So you think you can type anything your heart desires on search engines like Google or MSN, and nobody will care? Wrong! As one Boise man found out this week, even Yahoo! will give an occasional "Yoo-hoo!" to the authorities.
Matthew John Anderson, 24, turned himself in to Ada County Sheriffs deputies on Friday night, after a warrant was issued for his arrest on 25 counts of possession of sexually exploitative material. According to Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney, those charges are usually difficult for law enforcement to research, but not in Anderson's case. "Sometimes, she looks 15 or 14, and we have to go out and prove the age of the person in the photograph to establish that it is child pornography," he said. "But in this case, it was clear. We weren't talking 16 or 17, we were talking 6 or 7."
Raney explained that because Yahoo! and other search engines are federally obligated to report child pornography being accessed through their sites, this particular case was relatively easy to wrap up. "Yahoo notified the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, who notified us," he said. "From that, we were able to interview Mr. Anderson and obtain a search warrant for his computer. There, we found several dozen images, some of which we reported to the prosecutor's office."
Raney added that the Center for Missing and Exploited Children acts as a clearinghouse for child pornography tips, contacting local law enforcement on a "not irregular" basis to report suspicious users. "They're fairly common and they're usually fairly hard to follow up on," he said. "In this case it wasn't too bad."
Anderson is being held on a $50,000 bond. He could face up to five years of imprisonment for each charge, if convicted.