Sentencing of teacher in 'porn or spyware' case postponed

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Sentencing of teacher in 'porn or spyware' case postponed

The sentencing of Julie Amero, the Connecticut substitute teacher convicted of exposing seventh-grade students to pornographic images — pictures that she and a number of security experts contend were spyware-produced — was postponed to 6 June.

The Norwich Bulletin reported that a possible reason for the delay is a change in judge assignments, including the relocation of Judge Hilary Strackbein, charged with sentencing Amero, to another court.

Amero, a 40-year-old Windham, Conn. resident, faces up to 40 years in prison — 10 years for each count of risk of injury to a minor for which she was convicted.

Amero has argued that pornorgraphic images repeatedly popped up and couldn’t be turned off, the result of badware installed on a class PC that was running the Windows 98 operating system and expired anti-spyware solutions at the time of the 2004 incident.

A grassroots effort has sprung up in the information security community to raise money for Amero’s defense and to publicize the incident.

A Sunbelt Software spokesman told SCMagazine.com today that Alex Eckelberry, the firm's president, who had provided Amero updates on the company’s blog, could not comment on the case until its completion.

One anti-spyware vendor, Max Secure Software, has pledged to donate its signature solution for free for six months to any kindergarten-through-12th grade school in the United States.

Amrit Williams, BigFix CTO, told SCMagazine.com that the case shows the criminal justice system has yet to catch up to mainstream society on technological issues.

"Part of what happened there is that you have children involved, and when you have children involved, you tend to get a very emotional reaction. I know that some of the news reports presented her as on par with a pedophile, and that shows a population and a legal system that’s not moving in line with technology," he said.

"The fact of the matter is that it is well known that there are [a number of types of malware] that can take over and command machines to go to certain websites. These things have been known about for a number of years."

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