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Crime The Courts IT Technology

Typo In IP Address Led To an Innocent Father's Arrest For Paedophilia (buzzfeed.com) 227

An anonymous reader has shared a shocking story about the arrest of Nigel Lang by the British police for a crime he didn't commit. It all happened because of a typo, according to a report. From the report: On a Saturday morning in July 2011, Nigel Lang, then aged 44, was at home in Sheffield with his partner and their 2-year-old son when there was a knock at the door. He opened it to find a man and two women standing there, one of whom asked if he lived at the address. When he said he did, the three strangers pushed past him and one of the women, who identified herself as a police officer, told Lang and his partner he was going to be arrested on suspicion of possessing indecent images of children. [...] He was told that when police requested details about an IP address connected to the sharing of indecent images of children, one extra keystroke was made by mistake, sending police to entirely the wrong physical location. But it would take years, and drawn-out legal processes, to get answers about why this had happened to him, to force police to admit their mistake, and even longer to begin to get his and his family's lives back on track. Police paid Lang 60,000 British Pound ($73,500) in compensation last autumn after settling out of court, two years after they finally said sorry and removed the wrongful arrest from his record.
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Typo In IP Address Led To an Innocent Father's Arrest For Paedophilia

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  • Brazil (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 13, 2017 @09:45AM (#54028999)

    Brazil, come to life.

  • familyâ(TM)s (Score:4, Informative)

    by ArchieBunker ( 132337 ) on Monday March 13, 2017 @09:48AM (#54029029) Homepage

    Fuck how long has Slashdot been around and they still can't fix this shit? familyâ(TM)s familyâ(TM)sfamilyâ(TM)s This is seriously the only time in my many years on the internet I have not seen a website unable to render text correctly.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Still can't edit posts either. Slashdot is a fucking relic.

      • by Raenex ( 947668 )

        Not being able to edit posts is a feature. Being able to rewrite the history of a conversation is Orwellian.

    • Agreed, and not being able to edit a post (for even a 1-minute grace period) is fucking embarrassing, not to mention infuriating.

      It's even more embarrassing when you consider that this is a forum where discussions of programming and technology take place.

      1991 called and wants its text-file forum back.

      • by OzPeter ( 195038 )

        1991 called and wants its text-file forum back.

        Did you warn them? Did you? All those people are going to die just because you didn't tell 1991 when they called and it's all your fault.

      • Re:familyâ(TM)s (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Khyber ( 864651 ) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Monday March 13, 2017 @10:28AM (#54029323) Homepage Journal

        "Agreed, and not being able to edit a post (for even a 1-minute grace period) is fucking embarrassing"

        What's more embarrassing is your inability to proof-read before submitting off the fucking handle like the majority of you tend to do.

        • your inability to proof-read before submitting

          The problem with proof-reading is that it's hard to mentally divorce what one intends to say versus what they are reading back. Others have complained about their own "intention bias" before, not just me, so I know I'm not alone.

          There's a point of diminishing returns on repeat re-reads to proof the copy. Time is often the best solution to clearing one's mind of intention bias. (A second opinion is also good, but hard to come by.)

          If you by chance have a special b

          • by Raenex ( 947668 )

            The problem is once you allow editing, you open a can of worms. I'd rather live with mistakes then not being able to trust the integrity of the written record. Forums are conversations.

          • If you by chance have a special brain that is immune to this, I congratulate you, but us muggles want a muggle-friendly edit system.

            My brain is not immune to this, and I still don't want post editing. There is a preview function. Sit with it longer before you post if not having errors is so very important to you. As Slashdot has grown older, I suspect the median age has also increased, and I have noticed far more tolerance on the part of the readership for errors. Why, it is not uncommon in this day and age for apostrophes to be misused without a single comment, and last week I actually read a comment in which the author reversed the in

      • Re:familyâ(TM)s (Score:5, Insightful)

        by PPH ( 736903 ) on Monday March 13, 2017 @10:29AM (#54029333)

        not being able to edit a post

        That's what the Preview button is for.

        • not being able to edit a post

          That's what the Preview button is for.

          Newsflash- even forums with preview buttons allow you to edit your post for at least a short time. Welcome to the 90s!

          For proof, please see any forum written in the last 20 years or so: SMF, VBulletin, Agora, phpBB, myBB, FluxBB, PunBB, Vanilla Forums, Invision, Phorum, FudForum, Beehive, BBPress, UBB.threads, XenForo, Ikonboard.....

          • Re:familyâ(TM)s (Score:5, Informative)

            by slinches ( 1540051 ) on Monday March 13, 2017 @10:56AM (#54029545)

            If I recall, not having the option to edit was an intentional decision. Since this site is about the users having technical threaded discussions, it makes sense to make the posts fixed as it preserves the integrity of the discussion (i.e. no going back to edit out the part where you were wrong)

            • If I recall, not having the option to edit was an intentional decision. Since this site is about the users having technical threaded discussions, it makes sense to make the posts fixed as it preserves the integrity of the discussion (i.e. no going back to edit out the part where you were wrong)

              Oh please, a grace-period of one minute would solve all this shit, including the pantywaists who moan about retroactively editing posts to make them look dumb. Chances are they already look dumb and no editing would be required to show that.

              Are these chicken-shit fuckers SO SCARED that someone would edit their post within one minute to make them look foolish? If so, then I'd say the problem is with them and not the content of the discussion.

              • Or we could even go radical and allow edit until the first reply or moderation, like most of the other sites.

                • by Oqnet ( 159295 )

                  There used to be editors that would look over the content before it was on the front. They would fix glaring mistakes and sometimes grammatical issues. I had it done to one of my posts and I was ever grateful. If the system isn't going to allow a time frame for editing after the fact they should go back to reading over things that have high impact on the front page.

            • Totally agree. Re-editing posts could totally mess discussion threads. If you can't review before posting, then woosh.
      • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

        I'd be okay wish such a feature as long as the grace period ended as soon as the first reply to your post was made.
        This isn't facebook, where you can edit your post to make repliers look stupid after they point out your errors.

        • I'd be okay wish such a feature as long as the grace period ended as soon as the first reply to your post was made.

          I agree, but such a feature is far too complex to ever be added to slashdot. And the weiner-dicks would moan about it endlessly.

        • "I'd be okay wish such a feature..."

          O The Irony

        • This isn't facebook, where you can edit your post to make repliers look stupid

          Well yes, but when it's done in Facebook the post gets an "Edited" label. So if you come across a disjointed sequence of posts and spy an "Edited" flag among them, then it doesn't take much intelligence to infer that one comment originally said something different... oh, wait. Yeah, I see the problem now.

      • My login name was Frédéric, in 1999, during various /. update it became Fr%E9d%E9ric or Fr#d#ric or something, at one point I was even not able to log in, I had to message an administrator so he could rename my username... 2017 and still no proper support for accentated characters.

  • Only $73,500? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PhrostyMcByte ( 589271 ) <phrosty@gmail.com> on Monday March 13, 2017 @09:50AM (#54029059) Homepage
    Maybe this is the lawsuit happy American in me talking, but $73,500 sounds like chump change for a mistake that could quite literally ruin your life even after a retraction.
    • Re:Only $73,500? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Monday March 13, 2017 @09:54AM (#54029093)

      I'd start off with a $10M asking. I'd settle for about half of that.

      first, punishment that is EXPENSIVE will tend to teach the authorities their lessons.

      second, you may be unemployable for the rest of your life by this mistake; I'd need about 2-5million to be able to retire and live on.

      not my mistake; I should not have to pay a dime for THEIR stupidity.

      ip address does not equal a person. even more so when they don't even bother to check their work BEFORE A LIFE IS RUINED.

      what would fix this: remove the safety net for public 'authority figures' and when they screw up, let their own insurance cover the costs. if they had to pay, directly, they'd surely think twice before going off half-assed on a witch hunt.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        first, punishment that is EXPENSIVE will tend to teach the authorities their lessons.

        I'm not sure that is true. The police officers and officials pay nothing. It's the tax payers. I agree with the compensation, but it should come out of the police officials' personal pockets. Otherwise, there is no lesson for them to learn. It's not their money.

        • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

          I've seen where a cop had to quit after a big lawsuit he caused. They didn't fire him, they just shit all over him for 8 months until he couldn't take it and quit. Then he couldn't get a job anywhere as a cop. I saw his stupid ass working in the lumber department at Home Depot and he didn't last long there.

      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        I'd start off with a $10M asking. I'd settle for about half of that.

        People who end up on disability for life don't get those kinds of amounts here in Europe, they'd just laugh at you. Unless something is done with malice you'll recoup little more than actual financial losses (now or in the future), like if I hit you with my car and broke your leg you'd be compensated for time on sick leave. But the pain and suffering, walking around with a cast and the inability to participate in dancing or running or swimming will net you almost nothing. Even if it is done with malice I'd

    • Re:Only $73,500? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by segedunum ( 883035 ) on Monday March 13, 2017 @10:01AM (#54029149)
      £60,000 is a joke amount of money. It's not just the hurt and devastation it has caused but there has to be some kind of deterrence in the future.
      • £60,000 is a joke amount of money. It's not just the hurt and devastation it has caused but there has to be some kind of deterrence in the future.

        I would assume most slashdotters earn more than that per year. At a minimum, take salary multiplied by number of years he was wrongfully incarcerated (include trial time, too). Then fudge that number for inflation and possible interest (based on DOW Jones, or some other index). It's impossible to prove a dollar amount for loss of reputation. It's also impossible to know how many companies in the future will pass him up because he was incarcerated without taking the time to find out he was innocent.

        • by Cederic ( 9623 )

          At a minimum, take salary multiplied by number of years he was wrongfully incarcerated

          erm. Approximately 0 then.

    • Maybe this is the lawsuit happy American in me talking, but $73,500 sounds like chump change for a mistake that could quite literally ruin your life even after a retraction.

      Exactly. The hardest part about damages to ones reputation or career after something like this happens is proving it, so your only other option is to assume it will damage you for life, and settle for a life-altering amount up-front. And $73K sure as shit ain't it.

      This also hopefully sends a message that police fuck-ups will ultimately cost a lot, and it should, since a typo can change someones life forever.

    • but $73,500 sounds like chump change for a mistake that could quite literally ruin your life even after a retraction.

      That was my first reaction too.

      $73K is nothing for what this poor guy went through. $7.3 million would be more along the lines of what I'd consider fair.

    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      The fact that it could does not mean that it did. To me it sounds like a fair amount of the grievance what was done to him. Could have been a bit higher, perhaps, but that depends on a lot of circumstances.

      If I where in the same situation and would not have lost my job or anything else, but pushing back, I would be happy with it.

      Obviously I would be happier if it were 10 Brazillian, but that would be, I think, not reasonable. As it was settled outside court, it means he was compensated for his loss in time

      • by flink ( 18449 )

        If I where in the same situation and would not have lost my job or anything else, but pushing back, I would be happy with it.

        Obviously I would be happier if it were 10 Brazillian, but that would be, I think, not reasonable. As it was settled outside court, it means he was compensated for his loss in time and not their fault in it.

        What about when you are looking for you next job (assuming you didn't lose your current one that is), and no one calls you back because the top hit on Google is an article about you being arrested for pedophilia. What about losing your home because you are now essentially unemployable? Will you have the resources to be able to "push back" each time you are discriminated against due to this false black mark that will follow you around forever and be compensated each time?

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      In the UK compensation is not punitive, it's purely to restore any loss. So the $X million suits you get in the US won't happen here, unless someone actually lost millions.

      In this case he may have lost some employment of business opportunities. He may have argued that future earnings are affected. He could also claim for mental anguish and harm, especially if it resulted in mental illness (stress, depression) and the breakdown of relationships (friends, family, lovers).

      Without reading the judgement I can on

    • Maybe this is the lawsuit happy American in me talking, but $73,500 sounds like chump change for a mistake that could quite literally ruin your life even after a retraction.

      Britain does not award large legal settlements, except for the near-capital crime of insulting a famous person.

  • seriously, if you can't fix it (protip: you probably won't), at least remove them from summaries.
  • by James Carnley ( 789899 ) on Monday March 13, 2017 @09:55AM (#54029101) Homepage

    Say what you will about lawsuits in America but they sure do work great for cases like this. This poor guy has years of his life completely ruined and will possibly have people hate him for the rest of his life because of the implication. Also this kind of stuff still shows up on background checks even if it's removed from your record. I would bet good money that he will have a harder time finding work in the future.

    Does 1 year's salary make up for that? It sure wouldn't for me.

    • Say what you will about lawsuits in America but they sure do work great for cases like this.

      US lawsuits sort of one-third-work, when they work. Lawyers benefit, and complainants benefit of the remainder after the lawyer's take their cut if they manage to defeat the system, which certainly isn't a given. There's also no guarantee that any images awarded or recompense offered will be in the range of appropriate, as this US case shows. [nbcnews.com]

      Even if a large award (or any award) is given, it rarely affects the agency

  • IP Addresses Again (Score:5, Insightful)

    by segedunum ( 883035 ) on Monday March 13, 2017 @10:00AM (#54029137)
    It's quite scary how sure people are of what an IP address will tell them. There are any number of reasons why it doesn't provide much, if any evidence. You need a lot more than that, especially in a criminal case.
    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      For all we know, they had a lot of other information. I have seen cases where all the info was correct, but evidence was dropped, because they had not changed their PC to winter/summer time.
      The information was on a fixed line with a fixed IP and everything of the information was correct. That was fun to se going down. It was not about childporn, but about copyright infringement, so not that bad when they had to drop the case because of that.

  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Monday March 13, 2017 @10:11AM (#54029233)

    Where you miss type and end up in a pop up loop.

    http://gizmodo.com/5099383/pop... [gizmodo.com]

  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Monday March 13, 2017 @10:23AM (#54029287) Homepage

    Sex crimes are horrible - but not worse than murder.

    Western culture has demonized it by spreading lies and falsehoods. The truth is:

    1) People convicted of sex crimes are LESS likely to commit more crimes than other criminals (this includes pedophiles).

    2) Most people convicted of 'sex crimes' are normal, healthy people, not strange perverts.

    3) Sex crimes are incredibly subjectively prosecuted. Homosexuals are likely to be arrested, tried and convicted for the exact same behavior that straight men or women would be ignored at (for example, asking someone out for a date => soliciting prostitution) Teenagers routinely create 'child pornography' and usually (but not if the prosecutor dislikes you), have it swept under the rug.

    4) Sex, being something people are ashamed of, is often used by the police to legally extort people into confessing to crimes they did not do in order to avoid sex crime charges.

  • by darkob ( 634931 ) on Monday March 13, 2017 @10:30AM (#54029335)
    "Brazil" starts with a typo. Buttle is being (violently) arrested, processed and in the end executed. Instead of Tuttle.
  • by Hussman32 ( 751772 ) on Monday March 13, 2017 @10:51AM (#54029499)

    For those who haven't seen the movie 'Brazil,' this event is so close to the premise of that movie that it's eerie.

    • For those who haven't seen the movie 'Brazil,' this event is so close to the premise of that movie that it's eerie.

      Well, I suppose that might be a bit up for debate in that Brazil has nothing to do with a man falsely accused of being a pedophile. But both involve a bureaucracy making mistakes that innocent people pay for.

      For those who haven't seen Brazil, thank your lucky stars. This is going to get my comment 1 point, but it's truly awful. I love Monty Python, but I'll be very blunt and say that I think that Terry Gilliam's movies are very hit and miss and this is a miss for sure. Years ago on another job a co

      • Well, I suppose that might be a bit up for debate in that Brazil has nothing to do with a man falsely accused of being a pedophile. But both involve a bureaucracy making mistakes that innocent people pay for.

        In Brazil [wikipedia.org], a fly landed on a typewriter and an innocent man was imprisoned as an accused terrorist and later killed. A government functionary was assigned to correct the error, and the bureaucracy led to a lot more trouble and more people getting harassed. Hence the comparison, someone in the bureaucracy makes a typo and the full-force of the government comes in, ruins a life, and takes years to correct.

        Whether you liked the movie or not, that's your opinion and I'm fine with your interpretation. I compl

  • It's one of those unexplainable oddities of British culture, like hating redheads. No one seems to know how it got started.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Started in the late 80s with Pedogeddon spread by religious nutjobs because they couldn't ban sex before marriage.
      Now porn is being blamed and universally blocked by default on most internet connections by these awful prudes like Claire Perry and her kind.

      Sexual demonization has brought up a country of socially inept retards.
      Not just here, but in many Christian nations.
      No wonder the "white race is dying" is a thing, it literally is. They've been brought up in to hating their own bodies by absolute nutjobs

  • by transami ( 202700 ) on Monday March 13, 2017 @11:45AM (#54029997) Homepage

    The ultimate sabotage tactic. Hack someone's computer and download child porn. Then turn them in.

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      Has already happened several times, I believe. And that are only the people that could prove their innocence. There will be a lot more that could not and also some that could but decided not to advertise what happened anyways.

  • A dozen years ago i was just searching the web at random and up popped a picture of a young boy that was clearly intended to be pornographic. I have no interest in nude boys at all but it shocks me that an image on a drive could be taken to mean that you desired to see it or have it in your possession. The panty raid hunters have gone over the edge. We need laws to protect innocent people from being harmed, put to trial etc. over this and many other things as well. Police must have proof before they mak
  • by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Monday March 13, 2017 @01:44PM (#54030989) Journal

    Without bothering RTFA, this sounds like horrendously bad police work and he should get a much bigger settlement. Hitting that IP address warrants surveillance, not arrest. After some nominal period of time looking at his traffic, they would have realized it was an anomaly and nobody outside the precinct would have known about it.

    In real cases of pedo that get a conviction, there are usually whole hard-drives full of disgusting stuff that gives agents PTSD. You can't get that with a typo.

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