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Wednesday, April 22, 2015





An Illustration of Hashing and Its Effect on Illegal File Content in the Digital Age, by Stephen Hoffman

An Illustration of Hashing and Its Effect on Illegal File Content in the Digital Age, by Stephen Hoffman



Regulating Sexual Harm: Strangers, Intimates, and Social Institutional Reform, by Allegra M. McLeod

Regulating Sexual Harm: Strangers, Intimates, and Social Institutional Reform by Allegra M. McLeod

The Harms of Child Pornography Law by Bruce Ryder

The Harms of Child Pornography Law by Bruce Ryder

Blocks just move child porn under the counter by, Eerke Boiten

Blocks just move child porn under the counter
Google and Microsoft have agreed to install filters on their search engines to prevent them being used to search for child abuse images. Some queries on Google and Bing will be blocked, while others will produce a warning message alongside filtered results.

It is not as if people need to be told. Child porn has been illegal for a long time in most of the world. The question to ask is why it still hasn’t been eradicated. The ease with which digital media can be stored, transmitted and copied is only part of the problem. Beyond technology, social deprivation, poverty, sex tourism and child trafficking all play a part and require larger, more complex solutions.
Hurdle, not barrier

In terms of effectiveness, the introduction of filters by search engines is similar to moving porn under the counter at a newsagent’s. It creates a useful hurdle to prevent people accidentally or gradually entering the territory but it will not stop a determined person from accessing the material if they really want to. In principle, it will sharpen the boundary between innocent and criminal behaviour but serious criminal behaviour will not be affected. Most of this activity takes place in parts of the internet that are not visible to search engines anyway.

In this case, there is an echo of what happened with the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Part III) in the late 2000s. This UK law requires people to hand over encryption keys if asked and allows them to be jailed for up to two years if they fail to comply. Security experts noted this would have little impact on serious criminals using encryption intelligently. Indeed, the first person to be convicted through this was not a hardened criminal, but someone with mental health issues.

To date, still only a single conviction is known to have been made under this part of the act against a man who refused to hand over the encryption password to his computer to police investigating child porn. Experts suggest most serious online child porn activity is taking place in the heavily encrypted and obscured “dark net” so Cameron’s announced intention to address this area next is very welcome. We can overlook his somewhat hyperbolic assertion that work to track online child porn is somehow comparable to the codebreakers of World War 2.
The trade-off

The basic technological ideas behind these internet search filters are well known. Given the complexity and evolution of natural language, any such filter can only make an educated guess at whether a query is looking for child abuse. Sometimes it will wrongly place a search query in that category (a “false positive”), and sometimes it will fail to identify one (a “false negative”).

Any filtering technique will show a trade-off between these two kinds of errors: reducing one kind will increase the other. Too many false positives leads to inappropriate censorship and too many false negatives makes the filter ineffectual. A middle category with warning messages and selected search results for these child abuse filters alleviates this to a limited extent, although the search engine still needs to choose between the three categories.

David Cameron’s comments that the search engine providers had so far been “unable” to implement these kinds of filters are rather surprising, though. Last century’s search engines started by just looking for bits of text in web pages, but their business model these days relies crucially on being able to decide the relevance of a given web page to a search query.

Both Google and Microsoft have had filtering technology in place to comply with the Chinese government’s censorship on internet search for some time. Google operated compliantly in the Chinese market until 2010; Microsoft’s Bing has collaborated with the main Chinese search engine Baidu since 2011. Clearly they have been reticent to implement it elsewhere, perhaps because blocking search terms, even for laudable causes such as tackling child abuse, raises questions for the future.

If this is indeed the first time such technologies are being rolled out in the UK, it is a landmark moment in internet freedom. Cameron may not be ready to acknowledge it, but after the Snowden revelations, many people will not feel able to trust the UK government not to try to extend censorship into other areas.

When a drawing or cartoon image can land you in jail, by Abhilash Nair

When a drawing or cartoon image can land you in jail, by Abhilash Nair

NSPCC accused of risking its reputation and 'whipping up moral panic' with study into porn addiction among children by, ADAM WITHNALL

NSPCC accused of risking its reputation and 'whipping up moral panic' with study into porn addiction among children by ADAM WITHNALL
In an open letter to the child protection organisation’s chief executive Peter Wanless, a group of doctors, academics, journalists and campaigners criticised the NSPCC for “suggesting that pornography is causing harm to new generations of young people”.

Peter Liver, director of the NSPCC’s ChildLine service, presented the survey of 700 12- to 13-year-olds and said: “Worryingly, [young people] tell ChildLine that watching porn is making them feel depressed, giving them body image issues, making them feel pressured to engage in sexual acts they’re not ready for and some even feel they are addicted to porn.”

The results of the NSPCC study saw the Conservative Culture Secretary, Sajid Javid, declare that his party would introduce new age-restriction measures designed to “protect our children from harmful material”.

But the open letter from experts said that “the existence of the kinds of harm [the NSPCC] reports remains contested”, adding that “the very existence of porn addiction is questionable”.

Jerry Barnett, a campaigner and author who posted the open letter on the Sex & Censorship website, said this progression from “flimsy research” to further censorship was “a very dangerous thing”.

He told The Independent: “The NSPCC and Childline, organisations that exist for the protection of children, are quite deliberately using an atrocious study to feed into moral panic, and it’s clearly been coordinated with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.”

Mr Barnett said that regulators had been using porn for several years to justify internet censorship and “create a case for turning Britain back into a digital island”.

“The panic itself is fairly old,” he said. “Falsely linking porn to sexual violence and body issues and so on are all old claims which have been discredited.

“But the fact that the NSPCC, with its trusted brand and reputation, is prepared to come out with such flimsy research is shocking.”

Mr Barnett said he supported better sex education and that the tools to stop younger children for viewing porn were already available.

And he said that there was research to suggest that the increased availability of porn in recent years had actually corresponded with a reduction in sexual violence.

“If you try to clamp down on that there’s a risk you reverse the clock on that beneficial trend over the past two to three decades,” he said.

An NSPCC spokesman said: "We listen to the worries of children everyday, including those about porn. What matters to us is that we address their concerns.

We take a diverse approach in listening to young people's voices and this poll is part of a wide body of research'

The open letter and a list of signatories is as follows. It first appeared here.

To: Peter Wanless, Chief Executive Officer, NSPCC

Dear Mr Wanless,

We write to express our deep concern about a report you published last week, which received significant press coverage. The report claimed that a tenth of 12-13 year olds believe they are addicted to pornography, and appears to have been fed to the media with accompanying quotes suggesting that pornography is causing harm to new generations of young people.

Your study appears to rely entirely on self-report evidence from young people of 11 and older, and so is not – as it has been presented – indicative of actual harm but rather, provides evidence that some young people are fearful that pornography is harming them. In other words, this study looks at the effects on young people of widely published but unevidenced concerns about pornography, not the effects of pornography itself.

It appears that your study was not an academic one, but was carried out by a “creative market research” group called OnePoll. We are concerned that you, a renowned child protection agency, are presenting the findings of an opinion poll as a serious piece of research. Management Today recently critiqued OnePoll in an article that opened as follows: “What naive readers may not realise is that much of what is reported as scientific is not in fact genuine research at all, but dishonest marketing concocted by PR firms.”

There have been countless studies into the effects of porn since the late 1960s, and yet the existence of the kinds of harm you report remains contested. In fact, many researchers have reached the opposite conclusion: that increased availability of porn correlates with healthier attitudes towards sex, and with steadily reducing rates of sexual violence. For example, the UK government’s own research generated the following conclusion in 2005: “There seems to be no relationship between the availability of pornography and an increase in sex crimes …; in comparison there is more evidence for the opposite effect.”

The very existence of “porn addiction” is questionable, and it is not an accepted medical condition. Dr David J Ley, a psychologist specialising in this field, says: “Sex and porn can cause problems in people’s lives, just like any other human behavior or form of entertainment. But, to invoke the idea of “addiction” is unethical, using invalid, scientifically and medically-rejected concepts to invoke fear and feed panic.”

Immediately following the release of your report, the Culture Secretary Sajid Javid announced that the Tories would be introducing strong censorship of the Internet if they win the next election, in order to “protect children” from pornography. The Culture Secretary’s new announcement would probably lead to millions of websites being blocked by British ISPs, should it come into force. We would point out the experience of the optional “porn filters”, introduced in early 2014, which turned out in practise to block a vast range of content including sex education material.

The BBC news website quotes you as saying, in response to the minister’s announcement: “Any action that makes it more difficult for young people to find this material is to be welcomed.” We disagree: we believe that introducing Chinese-style blocking of websites is not warranted by the findings of your opinion poll, and that serious research instead needs to be undertaken to determine whether your claims of harm are backed by rigorous evidence.


Jerry Barnett, CEO Sex & Censorship

Frankie Mullin, Journalist

Clarissa Smith, Professor of Sexual Cultures, University of Sunderland

Julian Petley, Professor of Screen Media, Brunel University

David J. Ley PhD. Clinical Psychologist (USA)

Dr Brooke Magnanti

Feona Attwood, Professor of Media & Communication at Middlesex University

Martin Barker, Emeritus Professor at University of Aberystwyth

Jessica Ringrose, Professor, Sociology of Gender and Education, UCL Institute of Education

Ronete Cohen MA, Psychologist

Dr Meg John Barker, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, The Open University

Kath Albury, Associate Professor, UNSW Australia

Myles Jackman, specialist in obscenity law

Dr Helen Hester, Middlesex University

Justin Hancock, youth worker and sex educator

Ian Dunt, Editor in Chief,

Ally Fogg, Journalist

Dr Emily Cooper, Northumbria University

Gareth May, Journalist

Dr Kate Egan, Lecturer in Film Studies, Aberystwyth University

Dr Ann Luce, Senior Lecturer in Journalism and Communication, Bournemouth University

John Mercer, Reader in Gender and Sexuality, Birmingham City University

Dr. William Proctor, Lecturer in Media, Culture and Communication, Bournemouth University

Dr Jude Roberts, Teaching Fellow, University of Surrey

Dr Debra Ferreday, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Lancaster University

Jane Fae, author of “Taming the beast” a review of law/regulation governing online pornography

Michael Marshall, Vice President, Merseyside Skeptics Society

Martin Robbins, Journalist

Assoc. Prof. Paul J. Maginn (University of Western Australia)

Dr Lucy Neville, Lecturer in Criminology, Middlesex University

Alix Fox, Journalist and Sex Educator

Dr Mark McCormack, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Durham University

Chris Ashford, Professor of Law and Society, Northumbria University

Diane Duke, CEO Free Speech Coalition (USA)

Dr Steve Jones, Senior Lecturer in Media, Northumbria University

Dr Johnny Walker, Lecturer in Media, Northumbria University

Fathers' Brains Change When Taking On Primary Caregiver Role ; source: Newsy / Powered by

Fathers' Brains Change When Taking On Primary Caregiver Role
Date: May 27, 2014

Newsy / Powered by

According to a new study, fathers who are their child's primary caregiver undergo brain changes that make them more sensitive to baby's needs. Video provided by Newsy

Viewing Child Porn Not A Risk Factor For Future Sex Offenses, Study Suggests; source, BioMed Central

Viewing Child Porn Not A Risk Factor For Future Sex Offenses, Study Suggests  BioMed Central

For people without a prior conviction for a hands-on sex offense, the consumption of child pornography alone does not, in itself, seem to represent a risk factor for committing such an offense. Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Psychiatry studied 231 men convicted of consuming child pornography in 2002 and found that only 1% had gone on to commit a hands-on sex offense in the following six years.

Frank Urbaniok from the Canton of Zurich Department of Justice, Switzerland, worked with a team of researchers to investigate these consumers. He said: "When investigating the prevalence of internet child pornography consumption, an important practical question is whether consumers of child pornography pose a risk for hands-on sex offenses. Our results support the assumption that these consumers, in fact, form a distinct group of sex offenders. Probably, the motivation for consuming child pornography differs from the motivation to physically assault minors. Furthermore, the recidivism rates of 1% for hands-on and 4% for hands-off sex offenses were quite low."

As has been found in other studies, Urbaniok and colleagues were able to corroborate that the offenders were well educated and that most consumed other types of illegal pornography as well, such as pornography depicting sexual acts with animals, excrement, or involving brutality.

Commenting on the findings, Urbaniok said: "Due to the widespread use of the internet, child pornography consumers today may differ from our sample in some socio-economic aspects, such as in the level of education or level of income. Nevertheless, there are two relevant and practical findings that seem to be robust: For consumers of child pornography without a criminal history, the prognosis for hands-on sex offenses and for recidivism with child pornography is favourable."

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BioMed Central. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:
Jérôme Endrass, Frank Urbaniok, Lea C Hammermeister, Christian Benz, Thomas Elbert, Arja Laubacher and Astrid Rossegger. The consumption of Internet child pornography and violent and sex offending. BMC Psychiatry, (in press) [link]