Kid Porn Easier To Get And Share

Guy de Maupassant, french writer wikipedia.org

At Dallas Police headquarters, Lt. Bill Walsh and his team of detectives work the most sordid beat there is.

One need only look at the titles: bambina collection, real child porn, illegal preteen underage Lolita, incest, little girl rape.

Recently they've noticed an explosion in child pornography on the net. And as CBS News Correspondent Jim Axelrod reports, it is easier to get now than ever before.

"Now people who can molest a child, videotape that child, upload it to the Internet and someone halfway across the world can watch that videotape the same day," Walsh said.

Remember the Napster controversy? Using the same basic techniques used to swap bootleg music files – free exchanges known as "peer-to-peer" – collectors of child pornography have developed a simple and anonymous way to share files.

"They don't have to put a credit card down," Walsh said. "They don't even have to know who they're getting this file from or who they're uploading this file to."

A person searching for child pornography goes to a "peer-to-peer" index to see what files can be found on other people's computers. The images are then downloaded directly, without a middleman.

One of the undercover Dallas detectives showed CBS News an example of the kind of material, so easily shared with "peer-to-peer" technology.

"He's got a dog collar on her neck with spikes on it," the detective said of one of the images.

"This girl is actually crying so hard and he's documenting this on his digital camera," the detective added. "She's crying so hard her eyes are swollen shut."

The computer has not only changed the ease of accessing child pornography, but the fundamental nature of the violation. Once it hits the net, a single image of a single assault will be in cyber-space forever. In a way, the child will be assaulted over and over and over, each time the image is downloaded for the rest of his or her life.

"I don't think there's ever a way to retrieve it," said the detective.

Maybe not, but to trace child pornography to the source, the FBI is considering using software developed by private industry.

In London, next door to Scotland Yard, professional hackers working for a company called NetPD monitor, track and remove pirated music on the Web for the recording industry.

"That same technology can be used to track down people sharing child pornographic images on the internet," said Jim Stoddard, Chairman of NetPD.

NetPD is just one of a number of companies racing to market the technology, "which very intensively searches these communities, finds material we are looking for, identifies the material and by automated takedown procedures - offering legal takedown notices on behalf of our clients' copyright - get those images, movies or music files removed from the Internet.

While the tools are available, so many constitutional issues remain unresolved. The FBI hasn't made any deals to use them. And soon, it could be too late. In the computer age, as fast as the hunters develop new weapons, the hunted design new ways to avoid them.
  • Jaime Holguin

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