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Please Read This Article

Please Read This Article

December 10, 2002
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" Interestingly, all of these organizations, both international and domestic, have embraced hotlines as a means of reporting child exploitation. "

I recently had the displeasure of being confronted with and asked to do something about child pornography. In particular, child pornography that initiates in Asia.

Without getting into the debate of whether or not there is a racist view on attacking and stopping all child pornography, I will bring to your attention here entities that are already established that work to stop all international trafficking of child pornography, including Asian. I am also going to ask you to do any one of a number of things to help stop child pornography.

First Things First
We all agree that child pornography is wrong, and we all do our part to state that it is wrong and unacceptable. And there are many laws in place to combat it. And while the Internet is a beautiful thing and it provides most of us here with our incomes, the Internet is a communication vehicle that lends itself to increasing international trafficking of child pornography. As we know it and live it, the Internet blurs the lines of what a community has historically been limited by- geographical constraints. Never before has a medium existed that allows such a global community to co-exist. This is good. This also brings up the problem. Child pornography is against the law in the United States. Other countries have different laws governing their territory. Our laws don’t apply overseas. Child porn gets created globally and distributed locally. Without wasting space stating the obvious disconnects, let’s look at what we can do to help.

First we can report it. Xbiz has a link to www.asacp.org at the bottom of every page. Click on it and find out more about what they do. There are also people who have made it their cause to stop international child exploitation. One of those people is Andrew Vacchs. Check out his website, credentials, and list of International Agencies fighting child pornography.

I want you to go to this last link and find the agency in your country that fights child pornography. There are currently 27 different organizations located worldwide that work together to combat international trafficking of child porn. All of them with contact information; from a website to a telephone number or e-mail address you can contact them. Here is his link to United States agencies working to fight child pornography. Currently 7 different federal agencies are tasked with fighting child pornography.

Interestingly, all of these organizations, both international and domestic, have embraced hotlines as a means of reporting child exploitation. Here is an excerpt from an article on why hotlines have proved to be an effective tool for all of them:

"Why were hotlines formed and their numbers expanded so quickly?

The factors that seem most pertinent to the rapid growth of hotlines are:

1) The Internet is the perfect medium for pedophiles - it allows an individual to quickly find other individuals they did not previously know with the same interest; it permits a variety of methods for publishing and exchanging images; as a digital medium it facilitates meticulous organization and storing of images; and it even permits children to be contacted and enticed into an online or offline relationship.

2) The Internet is publicly available, and as its popularity surged in the mid 1990’s so many more ordinary members of the public became aware of child pornography for the first time. This sordid trade had moved from the relative obscurity of private exchanges of non-digital images and films, in person and through the postal service, to the instant transfer of material in a medium which anyone with a computer and a modem could access.

3) Specialist law enforcement units had tracked this change and were very concerned. Familiar with more conventional publishing methods and offline legislation on obscenity it is perhaps not surprising that they wanted the Internet industry to help stop the publication of this material by banning it. The police in different countries were also struggling with the fact that much of the material was originating outside their jurisdiction, but widely available within it. The industry was initially uncertain as to how to respond, but was very concerned about facing prosecution for possessing or publishing material that in their view they should not be held liable for. Familiar with more conventional publishing methods and offline legislation on obscenity it is perhaps not surprising that they wanted the Internet industry to help stop the publication of this material by banning it.

4) The summer of 1996 in Europe saw a coincidence of the awful Dutroux case of child kidnapping and murder in Belgium (this case had no Internet component, but made everyone sensitive to child abuse); the high profile Stockholm Congress on Commercial Child Sexual Exploitation; and media hype about child pornography on the Internet.

5) Politicians around the world were under great pressure to respond. Attempts in the USA to frame new legislation - the Communications Decency Act - immediately provoked a legal challenge led by Free Speech advocates but largely supported by the Internet Industry. While the CDA went far further than child pornography (already well covered by existing US legislation) to include indecent material, the impression was gained that using new legislation against "bad material" on the Internet was subject to flaws.

6) Experienced Internet users wanted to protect the free speech of their medium, and yet recognized that there was a danger that the small proportion of child pornography, about which the public was so concerned, could lead to draconian legislation. As citizens they did not like child pornography and wanted to respond.

The importance of these factors varied from country to country. Whatever way the factors combined, the general impact was to generate an urgent search for practical initiatives that might deal with the worst kinds of content on the Internet, and especially child pornography. Hotlines were seen as initiatives that could be instigated without legislation, that might provide an outlet for complaints and an opportunity to devise procedures to deal with reports of illegal content.”

Hotline Hegemony
Notice this secondary goal of hotlines. Hotlines are an opportunity to devise procedures to deal with reports of illegal content. Even if you do not have a specific URL to report to the hotline, the hotlines were invented to exchange best practices and resources. I want you to contact your organization of choice and give them a resource that you have. Offer to volunteer. Raise awareness by linking to their site from yours. Report sites that are inappropriate. Contact them and ask them what they need. Get involved.

We are the custodians of the Internet, more specifically, the adult Internet. The blurred lines of community allow for the global spread of child pornography and exploitation, but we can act locally with organizations in our geographic region to address the global issue.

I have contacted several organizations that currently fight the battle on international trafficking of child pornography and asked them what is being done specifically about stopping Asian child pornography. I will put that together in a follow-up to this report…


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