Possession of child pornography is a felony under federal law, as well as every state. Because I am a recovery coach, I know some offenders, and I had some questions. I wanted to know more about these viewers of child pornography. Are they all potential hands-on offenders? Is this a victimless crime? What is the demographic of the users of underage pornography? I found there were some staggering statistics about child pornography. That billions of dollars are generated annually by child porn. The volume of pornography shared for free is incredible. That one image is all that is required to be convicted and eventually spending 15 years on probation under Megan’s Law. I wondered what were the costs to maintain the non-violent offenders of Megan’s Law, for life? This blog post, as well as others that follow, will explore these issues.
How is child pornography viewed?
Peer-to-peer (P2P) computer platforms are the most likely portal to view underage or child pornography. These are sites that share files for free. There are also for-profit pornography sites, which charge viewers a monthly membership fee. The for-profit pornography sites do list child porn sites, but are well hidden, because to do so is illegal. A person really has to dig and search diligently to find these child porn sites. Then there is the Dark Web.
How does a P2P Network work?
Peer-to-Peer Networks or file sharing networks are vast global systems that can be located anywhere in the world. P2P networks are used by millions of people in order to acquire, for free, popular music, current television shows, movies, electronic books, and other digital material. The software allows users to log onto any P2P network and download files from other P2P network users.
Limewire, Gnutella, or other file sharing programs are downloaded to your computer in order for you to view files. Users create copies of movies, book or photographs, and place them into folders that are accessible to other peers. Users search by using keywords, just like you search on Google, to find these folders. Type in what you are looking for, and these keywords are broadcast to the network of participating peers and again, just like Google, files appear below the search box.
There are several reasons P2P networks are particularly attractive to child-pornography traffickers. First, child pornography on P2P networks is free. Any person with access to the Internet can connect to a P2P network. P2P networks do not make use of servers, which means users can transmit illegal material without oversight from an online service provider like Google, EBay or NetFlicks. P2P networks are an anonymous way used to view, buy or sell anything online. The Dark Web, however, is more anonymous.
What is the Dark Web?
The “Dark Web” is an encrypted network that exists between Tor servers and their clients. These Tor servers are set up to be anonymous. After downloading a Tor browser bundle, clients can search the Dark Web, a supermarket of illegal activity, for drugs, weapons, murder for hire or pornography. For a porn addict, the Dark Web has anything that addict could want. Porn mixed with anonymous high-speed Internet is a lethal mix.
Next week, I will discuss in more detail the demographic of the average child-pornography viewer. If you know of anyone producing, promoting or possessing child pornography, please report them through the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s CyberTipline: 1 (800) 843-5678