Although AG's offices obviously need to outsource software development, there are obvious problems with outsourcing the identification of criminals to an external service provider.
A private company that's under contract to collect information for law enforcement investigators has a financial incentive to produce results...
This is already a serious problem with prosecutors. In the hands of a private company the risk of abuse is even greater because the incentives are greater and many of the counter-incentives are removed.
"No software can determine whether a person (in a picture) is 17 or 18," Douglas says, so there are bound to be a lot of innocent IP addresses collected by MediaDefender and sent to the AG, before further investigation weeds out innocent suspects from actual lawbreakers.
Most people can't tell whether a person is 17 or 18 regardless of whether or not they are in a picture, which underlines the absurdity of sending people to prison for years and permanently tracking them as sex offenders in such cases.
San Francisco public defender Adachi says the relationship also conceivably gives MediaDefender the power to decide whom to collect evidence against and whom to let go.
"Say I ... find a web site that's run by my sister-in-law and decide that, 'Geez, I'm not going to turn that over,'" Adachi says. "There's no sworn duty by the private company (collecting evidence for law enforcement) to prosecute people in a fair, evenhanded manner."
Not that such a sworn duty stops AGs from doing exactly this all the time.
Defense Lawyers Cringe at MediaDefender's Child-Porn Patrol Plans