The Handprints Security Page


5 July 2004
Mr. KD, whose Handprints galleries are located here and here, writes:

     "First of all, congrats to HP for keeping this site up and running! (All problems with hosts so on aside!) Ladies and gentlemen. Any one of You that have any of my art on Your hard drives, or elsewhere, be warned... The reason I have not been available, reachable and unwilling to post any new drawings is simply, the police hit me! The drawings You all have seen is labeled as chi!d p0rn, not serious such, but.. I have been tried, convicted and fined for the drawings. The court tried to equalize my drawings with real live spankings, and was overruled. Thank You. So... if You are Scandinavian or European beware and believe that Your harddrive can be recreated no matter if You have formatted it ten times. Be careful.

        Apparently Sweden has an absurd law which criminalizes artistic depictions of minors in certain positions, including being spanked,  on the grounds that such drawings or paintings might have been copied from a photograph.  Although spanking children has been technically illegal in Sweden since 1979, there are no criminal penalties or fines for breaking this law.  But apparently in Sweden drawing a picture of an imaginary juvenile spanking constitutes a more serious offense than forcing the real thing on an unconsenting screaming child, since Mr. KD did receive a court-ordered fine for his artwork.

      Handprints originates from the United States and all images on this site fall well within the bounds of legality under U.S. law.  However, if you live in Sweden or another country in which artistic depictions of corporal punishment of minors may be illegal, you may purchase a file shredding program such as BCWipe.   Programs like BCWipe overwrite files of your choice with multiple layers of random 0's and 1's.  Seven such random overwrites meets the U.S. Department of Defense standard of information security, but you may overwrite even more times if you wish.

        Any file you think might get you into trouble but which you can't part with you should encrypt using a free of charge 128-bit encryption program such as PGP ('pretty good privacy').  With PGP, your file is unreadable unless you enter your passphrase, which you should commit to memory and not write down anywhere.  For best security, your long passphrase should not be words from the dictionary, and should contain numerical and punctuation characters as well as letters.   After you open an encrypted file to view it you must use your file shredder program to wipe the unencrypted version from your hard drive once you are finished viewing it.  Simply deleting a file does not make it disappear from your hard drive, it only marks the file as overwritable by other files.  And even if other files overwrite it, a highly motivated authority with access to the necessary instruments and skills may reconstruct it using a statistical analysis of the magnetic domains on your hard drive.  The more times a file is overwritten the harder it is to reconstruct, especially if the machine code of the overwriting files is also not known - hence the efficacy of a program like BCWipe which overwrites files with multiple layers of random data. 

        Also, if your computer uses a Windows operating system, once you have finished viewing PGP encrypted files, you should run your wipe program on your Windows swap file,  because your PGP passphrase might be retrievable from the Windows swap file if you don't wipe it.  BCWipe has a program which specifically does this.

      Handprints has been in existence for five years and Mr. KD's troubles in Sweden are the first indication of anyone anywhere being prosecuted for juvenile spanking drawings.   Handprints readers are urged not to overreact to this news with undue paranoia.  If you live in the USA and most other countries you may legally download all images on Handprints with no fear of prosecution.  In the USA all artistic depictions of minors regardless of content are legal provided they do not fit the narrow, hard to prove standard of "obscenity."  An "obscene" image must appeal to prurient interest, be patently offensive to the average person, and possess no redeeming social,  literary, artistic or scientific value.  No images on Handprints come close to meeting the U.S. obscenity standards, which permit materials of a far more obvious prurient nature with far less redeeming artistic value than anything on this site.  Successful obscenity prosecutions are very rare in the USA and the authorities will not waste their time attempting to prosecute materials of the sort found here, since defeat in the courts is a virtual certainty.

         If you live outside the USA and have any doubt about the legality in your country of artistic depictions of corporal punishment of minors please speak with an attorney familiar with your domestic statutes and find out exactly what your nation permits.  If you receive legal advice to the effect that anything on Handprints may be illegal in your country, please pass along this information to the email address at the bottom of this page.  It will be reposted here.

         In the meantime,  Sweden needs to throw out this ridiculous law forthwith.   Thousands of children daily experience physical and sexual abuse, severe neglect, or forced enlistment as child soldiers. It is unconscionable that any country should divert scarce law enforcement resources away from fighting genuine crimes against children in order to harass artists who create harmless pictures of make-believe spankings!

        If you live in Sweden, please research this law and report back to the email address at the bottom of this page.  Perhaps we can organize an international letter writing campaign, and/or interest international human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, the International Federation for Human Rights, or the International Freedom of Expression Exchange in the plight of artists prosecuted under this law. 

        Sweden is a member of the European Union.  Perhaps we can get this law nullified on the basis of some provision in the EU Constitution

        If any high level Swedish officials possess the authority to nullify this law or bring it up for judicial review, please send the name, address and honorific title of this person or persons to the email address below.  It will be reposted on this page so that Handprints readers may write to them and oppose this law.   Thousands of people visit the Handprints site regularly.  If even a fraction of us wrote letters to the correct person or persons we could heap their desks with mailbag loads of letters and exert real pressure for change. 

17 July 2004
[Mr. KD writes] 
Dear oh, dear,
HP, the security page is good! Please be aware of the following:
All my files was wiped with Cyber Scrub (Gutman maximum security)
They were all recreated by the police within 24 hours.

[HP responds]
I am not familiar with Cyber Scrub.  No file wiping program is foolproof, but it should not have been so easy for the Swedish police to read your wiped files in such a short time.  Did you overwrite your files at least seven times?  That is the U.S. Department of Defense's security standard for its hard drives at the Pentagon.

[Mr. KD] 
Some of my files were encrypted with PGP, six letter password numerals and symbols. They were decrypted within one month.

Mr. KD, I don't wish to sound like a 'Monday morning quarterback,' as we Americans would say.   But for the benefit of Handprints readers with privacy concerns - a six- character PGP passphrase is too short.  A month to crack your six character passphrase by brute force computation methods sounds about right.  I recommend a sequence of numbers, upper and lower case letters, and punctuation symbols at least a couple dozen characters long.  With a sufficiently long passphrase, all the computers in the world working for billions of years straight could not crack the passphrase by brute force methods. 

In the race between encryption methods and cracking methods, encryption always wins and always will win because computers can always create encryption schemes which they themselves cannot crack by brute force.  In the coming decades, 'quantum computing' hardware may make the strongest present day PGP encryption crackable, but by then quantum computers themselves will be used to create still stronger encryption methods as uncrackable by tomorrow's computers as 128-bit RSA encryption is by today's computers.

[Mr. KD]
There is only one way to keep your things hidden. Use a separate, removable harddrive, make sure it is well kept and hidden at all times when not in use.

And don�t even think of trying to affect Swedish law, there is a hot and rabid debate ongoing here, the law will probably be even more strict soon. 

A hot and rabid debate is exactly the time to bring pressure to bear.  We need to stop feeling powerless and alone.  Thanks to the world wide web, thousands of people who appreciate art such as yours are reading these words.  Numbers make us strong and give us the potential to wield political influence if enough of us write letters at the right time to the right person or persons. 

[Mr. KD]
As of now You can not be held responsible for pic�s saved only to Temporary files in your computer. This will probably change soon. Then it will be a felony to have a pop up filesaved in a TEMP file somewhere on Your harddrive.

Hopefully what you describe will not come to pass in Sweden.  Please think about addresses to which Handprints readers could send letters expressing dismay at the erosion of artistic freedom in Sweden.  I think you are giving up too easily.

Most Handprints viewers come from the USA.  Although artwork of virtually any kind is legal in the USA (unless it constitutes "obscenity," which is nearly impossible to prove and which is virtually never pursued for drawings and paintings), illegal photographic images in Temp files, or deleted but not wiped from the hard drive, do constitute possession in those US states which criminalize simple possession of such things (some states do, some don't).  The best  way to be safe from prosecution in the USA for such things as photos of real spankings of real children is to not have anything to do with such images in the first place.  Art, drawings, and fiction are still legal in the USA and most other places (unfortunately not Sweden) and can be created and enjoyed without guilt or anxiety.

Mr. KD, are you appealing your sentence?  If you need donations to a legal defense fund, please let us know the mailing address and I will post it here.