WASHINGTON — The Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP) has penned a letter to the U.S. Congress, protesting its erroneous use of the phrase “Internet Pornographers” in new legislation targeting sex crimes against children.
H.R. 1981, the Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011, seeks to tie the online adult entertainment industry with the heinous crime of child sexual abuse — providing stiff penalties for criminals, but falsely equating legitimate businesses with illegal enterprises.
“Given the inaccurate portrayal of the industry within this legislation, we had no alternative but to respond with facts to counter this falsity,” ASACP Executive Director Tim Henning stated. “It may be an attractive title in an election cycle, but its presumption is flat out wrong.”
The letter to Congress outlined how ASACP research has repeatedly demonstrated that there are no substantive ties between the online adult entertainment industry and child pornography, stating that the association “objects to the malicious and inaccurate characterization depicted in the naming of this Act and believes that ‘Protecting Children From Internet Pedophiles’ or ‘Protecting Children From Internet Sex Crimes’ would both be more appropriate and accurate titles for this Act."
“Since 1996 ASACP has operated a child pornography (CP) reporting hotline,” the letter states, describing how, “An analysis of the data compiled from more than 400,000 reports of suspected child pornography received by this hotline during a recent five-year period provides a deeper understanding of the reality, scope and context of online CP.” (www.asacp.org/whitepaper/ASACP-whitepaper-9-10-2010.pdf)
“In fact, the online adult entertainment industry has repeatedly shown leadership regarding Internet child safety issues — such as in 2006, when ASACP launched the Restricted To Adults (RTA) meta-label,” the letter adds. “The RTA Label (www.rtalabel.org) is free to use, voluntary, and universally available to any website that wishes to clearly and effectively label itself as being inappropriate for viewing by minors.”
The letter goes on to highlight the great success of the RTA initiative, which currently sees more than 20 billion monthly hits to RTA-labeled web pages — including the 20 percent of adult websites that generate nearly 80 percent of all adult entertainment traffic on the Internet; as well as the many accolades from business leaders and trade associations, governments and civic organizations, that RTA has garnered for ASACP and its efforts.
While ASACP supports global law enforcement efforts to protect children, it notes that there are many current mechanisms, legal and technological, available for performing this task; including the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). Mandating a new requirement for ISPs to collect and retain IP addresses, as well as other indentifying data, for 18 months, “is overbroad and problematic from privacy, security and economic standpoints.”
The letter points out the loophole which would allow criminals to “simply use public wireless hot spots in order to circumvent this Act,” and registers its concern over the power the law would provide to agents wanting “to ‘fish’ through ISP data at will — even if the information is unrelated to any sex crimes against children."
“ASACP believes in the merits of many of the proposals in this Bill, but believes there are serious issues which need to be addressed before it can proceed further,” the letter concludes.
“This type of timely governmental outreach is an important keystone of the ASACP mission,” Henning said. “By reinforcing the distinction between the legitimate adult entertainment industry and criminal providers of illegal imagery, we help responsible businesses protect themselves; by providing tools and awareness for parents and website owners, ASACP helps to protect children.”
Early reports from Capitol Hill indicate the ASACP letter is receiving widespread attention and is being broadly circulated among relevant stakeholders, mere hours after its receipt.
“It’s a win-win situation,” Henning concluded. “But it can only happen with your continued financial support of ASACP.”