networking site and because some random hacker or malicious person has diverted a link you now have EP on your profile, you and everyone else who goes on FB is guilty of an offense.

    SO why the hell is FB not blocked by ISPs until they fix it?

  32. A_Melbourne

    BBC == Westminster == Pedophilia

    The BBC, just like Facebook, protects pedophile rings.

    Happily, Trump is acting against pedophiles in a big way. Watch out brothers Podesta

    Think Pizzagate isn’t possible? 474 arrested in major pedophile bust throughout California

    These people are being "interviewed" and offered cooperation deals - in order to get those running these blackmail scams.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

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