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Couple Sues ISP for Mistaken Child Porn

Couple Sues ISP for Mistaken Child Porn
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Sep 13, 2005 6:00 AM PDT    Text size: 
WICHITA, Kan. — A Kansas couple with no criminal record were arrested in front of the their house in the close-knit neighborhood where they had lived for years, interrogated for several hours under suspicion of running a child pornography ring, and finally released without any charges filed. Now the couple, who police say were mistakenly arrested, are suing. But they aren’t suing the police.

They’re suing their ISP.

Brian and Sarah Doom are the latest faces in a growing concern over Internet privacy rights, symbolic figureheads for the idea that while it may be comforting to think a person’s right to privacy is protected by law, even in the vast realms of cyberspace, Mr. and Mrs. Doom would beg to differ.

In early August, local police were following up on a discovery of child porn that was linked to an email account hosted by Cox Communications. Allegedly, Cox received a subpoena demanding the home address linked to the account. The company willfully complied, but instead of giving authorities the address of whoever was trafficking the photos, somehow pulled up the Doom’s account instead.

The Dooms are now suing Cox for breach of contract, defamation of character and invasion of privacy. Representatives at Cox did admit fault in what happened, but were unable to talk to XBiz further due to the pending lawsuit.

"Cox did make a mistake, and we are sorry for that action," said spokeswoman Sarah Kauffman.

But Doom lawyer Craig Shultz said sorry isn’t enough, and plans to argue that Cox should have been able to protect his clients from a mistaken police raid. The couple is suing for an unspecified amount in damages.

"These are good people who were accused of crimes that sickened them," he said. "Their neighbors saw the police show up and take them away."

The Doom’s lawsuit is only the latest in a recent string of incidents involving Internet privacy. Most notably, Internet giant Yahoo Inc. admitted on Saturday giving Chinese authorities information that led to a 10-year prison term for journalist Shi Tao. Tao had been using a Yahoo service to send copies of a message from Chinese authorities that warned domestic journalists not to report on “sensitive issues.” He was convicted on allegations of publishing government secrets outside of China

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