Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

Summary of Responses to Internet Child Pornography

The table below summarizes the responses to false burglar alarms, the mechanism 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 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.

 

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.

#ResponseHow It WorksWorks 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 participateThere 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 sitesexistence of the complaint sites/ hotlines are widely knownAlthough 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 sitesall providers agree to use filtersNot all illegal sites will be identified; applies only to child pornography located on open areas of the web
#ResponseHow It WorksWorks Best IfConsiderations
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 sitesthere is national and international consistency in legislative approachResisted 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 evidenceSame as No. 4 aboveSame 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 applicants identity before providing an accountSame as No. 4 aboveSame 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 forwardedSame as No. 4 aboveSame as No. 4 above
8.Using key escrowed encryption Reduces anonymity of offenders; encryption keys held by a trusted third partySame as No. 4 aboveSame as No. 4 above
#ResponseHow It WorksWorks Best IfConsiderations
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 pornographyall companies agree to participateNot 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 pornographythe boycott is widespread and highly publicizedThe 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 staffcodes are formal and clearly communicated to all staffApplies 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 monitoredstaff are aware in advance that audits will be conductedSame as No. 11 above
13.Filtering web usage Reduces access to online child pornography; companies restrict the sites that employees may visitSame as No. 11 aboveSame as No. 11 above
#ResponseHow It WorksWorks Best IfConsiderations
Citizens' Groups
14.Educating the public Enhances awareness and improves web surveillance; information is provided to parents and teachers about Internet child pornographyit is done in cooperation with law enforcement agenciesDirected 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 sitesSame as No. 14 aboveVolunteers need to be careful not to download pornography and thus commit a crime
#ResponseHow It WorksWorks Best IfConsiderations
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 visitedcombined with supervision of childrens computer use and education about appropriate sitesSpecifically targets childrens 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 suitabilitySame as No. 16 aboveSame 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 materialSame as No. 16 aboveSame as No. 16 above
#ResponseHow It WorksWorks Best IfConsiderations
Law Enforcement Responses
19.Locating child pornography sites Increases an offenders risk of apprehension; law enforcement agencies conduct their own searches of the Internet for child pornographycoordinated with other agencies and jurisdictionsRequires 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 offendersSame as No. 19 aboveSame as No. 19 above; may target novice or low-level offenders
21.Setting up honey trap sites Increases an offenders risk of apprehension; phony child pornography sites are established that capture the details of offenders who attempt to access the supposed pornographythe existence of the sites is widely publicized to increase the deterrent effectSame as No. 20 above
22.Publicizing crackdowns Increases the perception among offenders that the Internet is an unsafe environment to access child pornographypublicity is widespread and sustainedSame as No. 20 above
23.Conducting traditional criminal investigations Increases an offenders risk of apprehension; police uncover information about child pornography in the course of their daily workpolice have strong links with key community groupsKey role for local police
#ResponseHow It WorksWorks Best IfConsiderations
Responses With Limited Effectiveness
24.Engaging in vigilantism Increases an offenders risk of apprehension; vigilantes disable suspected offenders computers and disrupt pedophile newsgroups Actions may be illegal