Cybercrime Newsletter November - December 2017
The following is a compendium of news reports, case law and legislative actions over the latest bi-monthly period that may be of interest to our AG offices that are dealing with cyber-related issues. Neither the National Association of Attorneys General nor the National Attorneys General Training & Research Institute expresses a view as to the accuracy of news accounts, nor as to the position expounded by the authors of the hyperlinked articles.
- The FCC and FTC entered into an MOU under which they agreed to coordinate online efforts pursuant to the FCC’s planned rollback of net neutrality rules. Under the MOU, the FCC will review informal complaints concerning ISP compliance with disclosure obligations, and the FTC will investigate and take enforcement action against ISPs regarding the accuracy of those disclosures. The two agencies will share legal and technical expertise and will collaborate on consumer and industry outreach and education.
- The wearing of body cameras has little effect on police use of force, according to a new study by The Lab @ DC, a team of behavioral and data scientists. According to the study’s working paper, Evaluating the Effects of Police Body-Worn Cameras: A Randomized Controlled Trial, the results suggest a need to “recalibrate our expectations” of body cameras’ ability to induce large-scale behavioral changes in policing.
- The ABA Center for Innovation is partnering with eDiscovery software developer Relativity on a project known as DFENDR (Distributed Forensic Expert Network Delegating Review) that will analyze cases to determine whether bias or other factors could have contributed to wrongful convictions. The project’s goals are to 1) identify the key factors contributing to wrongful convictions; 2) improve the review process for wrongful convictions; and 3) develop talent by giving law and forensic science students real-world experience.
- Munchee, a blockchain-based food review service, stopped selling digital tokens to raise capital pursuant to an SEC investigation. The company agreed to a cease-and-desist order in which the SEC found that its conduct constituted unregistered securities offers and sales.
- The biggest obstacles to the adoption of self-driving cars in the U.S. continue to be safety concerns and the potential reluctance of consumers to transition to automated driving systems, according to Foley & Lardner’s 2017 Connected Cars & Autonomous Vehicles Survey of automotive executives. Other factors cited include the lack of a regulatory framework, concerns about the capabilities of new technology and cybersecurity and privacy issues.
Recent State Cases
- In Commonwealth v. Keown, the Massachusetts Supreme Court held that a search warrant affidavit established probable cause to search a laptop for evidence relating to the victim’s death, and the warrant itself described the items to be searched with reasonable particularity.
- In State v. Buck, an Ohio Court of Appeals found that the warrantless search of Andre Buck’s apartment, person and cell phone was justified by exigent circumstances for Fourth Amendment purposes because the still-missing kidnap victim’s life was in danger, and the police reasonably believed that his phone had been used in the kidnapping.
- In State v. Tejeda, the Rhode Island Supreme Court ruled that defendant Daniel Tejeda’s cell phone seized at his arrest was admissible because credible testimony supported its admission. Special Assistant Attorney General Virginia McGinn represented the State.
Recent Federal Cases
- In U.S. v. Levin, the First Circuit vacated the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts’ suppression order, ruling the Network Investigative Technique (NIT) warrant did not leave to the discretion of the executing officers which places should have been searched, and it specified into which homes intrusion was permitted and on what basis.
- In U.S. v. Johnson, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California as to the search, ruling that because defendant Valentino Johnson was a parolee, he had a reduced expectation of privacy, so the search of his cell phone did not violate the Fourth Amendment. The court vacated the sentence and remanded on other issues.
- The New Jersey Senate passed S3370, which regulates and prohibits certain drone activity. It has been forwarded to the Assembly.
- S. 782, a bill reauthorizing the National ICAC Data System and the National ICAC Task Force Program through FY2022, was signed into law. It is codified as Public Law No, 115-92.
Cybercrime Initiatives in the Attorney General Community
- Eighteen Attorneys General wrote to the FCC expressing their concern over falsified comments submitted during the net neutrality process and urging a delay of the rulemaking deadline.
- Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden’s ICAC investigators arrested Charles Gonzales for alleged sexual exploitation of a child following the execution of a search warrant at his residence.
- Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear’s investigators arrested William Smith on 100 counts of possession of child pornography, a Class D felony, after executing a search warrant at his residence.
- Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry’s Cyber Crime Unit arrested John Opperman on 150 counts of possession of child pornography after a joint investigation with other law enforcement agencies.
- Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced that William and Bonnie Morley, owners of Blue Star Vending, have pleaded guilty and been sentenced for operating an illegal gaming and money laundering scheme through the distribution of video slot and poker machines. The case is being prosecuted by AAGs Gina Masotta and Thomas Caldwell.
- Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced that Daniel Smith pleaded guilty to 10 counts of possession of child pornography. He had been charged after an investigation by the Michigan ICAC task force.
- Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson obtained a court order requiring Louisiana-based Internet, phone and TV company CenturyLink to clearly disclose its prices and fees and prohibiting the company from charging consumers a greater amount than disclosed at the time of sale.
- Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood announced that Jeramy Mooney was arrested on one count of online child exploitation, following an investigation by Jay Houston of the Mississippi ICAC task force. The case will be prosecuted by Special AAG Brandon Ogburn.
- New Jersey Attorney General Christopher Porrino announced that Thomas Puretti pleaded guilty to charges including first-degree manufacturing of child pornography for soliciting underage girls online to send him sexual explicit photos of themselves. Deputy AG Joseph Remy prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the Division of Criminal Justice and ICE.
- Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton obtained a temporary injunction against tech support companies HPC Techs, Escutcheon Technologies, The Rhombus Techs and one other, as well as their owners, pursuant to a suit alleging deceptive tactics to get consumers to pay for unnecessary computer repair services.
- Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s office reached a settlement with Chicago-based Internet lender Opportunity Financial in which the company agreed to provide refunds and debt forgiveness to more than 4000 consumers pursuant to allegations it imposed origination fees on borrowers during the statutory finance-free grace period.
- Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed suit against Massachusetts-based FBA Stores, alleging it deceptively advertises by email and direct mail and sells training packages on how to make money selling on Amazon. The company also falsely claims affiliations with Amazon. AAG Andrea Alegrett and Special Assistant to the Attorney General Elizabeth Howe are handing the case.
Hedda Litwin is the Editor of the Cybercrime Newsletter and may be reached at 202-326-6022. The Cybercrime Newsletter is a publication of the National Association of Attorneys General. Any use and/or copies of this newsletter in whole or part must include the customary bibliographic citation. NAAG retains copyright and all other intellectual property rights in the material. For content submissions or to contact the editor directly, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.