Operation Ore

Shows what happens when you take your eye off the ball.

What could be clearer evidence of guilt than that? As their solicitors told them, it did not matter that their computers had been examined and found to be free of child pornography, or that they could produce alibis to show they could not have been at their keyboards when they were supposed to have signed up for the child porn. Judges and juries found the electronic data irrefutable.

But the electronic data wasn\’t irrefutable. One simple possibility appears not to have occurred to the police or any of the lawyers assigned to the accused: that they had been the victims of identity theft. Someone had got hold of their credit card details and identified the perfect way to rack up charges: create a subscription service child-porn web site (it need not actually have any child porn on it, just a suitably disgusting name), then charge a subscription to the stolen card.

I thought everyone knew that Operation Ore was hopelessly compromised by identity theft? I can\’t remember who it was that was blogging about it ages ago. Possibly Alex at Yorkshire Ranter, maybe Unity? But certainly they left me with the clear conclusion that no weight at all could be put on the simple existence of the credit cards details being found.

So I proceeded merrily on, assuming that this was all sorted. Clearly not though.

I\’m not quite sure what it shows. That I simply don\’t pay enough attention? That solving things on blogs isn\’t the same as solving them in the real world? That certain prosecutions can involve the police being lying scumbags?

Any other ideas?

20 comments on “Operation Ore

  1. “Possibly Alex at Yorkshire Ranter, maybe Unity? “

    I think they’ve both touched on it in the past. And god knows, whenever something like this comes up on forums and places like CiF, there’s plenty of people shooting down the ‘no smoke without fire!’ crowd with the facts.

    But there’s a lot of people out there that just believe the first thing they read in the media, and never bother to trouble themselves with any kind of rebuttal or follow up.

    It’s how ‘anthropogenic global warming’ hac become the ‘fact’ that everyone knows…

  2. I read up on this a while ago (so I’m typing this from memory) but a number of factors in the case are not common knowledge nor straightforward to people outside the adult internet world.

    The primary one is that the “website” Ore targetted was actually an AVS system. An AVS system is a kind of gateway. You pay an access fee and then are given access to a very large number of websites, rather than a specific one, on a kind of all-you-can-eat buffet model. In general the “websites” are very poor quality and nothing more than a few samples which try to get you to upgrade to a better one.

    I run an adult (comics) website (all my own artwork, all legal) and, early on, considered the AVS model. It’s very easy for the website owner- but I didn’t want to be associated with all the low grade crap. AVS was popular in the early days of the web but has largely dwindled away. (AVS stands for “adult verification system” since the gateway was touted as a means of ensuring adults were accessing your website, basically).

    The problem with this model is that all the websites are in the same boat, so all get tarred with the same brush if one of them is a bad’un. A naive punter could buy access to an AVS system, lured in by mainstream pr0n, and be blissfully unaware that the same AVS is providing access to something depraved. Which AIUI is what happened with Ore. A small minority of the sites gatewayed on the AVS were kiddie pr0n. The police thus decided that any credit card used to access the AVS was being used to provide access to the kiddie pr0n, which is legally true, but in fact many customers would have no interest in it nor awareness that that is what they had bought. As an aside, since there are hentai AVS systems extant, we can expect this to happen again when the cartoon pr0n law comes in.

    I also understand that the couple running the AVS had taken some very bad legal advice. They had noted that some kiddie pr0n websites had joined their system, but their lawyer told them that if they actively censored them, this would make them legally responsible for the content of all member websites, so it was legally prudent not to do so. This was terrible advice, but represented a fairly common perceived legal position in the early days of the web that gatekeepers were not responsible for the content passing through their gateways if they did not exert control over it- the same argument was made by ISPs. Governments and legal systems ultimately decided differently. So in fact even the couple running the AVS (who AIUI received serious prison sentences) were not actively in the kiddie business- they simply saw themselves as a billing company providing a payment portal for content which was not their (legal) responsibility. This is why- you may remember reading when this case broke- they were not hiding in obscurity but were actively promoting their business in full view. They didn’t believe they were breaking any law.

    So the position is, even those who did not suffer identity theft and knowingly used their cards to buy subscriptions may well be innocent, since they were buying access motivated by a majority of adult websites, unaware that some kiddie sites were lurking in the system. Hence the enormous numbers of credit cards involved in this case. That the police and authorities did not take the actual reality into account when pursuing these people is deplorable.

    One way of imagining it is- you buy a special access pass that provides you with access to any movie in any cinema in the country, unaware that some of the cinemas it provides access to are showing illegal material. The authorities swoop, and because your card provided access to cinemas you neither new of nor visited, you are deemed guilty.

  3. “That the police and authorities did not take the actual reality into account when pursuing these people is deplorable.”

    No doubt they’ll try to claim that the Yanks misled them…

    No wonder they are so desperate to pin something on Jim Bates!

  4. “As an aside, since there are hentai AVS systems extant, we can expect this to happen again when the cartoon pr0n law comes in.”

    There’s always a chance it’ll get thrown out, I suppose.

    Oh, wait, what am I saying! Sorry, forgot where I was for a minute…

  5. Oh, wait, what am I saying! Sorry, forgot where I was for a minute…

    I think the sad thing about the state of our nation today is the sense of resignation which infects us all, and has done for a long time. We have become used to a trajectory towards less freedom- that taxes will rise, that laws will multiply, that that which could be done in the past cannot be done now. And we all shrug and accept it. So often, somebody will tell some story from their younger days and then wistfully say, “that wouldn’t be allowed now”.

    If people desiring to preserve some semblance of liberty are to make any progress, it seems to me that that is our biggest enemy- the acceptance of inevitability- that we are on this road and we can’t put the brakes on, and that is just the way of the world.

  6. IanB is mostly right. However, it is worse. Landslide (the AVS) had a subsiduary system called “Keyz”.

    This was a system whereby for an extra charge, you could access a single site (not all the sites as with AVS). The child porn was actually part of this system, not the main AVS system.

    The records exist of who accessed what site, but the Police, for their own reasons, simply went after all the AVS subscribers whether or not they had subscribed to any Keyz site or not, let alone a particular one.

    The Police were not misled. They are lying.

    Why ? Well, the convictions in other countries are very very low. That’s because they used Landslide/Keyz as reasons to suspect, not as “cast iron evidence” in itself.

    They have also submitted, under oath, two entirely different home pages for Landslide – the real one, and one that contains a “click here for child porn” link (which isn’t the home page but it’s a convenient lie). Their “case” rests on everyone clicking this link.

    To anyone with even the slightest knowledge of the internet it is obvious that this “link” is in fact a rotating ad banner.

  7. Good point, Ian. We should start by accepting that the statement “You can’t turn the clock back” should ideally be greeted by a punch on the nose.

  8. God almighty. The next twat who says “if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear” will get a punch in the face.

    Let’s hope the class action suit f*cks the police royally. Where’s the Liberal media on this? Obviously, as the majority of the falsely accused are white males, they just aren’t interested.

  9. “knowingly used their cards to buy subscriptions may well be innocent”

    The police ran the “incitement” line in interviews (i.e. by making money available to child pornographers indirectly you’re inciting the creation of it). The police used this to bully innocent people into accepting a caution (i.e. an admission of guilt). They also used tactics like “if you don’t accept the caution you’ll never see your kids again”. One day all this will come out in the impending court case.

    So far, THIRTY FIVE people have committed suicide from Operation Ore. I’m hoping that the thirty sixth will be Jim Gamble, the bastard who ran Operation Ore (who now has a high paid job running CEOP).

    “Their “case” rests on everyone clicking this link.”

    AFAIK, there have been no cases: no-one has been convicted, despite more than 7,000 arrests.

    Given what happened to arrestees was terrible (divorce, loss of job, bankruptcy) the compensation bill could be in the billions.

  10. Perhaps the lesson of Ore, as in so many cases, is that we need a media that actually does what it claims to do- that is hold people in power to account, investigate and criticise, rather than blindly printing every press release and claim made by powerful groups… like the police.

    It’s no good being a bit wise years after the fact. If there were just some goddamned scepticism among our “professional” journalists instead of meek obedience, the whole viscious circle could be broken.

  11. “So far, THIRTY FIVE people have committed suicide from Operation Ore. I’m hoping that the thirty sixth will be Jim Gamble”

    Not a chance.

    And if he is ever nailed for this, I’ll eat my hat.

    “Perhaps the lesson of Ore, as in so many cases, is that we need a media that actually does what it claims to do- that is hold people in power to account, investigate and criticise…”

    It would be nice, but it seems, pace the Nightjack affair, that they can do this, they are just fixated on easier targets at the moment…

  12. even the couple running the AVS (who AIUI received serious prison sentences)

    Thomas Reedy got 1335 years, reduced on appeal to a merely fuckwitted 180. Janice got 14 which, whether fair or just, is at least “sensible”.

    I’d provide linky things but work’s “keywork blocking software” is being particularly pathetic this morning.

  13. As with Kay Tie, the only thing I’d query from the original article is “Judges and juries found the electronic data irrefutable“.

    I’m not sure – but willing to be corrected – that there were any convictions based solely on the electronic data, even in the UK.

    My understanding was that in cases where there was no other evidence, the police ‘encouraged’ people to accept cautions (“you can go to court in a year’s time and explain why you’re not a paedophile; maybe you won’t be convicted, but by then you’ll have lost your job and Sun readers will have burned down your house”), lying that this wouldn’t fuck up their lives by having them permanently classed as sex offenders.

    The convictions that have come from the case are people like Chris Langham, who were trawled on the basis of the Landslide evidence, but then discovered to have actual child porn as well.

    (there is a mild irony that, if the UK police had used the Landslide evidence properly, Langham would never have been caught, as the data showed that he only used the Readys’ AVS to pay for adult porn sites. But that’s the price we [should] pay for not having a police state.)

  14. “But that’s the price we [should] pay for not having a police state.”

    Funny how cautions are suddenly treated as convictions, when they are essentially confessions extracted under duress without safeguards. Courts won’t accept confessions without corroborating evidence, yet here we are placing enormous weight on cautions. Ironic, given that they aren’t covered under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, and so never become “spent”.

    I’d also dispute that bit about not having a police state, having just watched the Guardian’s video of protesters arrested, assaulted and detained in prison for 4 days for having the temerity of politely asking a policeman for his badge number.

  15. 1) absolutely. If CRB checks didn’t cover a sizeable proportion of jobs, and if a caution for a relevant offence didn’t also get you on the Sex Offenders Register, then they might just about be excusable. They do, and it does, so they aren’t.

    2) absolutely. Hence “[should]”.

  16. Pingback: Jim Gamble’s grubby mitts « Exposing myth, distortion, corruption and the TRUTH

  17. Pingback: As CEOP dies, Jim Gamble saves himself…no surprise there then. | theopinionsite.org

  18. Pingback: Operation Ore appeal

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