Julie Amero Update – Porn Queen or Spyware Victim???

March 5, 2007

There don’t seem to be too many people left who actually believe that Julie Amero was deliberately attempting to expose children to pornographic images. (The notable exceptions to that appear to be the prosecutor in Connecticut). I wrote about this case in more detail here.

Last week the Judge Hillary Strickbein postponed sentencing until March 29th at the request of the defence team. Apparently the postponement had been requested in order to give a new attorney and consultant time to familiarize themselves with the case.

With most of the supposedly “expert” technical evidence apparently having been discredited, Assistant State’s Attorney David Smith claims that Ms Amero did not do enough to protect the children from exposure to pornography, (eg shutting down the computer).  The substitute teacher had already informed colleagues that there was a problem with pop-ups on the PC, and had been told to ignore them. She was also under instruction NOT to turn off the PC.

I wonder if Mr Smith will use the same logic to pursue the individuals responsible for ensuring the school had proper technology in place to protect them from spyware. And whoever was responsible for ensuring teachers had full training on the PC’s. And whoever allowed the PC’s to be implemented without effective password controls. And whoever wrote and circulated the spyware that infected the PC in the first place.

Based on what I’ve read of the case to date, Julie Amero should be way down the list of people culpable for this. If Assistant State’s Attorney David Smith was hoping to make a name for himself out of this case, then he has certainly succeeded. Sadly though it looks as though justice, (and Julie Amero) were poorly served in the process.


Up to 40 Years Prison for Spyware Victim

January 25, 2007

Don’t teachers have a great life all the same. Short days, long holidays, good pay. Actually I’m just kidding. I think it must be a real vocation, and as a parent of 3 kids I can’t imagine what it must be like trying to manage a class of 20 or 30 youngsters.

But however difficult the job must be, I’m sure teachers all over the world are thanking their stars they don’t work in Norwich Connecticut. That’s where Julie Amero, a 40 year old substitute teacher was recently found guilty of 4 charges relating to an incident where pornographic material on a PC in the classroom where she was working was exposed to young children.

The case has caught the imagination of the tech community, because her defence claims that the PC was the victim of a spyware infestation were denied by prosecution “experts”. Most people in the computer security world agree that this is a very plausibe scenario, and feel that Ms Emero was an innocent victim in this whole affair.

However, having been found guilty she now faces up to a 40-year prison sentence, (10 years per offence).

On the evidence I’ve seen on this case it looks as though the blame here could lie with the person responsible for coputer security in the school, for allowing the web-filtering software they had in place to expire, to the school management who didn’t respond to claims by Ms Emero that she was getting pop-ups on the PC, and of course primarily with whoever sent out the spyware in the first place.

There’s a lesson here though for us all. Spyware and viruses are a deadly serious issue. It’s not that hard to protect yourself, and poor security can have a major impact.

Who’d be a teacher?