Georgia Court Says Internet Cache Not Proof Of Porn Possession - InformationWeek

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7/2/2007
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Georgia Court Says Internet Cache Not Proof Of Porn Possession

The decision could make it more difficult for prosecutors to convict others for viewing child pornography.

A Georgia appeals court has thrown out a conviction against a man accused of viewing more than 100 images of child pornography.

The decision could make it more difficult for prosecutors to convict others for viewing child pornography, according to a report from Law.com.

Edward Ray Barton had been convicted in county Superior Court of child exploitation. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison after a computer forensics expert testified that his Internet cache contained more than 100 images of child pornography. The Georgia Court of Appeals overturned the conviction. The judges stated that investigators did not prove that Barton knowingly possessed the material. They said that the images were inaccessible in temporary Internet files on his hard drive.

Georgia law prohibits possession of child pornography, but it specifies that the perpetrator must be aware the child pornography is in his or her possession.

Prosecutors failed to prove that Barton knowingly stored or saved the files or that he was a "sophisticated computer user who would have been aware of this automatic storage process," according to the court opinion. The judges also stated that Barton could not have retrieved the material without special software, which they concluded that he did not possess.

Police charged Barton with violating Georgia's child exploitation laws. As police investigated accusations of child molestation against Barton, Barton's wife provided police with the laptop containing the cached images. A jury acquitted Barton on the child molestation charges, which his lawyer noted stemmed from a contentious divorce.

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