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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

using-laws-designed-to-protect-as-a-weapon-prosecuting-minors-under-child-pornography-laws.pdf; by Amy F. Kimpel

using-laws-designed-to-protect-as-a-weapon-prosecuting-minors-under-child-pornography-laws.pdf

Congress Using Child Porn Bill As Trojan Horse To Spy On Everyone’s Internet | Alternative; by Alexander Higgens

Congress Using Child Porn Bill As Trojan Horse To Spy On Everyone’s Internet(Before It's News)

Congress has introduced a bill under the justification of stopping child porn that will allow the government to spy on everyone’s Internet usage.
Goodbye, civil liberties! The government is using a bill disguised as anti-child pornography legislation to allow them to start monitoring Web-usage of everyone.

The Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act of 2011 (H.R. 1981) is aiming to keep the Web safe for children, but in the process it will treat any user logging on to the Internet as a potential criminal.

Bill sponsor Lamar Smith, House judiciary committee chairman and Representative from Texas, says that pedophiles have been able to avoid prosecution in the past because vital records linking them to web usage were never required to be retained. Under H.R. 1981, Internet Service Providers would have to hold onto those records for 12 months.

Those records, however, won’t apply to just suspected child pornographers and pedophiles. Instead, ISPs will be doing data retention on all of their customers.

If passed, the bill will keep the names, addresses, phone numbers, credit card numbers, bank account numbers and temporarily-assigned IP addresses of everyone on the Internet on file for a full year.

Smith says that the law is similar to what telephone companies are currently required to do by keeping phone records of their customers. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), however, says it’s just an attempt to pry even deeper into the public lives of citizens.

“This is not about child porn. It never has been and never will be,” Issa said. “This is a convenient way for law enforcement to get what they couldn’t get in the PATRIOT Act.” Issa further added that he is “offended” that lawmakers would use the issue of child pornography to gain leverage in passing the law.

Fellow California Democratic Representative Zoe Lofgren shared the same sentiments as Issa. “This is among the most astounding increases in the power of the federal government to gain access to private information,” she said.

“The bill is mislabeled,” Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) tells CNET. “This is not protecting children from Internet pornography. It’s creating a database for everybody in this country for a lot of other purposes.”

Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) proposed an amendment to H.R. 1981 which would limit the data retention to only cases involving child pornography or terrorism. Despite that being why backers claim the bill exists, it ended up being withdrawn. When he tried another amendment to reduce the time that data is retained from one year to 180 days, it failed to win on the voting floor.

Rep. Smith responded that doing so could undermine current cases regarding other issues.

In a statement issued by the Center for Democracy & Technology out of Washington DC, the non-profit advocacy group says that the passing of H.R. 1981 would “fundamentally violate users’ rights to privacy and free expression.”

The CDT adds that telephone companies that offer Internet service to customers will be faced with an enormous burden of handling the request of data retention, which will be a costly mandate to wireless carriers.

“In other words, the data retention provisions in H.R. 1981 would threaten our civil liberties, create significant economic burdens for small businesses and wireless carriers, and put consumers at a greater risk for identity theft and other privacy invasions,” writes the DCT.

In addition to receiving backing from Rep. Smith, H.R. 1981 is also receiving praise from Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the National Center for Victims of Crime, the National Sheriff’s Association, the Major County Sheriff’s Association, the International Union of Police Associations and the Fraternal Order of Police.

Source: Congress Using Child Porn Bill As Trojan Horse To Spy On Everyone’s Internet © 
Copying or redistribution of this material requires that this license must remain intact with attribution to the content source.






To Catch Government Workers With Ties to Child Porn, Call the IRS; by Lori Handrahan, Ph.D. – Forbes

To Catch Government Workers With Ties to Child Porn, Call the IRS by Lori Handrahan, Ph.D. – Forbes

Last week the IRS decided to award Bradley Birkenfeld his $104 million dollar share for helping bust UBS bank. Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and his staff were instrumental. Senator Grassley vowed to delay pending Department of Treasury nominations if the IRS Whistleblower Program, he wrote the legislation in 2006, continued to be mismanaged.

This powerful voice from Iowa has been a beacon in the storm during an Obama Administration that has targeted whistleblowers and prevented accountability as never before. The Pentagon is also under Senator Grassley’s fire for failing to examine 1,700 of the 5,200 reports of employees doing child porn. The Pentagon claimed it “wasn’t a priority.” Senator Grassley and his staff have made it one. The closed investigation into wide-spread use of child porn at the Pentagon is now re-opened.

There is a national crisis of federal employees engaged in the child porn industry and a related epidemic at the state level. I’ve documented two states, Vermont and Maine, that appear to be running state protected child trafficking rings with evidence of cops, judges, lawyers, clergy and government employees covering for each other. This kind of racketeering creates powerful, and extremely profitable, pedophile rings.

Money drives the crime. It is estimated that a criminal willing to molest a child in front of a live webcam can earn $1,000 a night. In Kittery Maine, at the “Danish Health Club,” one bust yielded $6.1 million in “door fees” over a five year period with “prostitutes” earning $12 million. Pimps’ earnings were not reported. The “door man” was a retired police officer whose wife worked in back. This bust happened because of one hard-working IRS agent, Rod Giguere.

An estimated $1.4 billion has been collected by the IRS’s Whistleblower program since 2006; $464 million collected in 2010 but only $48 million in 2011. Half of all global child porn is produced in America. Ten new images of children are posted daily. Estimates of the global profits from child porn range from $3-20 billion. Imagine what the IRS Whistleblower program could collect if they focused on child trafficking as Agent Rod Giguere did in Maine.

The Department of Justice (DOJ)’s Child Exploitation and Obscenities unit has been, by many accounts, totally disabled under US Attorney General Eric Holder. Mr. Holder even refused to prosecute his own Assistant United States Attorney caught doing child porn on DOJ computers. The IRS wants 4,000 new agents and a $300 million budget to enforce ObamaCare. Instead, these resources should be allocated, entirely, for an IRS Child Exploitation & Trafficking Unit.

With so many police, judges, clergy, state and federal employees across America involved in the child porn industry Americans should be able to turn to the IRS’s Whistleblower program. Richard Weber, Chief of IRS’s Criminal Division in Washington DC, is one point of contact. Apparently, the IRS cares about trafficked children. That’s good news because America’s Attorney General, Eric Holder, does not.

Child trafficking and porn are the fastest growing crimes in America. With billions being laundered in black money it makes solid economic sense for the IRS to focus on the child porn industry. Eric Holder’s Department of Justice has demonstrated they have no interest in prosecuting pedophiles, not even their own. The IRS should be given substantial resources to compensate for DOJ’s disgraceful failure. American tax-payers, not to mention America’s children, will reap huge rewards.

Perhaps Senator Grassley will raise his powerful voice in support.
_______________

Lori Handrahan, Ph.D., is a professor at American University’s School of International Service researching the national and international security ramifications of America’s child porn industry. She can be reached at handraha@american.edu

Paedophilia used as an excuse to snoop on internet users - again | Big Brother Watch by Andrew Tait

Paedophilia used as an excuse to snoop on internet users – again

Once again those who wish to impose the “Surveillance Society” upon us are trying to do so by exploiting public fears about online paedophilia.

Members of the European Parliament are being asked to sign a written declaration that will, ostensibly, “set up a European early warning system for paedophiles and sex offenders”. In reality, it will extend the Data Retention Directive to search engines.

The campaign website set up to promote this initiative shows a picture of a frightened child and, inexplicably, has the URL smile29.eu. I’m quite sure most of us don’t find any humour in paedophilia or the abuse of civil liberties.

The Data Retention Directive is a controversial directive that requires EU members to store citizens’ telecommunications data so that it can be used by police and security services. This new written declaration would extend the Data Retention Directive to cover web searches – e.g. what we type into Google every day.

MEP Cecilia Wikström has written a letter to her colleagues explaining how she was misled into signing the declaration. The declaration does not explicitly refer to data retention and only refers to the Data Retention Directive using its opaque formal reference (2006/24/EC).

The written declaration contains clauses such as,


…the internet also allows paedophiles and sex offenders to enjoy freedom of action, putting them on the same footing as honest citizens and making it difficult for the authorities to trace them”

So is the implication that “honest citizens” now to be subjected to scrutiny designed to monitor paedophiles?

This is a cynical attempt to exploit politicians’ understandable desire to prevent paedophiles plying their vile trade. Unfortunately, the reality is that it’ll provide yet more monitoring of honest citizens, further undermining their online civil liberties.

There is no evidence presented that paedophiles are using Google to find child pornography. In fact, the likelihood is that they use private bulletin boards and peer-to-peer file sharing networks. I’d do some more research into this, but I really think it would be ill-advised of me to type “distribution of child pornography” into Google, don’t you?

By Andrew Tait

Privacy Groups Upbraid MPAA For Trying To Bring SOPA Back At The State Level; by Alex Wilhelm


Privacy Groups Upbraid MPAA For Trying To Bring SOPA Back At The State Level
After Three Years, Turner Shuts Down Its Media Camp Accelerator Program


The ongoing struggle between Google and the Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood has new players this week, as a number of privacy groups waded into the mix, dinging the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) for, in their words, a “coordinated campaign to shut down and block access to individual websites through backdoor methods resoundingly rejected by the public and federal lawmakers.”

They are talking about SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, which lost in Congress. Undeterred, the MPAA, one of the original bill’s advocates, is trying to exert its influence on smaller stages. (For more on the Google v. Hood struggle, a rough history is here. For Hood’s response to Google suing him, this is for you.)

The letter — signed by the EFF, Freedom Works and Demand Progress among others — is worth reading in its entirety. Here are the key excerpts [Bolding: TechCrunch. Letter via Politico.]:

Publications including the New York Times, the Huffington Post, and The Verge are reporting that the MPAA responded to the failure of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in 2012 by quietly searching for alternate means to accomplish key provisions of the bill, such as website blocking and search filtering. It is our understanding that those efforts include developing legal theories and even drafting civil investigation demand letters for state attorneys general to facilitate actions against websites and search engines. The goal of these efforts mirrors the goal of SOPA: to create new legal tools that will compel online service providers to remove content from the Internet with little, if any, meaningful due process.

Despite these risks, you told the Huffington Post you agreed with the methods of the ill­fated SOPA legislation. We beg to differ, as do the engineers who created the Internet, the organizations and businesses that depend upon a secure and robust Internet infrastructure, and the legions of Internet users who spoke out against SOPA in 2011 and 2012. […] SOPA was a bad idea at the federal level, and any SOPA revival on a state level is an equally bad idea.

So here we are again.

Happily, Google, by making its displeasure public, has taken a private effort by the MPAA and made it part of the larger discussion about copyright law. We should expect the next Congress to take up that issue.

Privacy Groups Upbraid MPAA For Trying To Bring SOPA Back At The State Level | TechCrunch by Alex Wilhelm...................child porn law History


Using child porn to catch child porn collectors
It's hard not to sympathize with the FBI. It's impossible to go after purveyors of child pornography one by one, and the bureau doesn't have the time or resources to full enforce the law. Where it can, it focuses on big traffickers — the owners and operators of private websites who cater to the (mostly) men who view the images and videos for sexual gratification. From there, it uses service records, including credit cards, IP addresses, and other content obtained from its seizure of a site's hard drives to identify the people who trade the porn. 


Recently, some enterprising FBI agents took the next logical step. It did what the CIA regularly does with websites catering to jihadists: It secretly took it over, ran it as if nothing were amiss, and quietly collected information about its users and the way they used it. To date, there's been one prosecution arising from that operation. Others, presumably, are on the way. The FBI likes big public stings where dozens of kiddie porn collectors are arrested all at once.

If you're a victim — a kid who has been exploited — or you're a parent of kid who has been exploited, is the FBI's transient and controlled exploitation of you or your loved one worth the goal of potentially putting a larger number of collectors and traders of material in jail? In a sense, once you've been victimized, then every subsequent time someone uses an image of yours for sexual gratification, a part of your soul may be further corrupted. If whatever happened to you was controlled by the original owners of that website, and the FBI, as soon as it was able, did not erase or completely remove the media from circulation, would you feel morally betrayed somehow? Are the interests of justice served by these means?

It's a hard question. To my mind, the technique is like the "Fast and Furious" gun-running effort by the A.T.F., which (ostensibly) would track "controlled" guns as they moved from drug gang to drug gang. In this case, unless the FBI had warrants to monitor and collect the outgoing Internet traffic from every user on the site, something we know they did not have because they did not know who the users were at first, then some of the images the FBI allowed criminals to distribute probably ended up outside the confines of its net.

It's telling that the FBI is no longer employing this particular ruse. It certainly makes it easier for defense attorneys to poke holes in one of the FBI's core argument for going after people who simply collect images of kiddie porn — that the victimization is in the act of viewing and perpetuating the demand for exploitation. Apparently, the victimization wasn't that bad... or not bad enough to warrant its immediate end. If the bureau winds up arresting a thousand people for knowingly possessing kiddie porn and can prove it, maybe I'd feel better about the ends justifying the means.

What I'd like to know is whether Main Justice — that is, the Department of Justice's Criminal Division — vetted this technique before the FBI used it. At the same time, I can't blame the FBI for trying something novel. There is a sickening amount of child porn out there, and in the absence of any enforcement, potential traffickers might feel even more emboldened.

SOPA replacement uses child porn as excuse to spy on 99.7 percent of Americans; COREIT By Kevin Fogarty

SOPA replacement uses child porn as excuse to spy on 99.7 percent of Americans
The SOPA and PIPA bills that went down in flames earlier this year for their unbearable intrusiveness, used content piracy as an excuse to give the government powerful tools with which to censor Internet content.

For 2012 the primary author of those bills has switched to a fallback tactic: using child porn as an excuse to create a vast surveillance network from which the government can demand data on every email sent, site visited or link clicked on by all but a fraction of one percent of the U.S. population.

Internet anti-censorship advocates including Anonymous are calling for the ouster of Texas Congressman Lamar Smith, who is following his co-sponsorship of the failed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) with a bill critics call "Big Brother" disguised as an effort to curb child porn and sexual abuse.

Last May Smith, a Texas Republican credited as primary author of both SOPA and PIPA, the Senate version, also introduced H.R. 1981, a bill called the "Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011″ (PCFIPA).

The anti-child-porn provisions in the bill are a "fig leaf for its true purpose: A sweeping data retention requirement meant to turn Internet Service Providers and online companies into surrogate snoops for the government’s convenience," according to Julian Sanchez, Internet privacy and censorship researcherat the center-right Cato Institute.

Smoke and mirrors concealing observers watching you from behind the smoky mirrors

The bill amends existing laws empowering the U.S. Marshals Service to issue subpoenas and chase fugitives.

The amendments expand the Marshals' ability to issue subpoenas and adds online pornographers to their list of top targets.


The important, though administrivia-looking part of the bill is this: "A provider of an electronic communication service... shall retain for a period of at least 18 months the temporarily assigned network addresses the service assigns to each account... records retained pursuant to section 2703(h) of title 18, United States Code..." – FCPIFA, H.R. 1981

ISPs are already required to keep some customers' activity records for 180 days, so this doesn't look like a big change.

Except, PCFIPA, HR 1981, requires ISPs keep track of every single IP address they assign (except to wireless users) and all the activity flowing across that link.

It doesn't limit itself to just ISPs, either. By addressing the bill to cover any company providing "electronic communications" or "remote computing" services, the bill effectively covers any site offering services online. 

PCFIPA, HR 1981, reverses that point of view (as did PIPA and SOPA), to create a vast database of every action of ever American online – a deep pool of data on the activity of millions of Internet users, through whose private activity they can sift at will until they find something that looks like evidence of a crime.

That's exactly the opposite of the intent of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. The Fourth Amendment prevents police from searching, questioning, holding or otherwise harassing suspects unless a judge agrees there's a good reason to investigate a specific person for a specific crime.
Going beyond child pornographers to treat everyone like a criminal 

Accusations that PCFIPA is a universal surveillance bill in disguise cite two specific problems with the bill:
The first is language in the existing federal law, which requires ISPs to provide, under warrant: all of a customer's Internet activity, including email, web browsing, downloads, IM, social networking and anything else done across the public Internet;
the customer's name address, phone number and IP address;
a list of all local and long distance phone calls;
a list of all electronic communications;
means of payment – all credit-card, bank account or other method the customer used to pay;
silence – ISPs under warrant or subpoena to give up private records aren't allowed to alert the customer.


The second is the phrase "unregistered sex offenders" and the power it gives the U.S. Marshals Service to issue its own subpoenas to investigate 99.762 percent of the U.S. population.

By addressing "unregistered sex offenders," Lamar Smith's PCFIPA expands its powers of comprehensive surveillance over everyone in the U.S. who has not already been convicted of a sex crime.

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's Map of Registered Sex Offenders (PDF) there are about 748,000 registered sex offenders in the United States and territories.

That's an average of 238 offenders per 100,000 who are not sex offenders – approximately .238 percent of the total U.S. population.

Since it is empowering U.S. Marshals to investigate people who have not yet been convicted, under PCFIPA, the only thing required to get a valid subpoena to examine all the online activity 99.762 percent of the U.S. population, is an investigating officer willing to say the subpoena has something to do with investigation of online child porn.

They don't even have to accuse a specific person or limit themselves to a specific geographic area. Geographically surveillance targets have to be within 500 miles of a specific target of investigation.

Online the bill allows for usage connections – anyone you called, who called you, any sites you may have visited or spammers who might have sent you email.
Not only are you a criminal; every web site you ever visit has to collect 'evidence' on you

The requirement that ISPs and essentially every site on the Internet keep 18 months worth of records on every visitor would create a complete record of every site visited, every email sent, every link clicked on by every resident of the U.S. and its territories – a vast and comprehensive database of everything any American does online, into which curious cops can dip almost at will, whether they have a good reason to do so or not.

"The data retention mandate in this bill would treat every Internet user like a criminal and threaten the online privacy and free speech rights of every American," according to Kevin Bankston, an attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "Requiring Internet companies to redesign and reconfigure their systems to facilitate government surveillance of Americans' expressive activities is simply un-American."

“The bill is mislabeled,” Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) told CNET in July, when PCFIPA went through brief review in the House judicial committee. “This is not protecting children from Internet pornography. It’s creating a database for everybody in this country for a lot of other purposes.”

Smith argued in committee that the bill involved investigation only of those suspected of the sexual abuse of children.

No so, countered the ACLU, which argued it would actually impact "hundreds of millions of individuals who have no connection to the sexual exploitation of children whatsoever. ..There is nothing in the bill that would limit the use of these records to child exploitation cases," countered the American Civil Liberties Union, which sent a letter carrying protests from it and 29 other civil rights groups to Smith last summer, without result.

"In fact, the records would involve all internet users everywhere and they would be available to law enforcement for any purpose. This new mandate is a direct assault on the privacy of internet users," the letter said.
So what's the upshot?

There is no conclusion to this story yet.

PCFIPA, H.R. 1981, is on the House legislative calendar to be debated, changed, approved or denied sometime during the coming year.

Oddsmakers rate its chances as good, considering it sailed through committee by a vote of 19 to 10.

SOPA and PIPA had similarly good odds before being brought down in flames.

PCFIPA, HR 1981, should have much worse chances, considering that powers it grants are much more sweeping than those of either Internet censorship bill and that it adds a huge burden to both ISPs and anyone providing content or software services across the web.

Together the constituency opposing PCFIPA should be at least as large as that opposing SOPA and PIPA.

Opposing those two bills took a lot of effort and unity among independent-minded Internet users.

Both unity and the ability to project opposition appear to have dissipated in the weeks since.

Especially given the effort of Lamar Smith and his backers to conceal unconstitutional powers of surveillance and censorship behind child pornographer straw men, it's entirely possible HR 1981 will come up for a vote without nearly as much outcry for the 'net.

If that happens, all the complaining about privacy done by anyone online until now will be moot. PCFIPA requires your ISP to keep track of what you do when it can see you and requires other sites to keep records of what you do when it can't.

By comparison, losing your email password to a keylogger or having your iPhone give away your location data are small potatoes.

Lamar Smith wants to know more than a password or location. He wants to know what sites you click on, what spam you get, what sites you visit that you delete from your history cache so no one else can see them.

Lamar Smith wants to know who you email, who you text and what links you click on in blogs complaining about his irrational, insatiable need to spy on Americans who have done nothing wrong and nothing to arouse suspicion that they have.

Lamar Smith doesn't believe in innocent until proven guilty. Lamar Smith doesn't believe in innocent at all.

He only believes in "unregistered offenders" – meaning "those who haven't been caught yet.

Give Lamar Smith his way and every site on the Internet will have to keep records to turn over to Lamar and his cronies, so people who don't like you can sift through everything you do, looking for something you've done wrong.

Putting unconstitutional limits on the freedom of 99.7 percent of Americans is a fair exchange for a law that might give cops a slightly greater advantage in chasing the .238 percent of Americans who may actually be involved in child pornography.

Isn't it?

Read more of Kevin Fogarty's CoreIT blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Kevin on Twitter at @KevinFogarty. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

Senator: Let's monitor P2P for illegal files; by Anne Broache..........History of P2P investigations

Senators OK $1 billion for online child porn fightDemocrat Joe Biden at Capitol Hill hearing urges more police to be trained in software developed by agent specializing in searching for child pornography.


Bill, which awaits floor vote, would encourage investigators to comb peer-to-peer networks for illegal images and would rewrite laws to ban Webcasts depicting child abuse.

A U.S. Senate panel has unanimously approved a bill that would encourage federal, state, and local police to use and create special software designed to nab child pornography swappers on peer-to-peer file-sharing networks.

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday voted to send an amended version of the Combating Child Exploitation Act, chiefly sponsored by Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), to the full slate of politicians for a vote.

All told, the bill would allocate more than $1 billion over the next eight years for a broad array of efforts aimed at tackling Internet crimes against children. It calls for hiring 250 new federal agents at the FBI, the Immigrations and Custom Enforcement Agency, and the U.S. Postal Service dedicated to child exploitation cases; for beefing up personnel, equipment, and educational programs designed to combat Internet crimes against children; and for creating new forensics laboratories if the attorney general deems it necessary to deal with a "backlog" of online child exploitation cases.

"We need to give law enforcement the funds and the tools to pull the plug on Internet predators," Biden said in a statement.

An amendment adopted Thursday also adds new sections to the original bill that would rewrite existing child pornography laws. One section is designed to make it clear that live Webcam broadcasts of child abuse are illegal, which the bill's authors argue is an "open question." Another change is aimed at closing another perceived loophole, prohibiting digital alteration of an innocent image of a child so that sexually explicit activity is instead depicted.

It's unclear whether the changes are necessary. The Justice Department in the past, for instance, has netted guilty pleas in cases related to live Webcam recordings involving minors engaged in sexual acts.

The bill's passage follows a hearing last month at which Biden and other senators suggested they saw considerable promise in software designed to detect child pornography sources--specifically a tool called "Operation Fairplay." The so-called "comprehensive computer infrastructure" was developed two years ago by Special Agent Flint Waters in the Wyoming Attorney General's Office, where the system is still housed, and is currently being used by online child exploitation investigators nationwide.

The bill approved Thursday allocates $2 million for the attorney general to build upon that software by creating a "National Internet Crimes Against Children Data System," which would make information about ongoing cases--particularly high-priority ones--accessible to investigators nationwide and coordinate development of new software tools designed to detect alleged child predators in real time.

Through the existing Fairplay system, investigators log onto peer-to-peer file-sharing networks as any other person would and search for files containing certain keywords that are likely to indicate child pornography is involved. Then they download files--frequently videos, sometimes as long as 20 to 30 minutes, with names like "children kiddy underage illegal.mpg" and much more obscene--to their own machines. The Fairplay software allows the investigator to obtain the IP address of the file's sender and, in some cases, display its geographic location in map form.

Once armed with an IP address and date and time of the download, investigators can subpoena the Internet service provider for more information, such as name and address of the subscriber who was assigned it at that moment. It's not clear whether any wiretaps are also conducted to monitor ongoing file-swapping.

Through that process, investigators have identified more than 600,000 unique computers allegedly trafficking in child pornography and traced them to the United States. But Biden and others have voiced dismay that they're only equipped with the resources to investigate about 2 percent of those potential cases.


Senators OK $1 billion for online child porn fight; by Anne Broache

Senators OK $1 billion for online child porn fight

Bill, which awaits floor vote, would encourage investigators to comb peer-to-peer networks for illegal images and would rewrite laws to ban Webcasts depicting child abuse.

A U.S. Senate panel has unanimously approved a bill that would encourage federal, state, and local police to use and create special software designed to nab child pornography swappers on peer-to-peer file-sharing networks.

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday voted to send an amended version of the Combating Child Exploitation Act, chiefly sponsored by Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), to the full slate of politicians for a vote.

All told, the bill would allocate more than $1 billion over the next eight years for a broad array of efforts aimed at tackling Internet crimes against children. It calls for hiring 250 new federal agents at the FBI, the Immigrations and Custom Enforcement Agency, and the U.S. Postal Service dedicated to child exploitation cases; for beefing up personnel, equipment, and educational programs designed to combat Internet crimes against children; and for creating new forensics laboratories if the attorney general deems it necessary to deal with a "backlog" of online child exploitation cases.

"We need to give law enforcement the funds and the tools to pull the plug on Internet predators," Biden said in a statement.

An amendment adopted Thursday also adds new sections to the original bill that would rewrite existing child pornography laws. One section is designed to make it clear that live Webcam broadcasts of child abuse are illegal, which the bill's authors argue is an "open question." Another change is aimed at closing another perceived loophole, prohibiting digital alteration of an innocent image of a child so that sexually explicit activity is instead depicted.

It's unclear whether the changes are necessary. The Justice Department in the past, for instance, has netted guilty pleas in cases related to live Webcam recordings involving minors engaged in sexual acts.

The bill's passage follows a hearing last month at which Biden and other senators suggested they saw considerable promise in software designed to detect child pornography sources--specifically a tool called "Operation Fairplay." The so-called "comprehensive computer infrastructure" was developed two years ago by Special Agent Flint Waters in the Wyoming Attorney General's Office, where the system is still housed, and is currently being used by online child exploitation investigators nationwide.

The bill approved Thursday allocates $2 million for the attorney general to build upon that software by creating a "National Internet Crimes Against Children Data System," which would make information about ongoing cases--particularly high-priority ones--accessible to investigators nationwide and coordinate development of new software tools designed to detect alleged child predators in real time.

Through the existing Fairplay system, investigators log onto peer-to-peer file-sharing networks as any other person would and search for files containing certain keywords that are likely to indicate child pornography is involved. Then they download files--frequently videos, sometimes as long as 20 to 30 minutes, with names like "children kiddy underage illegal.mpg" and much more obscene--to their own machines. The Fairplay software allows the investigator to obtain the IP address of the file's sender and, in some cases, display its geographic location in map form.

Once armed with an IP address and date and time of the download, investigators can subpoena the Internet service provider for more information, such as name and address of the subscriber who was assigned it at that moment. It's not clear whether any wiretaps are also conducted to monitor ongoing file-swapping.

Through that process, investigators have identified more than 600,000 unique computers allegedly trafficking in child pornography and traced them to the United States. But Biden and others have voiced dismay that they're only equipped with the resources to investigate about 2 percent of those potential cases.


Report: NSA, Pentagon officials linked to child porn; Boston Globe reports

Report: NSA, Pentagon officials linked to child porn
Boston Globe reports dozens of NSA, DARPA, and other Pentagon workers downloaded child porn, a federal crime, but not all were prosecuted.

Dozens of National Security Agency, DARPA, and other Pentagon officials purchased and downloaded child pornography over the Internet, according to a report in The Boston Globe on Friday.

The newspaper said it obtained more than 50 pages of documents revealing that the government workers identified in an internal probe included NSA contractors with top secret clearances, one of whom has fled the country and is believed to be hiding in Libya.

Another involved a person working at the supersecret National Reconnaissance Office, which operates the military's spy satellites, who was transferred to a field office and has not been charged with a crime.

In the United States, it is legal to possess obscene materials, which are generally defined as hardcore pornography involving consenting adults. It is also legal to posses non-obscene pornography.

But the knowing possession of child pornography is a federal felony. In the last few decades, the definition of child pornography has been expanded to include not only depictions of minors being sexually abused, but even images of clothed girls in leotards and, as CNET reported in 2006, photographs of clothed minors in what prosecutors claim were overly "lascivious" poses.

Some, but not all, of the Pentagon workers were charged as a result of the internal investigation, which had not previously been made public. In one 2007 case, the Globe said, a national security official possessed 8,400 pictures, and 200 movies "that were evidence of receipt of child pornography" and was sentenced to five years in prison.

After a series of other recent reports highlighted how federal employees were using taxpayer-funded computers to watch porn at work, the House of Representatives voted 239 to 182 earlier this month to require federally-funded networks to block the viewing or downloading of pornographic materials.

No, Department of Justice, 80 Percent of Tor Traffic Is Not Child Porn

No, Department of Justice, 80 Percent of Tor Traffic Is Not Child Porn