Police acting on dodgy data from an ISP raided an address and arrested a completely innocent person for being part of a paedophile ring, according to the government's electronic surveillance scrutineer.
The 2008 annual report of the Interception of Communications Commissioner, Sir Paul Kennedy, published this week, revealed few details about the incident, which he described as "a very unfortunate error".
The mix up was blamed on confusion between the unnamed ISP and unnamed police force over international time zones.
The vast majority of broadband users are assigned their IP addresses on a temporary basis, often changing every day. A proper understanding of international time zones is therefore essential to accurately link an IP address seen connecting to a foreign-hosted paedophile site to a customer account.
Kennedy said "the whole process of obtaining data relating to IP addresses has been re-examined" and that "better checks and balances have been put in place".
No details of the process or changes to it were given.
Police approached the ISP after getting information from a "reliable source", suggesting that children were at risk of falling into the hands of a paedophile ring. Kennedy said the investigation is continuing. ®