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ASACP Chats with INHOPE

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Sep 23, 2003 12:00 AM PDT    Text size: 
Just back from her presentation at the Association of Internet Hotline Providers in Europe (INHOPE.org), Joan Irvine, executive director of Adult Sites Against Child Pornography (ASACP.org), told XBiz that there is a substantial commitment abroad to fighting child pornography, and the rally is growing stronger.

Founded seven years ago by Alec Helmy, ASACP's central purpose is to serve as a reporting bureau for the adult industry. All complaints are assessed and either passed along to the FBI or the National Center for Missing or Exploited Children. ASACP also provides an approved member program so that adult websites can carry the ASCAP banner indicating that they comply with ASACP's code of ethics.

To date, ASACP has helped generate 80,000 reports of suspect child pornography.

During her one-week tour of likeminded European organizations and adult site companies committed to eliminating child pornography from the web, Joan had the opportunity to present ASACP's mission to INHOPE in Luxembourg.

The ASACP trip was sponsored by Python and FlashCash.

During her visit with the 30-member nonprofit organization, which represents 18 countries, Joan was able to develop relationships with other Internet hotliners and demonstrate for INHOPE that a good portion of the adult entertainment industry is committed to eliminating child pornography.

INHOPE is currently the only international association of hotlines fighting the war against child pornography, Joan told XBiz. And while INHOPE members were a little leery at first of Joan's direct affiliation with adult content websites, it was a breakthrough meeting that will now enable ASACP to send reports on child pornography sites to specific countries and bypass barriers that so far have made the international alliance cumbersome and ineffective.

"A lot of times if we receive a report on a suspect of child pornography in Europe there is not much we can do," Joan told XBiz. "No matter how hard the FBI tries to get these people, it's impossible because of international technicalities. But by being able to provide this information directly to a hotline in specific countries, they can go right to their police force."

Topics discussed at the Luxembourg meeting included the advent of 3G cellular technology and the widespread concern that no policies are yet in place to protect children from the multimedia content that cellular carriers can now deliver to subscribers.

INHOPE's discussion also involved how best to implement effective age verification systems by phone, and how to keep track of the different age requirements in different European countries, which between France and Germany can differ by up to four years.

"Many children now have cell phones and they use them away from their parents," Joan told XBiz. "In this country when a child is using the Internet, a parent can monitor their activity. But typically, teens use their cell phones when they are away from parents. And with all the chat, Internet, and video phone technology of 3G, kids are no longer protected."

News media in the UK recently reported the rape of a child by someone she met on the chat function of her cellular phone, and cases involving child rape resulting from Internet and chat contact are quickly on the rise.

"You can have companies that provide third party content via their phone and their service, but they can't control when you have mobile access to the Internet," Joan told XBiz. "How do you control what content will be available?"

ASACP is in the process of automating its spider tracking system, which will make site alerts, inquiries, and investigation activities much quicker and more efficient for everyone involved.

Joan also took ASACP's mission directly to European adult entertainment companies like TotemCash.com, a Paris-based soft core adult entertainment site that is mainly trafficked by the U.S. and is wholly committed to complying with ASACP's code of ethics.

In a final coup on her European trip, Joan told XBiz that for years she has been getting reports about Spain-based Terra Networks, a division of Terra Lycos, and the excess of illegal material on its free hosting site. But recently, hotline association Protegeles was able to meet directly with Terra and effect a change in their Internet policy.

"You want to be able take action to get these problems taken care of," Joan told XBiz, thrilled by the outcome with Terra Networks. "This way people know that we're very serious about what we're doing, that we are putting in systems that help automate the process and we are reviewing sites."

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