Child Porn Ring Used Internet Chat, Peer-to-Peer

Gretchen Gallen
WASHINGTON – A day after news broke of U.S. and Canadian law enforcement taking down a child pornography ring that spanned the globe, details have surfaced that the suspects allegedly used peer-to-peer file-sharing programs, chatrooms and private instant messaging services to communicate and share images and live video feeds of child molestation.

Calling it “the worst imaginable forms of child pornography,” U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales appeared on national television decrying the sheer depravity of the 27 people arrested and promising that the Justice Department has made it one of its highest priorities to make the “Internet a safe place for all Americans.”

Gonzales was joined at the press conference by Julie Myers, assistant secretary for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; Tony Warr, acting chief of the Toronto Police Services; and U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.

According to Gonzales, the majority of individuals arrested were tied to a chatroom called “Kiddypics & Kiddyvids” that provided images and streaming video of children, in some cases infants, being sexually molested by adults, while other members of the group looked on.

Authorities say the chatroom was monitored by “hosts” who established rules designed to hide their illegal activities from law enforcement.

The charges brought by the U.S. against the 27 suspects occurred in nine different U.S. districts as well as Britain, Australia and Canada, and include possession, receipt, distribution and manufacture of child pornography, among other offenses.

Only one of the suspects remains at large, while all 26 others have been arrested in their respective countries.

Investigators have so far identified seven children victimized by the ring, the youngest of which was less than 18 months old at the time the molestation occurred, Justice said.

“This investigation is an example of how American law enforcement can and will work side-by-side with our international law enforcement partners to shut down these rings and protect young, vulnerable victims from the horrors of sexual abuse,” Gonzales said.

ASACP mirrored that sentiment.

“ASACP is gratified that the DOJ continues to aggressively fight child pornography,” Joan Irvine said. “Sadly, this particular case confirms a frightening trend that we have detected in recent reports coming through ASACP’s online reporting hotline: the children involved seem to be even younger, and the abuse even more horrific. The use of P2P also exemplifies how these criminals take advantage of the latest technology.”

Justice recently launched a new child porn fighting initiative called Project Safe Childhood, which calls on the coordination between law enforcement and the largest credit card companies, banks and Internet service providers to help trace online transactions involving the exchange of child porn images.

Gonzales has said that the coalition aims to end commercial child pornography by 2008.