YubaNet: ‘Web-page visit’ not what it seems in Lamphier investigation
A public records release by the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday revealed an alleged 6,750 visits logged by Nevada County’s Internet activity monitoring system in one week on the desktop computer used by Supervisor Terry Lamphier.
The log files were provided after a joint records request by YubaNet and The Union to shed light on sealed search warrants served Oct. 25 on Lamphier’s residence and car.
In reviewing the released records, and the large number of visits reportedly recorded on Lamphier’s computer, YubaNet offers further clarification on what constitutes a “visit.”
Log files not just a browser history
Unlike the general public’s browser history, which only displays the URLs of Web pages visited, Nevada County’s Cyfin report logs every element of a Web page separately and provides the URL to each element.
A Web page can easily have 50 to 100 different elements, from navigation bar elements, other graphic elements like headers, footers or sidebar images, transparent (invisible) small images to align Web content.
The logging system’s recorded “visit” doesn’t represent the number of times a user clicked a link or visited a complete Web page.
Visiting a single page while being monitored by Cyfin can result in multiple hits, each of which may result in a logged “visit.” Every time a user follows a link or visits a page, every element of that page may be recorded.
By taking a look at a small segment of the log entries on Lamphier’s desktop computer on Oct. 13, one can see many requests have the same time stamp, meaning the elements of the Web page were simultaneously downloaded and then displayed.
Plain English translation
In “non-geek speak,” the visits listed in the image are all for a single page (See image of document online at YubaNet.com) — each element tracked to its location on the host server and logged separately.
YubaNet truncated the image of the report, leaving out the count numbers and omitted the full URLs for the elements as they are pointing to Web pages classified as pornography by the logging system.
By using an average of 70 elements per page, the 6,750 visits translate into approximately 96 web pages for that week. With 2,823 visits flagged as “Unacceptable,” 40 of the 96 Web pages allegedly accessed are labeled as “Pornography’ by the logging system.
After hours, holiday activity
It is noteworthy much of the alleged activity revealed in the documents released took place on Oct. 13 — Columbus Day. County offices were closed in observance of the holiday.
The remainder of the allegedly inappropriate activity listed in that single week’s log file took place on Oct. 16, after 5:55 p.m. — a time when most county employees would leave their office to go home for the evening.
As reported Tuesday, an active investigation is ongoing into the alleged possession of child pornography by Lamphier. No charges have yet been filed.
Lamphier, who is running for a seat on the Grass Valley City Council, has not responded to multiple requests for comment.
Pascale Fusshoeller is editor at YubaNet, which is collaborating with The Union in the release and review of a joint public records request.
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