Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

Appendix D: Summary of Responses to Internet Child Pornography

The table below summarizes the responses to Internet child pornography, the mechanisms by which they are intended to work, the conditions under which they ought to work best, and some factors you should consider before implementing a particular response. It is critical that you tailor your 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.

Response No.

Response

How It Works

Works Best If…

Considerations

Computer Industry Self-Regulation

1

Removing illegal sites

Reduces availability of pornography; ISPs agree voluntarily to refuse to accept child pornography sites and to remove any sites once identified

…all ISPs agree to participate

 

There is a financial advantage for some ISPs to continue to accept child pornography sites. Pressure may be applied to ISPs by police to increase compliance; some international ISPs are beyond the reach of formal codes of conduct

2

Establishing complaint sites/hotlines

Facilitates reporting; public is given the opportunity to report illegal sites

…existence of the complaint sites/hotlines are widely known

Although many reported sites will have already been identified by the ISP, sites that have escaped the cyber patrols may be uncovered

3

Filtering browsers/search engines

Prevents customers from accessing child pornography sites

…all providers agree to use filters

Not all illegal sites will be identified; applies only to child pornography located on open areas of the web

Legislative Regulation

4

Making ISPs legally responsible for site content

Enhances screening and surveillance of child pornography; ISPs to be legally required to identify and remove illegal sites

…there is national and international consistency in legislative approach

Resisted by computer industry, which favors self-regulation; debate about the balance between protecting society and free speech

5

Requiring the preservation of ISP records

Facilitates criminal investigations; records of customers’ Internet use are retained in case required as evidence

Same as No. 4 above

Same as No. 4 above

6

Requiring user verification

Deters offenders from seeking child pornography on the World Wide Web; ISPs should require verification of an applicant’s identity before providing an account

Same as No. 4 above

Same as No. 4 above; this problem will become more critical as greater integration of Internet and mobile phone services occurs

7

Regulating anonymous remailers

Reduces anonymity of offenders; remailer administrators are made legally responsible for material forwarded

Same as No. 4 above

Same as No. 4 above

8

Using key escrowed encryption

Reduces anonymity of offenders; encryption keys held by a trusted third party

Same as No. 4 above

Same as No. 4 above

Strategies for Related Industries

9

Blocking credit card transactions

Deters offenders and/or reduces profitability of online child pornography; credit card companies refuse to authorize payments for child pornography

…all companies agree to participate

Not all child pornography requires payment

10

Boycotting sites by advertisers

Reduces profitability of online child pornography; companies refuse to place advertisements on networks that carry child pornography

…the boycott is widespread and highly publicized

The aim of boycotts is to pressure service providers to monitor illegal activity

Workplace Responses

11

Adopting and enforcing workplace codes of conduct

Deters offenders by removing excuses for using workplace computers to access child pornography; organizations that maintain their own servers have explicit policies governing computer use by staff

…codes are formal and clearly communicated to all staff

Applies only to child pornography accessed or stored at work

12

Auditing computer use

Deters offenders by increasing surveillance of their computer use; staff Internet use is routinely monitored

…staff are aware in advance that audits will be conducted

Same as No. 11 above

13

Filtering web usage

Reduces access to online child pornography; companies restrict the sites that employees may visit

Same as No. 11 above

Same as No. 11 above

Citizens’ Groups

14

Educating the public

Enhances awareness and improves web surveillance; information is provided to parents and teachers about Internet child pornography

…it is done in cooperation with law enforcement agencies

Directed mainly toward preventing online exploitation of children and access by children to child pornography

15

Searching the Internet

Enhances web surveillance; hotlines and Internet searches by volunteers identify child pornography sites

Same as No. 14 above

Volunteers need to be careful not to download pornography and thus commit a crime

Parental Strategies

16

Encouraging parents to use filtering software

Reduces exposure of children to online child pornography; software installed on home computers that restricts sites that may be visited and/or keeps a record of sites visited

…combined with supervision of children’s computer use and education about appropriate sites

Specifically targets children’s access to child pornography; police have a role in educating the public about safe Internet use

17

Encouraging parents to review web ratings

Reduces exposure of children to online child pornography; websites independently rated for age suitability

Same as No. 16 above

Same as No. 16 above

18

Promoting the use of child-oriented search engines

Reduces exposure of children to online child pornography; search engines specifically designed for children, where sites are manually inspected for inappropriate material

Same as No. 16 above

Same as No. 16 above

Law Enforcement Responses

19

Locating child pornography sites

Increases an offender’s risk of apprehension; law enforcement agencies conduct their own searches of the Internet for child pornography

…coordinated with other agencies and jurisdictions

Requires specialized expertise to access hidden areas of the Internet

20

Conducting undercover sting operations

Deters offenders through increased risk of apprehension; undercover law enforcement agents enter pedophile newsgroups, etc., to collect evidence against offenders

Same as No. 19 above

Same as No. 19 above; may target novice or low-level offenders

21

Setting up honey trap sites

Increases an offender’s risk of apprehension; phony child pornography sites are established that capture the details of offenders who attempt to access the supposed pornography

…the existence of the sites is widely publicized to increase the deterrent effect

Same as No. 20 above

22

Publicizing crackdowns

Increases the perception among offenders that the Internet is an unsafe environment to access child pornography

…publicity is widespread and sustained

Same as No. 20 above

23

Conducting traditional criminal investigations

Increases an offender’s risk of apprehension; police uncover information about child pornography in the course of their daily work

…police have strong links with key community groups

Key role for local police

Responses With Limited Effectiveness

24

Engaging in vigilantism

Increases an offender’s risk of apprehension; vigilantes disable suspected offenders’ computers and disrupt pedophile newsgroups

 

Actions may be illegal