S.D.W.Va.: CP hunting software doesn’t have to be shown to be 100% reliable for PC

Child pornography targeting software doesn’t have to be shown to be all that reliable to establish probable cause for a search warrant. United States v. Naylor, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19760 (S.D.W.Va. February 19, 2015) [Look, if a 25% reliability rate for a dog is PC, then why not this? PC is a really low threshold. I hate to admit it, but it is.]:

As noted, the warrant application included Sergeant Divita’s sworn statement that her colleague, Sergeant Eldridge, had examined an exact copy of the Lolita’s House file in the media library and found it to contain minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. The file content is described with particularity. Respecting the availability of the file for download by other peers, Sergeant Eldridge noted it had been offered for distribution by the target computer on January 15, 2014. These allegations produced a fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime would be found on the target computer.

None of Mr. Naylor’s challenges cast any doubt on this conclusion. First, the fact that Sergeant Eldridge failed to download the Lolitas House video is of no moment. Based upon a garden-variety knowledge of hash value characteristics, he was warranted in concluding that the Lolitas House video was an exact match for the same file archived in the media library, a file that contained a profound amount of child pornography.

Second, a sufficient showing has been made to warrant Fourth Amendment confidence in the CPS software. Sergeant Eldridge has used the CPS software for six years. Fifty of the hundreds of child pornography cases to which he has been assigned have involved use of the CPS software. On those occasions, the CPS software has proven to be 100% reliable.

There is simply no basis to challenge the integrity of the software in light of this track record. The CPS software appears to be a reliable investigative tool for law enforcement in these types of cases.

Third, it is of no consequence that the Lolitas House video was not found during a forensic examination of Mr. Naylor’s hard drive. There are multiple reasons that the file may have disappeared. It could have been deleted and then overwritten or moved, directly or following download, to an external storage device. The absence of the file does not diminish the showing of probable cause.

Fourth, the fact that only 25.52% of the Lolitas House video was shown on the spreadsheet on January 15, 2014, does not indicate Sergeant Eldridge or Sergeant Divita made a recklessly false statement within the warrant application. Inasmuch as another user may begin downloading a fellow user’s partially downloaded file, there is no basis for concluding any statement in the warrant application misstated or stretched the truth. In a related vein, Sergeant Eldridge could confidently conclude that 25.52% of the file included child pornography inasmuch as that portion of the file would have captured at least some measure of child pornography based upon his percentage allocation after viewing the exact duplicate of the file in the media library.

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