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Your analysis of your local problem should give you a better understanding of the factors contributing to it. Once you have analyzed your local problem and established a baseline for measuring effectiveness, you should consider possible responses to address the problem.
The following response strategies provide a foundation of ideas for addressing your particular problem. These strategies are drawn from a variety of research studies and police reports. Several of these strategies may apply to your community's problem. It is critical that you tailor responses to local circumstances, and that you can justify each response based on reliable analysis. In most cases, an effective strategy will involve implementing several different responses. Law enforcement responses alone are seldom effective in reducing or solving the problem. Do not limit yourself to considering what police can do: carefully consider whether others in your community share responsibility for the problem and can help police respond to it.
As noted, Internet child pornography presents some unique challenges for law enforcement agencies. However, despite the difficulties involved in controlling the problem, local police have an important role to play. To maximize their contribution, local police departments need to:
It is generally acknowledged that it is impossible to totally eliminate child pornography from the Internet. However, it is possible to reduce the volume of child pornography on the Internet, to make it more difficult or risky to access, and to identify and arrest the more serious perpetrators. Since 1996, ISPs have removed some 20,000 pornographic images of children from the web. Around 1,000 people are arrested annually in the United States for Internet child pornography offenses. The following strategies have been used or suggested to reduce the problem of child pornography on the Internet.
ISPs have a central role to play in combating Internet child pornography. The more responsibility ISPs take in tackling the availability of child pornography images on the Internet, the more resources police can devote to addressing the production side of the problem. However, there are two competing commercial forces acting on ISPs with respect to self regulation. On the one hand, if an ISP restricts access to child pornography on its server, it may lose out financially to other ISPs who do not. Therefore, it will always be possible for offenders to find ISPs who will store or provide access to child pornography sites. On the other hand, ISPs also have their commercial reputation to protect, and it is often in their best interests to cooperate with law enforcement agencies. Most major ISPs have shown a commitment to tackling the problem of child pornography. By establishing working relationships with ISPs, and publicizing those ISPs who take self regulation seriously, police may be able to encourage greater levels of self regulation. Current self-regulatory strategies include:1. Removing illegal sites. A number of ISP associations have drafted formal codes of practice that explicitly bind members to not knowingly accept illegal content on their sites, and to removing such sites when they become aware of their existence. Service agreement contracts with clients will often set out expected standards that apply to site content. Large ISPs may have active cyber patrols that search for illegal sites.
Not everyone is satisfied with the current reliance on self regulation, and there have been calls for increased legislation to compel the computer industry to play a greater role in controlling Internet child pornography. Police may be an important force in lobbying for tighter restrictions. Among the proposals for tighter regulation are:4. Making ISPs legally responsible for site content. ISPs' legal responsibilities to report child pornography vary among jurisdictions. In the United States, ISPs are legally required to report known illegal activity on their sites, but they are not required to actively search for such sites. It has been argued that ISPs' legal responsibilities should be strengthened to require a more proactive role in blocking illegal sites.
There are a number of other promising strategies involving other industries with a stake in the Internet. Again, although police may have no direct role in implementing these strategies, they may be able to use their influence to encourage industries to act. Strategies include:9. Blocking credit card transactions. Although there has been considerable focus on the role of ISPs in enabling the distribution of Internet child pornography, there has been less attention given to the role played by credit card companies in allowing customers to pay for that pornography. It has been argued that credit card companies have a duty to not knowingly contribute to illegal acts. Some credit card companies have acknowledged the problem and vowed to act.
Many medium to large organizations maintain their own servers, which allow employees to access the Internet from and store data on their work computer. Work computers have been implicated in a number of child pornography cases. Workplace strategies may be directed toward altering the behavior of potential offenders by reinforcing the costs associated with offending.11. Adopting and enforcing workplace codes of conduct. Many organizations have explicit policies regarding and consequences for the improper use of work computers. These policies need to be made clear to employees to remove any doubt about what standard of behavior is expected.
A number of nonprofit organizations have been established to raise public awareness about the issue of Internet child pornography and to act as political lobby groups. These groups include Wired Safety, Safeguarding Our Children – United Mothers (SOC-UM), and End Child Prostitution, ChildPornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT). Citizens' groups will usually work in cooperation with law enforcement agencies, and local police can provide active support for their activities, which include:14. Educating the public. The main activity of these groups is to raise public awareness and provide tips for parents and teachers through their websites, publications, and online classes.
One of the concerns about Internet child pornography is that children may inadvertently access material, or may have material sent to them either as part of a grooming process or by cyber-stalkers. A number of products are available to assist parents in regulating Internet content for their children.Police can play an educative role in informing parents of these effective strategies by:16. Encouraging parents to use filtering software. Commercially available software allows parents to restrict or monitor their children's Internet usage and may be available as part of free parental controls by certain ISPs. These programs may block undesirable sites or provide a record of Internet sites visited.
In the strategies discussed so far the police role has largely involved working in cooperation with other groups or acting as educators. A number of strategies are the primary responsibility of police. As a rule, local police will not carry out major operations. Most major operations require specialized expertise and inter-agency and inter-jurisdictional cooperation. (See Appendix C for a summary of major coordinated law enforcement operations in recent years.) However, local police will almost certainly encounter cases of Internet child pornography in the course of their daily policing activities. Law enforcement responses include:19. Locating child pornography sites. Police agencies may scan the Internet to locate and remove illegal child pornography sites. Many areas of the Internet are not accessible via the usual commercial search engines, and investigators need to be skilled at conducting sophisticated searches of the 'hidden net.' Police may issue warnings to ISPs that are carrying illegal content.
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