Efforts to end child pornography have been ineffective

In Opinion
Courtesy of Los Angeles County Sheriff
Courtesy of Los Angeles County Sheriff

The growing and saddening epidemic that is child pornography is rearing its ugly head once again, and although efforts are being made to prevent the exploitation of children, it raises the question, is it enough?

Jon Johnson, a 72-year-old Fullerton resident, was arrested last week as a part of an operation performed by the Los Angeles County Cyber Crimes Task Force, according to the Orange County Register.

Johnson was arrested on suspicion of the possession and distribution of child pornography. Later, officials did in fact uncover hundreds of photos and videos in his possession showing children in sexual acts with adults.

The arrest marked the end of a six-week investigation and the conclusion of four other local arrests.

KTLA reported that the victims of the child pornography distribution network have yet to be identified by authorities, but they are believed to live in a variety of locations across the globe.

According to the United States Justice Department, “Section 2256 of Title 18, United States Code, defines child pornography as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor (someone under 18 years of age). Visual depictions include photographs, videos, digital or computer generated images indistinguishable from an actual minor, and images created, adapted, or modified, but appear to depict an identifiable, actual minor.”

So are the precautions being taken to prevent child pornography actually successful?

In a 2010 article from NPR, technology giant Microsoft stated it had been working on a pilot project to develop a technology that will limit the ability to search for child pornography on the internet.

The software, known as Microsoft PhotoDNA, now operates on its own online platforms including Bing, SkyDrive and Hotmail. Microsoft’s website reported that it “has already resulted in the identification, reporting and removal of thousands of images of child pornography.”

Facebook has also jumped at the opportunity, licensing the technology for use on their network in 2011.

However, is this the answer officials and victims have been looking for? A simple filter? Could it be that easy, or has society been fooled by yet another ineffective solution?

Drew Oosterbaan, head of the Justice Department Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, remains unconvinced by the proposed solutions.

In an article posted by NPR, Oosterbaan said, “that’s why this is a very, very challenging area of law enforcement, where, in the past 10 years, I’ve never found any real simple solutions.”

In continuing this internet blockade against child pornography, Google has also proposed a solution, a database of “encrypted” child porn images that is said to enable some companies and law enforcement to further collaborate on detecting and removing these photos from the possession of predators.

Google uses technology known as “hashing,” which is similar to Facebook’s photo tagging capabilities.

The software allows the company to tag images with an identification code that is reported and blocked by other companies when locating a duplicate image elsewhere on the web.

Ironically, Google, which is in the business of making news and information widely available, is creating a content blockade.

Jacquelline Fuller, director of Google Giving, said  “we can do a lot to ensure it’s not available online—and that when people try to share this disgusting content they are caught and prosecuted.”

The problem is not the solutions, but the solutions that will actually work.

Like any problem, there are several ways to solve it, but when there is a controversy like child porn, it seems as though a solution is easier said than done.

A threat to the safety of children has always been one of the government’s most crucial concerns.

However, aside from a couple arrests and some failed attempts to monitor and filter the internet, ultimately very little is being done.

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