Back in January, Radley Balko relayed the case of Julie Amero–a Connecticut substitute teacher convicted of exposing some middle school kids to pornographic pop-up ads. Amero claimed, plausibly, that she did not will the ads to appear and had no desire to permanently scar her pre-adolescent students with images of naked humans. After she was convicted, someone bothered to check out the computer, and discovered–surprise!–spyware.
Thanks in part to a sustained Internet campaign in her defense, Amero was yesterday granted a retrial. The "incident" took place in October 2004; her retrial should take place sometime this year. With any luck, moral panic will have ruined a mere three years of her life.
What lesson should we take from this sad tale of prosecutorial excess and computer illiteracy? Amero's lawyer explains: "The lesson from this is we are all at the whims of these computers."
Happy Internet Safety Month!