ASACP Forges Ahead, Sets Example

Tim Henning

Mastering the difficult balancing act of bridging the interests of parents, politicians and pornographers might seem to be a daunting task, but for the dedicated team members of the Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP), it’s all in a day’s work — and so much more. For indeed, it takes a truly caring person to be able to cope with the realities of such a demanding vocation; but fortunately, the association has built up an exceptional team that is ready to face the evolving challenges of online child protection.

Regardless of its past achievements, however, there are those who have either not yet heard of ASACP, or question its value and necessity today. For this audience, a reminder and request for support is in order.

This adult industry advocacy illustrates that ASACP not only protects children, but the interests of legitimate providers of online adult entertainment.

Founded in 1996, ASACP is a non-profit organization comprised of two separate corporate entities: the Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection and the ASACP Foundation. ASACP is a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization that provides resources to companies that wish to support ASACP’s stated mission goals. The ASACP Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that battles child pornography through its CP Reporting Hotline and helps parents prevent children from viewing age-restricted material online via its Restricted To Adults (RTA) website label.

Having invested nearly 15 years in the fight against online CP and in the development of progressive online child protection programs, ASACP is now looking to the future and its ongoing mission, grounded in the context of its past: a mission that is needed more now than ever before — and which can only be accomplished through your support.

One example of ASACP’s leadership role is evidenced in its participation in the Financial Coalition Against Child Pornography (FCACP), in which ASACP’s interim director, Tim Henning, a digital forensics expert, serves as part of FCACP’s Analytics and Technology Challenges Working Groups.

“ASACP has done as much if not more to add to the credibility of the industry than any other organization,” Henning stated. “Because of the data from its Child Pornography Reporting Hotline, ASACP has provided proof that the industry is not involved in the production or distribution of child pornography.”

Henning, who has been with ASACP since its founding in 1996, manages its hotline service and technical infrastructure, as well as liaising with international law enforcement and other hotlines. Henning also supervised the development and deployment of RTA.

Currently, the association is solidifying its international outreach through translations of its website and child protection tools; updating its recommended “Best Practices” in response to new technologies; and fighting the renewed efforts to harass legitimate adult entertainment website operators — such as its recent letter writing campaign to the U.S. and state attorneys general, as well as to the U.S. Congress, providing a counterbalance to the outrageous claims being made by various anti-porn groups that are now demanding an increase in obscenity prosecutions.

This adult industry advocacy illustrates that ASACP not only protects children, but the interests of legitimate providers of online adult entertainment.

Proof of ASACP’s efficacy is detailed in its whitepaper, which clearly outlines the scope of the association’s activities, the breakdown and disposition of CP Hotline reports, and the benefits it has provides to a wide range of stakeholders. A copy of the whitepaper may be downloaded at www.asacp.org/whitepaper/ASACP-whitepaper-9-10-2010.pdf. This document analyzes more than 400,000 reports of suspected child pornography that were received by the association’s CP Reporting Hotline during a recent five-year period and underscores ASACP’s success in combating commercial child pornography.

Although law enforcement does not convey ongoing case disposition information to the association, informal, anecdotal reports from various agencies reveal that ASACP has indeed been effective in keeping children out of and away from adult entertainment.

“More than once when police have visited the office of an adult company in order to investigate potential CP, when the person tells them they are ASACP members and report CP to ASACP, the interaction with law enforcement becomes collaborative rather than adversarial,” Henning added. “They then contact us to help with the investigations.”

While certain partisan groups and individuals have sought to discredit the good work done by ASACP, a variety of noteworthy organizations have recognized and applauded its child protection efforts — including the American Society of Association Executives, which named ASACP the overall winner of the Associations Make a Better World award. ASACP has received Certificates of Recognition from the U.S. House of Representatives, the California State Senate, the California State Assembly, and the cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego, among others, acknowledging ASACP’s efforts to help parents prevent their children from viewing age-restricted content.

Much of this recognition surrounded the Restricted To Adults website label, developed by ASACP in response to Congressional demands that “something” be done about children’s unrestricted access to adult materials. RTA is credited with heading off efforts to impose additional legislation on adult websites — including mandatory labeling — allowing legitimate operators to show their acceptance of responsible self-regulation.

“It’s hard to contest that the industry isn’t doing its part when there are more than 4.5 million websites labeled with RTA and over 20 billion monthly hits to pages labeled with RTA,” Henning noted. “We’ve done and are doing our part, now the responsibility is in parent’s hands.”

“Because of such efforts, ASACP has been able to ‘reach across the aisle,’ both in the U.S. and Europe,” Henning concluded. “I would call that an awesome accomplishment.”

ASACP’s proactive leadership has helped the online adult entertainment industry to thrive in an environment where crippling legislation has not been forthcoming and where the onus of child protection is rightfully split between parents and content providers.

This leadership will carry forward — as the Internet, along with the needs of various businesses that profit from it, including those in the adult entertainment industry, evolve.

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