Oregon Man Caught Using Neighbors’ Unsecured Wireless to Download Child Porn

March 21, 2011 by David S. Seltzer

An article about an Oregon man facing steep charges for possessing, distributing and receiving child pornography caught my eye as a child porn attorney. The March 18 article on OregonLive.com said the tale of Kyle Scott Broadhurst should serve as a caution to the many Internet users who have not yet secured their wireless home networks. Broadhurst, 26, is accused of using the wireless networks of neighbors in Milwaukie, Ore. to access file-sharing sites specializing in child pornography. The goal was to avoid being identified by deceiving authorities into believing the neighbors were the ones downloading. Fortunately for his neighbors, Broadhurst was correctly identified and is now facing nine federal felony counts.

Broadhurst was discovered by an interagency team of investigators into child pornography swapping online. Rather than have human detectives do searches, they used an automated system to find sites and traced traffic back to individual home computers. That system led Clackamas County sheriff’s deputy Erin Schweitzer to Milwaukie, where she parked outside the homes with the unsecured wireless networks. Because they were all unsecured, she suspected they were being pirated by someone with a directional wifi antenna, which extends the range in which you can pick up wireless networks. By using a special device whose function was not described, the investigators were able to trace the activity back to Broadhurst and found him downloading child pornography in his bedroom in February of 2010. He confessed to downloading thousands of images, some only for trading purposes.

This piece reminds me of another I read and blogged about last month as a child pornography lawyer. In that case, a Sarasota man was wrongly accused of child pornography crimes after his network was hijacked. It wasn’t until a frightening search of his computer that the authorities considered a wireless pirate, and eventually found the real downloader. In Oregon, no such invasive searches were reported, fortunately — but they easily could have happened if investigators had been impatient to make an arrest or inexperienced with cyber crime. That’s one reason why, as the article implies, wireless home network users would be wise to password-protect their networks. As a child pornography attorney, I believe evidence would eventually get such innocent users released — but possibly not before they’re subjected to invasive searches, rough treatment and possibly even confiscation of their property.

Seltzer Law, P.A., represents clients in Florida and around the United States who are charged with serious cyber crimes of all kinds, including controversial child pornography crimes. If you or someone you love is charged, don’t hesitate to contact us for a free, confidential consultation. You can reach us 24 hours a day and seven days a week at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333) or send us an email anytime.