opinion

ASACP: Forging Ahead and Continuing to Make a Difference

Tim Henning

A new year is upon us and I am looking forward to an exciting and innovative year for ASACP that will continue to make positive contributions to the industry as well as children, parents and educators the world over. It is clear 2014 saw a surge of activity in the war against child exploitation and unauthorized access to age-restricted materials on the Internet, making headlines and causing many cries for action against the adult entertainment industry, which continues to be wrongfully painted by some for not doing enough to protect children in their digital lives. Nevertheless, ASACP continues to send the vital message that the adult entertainment industry is not to blame for online child exploitation and in fact does a great deal too proactively protect children in their digital lives.

One of the greatest challenges facing ASACP, as it continues to forge ahead, is the decreased financial support we are receiving from the online adult entertainment industry whose interests ASACP protects just as it protects the interests of child safety on the Internet. There are a few key reasons for this which, unfortunately, we have little control over. The first of these is the overall decrease in industry revenues leaving less money on the table for supporting a group such as ASACP — despite the many benefits of doing so. Another factor is the ongoing consolidation of adult sites and programs, where dozens of sponsors and other supporters have become acquired by larger companies, which have not maintained sponsorships for each of these programs — and have not upped their own sponsorship levels to make up for the loss of operating revenues for ASACP that their acquisitions caused. Finally, many folks within the industry see the level of “philosophical” support that ASACP receives and mistakenly believe that this translates into robust financial support. While it would be great if this were the case, the truth of the matter is that today, ASACP does more than ever, with less than ever before.

One of the greatest challenges facing ASACP, as it continues to forge ahead, is the decreased financial support we are receiving from the online adult entertainment industry whose interests ASACP protects just as it protects the interests of child safety on the Internet.

Offering a variety of services, tools, advice and advocacy only makes a difference when stakeholders take heed, however; and this has been a stubborn source of discord and division which has hurt this industry for years — and which is a situation with little hope of improvement until all business owners take their company and its social responsibilities more seriously. While ASACP’s sponsors and members have come to this same conclusion, and thus support the only organization that helps them protect their businesses by protecting children; much work needs to be done in order to raise awareness and support among the countless other operators that are happy to benefit from the work of ASACP, without bearing any of the burdens, financially or otherwise.

For example, ASACP continues to see increasing demand for one of its core functions; the operation of its internationally recognized Child Exploitation Reporting Tipline, which received 100,000 individual reports and referred nearly 14,000 reports to global law enforcement authorities and other relevant Tiplines in 2014. As a result, the association rendered assistance to investigators in many cases and helped several sponsors and members with child exploitation related issues. ASACP does all of this with only one hotline analyst. This last point highlights the ongoing challenges of carrying out our mission with minimal staffing — in fact, a smaller staff than most other non-profits of ASACP’s size and accomplishments. Sometimes, however, more help is needed and truly welcome, especially if the association is to serve the growing needs of their supporter base.

ASACP greatly expanded its international outreach efforts in 2014 with a very busy schedule of meetings and events in the U.K. and E.U. that focused on moving the mission of ASACP forward by participating and advocating for both the industry and the need to protect children in their digital lives. ASACP has also greatly expanded its mission through better communication in social media mediums, including Facebook and Twitter. This is vital as these channels form an important bridge between ASACP and its mainstream counterparts, parents and lawmakers, who are not frequenting industry news websites, and who otherwise have limited exposure to ASACP’s message.

This need to balance resources and talent is a constant struggle demanding innovative solutions. Trying to maintain this balance, ASACP has, and continues, to rely heavily on volunteer support from the adult entertainment industry community as well as improved technologies and automation capabilities we are continuing to develop, giving the association the ability to do more with less staff and financial resources. This struggle for resources will continue to be an issue in 2015 and beyond as demand for ASACP services continues to outstrip our ability to meet all demands.

In the final analysis perhaps the biggest factor affecting the future success of ASACP — beyond limited financial support — is the balancing act it must perform. ASACP takes on the delicate task of meeting the distinct needs of child protection interests as well as protecting the rights of the legitimate adult entertainment industry to serve its countless customers around the world, in a manner that is both safe for children and responsible for society. It is not always appreciated how difficult it is for ASACP to gain and maintain credibility because of this dual mission, which is already over-tasked and under-staffed. Thus, it is vital for ASACP to stay focused on its mission, carrying on in the face of a limited budget and resources to do what is right, both for the children and for our industry.

Since 1996, we would not have been able to accomplish so much, with so little, without the generous support of this industry — similarly forging ahead and continuing to make a difference can only be accomplished with your help. It is simply something you can’t afford to pass on if you care at all about the social responsibilities of your business and the growth and success of this industry.

For more information regarding ASACP, sponsorship opportunities and how your business can help, please contact tim@asacp.org.

ABOUT ASACP

Founded in 1996, ASACP is a non-profit organization dedicated to online child protection.

ASACP is comprised of two separate corporate entities, the Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection and the ASACP Foundation. The Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP) is a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization. ASACP manages a membership program that provides resources to companies in order to help them protect children online. The ASACP Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. The ASACP Foundation battles child pornography through its CP Reporting Hotline and helps parents prevent children from viewing age-restricted material online with its Restricted To Adults (RTA) website label (www.rtalabel.org). ASACP has invested 18 years in developing progressive programs to protect children, and its relationship in assisting the adult industry’s child protection efforts is unparalleled. For more information, visit www.asacp.org.

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