Adult Site Traffic Drops as Surfers Fear Arrest

LOS ANGELES – Consumer's concerns over unwarranted prosecution due to inadvertently downloading illegal pornographic images have taken a toll on the traffic and revenues historically enjoyed by many legitimate adult entertainment websites.

With an increasing climate of morality seeping into many forms of media, corporate censorship of mainstream material on the rise, and today's experienced surfers who have endured years of abuse at the hands of unscrupulous webmasters, a backlash against the excesses of adult sites is underway – fueled in no small part over a fear of punishment for the actions of unlawful marketers of illegal child pornography.

According to Adult Sites Against Child Pornography Executive Director Joan Irvine, concerned people have written ASACP to ask what will happen if they view child pornography by mistake. These consumers cite, for example, receiving spam emails that talk about child pornography with links to illegal websites, and they fear arrest due to inadvertently possessing the images often contained in these unwanted emails. Others are concerned over the possibility of accidentally stumbling over illegal or otherwise objectionable material, and cite this as a reason for curtailing their adult site surfing habits.

According to Irvine, "Millions of Americans surf the Internet for adult entertainment. It's their constitutional right to enjoy this, just as it is the adult sites' right to provide this content under freedom of speech rules. However, no one wants to end up in jail for a few minutes of fleeting pleasure in the privacy of their own home or office."

Fears over prosecution for "accidentally" viewing child pornography are not limited to American surfers, however. In Australia, a recent campaign against child pornography conducted by the national police entitled "Operation Auxin" has been blamed for a significant drop off in the number of surfers patronizing mainstream adult sites, most notably after a Perth man was jailed for possession of child pornography – despite his assertions that he downloaded the material in question from what he believed to be a legitimate – and legal – adult website.

Eros Foundation, an Australian adult industry lobbying group, claims that while most legitimate adult sites are careful about the content they use, Operation Auxin was taking its toll on traffic and sales. According to Eros Foundation director Robbie Swan, "Child pornography really impacts on our members' businesses because customers get nervous and don't want to look at any erotic material in case they inadvertently visit an illegal site."

"The Eros Association began a joint venture with the international sex industry program Adult Sites Against Child Pornography a year ago and this program has now been responsible for over 27 arrests overseas," said Eros Association spokeswoman Fiona Patten, adding that "The mainstream sex industry hates child pornography more than anyone but has the technical ability to provide invaluable resources to police and governments, if it is given the chance."

Malcolm Day, managing director of AdultShop.com commented on how some people fail to distinguish between legal adult erotica and illegal child pornography, saying that "It has led to legitimate sites being thrown in the same pot as illegal businesses."