• Center for Problem oriented policing

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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.


How It Works

Works Best If…


Computer Industry Self-Regulation


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Engaging in vigilantism

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


Actions may be illegal

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