YOU MAY HAVE SEEN YESTERDAY’S ABC 20/20 REPORT or read the related news story about Matt Bandy, the 16-year-old Arizona boy so hideously railroaded on child-porn charges.
He faced up to ninety years in prison for viewing (and possibly uploading) some porn pix — despite the fact that the images found on the family computer were almost certainly the result of one of the 200+ “infections” plaguing the machine. The family’s computer had been turned into a “zombie” by crackers. (Even if he had viewed or transmitted the images, of course, life in prison would be an appallingly absurd outcome.)
My friend Oliver Del Signore is the webmaster of the Justice4Matt website, which has more information about the family and the horrors inflicted on them. The site isn’t actually seeking justice for Matt; he made a plea bargain to save himself and in the end was even mercifully spared the ghastly necessity of registering as a sex offender everywhere he went for the rest of his life. But it does seek to alert others to the danger of being ensnared between malicious hackers and prosecutors interested only in PR and conviction stats. (And need I mention, Windows software.)
What’s so frightening is that something like this could happen to anybody. Matt Bandy was (and seemingly still is) an exemplary kid from a loving family. His father is a physician. The family is respectable and middle class. Nobody in the family had done anything to make themselves a target for a vengeful government. This witch-hunting madness simply swept down on them from the dark of one December morning with guns drawn. And as so often happens now, nobody from the government was interested in hearing anything that might disprove their fanatical beliefs or dispell their craving for power.
Matt and his family show a lot of courage in being willing to share their story as a warning to others. Consider the Justice4Matt site a worthy weekend read. I only regret that, while the Bandy family has been driven to make its agony public, the writer of the main article on the site disguises the names of the villains from the state who perpetrated this modern Inquisition. Such villains should be exposed and held 100 percent accountable for their actions.
Posted by Claire