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Child Porn Distributed in Chat Room Not Subject to Right of Privacy
Description Defendant's motion to suppress evidence of child pornography he distributed to members of an on-line chat room denied. FBI agent, who observed chat room proceedings, but did not participate, could collect evidence of illegal activity.
Topic Cyberlaw
Key Words Privacy, e-mail, pornography, search and seizure
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts An FBI agent was assigned to monitor on-line chat rooms to uncover distribution of child pornography. The agent would enter the chat rooms, so his user name would be seen, but he did not participate in the conversations. Charbonneau was accused of having distributed child pornography to the participants in the chat room, which included the FBI agent. Charbonneau contended that this method of collecting evidence violated his Fourth Amendment rights because he had a reasonable expectation of privacy.
Decision Motion to have the evidence suppressed denied. "The expectation of privacy in e-mail transmissions depends in large part on both the type of e-mail sent and recipient of the e-mail." Unlike personally addressed e-mail, messages sent to the members of a chat room lose their privacy.
Citation U.S. v. Charbonneau, ---F.Supp.--- (1997 WL 627044, S.D. Ohio)
979 F. Supp. 1177 (S. D., Ohio, 1997)

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