Child Pornography: Help is out there
The Internet is a double-edged sword when it comes to capabilities – people can utilize the resource for positive actions while others have learned to manipulate and exploit vulnerabilities. One of these vulnerabilities is child pornography. Sex offenders and cyber predators have used the Internet to distribute and post appalling images of innocent children.
It seems like everyday there is a new story of someone getting caught posting or distributing illicit pictures of children on the web. Both convicted sex offenders and people without any history of sex crimes are committing these acts. Federal and State governments have systems in place to track this behavior, but it is not full proof. Too often people that upload and share child pornography on the Internet are caught because of a tip or by luck.
A concerned parent from Maryland recently contacted SCP worrying that her ex-husband may have viewed child pornography. This person was interested in finding information to deal with the problem. Fortunately Maryland, like most states, has resources for people that find themselves in this situation. Websites like the Maryland Crime Victims’ Resource Center provides visitors with victim services, crisis assistance, legal help, victim notification, financial help, social services, national victim resources and more. For anyone who finds him or herself in this dilemma, we recommend that you reference your respective state’s victim’s resource center. Protocols vary state-by-state and it is important to take the appropriate steps depending on where you reside.
Multiple companies are also working to prevent the distribution of child pornography. Microsoft is doing its part to protect children with the company’s PhotoDNA technology, which helps find and remove some of the worst images of child sexual exploitation from the web. The software is already used by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) along with Facebook, and should be rolled out across Bing, Hotmail and Skydrive soon.
Redmond has partnered with NetClean to make PhotoDNA image matching tech available to police and law enforcement at no cost. Over 65 million images and videos of child sexual exploitation have been reviewed by the NCMEC since 2002, 10 percent of which are of infants or toddlers who can’t even speak up to protect themselves. Created in collaboration with Dartmouth College, PhotoDNA creates a signature for each image, which allows it to be compared with other image signatures to detect copies. This often leads to removal of the worst pornographic images of children that would have otherwise gone unnoticed.
Some states are also joining the fight to inhibit child pornography distribution on the web. Recently, several states have passed legislation increasing penalties for people that upload or disseminate child pornography on the Internet. Earlier this month, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed a law increasing penalties for people who disseminate child pornography. The bill requires prison time for anyone caught with child pornography. Iowa lawmakers have also passed legislation increasing penalties for people who send or receive child pornography.
But more still needs to be done. Cyber predators are finding ways around these new technologies and sentencing requirements are not deterring enough people. Help us in this battle to protect those who cannot protect themselves. Contact your state and federal legislators and continue to follow us on Facebook & Twitter.