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[QUOTE]Teacher faces jail time for porn pop-ups
2/14/2007 3:31:53 PM, by Jacqui Cheng

Who is responsible for keeping the computers at school clean and child-safe? A Connecticut court is siding with the school system in the case of substitute teacher Julie Amero, who has been convicted for four counts of "risking injury to a child." Amero now faces up to 40 years of jail time for pornographic pop-ups that appeared on a computer she was using in a classroom—pop-ups that she and her lawyers argue were a result of spy and adware on the computer, out-of-date virus software, and an expired firewall license—the perfect storm for pornographic pop-ups, all on a Windows 98 machine running Internet Explorer 5.

The story goes something like this: Amero was substituting for a middle-school English class and asked the regular teacher permission to use the computer to e-mail her husband. The teacher granted her permission, and asked her not to log him out of the computer. Amero, the self-professed techno-noob, then left the room to use the restroom, and upon her return says that she found several students gathered around the machine looking at a web site. A series of unfortunate events occurred from this point on, resulting in a slew of pornographic pop-ups appearing on the screen. The onslaught continued despite Amero's attempts to close the windows. Amero ran to get help from the teacher's lounge, where she told four teachers and the assistant principal about the problem, and where another teacher reportedly told her to ignore the pop-ups. At some point, students attested to Amero's attempts to block the screen with her hands and push students away.

In court, school officials testified that the school's firewall software had indeed expired, that the anti-virus software on the computer was long out of date, and that there were no anti-spyware tools on the machine. A computer expert hired by Amero's lawyers—who was ultimately blocked from presenting his testimony because it was not made available to the prosecution before the case went to court—claimed that there was evidence that spyware/adware was, in fact, installed on the computer for weeks before Amero's arrival at the school. The prosecution's computer "expert," a local police officer who investigates computer crimes, testified that the computer's logs showed that Amero had voluntarily accessed pornographic sites. The prosecution also faulted Amero heavily for not simply shutting off the computer if she found the porn loop to be as never-ending as she claimed. Amero's answer to the accusation was that she knew so little about computers that she didn't know how to turn it off. "I absolutely have no clue about computers," she said in an interview.

Sure, there's no questioning that even the most novice of users could have turned off the monitor or unplugged the computer—this is something that even my octogenerian grandparents can do. But regardless of whether Amero is personally to blame for not taking more effective action against the barrage of pop-ups, it seems that the school district is desperately trying to draw attention away from its own role in the incident. A former teacher at the same school told the Washington Post's Security Fix blog that the school had very few restrictions on what the children themselves were able to freely access on the school's computers, saying, "You could look at any history in any computer and chances are you would see the children had [visited] inappropriate sites."

Whether or not Amero intentionally clicked on pornographic links, as the prosecution claimed, should be irrelevant. Shouldn't the school be working to block the display of pornographic material altogether, whether or not any adult or student is attempting to intentionally access it? Clearly, by the administration's own admissions, the school was woefully unprepared to face today's blaring reality of Internet insecurity.

The decision sets a somewhat disturbing precedent. Teachers may now feel immense pressure to become overnight computer power-users to avoid being arrested for not staying ahead of their schools' own (lack of) computer security measures. Or to take it a step further, teachers may become more reluctant to use PCs in the classroom. Amero faces sentencing on March 2 and plans to appeal the case.



Honestly, misspell google as gooogle and BOOM, you get the nekednessesses. I wish i could do something for the teacher.


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