Authorities Seize Computers, Make Arrests in Child Porn Bust

Nikki Tang
ATLANTA — Forensic technicians in Georgia are searching for evidence of child pornography on the hard drives of more than 100 computers seized by local, state and federal officials as part of Operation Shattered Innocence.

"It appears that law enforcement tagged images using a method similar to hash values and then uploaded them as bait," said Tim Henning, technology and forensic research director at ASACP. "They then were able to track them to those IPs/Mac addresses that downloaded and distributed them. Because of the way peer-to-peer works those who downloaded them were also sharing those images and video files with other peers on the network. This would allow authorities to not only charge for downloading and possession, but also distribution."

The operation, coordinated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, began in December following the discovery of child porn in some emails. Its most recent activity was initiated on Tuesday when authorities, acting on 44 search warrants, began sweeping the state, seizing computers and making arrests. As of late Wednesday, 23 people had been arrested on charges of sending or receiving child porn.

"This is our first statewide operation of this scale," said GBI Director Vernon Keenan. "We think this is the largest law enforcement operation [of this kind] in the country."

Although most of the operation was completed Wednesday, several more warrants and arrests are expected, according to GBI spokesman John Bankhead.

"There is a vast amount of images and video shared using peer-to-peer networks, as well as image and file-sharing services where uploaded content is made available without any oversight," Henning told XBIZ. "It can be difficult for surfers of adult entertainment to determine if these files contain illegal content prior to downloading and viewing them."

As such, Henning recommends that to avoid affiliation with child porn, adult industry professionals get adult content only through reputable companies, such as those that comply with the code of ethics at the ASACP.org, the Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection. The organization's member and sponsor sites, according to Henning, "do not contain, condone or use terms that denote child pornography."

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