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Regulation of Child Pornography on the Internet

Cases and Materials related to Child Pornography on the Internet

Compiled by Yaman Akdeniz

Cite as: Yaman Akdeniz, Regulation of Child Pornography on the Internet: Cases and Materials, at http://www.cyber-rights.org/reports/child.htm. Last updated January 2003. Copyright Yaman Akdeniz, 1996-2003. All Rights Reserved. No part of this database can be copied without our permission. Journalists and researchers please contact at lawya@leeds.ac.uk for permission to use materials from this database of cases and materials.

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This section of Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) deals with the regulation of child pornography on the Internet under various jurisdictions. 


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Sections of Regulation of Child Pornography on the Internet

United Kingdom Section of Regulation of Child Pornography on the Internet

United States Section of Regulation of Child Pornography on the Internet

International Developments

Further Links

 

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WHAT IS NEW SECTION in January 2003

Case Report by Dr. Yaman Akdeniz: Court of Appeal Clarifies the Law on Downloading Child Pornography from the Web
published in the Computer Law & Security Report Vol. 18 no. 6 2002, pp 433-435.

BBC News, Operation Ore: Can the UK cope? 13 January, 2003

Operation Ore - May 2002 - Ongoing

  • Launched after FBI passed credit card details of 7300 alleged British subscribers to a child porn gateway.

  • About 1300 arrested, including teachers, care workers, social workers, soldiers, surgeons and 50 police officers.

  • Forty children - 28 in London - are now under protective care.

  • The investigation, which will run at least until July 2003, has focused on anyone with access to children and in positions of authority, such as the police or magistrates.

  • Detective Constable Brian Stevens, 41 - an officer on the Holly and Jessica

    double-murder case - has been charged with indecently assaulting three children and possessing indecent photos. The charges are not related to the double murder in Soham.
  • Police say many child porn sites are run from eastern Europe. Britain's high-tech crime unit has been working with police in countries such as Romania to shut them down.

110 held in police crackdown on internet child porn
17/01/2003 - 10:55:47

A British police force today said it had arrested more than 100 people suspected of downloading child pornography from the Internet in just four weeks. Sussex Police has made 110 arrests as part of Operation Ore, the national crackdown on child abuse on the net, and seized more than 1,000 computers from addresses across both

the east and west of the county. Det Chief Insp Alan Chambers, leading the force’s part in Operation Ore, said: “As far as the numbers of people involved is concerned, the situation in Sussex is no better and no worse than elsewhere in the country. “We have made good progress in working through the names that were supplied to us of people who had used their credit cards to purchase images of child abuse. “The aim of the Sussex operation is to identify those people who pose a risk to child safety and actively to target them in order to protect children. At the same time we have worked closely with the support of the various social services departments across Sussex to ensure the welfare of affected children. “We have now taken positive action against 158 people on the list of names supplied to us by the National Crime Squad. Positive action refers to activity designed to reduce the potential threat to child safety. This has included executing warrants whenever the identity of the person has been confirmed.?Mr Chambers added a further 28 people known to have accessed child porn had since left Sussex but their details had been passed to other forces. He said: “We are still actively progressing the remaining cases: those involved can expect a visit from Sussex Police soon. “Every image that we are talking about is a picture of the sexual abuse of a child. “By directing our resources towards people who purchase these images, Sussex Police is taking the opportunity to disrupt the activities of those who may also be committing physical offences against children within Sussex, and also to disrupt the market for child pornography which victimises children across the world.?/font>

Teacher, doctor nabbed in porn probe
Police make plea for resources to stop spread of 'evil'

JOSH RUBIN, STAFF REPORTER THESTAR.COM, WITH FILES FROM CANADIAN PRESS, Jan. 16, 2003. 06:56 PM

Toronto police have targeted 241 pedophile suspects in the GTA who allegedly paid to view pornographic images on the Internet that investigators described today as 'evil'. Among those arrested across Canada already are a police officer, a teacher and a doctor. "I think it's reasonable to assume that once we go through the list we'll come across some pretty high-profile people,'' said Det.-Sgt. Paul Gillespie, who leads the Toronto police force's sex crimes unit. Neither Gillespie nor OPP Det.-Insp. Robert Matthews would describe exactly what kind of pornography has been seized, but both said they were disturbed by what they'd seen. Gillespie called the images "evil," while Matthews said he too was horrified. "Paul and I have seen things that I would never want any other human being to record in their mind,'' said Matthews. The probe, called Project Snowball in Canada, has targeted more than 2,000 Canadian suspects, Gillespie said. Thirty-two people have been charged and 42 charges have been laid. The probe stems from the same worldwide sting that garnered headlines earlier this week when The Who guitarist Pete Townshend was arrested for allegedly making illegal images of children in the U.K. Canadian investigators made a plea today regarding the resources police have to deal with child pornography distributed over the Internet. "International co-operation is a dream - national co-operation is a nightmare," Gillespie told a Toronto news conference. "I may have limited resources but my officers have unlimited resourcefulness. ... It is time for those responsible on a federal level to live up to their responsibility. We need help." Matthews said his force simply doesn't have the money and manpower it needs to deal with the problem. "The resources it takes to get these cases before the courts and through the courts are staggering,'' he concurred. American investigators say they've traced 250,000 suspected pedophiles around the world through credit-card details on child porn sites. British police say they have arrested more than 1,300 people as they go through a list of 7,000 people suspected to accessing illegal Internet sites. Those arrested so far in what British police call Operation Ore include 50 police officers, social workers, teachers and judges. Project Snowball was the only significant Canadian offshoot of Project Avalanche, a U.S. investigation that resulted in the arrest of Texas kiddie-porn magnates Thomas and Janice Reedy. Their business, Landslide Productions Inc., often grossed $1.4 million US per month from subscribers paying as little as $14.95 US to access Web sites with names like Cyber Lolita and Child Rape. "That would allow them 30 days access to some of the most evil images of child abuse you can imagine," Gillespie said. Thomas Reedy was sentenced in August 2001 to 1,335 years in prison - the first-ever life sentence for distributing child porn, Matthews said. By contrast, one of the names on the list - Joseph Downey, 27, of Elora, Ont. - was sentenced in October to just 14 months of house arrest after police found more than 500 pieces of child porn on his computer. Sentences like Downey's are "a joke," Matthews spat. Investigating kiddie porn is taxing on investigators, who are often forced to look at thousands of images, some depicting infants so young they still have their umbilical clamps attached. In a statement today, Canadian Alliance justice critic Vic Toews assailed the federal Liberals for failing to get their priorities straight. "For years front-line officers have pleaded for federal support to combat child exploitation," he said. "The only response from the Liberals was to slash police resources and enact complex legislation that will do nothing to protect children." Suzanne Thebarge, spokeswoman for federal Justice Minister Martin Cauchon, said Ottawa is indeed working with the provinces to strengthen Canada's ability to battle child pornography. "The federal, provincial and territorial governments are taking this matter very seriously and that's why we are continuing to work toward the safeguards in the well-being of Canadian children," Thebarge said. She denied that the federal government is failing in its efforts. "I think we are living (up) to our responsibilities," she said. "It's an ongoing process. Children are a priority for this government." She cited Bill C-15A, which made Canada's child-porn laws the toughest in the world when it was passed by Parliament last year. It created new offences "to target criminals who use the Internet to lure and exploit children for sexual purposes and to transmit, make available, export and intentionally access child pornography." Ontario Premier Ernie Eves, whose own government was lauded at the news conference today for funding an expansion of police resources, agreed the time has come for a co-ordinated effort between Ottawa and the provinces. "I think it would be a good thing for both the federal and provincial governments to sit down ... to discuss how we can take a much firmer position than we have to date."

BBC News, Thirty held over online child porn, 20 May, 2002
More than 30 people suspected of buying paedophile pornography on the web have been arrested in raids across the UK. Officers from 30 forces searched about 50 houses and flats across Britain. Operation Ore targeted computer users suspected of accessing US-based websites which sell images of children aged as young as five being sexually abused. US authorities gave the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) details of the sites' subscribers between May 1999 and the summer of 2001. The NCIS' Serious Sex Offenders Unit identified a "significant number" of suspects, and Monday's operation was co-ordinated by the National Crime Squad. Those arrested include three men - aged 62, 54 and 35 - being held in Merseyside, a 32-year-old man arrested in Scunthorpe and another, 64, arrested in Grimsby, North Lincolnshire, Another man, aged 30, was arrested at an address in Normanton, near Wakefield, West Yorkshire where two computers were seized for forensic examinations. A man, 44, from the Sandbach, Cheshire has been released on police bail pending further inquiries. In London, the Metropolitan Police Paedophile Unit also seized computer equipment from two homes in Battersea and Camden. Deputy Assistant Commissioner and Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) spokeswoman on internet child abuse Carole Howlett said: "A significant proportion of people involved in child abuse online are themselves actual abusers." NCIS UK Tactical Services director Vincent Harvey added: "Every image of a child being sexually abused is an image of a crime scene and each photograph is that of a victim. "Using the sophisticated technology along with traditional detective and analytical work we can now make sure there is no place for paedophiles operating online to hide." The National Crime Squad's Detective Superintendent Peter Spindler said: "This is an excellent example of all the UK policing agencies coming together in a co-ordinated way to tackle a relatively new and growing problem. "This is the first time we have targeted people who use the internet to buy images of children being sexually abused. "We will continue these operations to protect children and show paedophiles that law enforcement agencies will find them regardless of which area of the internet they use."  Home Office minister Beverley Hughes, who chairs the government's task force on child protection on the internet, said the operation sent "a clear signal to such criminals that they cannot hide". "People who access child pornography are fuelling the widespread and often organised sexual abuse of children by paedophiles across the world." "The government is determined to give the highest priority to protecting our children, on and off-line, and to searching

out and arresting those who prey upon them. "We will continue to work with law enforcement, industry, children's charities and others to tackle the dangers posed by online paedophiles and ensure the UK provides a safe environment for legitimate internet users."

Ananova News, Police have launched the biggest ever crackdown in Britain on internet child pornography, 24 April, 2002

Greater Manchester Police say 75 warrants have been executed nationwide.

Merseyside Police have seized computer equipment during raids on the Wirral and in Walton, Liverpool. A Wirral man in his twenties has been arrested. The operation, codenamed Magenta, follows a six-month investigation by 34 police forces under the Protection of Children Act. It was led jointly by officers from Hertfordshire Police's child protection and investigation unit and Greater Manchester Police's abusive images unit. A total of 75 warrants were carried out simultaneously focusing on paedophiles who used internet chatrooms to advertise and exchange images of children being abused. Inspector Keith Tilley, head of Hertfordshire Police's child protection and investigation unit said: "Hertfordshire, along with other forces, will continue to work to identify and track down those individuals who believe the internet gives them anonymity to continue their trade in abusive images of children. "This is not the case and further operations like today's will take place in the future."

Inspector Terry Jones, from Greater Manchester Police's abusive images unit, added: "Today's operation is primarily about two things: firstly, to closely examine the activities of individuals who have engaged in the exchange of child abuse material and determine what access they have to real children. "Secondly, it is a clear demonstration that forces can work together to tackle new challenges posed by the internet."

See also the BBC News coverage, Paedophile Net raids across UK, 24 April, 2002
The Guardian, Dozens held in net porn raids, 24 April, 2002

Manchester Evening News, Internet porn cops praised, 24 April, 2002
POLICE in Greater Manchester have been praised in the European Parliament for their battle against child porn. Labour's Arlene McCarthy told fellow MEPs that the force's Abusive Images Unit had been involved in a major operation against internet perverts in Britain. "Internet paedophilia is a rising phenomenon," she told the parliament in Strasbourg. She is working with children's charities including the NSPCC to demand tough action against Internet child abusers. Ms McCarthy praised the work of Det InspTerry Jones and his anti-porn team in Manchester for their expertise in tracking down and convicting child abusers.

SurfControl plays key role in Operation Magenta, targeting Internet paedophile activity
Congleton, UK (April 24, 2002)
- Software developed by SurfControl, the world's number one web and email filtering company, has played a critical role in Operation Magenta, the nation wide crackdown on paedophile Internet activity which culminated in today's dawn raids. The Abusive Images Unit of Greater Manchester Police (GMP) and the Child Protection and Investigation Unit of the Hertfordshire Constabulary drove the six month investigation. Thirty five forces in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales were involved in the simultaneous execution of 75 warrants under the Protection of Children Act, at 0700 hours this morning, Wednesday 24 April. Steve Purdham, chief executive for SurfControl, commented: "With specialist software now at the disposal of the police, it is impossible for those who use the Internet illegally to remain anonymous." SurfControl began working with the GMP's Obscene Publications Unit in 2000, providing Internet filtering expertise and software. In 2001, the company's technology assisted the highly successful anti-paedophile operation, Operation Appal. Using software produced by SurfControl, GMP and Hertfordshire Constabulary officers have once again been able to target people in the UK who posses and distribute indecent images of children via the Internet. Inspector Keith Tilley, Head of Hertfordshire Constabulary's Child Protection and Investigation Unit, said: "Today's nation wide operation should send out a loud message to those people who use chat rooms to trade in indecent images of children. This activity is unlawful and is committed by people who often go on to commit further offences of abuse against vulnerable children. Hertfordshire, along with other forces, will continue to work to identify and track down those individuals who believe the Internet gives them anonymity to continue their trade in abusive images of children. This is not the case and further operations like today's will take place in the future." Inspector Terry Jones from GMP's Abusive Images Unit added: "Today's operation is primarily about two things: firstly, to closely examine the activities of individuals who have actively engaged in the exchange of child abuse material, and to determine what access they have to real children; secondly, a clear demonstration that forces can work together to tackle new challenges posed by the Internet." Following the pioneering work with the GMP and Hertfordshire Constabulary, SurfControl has designed and developed a specialist software tool to facilitate the tracking and tracing of illegal and threatening activity in chat rooms. SurfControl has announced that the solution will shortly be made available to police forces across the UK. SurfControl's chief executive Purdham continued: "SurfControl is committed to enabling responsible Internet use and a key part of this is helping to ensure children are protected from internet-related risks. The illegal use of chat rooms by paedophiles is an extremely serious issue, and we're very pleased to be working with police forces, such as Greater Manchester and Hertfordshire, who are challenging this difficult area. This is an excellent example of bringing together the different skill sets of the public and private sectors to create a positive result for the community. Purdham concluded: "This joint project shows that the tools are available to help safeguard the Internet. Whether people are online at home or in the workplace, they can be effectively protected against inappropriate or illegal materials, and against web users with indecent or malicious intent."

Ananova News, US court legalises virtual paedophilia, 16 April, 2002

The US Supreme Court has overthrown a congressional ban on virtual paedophilia. It ruled the First Amendment protects pornography or other sexual images that only appear to depict real children engaged in sex. The judgment is a victory for both pornographers and legitimate artists such as filmmakers. They argued that a broad ban on simulated child sex could make it a crime to depict a sex scene like those in the recent movies Traffic or Lolita. The law was challenged by a trade association for pornographers.

It barred sexually explicit material that "appear(s) to be a minor" or that is advertised in a way that "conveys the impression" that a minor was involved in its creation. The law was Congress' answer to then-emerging computer technology that allowed the computer alteration of innocent images of real children, or the creation from scratch of simulated children posed in sexual acts. The law was an expansion of existing bans on child pornography. Congress had justified the wider ban on grounds that while no real children were harmed in creating the material, real children could be harmed by feeding the prurient appetites of paedophiles or child molesters. The Free Speech Coalition, the pornographers' trade group, said it opposes child pornography but that the law could snare legitimate, if unsavoury, films and photos produced by its members. The group did not challenge a section of the law that banned the use of identifiable children in computer-altered sexual images. The Clinton and Bush administrations defended the law in court.

BBC News, Paedophile trapped by internet images, 6 April, 2002
An internet paedophile has been jailed following the first surveillance operation of its kind in the UK. David Randle was arrested by officers who pinpointed the scene of his crimes by studying the images of them he distributed via the web. A number of other people he is believed to have networked with have also been arrested in Europe, as part of an international operation. Randle, of Richmond Road, West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire, was given six life sentences at Nottingham Crown Court after pleading guilty to a string of rapes and indecent assaults on a young girl. Nottinghamshire Police said an investigation was launched in January 2001, when colleagues in Greater Manchester became aware of a series of images circulating on the internet. They depicted the serious sexual and physical abuse of a young girl and officers said they were among the worst they had ever seen. Greater Manchester Police's Abusive Images Unit began analysing the images to identify and trace the scene of the crimes before Randle was arrested on January 9 this year. The operation also involved officers from the National Criminal Intelligence Service, Interpol and Europol. Randle pleaded guilty to six counts of rape, four indecent assaults, two counts of taking indecent images, two counts of making indecent images and two counts of distributing indecent images.

Ananova News, Arrests in 10 countries over child porn, 22 April, 2002

Police in nine European countries and the US have arrested about 25 people for allegedly violating child pornography laws. A police spokesman said arrests have been made in Britain, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark. He declined to name the other four European countries.

"The case is unique because we caught those who have sexually abused the children, not just distributed the child pornography," said Troels Oerting Joergensen of the cyber crime unit of Denmark's national police. Two US citizens were arrested in San Diego, he said, and two Danes in Denmark. He declined to provide further details because the investigation is continuing. "More arrests are soon to be expected in Europe and in the United States," he said. The investigation began last November when Danish police arrested a couple in Ringkoebing, 205 miles west of Copenhagen. They had acted on a tip from Swedish police who had found photographs on the internet showing a man sexually abusing an 11-year-old girl. On his shirt, there was a logo of a Danish company. Danish police identified the man and arrested him with his wife. On the couple's computer, investigators found more photos of the girl. Police also found names of people outside Denmark with whom the couple had exchanged photos through the internet. The couple was not identified in line with Danish privacy rules. They were charged with sexually abusing a child and face up to eight years in prison, if convicted. They were released from jail pending trial. So far between 30 and 35 boys and girls, aged 3 to 15, in 10 countries have been identified. All the children were sexually abused, Mr Oerting Joergensen said.

R. v. Sharpe, decision of the Supreme Court of Canada
Neutral citation: 2001 SCC 2. File No.:  27376.
2000:  January 18, 19; 2001: January 26.

  Yaman Akdeniz , Sex on the Net: The Dilemma of Policing Cyberspace, Reading: South Street Press, Summer 1999
- Order this book by clicking on the title. For further information see
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Paperback - 72 pages (July 1999) - South Street Press; ISBN: 1902932005

Synopsis from the publisher's press release: As sexually explicit content is increasingly finding its way onto the Internet, governments and law enforcement bodies are being faced with new and difficult challenges. How can there be effective legislation to regulate obscene and offensive websites when the content produced is perfectly legal in the country of origin and such legislation may be an infringement of human rights? How are the police to deal effectively with so-called cyber-crimes, including the distribution of child pornography, when perpetrators may be located anywhere in the world? While it is agreed globally that efforts must be taken to prevent the production and circulation of child pornography, the debate surrounding explicit content is a complex one which differs from country to country.

In this book Yaman Akdeniz introduces the reader to various aspects of the cyberporn debates in America, Britain, and Europe. The book covers such topics as the issues of civil rights, accessibility of sexually explicit content, the effectiveness of filtering and rating systems in protecting children from sexually explicit content, the extent of child pornography over the Net and global policing initiatives to tackle such material. It presents specific case studies to demonstrate the failure and successes of Internet policing and government attempts to restrict obscene content, and considers the logistics and ethics involved in censoring the World Wide Web. 


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Last updated on 19/08/2001