Essay, Research Paper: Child Pornography On Internet 

Alcohol and Drugs

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In this new age of Information, the Internet has made all types of information
readily available. Some of this information can be very useful, some can be
malicious. Child pornography, also known as Paedophilia is one of these
problems. Any one person can find child pornography on the internet with just a
few clicks of the mouse using any search engine. Despite webmaster's and law
enforcement officials' efforts to control child pornography and shut down
illegal sites, new sites are posted using several ways to mask their identity.
The Internet provides a new world for curious children. It offers entertainment,
opportunities for education, information and communication. The Internet is a
tool that opens a window of opportunities. As Internet use grows, so do the
risks of children being exposed to inappropriate material, in particular,
criminal activity by paedophiles and child pornographers. Many children first
come in contact with the Internet at a very young age. Some children become
victims of child pornography through close relatives who may have abused them.
Some children become involved with chat services or newsgroup threads. It is
usually through these sites that they meet child pornographers. Children may be
asked to send explicit pictures of themselves taken either by a digital camera
or scanned from a polaroid. The pornographer will then post the pictures on
their web site, sometimes hiding them through encryption, steganography or
password protecting them using a javascript or applet. Certain efforts have been
made to control child pornography through legislation. In 1977 the Sexual
Exploitation of Children Act was put into Legislation. (U.S. Code : Title 18,
Section 2251-2253) The law prohibits the use of a minor in the making of
pornography, the transport of a child across state lines, the taking of a
pornographic picture of a minor, and the production and circulation of materials
advertising child pornography. It also prohibits the transfer, sale, purchase,
and receipt of minors when the purpose of such transfer, sale, purchase, or
receipt is to use the child or youth in the production of child pornography. The
transportation, importation, shipment, and receipt of child pornography by any
interstate means, including by mail or computer, is also prohibited. The Child
Protection Act of 1984 (U.S. Code : Title 18, Section 2251-2255) defines anyone
younger than the age of 18 as a child. Therefore, a sexually explicit photograph
of anyone 17 years of age or younger is child pornography. On November 7, 1986,
the U.S. Congress enacted the Child Sexual Abuse and Pornography Act (U.S. Code
: Title 18, Section 2251-2256) that banned the production and use of
advertisements for child pornography and included a provision for civil remedies
of personal injuries suffered by a minor who is a victim. It also raised the
minimum sentences for repeat offenders from imprisonment of not less than two
years to imprisonment of not less than five years. On November 18, 1988, the
U.S. Congress enacted the Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act (U.S.
Code : Title 18, Section 2251-2256) that made it unlawful to use a computer to
transmit advertisements or visual depictions of child pornography and it
prohibited the buying, selling, or otherwise obtaining temporary custody or
control of children for the purpose of producing child pornography. On November
29, 1990, the U.S. Congress enacted US Code : Title 18, Section 2252 making it a
federal crime to possess three or more depictions of child pornography that were
mailed or shipped in interstate or foreign commerce or that were produced using
materials that were mailed or shipped by any means, including by computer. With
the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, it is a federal crime for
anyone using the mail, interstate or foreign commerce, to persuade, induce, or
entice any individual younger than the age of 18 to engage in any sexual act for
which the person may be criminally prosecuted. The Child Pornography Prevention
Act of 1996 amends the definition of child pornography to include that which
actually depicts the sexual conduct of real minor children and that which
appears to be a depiction of a minor engaging in sexual conduct. Computer,
photographic, and photocopy technology is amazingly competent at creating and
altering images that have been "morphed" to look like children even
though those photographed may have actually been adults. People who alter
pornographic images to look like children can now be prosecuted under the law.
Abstracts for these laws can be found at
The current legislation in place at the federal and state level clearly defines
child pornography, and the standard sentencing for offenders. It also clearly
defines a minor and what activity involving a minor is illegal. What the
legislation does not do is set the standards for retreival of evidence from an
electronic device, namely computers. Also, the current legislation does not set
standards for decrypting child pornography that is protected. One example is the
use of Steganography. Steganography uses a bitstream algorithm to hide
information in the form of raw binary code within other files suitable to hold
information. The most commonly used form of Steganography uses the least
significant bit of a bitmap image to store virtually any type of information.
Every three bytes in a bitmap file represents a pixel. Each of these bytes
represents a level of red, blue or green. Since there are eight bits in a byte,
there can be up to 256 different combinations of 1's and 0's in a single byte.
In the case of a bitmap, each unique combination of 1's and 0's represents a
level of red, blue or green. When the colors are combined, there is the
possibility of 256^3 or 4,294,967,296 different colors. In order to hide
information within a bitmap file, the file in which you want to hide must be
copied bit for bit into the last bit of each byte in the bitmap file. This will
change each pixel of the bitmap file at the most by 1 / 2,097,152, depending on
whether the bit being copied is the same as the bit it is replacing. Since the
human eye can only physically distinguish between an average of 250 different
colors, a difference of 1 / 2,097,152 is indistinguishable. Since only one bit
of the target bitmap is being used to store information, the source file can at
most be 1/8 of the size of the target file. In the case of a bitmap, a high
resolution picture can easily hold a lower resolution picture that may contain
child pornography. Legally, if a bitmap image is found to contain a hidden image
using steganography, there is no legal procedure for extracting that evidence
for a court case. The prosecution would have to somehow explain how
steganography works to a jury, and to the judge, and would have to prove in some
way that the information found did in fact come from that bitmap file.
Currently, evidence found in this manner is inadmissible in court because there
is no legislation dealing with this type of evidence. Also, there is no standard
approved software that will decode these files. There are several software
programs readily available on the internet which will encode or decode
information using the least significant bit algorithm. One example is called
Hide and Seek. Anyone can obtain this software free of charge, making it easy
for child pornographers to hide their work. Another problem is illicit material
that is stored on a remote computer. If the perpetrator of child pornography
does not own the computer that the material is stored on, it would be difficult
for law enforcement officials to obtain a warrant to search a third party's
computer. Also, there is currently no legislation that defines what space an a
machine belongs to a specific do.
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