Child pornography is blight on this Industry and upon the face of mankind in general. Not only is it illegal, but damn it, it's wrong. The latest major case has been making headlines in the news this week and you can bet that more such cases will follow - as the government gets tough on online predators and child pornography. But can the government do it alone?
The Latest Outrage
The news was grim: on August 8th, a report came out of Washington that at least 100 "people" had been arrested to date, in the largest anti-child porn bust yet. "Operation Avalanche" as it was officially known, was a two-year undercover sting operation involving the FBI, the U.S. Customs Service, the U.S. Postal Service, and the Dallas Police Department.
"This is a blueprint of how federal, state and local law enforcement agencies can work together to protect children in Cyberspace," said Attorney General John Ashcroft; heralding in an increasing era of scrutiny for not only the owners of adult web sites - but for online porn consumers as well.
The government has already convicted the major players, Thomas and Janice Reedy of Fort Worth, Texas on charges of distributing child pornography, with sentences of 1,335 and 14 years respectively. Now the Justice Department is after the consumers and the suppliers of the illegal photographs and child porn videos sold by the Reedys. According to Chief U.S. Postal Inspector Kenneth Weaver, more arrests are planned in this operation which began soon after the Reedy's arrest in September of 1999.
The Chicago Tribune reported the government pretended that the Reedy's business was still in operation, sending email offers of illegal child pornography to their estimated 250,000 to 300,000 worldwide subscribers. Investigators in 37 states performed 144 searches directly as a result of the information gained from this online sting. I find that number to be obscenely high.
As far as the materials that were seized, I just don't know what to say. Videotapes of a 4 year-old girl being raped? These bastards will have fun in prison:
Powerless to Stop It?
As responsible owners and operators of online adult entertainment businesses, we have a special stake in the issue of child pornography. Every time that headline-driven politicians and mothers in Minnesota start to scream "Internet porn is an evil corrupter of our youth!" we as an Industry will receive unwanted attention. While well-intentioned legislators will strive to show their constituents that they're actually doing something to stop this outrage against children, it is a disease that I fear they are powerless to stop. Their attempts will in all likelihood only raise the cost and difficulty of doing legitimate business, and this is an added expense that we can live without.
We may also experience a media-stoked "backlash" against legal pornography causing millions of consumers around the world who would otherwise quite happily (if quietly) enjoy our products to increasingly fear public knowledge of their naughty "hobby" - and that's really bad for business. Besides all of that, these kiddie-porn bastards are sick, and they need to be put away before they mess up an innocent kid for life (or worse). But what can YOU do about it?
As Adult Webmasters, we spend a lot of time surfing, and are exposed to many sites. If you find a site that features child pornography, don't just ignore it; report it. You can report child porn sites easily at Adult Sites Against Child Pornography (ASACP), a non-profit entity created in 1996 by HELMY Enterprises. ASACP has been instrumental in removing over 4100 child pornography web sites since 1996, and has become the largest and most well-known anti-child pornography movement on the web. You can do your part to help end child pornography by visiting ASACP at http://www.asacp.org/ today. It's the right thing to do.