Report: U.S. Hosts Bulk of Child Porn

Stephen Yagielowicz
WINNIPEG, MB — The Canadian Centre for Child Protection has issued a new report which claims that the bulk of commercial child pornography is hosted in the U.S.

The report, entitled "Child Sexual Abuse Images: An analysis of websites by Cybertip.ca," offers a review of public reports of suspected child pornography (CP) made to Canadian child sexual abuse hotline Cybertip.ca.

According to the study, more than half of all CP websites and illegal images were hosted in the U.S. at the time the reports of the offending content were made.

"Child victimization of any kind is a horrifying crime," Canada's Minister of Public Safety, Peter Van Loan, said. "That is why we continue to support the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, which helps bring those to justice who misuse changing technology to victimize children. Through the National Strategy for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation on the Internet, our government continues to enhance the tools law enforcement need to prevent, investigate and prosecute these serious crimes."

Of the 35,111 website incidents processed by Cybertip.ca between September 26, 2002, and March 31, 2009, 15,662 reportedly involved websites hosting CP. As part of the research into these reported websites, 4,110 unique images were examined, with more than 82 percent of these images depicting very young, pre-pubescent children under 12 years of age. More than 35 percent of the images depicted serious sexual assaults.

"What makes this particularly concerning is the very young age of the children in the images. These children are most likely being accessed and sexually abused by someone they know. Not only is it devastating for a child to be abused, but to have the abuse recorded and distributed on the Internet adds another layer of trauma," Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, Lianna McDonald, said. "This is a call to action to all Canadians to learn to recognize the signs of abuse, and to report their suspicions of abuse. We need to disrupt and hopefully stop child sexual abuse and prevent it from being memorialized and traded on the Internet."

The report, conducted in partnership with Bell Canada, found that more than 60 countries are hosting illegal child sexual abuse content. As an indication of the sophistication of these sites, Cybertip.ca observed one website use 212 unique IP addresses across 16 different countries, within one 48-hour period.

The report also found that nearly 78 percent of reported webpages featured at least one image depicting a child less than eight years of age, while many showed infants and toddlers being assaulted, while 83 percent depicted girl children.

According to ASACP's Technology & Forensic Research Director, Tim Henning, the report's findings regarding the bulk of commercial child pornography (CCP) being hosted in the U.S. makes sense. Henning says that since the vast majority of Internet content is hosted in the U.S., it stands to reason that the U.S. hosts the most of any type of content — including CCP.

"The U.S. has free hosts that tend to get abused," Henning said. "To their credit, however, the hosts tend to find and close these sites within a couple days."

Henning told XBIZ that the organized crime gangs behind much of the CCP use botnets to attack millions of unsuspecting user's computers, and use them to send out massive amounts of spam email to advertise the CCP sites and to also steal identities — all in the background without the user's knowledge.

Those behind these schemes operate with virtual impunity, according to Henning, unless they leave their borders, as they tend to operate in jurisdictions where laws against CP do not exist. These criminals are also extremely sophisticated, relying on technologies such as FastFlux DNS to obfuscate their tracks.

"For everything you do, they find ways around it," Henning said. "But the good news is there has been a significant reduction in the numbers of CCP sites online over the past couple of years due to increased efforts directed at eliminating their billing options."

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