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User Journal

Journal: Vigilante Web Site Perverted-Justice.com

Journal by Chatmag
Vigilante Web Site Perverted-Justice.com harming legitimate law enforcement efforts to stop online predators. Chatmag opposes "vigilante" site.

The web site Perverted-Justice.com which purports to "out" predators of underage children hampers law enforcement efforts to track down online predators.

The operators of Perverted-Justice cruise the chat rooms generally in Yahoo! Romance Chat, seeking victims to identify on their site. Operators private message chat room participants, enticing them to engage in a sexual conversation with the operator posing as an underage child. The Perverted-Justice operator coerces the chatter to divulge their telephone number, and provide the operator with a photograph.

At the end of the conversation, the operator informs the chatter that they have been busted by Perverted-Justice, and that their telephone number and photograph have been posted to the Perverted-Justice web site. The conversation is also posted.

Perverted Justice have designated themselves investigators, judge, jury and executioner, disregarding the established legal system, and in most cases, openly violating existing laws and tainting ongoing investigations.

Posting IM messages that were obtained by recording private chats in Yahoo! Messenger and AOL IM violates both Yahoo!'s and AOL'S Terms of Service. Posting explicit chats involving a minor may also be in violation of current U.S. Federal Regulations.

Perverted Justice does not post the original private message. The posting is an altered version, and they do not post the chat room conversation leading up to the private message. There is no way to determine whether the person or the Perverted Justice operator initiated the conversation. The profile of the Perverted Justice operator is constantly changed from what the alleged predator had seen. For an example, click here.

Changing a profile in effect destroys valuable evidence, and causes one to wonder what exactly an alleged predator had seen to entice them to converse with the Perverted Justice operator. The potential for entrapment comes into play at this point.

It is possible to alter Yahoo! messages, changing the tone of the message. Also, the archived messages are flawed in that they do not provide a date stamp, only a time stamp, and cannot be relied upon to be an accurate log for legal purposes. IRC logs are only marginally more accurate as to date and time, but still not generally usable in a court of law. Yahoo! Messenger uses the XOR algorithm to encrypt messages stored on the users computer. The XOR algorithm is a weak encryption method, easily defeated by decoders, which are available for download via the Internet.

In other instances, the Perverted-Justice operators give the chatter an address to meet, and entice them to meet in person. When they do meet, it's not a young person, but generally a news crew or the Perverted-Justice operator acting alone. This sets up the potential for disaster with untrained persons meeting an unknown chatter. A recent meet can be found on their site, click here.

Confronting a suspected predator should only be done by competent law enforcement personnel, and not untrained amateurs. It is only a matter of time before one of the Perverted-Justice operators encounters a situation that they are unprepared to handle.

The site is operated by anonymous persons, with no training either in law enforcement or the law. They disregard accepted law enforcement procedures covering the gathering and preservation of evidence; practice methods which may be regarded as entrapment; and do not follow the rules of "chain of custody" of evidence.

Can Yahoo! Chat logs be altered? Yes, very easily. Does Perverted Justice post the original log? No, it is copied and pasted from their message window. How do we know the FULL message, when they admit that Yahoo! deletes the first line. What was the first line? We don't know. How was the original contact made, by the alleged predator, or the PJ operator? We don't know.

Perverted Justice is hosted on Valuweb. Is their server secured from possible intrusions by persons wishing to change or destroy information? No, Valuweb is not immune from hacking. If people can hack into and change Official US Government web sites, they certainly can alter the Perverted Justice site. There is absolutely no assurance whatsoever that any information on the Perverted Justice site is accurate, and secured from tampering.

Perverted Justice institutes "Info First!" program.

Perverted Justices "Info First!" program defies all legal protocol, in effect rendering any evidence obtained unusable in a court of law. It is apparent from reading the Info First page that Perverted Justice has not consulted with an attorney, or any prosecutor as to their methods. There is no mention of full disclosure procedures and independent review of the server and logs by defense appointed experts; who is the owner of the server where the logs reside; who has access to said server. Perverted Justice simply put is an unlicensed, non chartered, non appointed, vigilante group with NO LEGAL STANDING IN ANY COURT OF LAW IN THE UNITED STATES. They are not duly appointed officers of the court, but a group of anonymous vigilantes. Rarely does any law enforcement agency utilize an outside entity to conduct evidence gathering, and certainly not an anonymous group of amateurs who hold no standing in law enforcement.

It's time that Perverted Justice cease operations, and let competent, trained law enforcement and prosecutors go about the business of tracking, prosecuting and convicting online predators.

Perverted-Justice has been contacting various news outlets, seeking publicity for their site. Following each mention on news sites and TV news, questions arise as to the legitimacy and methods of operation. Several law enforcement officials and prosecutors have also questioned their methods, concerned that the site jeopardizes ongoing investigations, giving advance notice to other predators, driving them further underground and more difficult to apprehend in a legal manner.

The owner of Perverted-Justice also operates Angrygerman.com A look at his home page clearly demonstrates this person is not an Internet Professional, but a person seeking notoriety. The site is chock full of ranting, profanities, and sexual innuendo.

One entry from the Angrygerman 'blog type site:

"Random Thoughts - Look, when you get to be El Gigante Intwardnet Celebitty like I am, you get accustomed to mailbags and mailbags of fanmail. Trust me, it comes by the boatload. In fact, just this week I got a few pieces of stellar fanmail. To give you fine peons a look at the life of a BIGGIE TIME website-guy, I figured I'd reprint a few for you."

Perverted Justice owner plans to run for the Vice Presidency in 2016. More strangeness from a twisted individual. Our only question is, will he use an alias?

Another Perverted Justice Operator posts on their Yahoo! Profile:

"Hobbies: Playing hackey sack with the nutsacks of would-be pedophiles at http://www.perverted-justice.com."

Chatmag recommends persons not to enter any chat room with the intention of soliciting an under age person for any conversation nor do we condone or recommend anyone becoming involved in such unsupervised vigilante sites such as Perverted-Justice. The Perverted-Justice site deludes people into believing they are helping in the war against online predators.

We also recommend that news organizations more fully research Perverted-Justice prior to engaging in sting operations involving this group.

We at Chatmag are opposed to such sites that have no accountability, operate outside the boundary of the law, and tend to incite "mob justice".

We are also opposed to certain "white power" web sites that have taken issue with Perverted Justice. To the best of our knowledge, Perverted Justice has no connection with racism in any form. The problems with Perverted Justice are strictly legal in nature.
User Journal

Journal: IRC Server Administrators wary of police proposal.

Journal by Chatmag
Chat Network Operators and Users Wary of "Uniformed" Police Presence

The recent proposal outlined by The U.K.'s National Crime Squad (NCS) to monitor Internet chat rooms is not a workable solution, according to Internet chat network owners and administrators. In their statement of 9 June, 2004 the NCS stated that "Uniformed Officers" will enter certain chat rooms, primarily those chat rooms frequented by adults seeking underage children, and have an icon attached to their nickname to identify themselves as law enforcement officers. The F.B.I. is also named as one of the agencies participating in this proposal.

No details are available as to which chat networks are slated for the police presence, and requests for information from the NCS have gone unanswered. It is not known whether they are referring to IRC chat networks, or web based chat areas, such as Yahoo! Chat or AOL chat rooms.

Chatmag News requested feedback on this issue from IRC Operators, IRC network administrators, and Yahoo! Chat users, with over one hundred replies recieved. Virtually all of the responses raised questions as to how the Officers will identify themselves; what assurances chat users will be given that the Officer is authentic; which chat channels or rooms will they occupy and will they monitor private chat conversations.

One IRCop was straightforward in his response, that he "will kill (disconnect) any "Uni" " found on his network. Others espressed cautious optimism that such a proposal may be workable, but would need more information before committing to a uniformed police presence on their networks. Several network operators would welcome a police presence, one operator saying " I would openly invite police officers to our network and be thankful there's someone around with some authority to do something about pedophiles and other internet criminals! I'm definitely for it and I would be a proud advocator!"

Another IRC Operator brought up the issue of censorship and the sheer volume of chat channels available.

"It sounds like a good idea. However, it could be a first step towards censoring chatrooms. There are many networks (EFnet, for example) that pride themselves on absolute freedom for users to do what they want to. With the exception of damaging the network, of course.
That aside, I don't see how it could be feasible to police chatrooms. According to SearchIRC.com, there are nearly 600,000 chatrooms on public IRC networks alone. It would take a lot of "beat cops" to police it." (Ed. Note. Operator is not affiliated with EFnet)

A common concern among network operators, will the uniformed officers confine themselves to a particular chat channel, or is this the camels nose under the tent, in which the network users will see a Police Officer in any of the thousands of unrelated chat channels?

IRC network operators are particularly concerned that the NCS made this proposal without the input of those that are familiar with the operation of chat networks and the NCS unilaterally deciding that Uniformed Officers will be entering chat networks without prior consent of the network owners.

While all respondents agree that online predators are an issue that must be addressed, many stress that care should be taken to preserve the rights of the individual chat networks to set their own standards within the boundaries of applicable laws, and the rights of chatters to express themselves in either an open forum or in private messages.

Without the cooperation of chat networks and policies that guard the rights of chat networks and individuals, the proposal by the NCS is a potentially good idea that may never get off the ground.
User Journal

Journal: Fizzer Worm legal issues

Journal by Chatmag
This may be a little broken, it was originally sent in response to a question posed to me asking for my opinion regarding the legal aspects reference using the Geocities page. This is not competent legal advise, just my understanding as a publisher, and a person who has been involved in the Internet for over 10 years. I will be in contact with a lawyer familiar with Internet law, if nothing else, just for my own education. The infected user first downloaded Fizzer embedded within another file, presumably either on KaZaa, or via email attachment. KaZaa posts their Terms of Service, which includes the statement that any user understands they may also receive other files not included in any posting of file names, that is, they may also download malicious or other unwanted files, and that they do so at their own risk. At that point, should the user choose to download and run files, they have given their implied consent. Once the infected file is downloaded and opened, installing it into their computer, the infected file has a "call home" feature written into it by the author of Fizzer, which periodically allows the program to access a remote server to automatically update itself. There are many instances of legal programs which also have this feature, so the notion of a program "calling home" is generally understood to be an accepted action. (My HP does that, or did, until I disabled the port it uses) The program would then download any updates posted on the server, at the IP that is set within the program routine itself. This still falls into the "implied consent" rule, as the user is allowing the program to do as it was intended. In the case of the original Fizzer author, the intention was to give a malicious program updates which would sustain the operation of the program, causing further harm to other users and networks. By accessing the Geocities site, as provided within the Fizzer, and replacing the update with another series of commands that in effect disable Fizzer, any person placing such files would reasonably be acting within the original intent of the Fizzer author, that is to say, supplying updates to the existing program. That the update causes Fizzer to become disabled is of little consequence, as the user has by implied consent allowed any and all further modifications to be implemented to Fizzer. While it is the intent of the original author to cause harm, the persons responsible for the modification which in effect shuts down Fizzer are acting on the premise that they are doing so for the good of all. The original Fizzer author also built into Fizzer the ability to connect to various IRC networks, and join particular chat rooms, in order to be further controlled by remote command. The end user, having consented to downloading and installing Fizzer, therefore by implied consent, agrees to allow any and all commands to be issued to their computer via said IRC channels. One example of remote cleaning of computers can be found at http://housecall.antivirus.com The long and the short of it is, no one is "modifying" any computer, they are only carrying out the original authors intent of updating Fizzer. That it in effect causes Fizzer to cease to be of further harm is of benefit to all, and would be seen in most courts as an action for the common good. I am aware of several other less publicized actions taken of the same sort, this being the first of its kind as far as coverage by media. It is more a matter of ethics rather than a legal issue, I believe. Ethically, I think it is justified. I think it is an innovative, and proper solution to a problem and may have far reaching effects beyond disabling one malicious program. The author of the IRC Junkie article does raise a valid point, that the actions taken do raise legal issues, and with Internet Law a new field, quite a lot of what we do is new to the legal profession, and the law will adapt to this new medium, for the most part, borrowing from current legal precedents. On another point, it would be fairly simple to track the original Fizzer author, Geocities should have the IP of whoever first set up the site. I can only hope they are cooperating with investigative agencies.
Security

Journal: IRC/Unity Task Force Decodes and Disables Fizzer Worm

Journal by Chatmag
Chatmag News reports that The Fizzer Task Force, part of the IRC Unity project, is pleased to announce a breakthrough regarding the notorious Fizzer worm. A member of the Task Force has successfully decompiled the worm to reveal the command list and how to gain access to the commands. IRC/Unity is a consortium of over 150 IRC Networks, bringing their combined talents to eradicating a common menace. IRC Server Administrators and IRCops are invited to join http://www.irc-unity.org.
User Journal

Journal: New chat network

Journal by Chatmag
We're creating a new chat network, hosting groups chat rooms, and school alumni chat rooms. After some of the better known chat networks decided to pull the plug, we saw a continuing need for a good free chat area, and are in the process of setting up the network. It is on live now, and available for groups, contact chatmag.com for hosting information.
User Journal

Journal: Jim of JimWorld dead.

Journal by Chatmag
Jim Wilson, founder of JimWorld, has died May 6th of a heart attack. Jimworld Memorial Jim is remembered as a pioneer of Internet Marketing. Founded in 1994 By Jim Wilson, Jimworld.com is a comprehensive network of sites devoted to Internet development.
User Journal

Journal: Chinese Spammers Organization Files Suit Against SARS

Journal by Chatmag
In a move related to the current suit brought against certain Anti Internet Spam organizations, a new group, The ChineseSpammersLiberationMovement.org has filed suit against the virus SARS, naming Mother Nature as co-defendant in the suit. CSLM alleges in its suit that Mother Nature, and other unnamed defendants, did create SARS, which has caused the Chinese Government to close Internet Cafes, therefore denying CSLM members access to their hidden bank accounts and free email providers. In a statement to Chatmag News, a spokesperson for the CSLM said, "we don't blame the Government, we are going after the source of biology and viral science. Mother Nature cannot be allowed to continue to infringe upon our rights to conduct commerce".
User Journal

Journal: International Domain Services Group SCAM

Journal by Chatmag
Have you recieved an email from IDSG, attempting to have you register your domain name in other TLD's? This is a scam, first reported by the FTC several years ago, and surfacing once again. Do not respond to their email.
User Journal

Journal: Signs of normalcy?

Journal by Chatmag
We're seeing signs of the war in Iraq falling as the dominant chat topic. During the past weeks, Iraq War chat was the most popular topic requested. (sex does not count). I'll post a new top ten list of the most popular chat topics next Monday.

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness. -- John Muir

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