child pornography

You are currently browsing articles tagged child pornography.

ABC logoMid-morning today I received a phone call from ABC journalist David Mark, who was after a backgrounder on the Tor network the lunchtime current affairs program The World Today. His call brought me the news of what appears to be a significant win in the battle against online child exploitation.

Fourteen arrests were made as part of Operation Round Table, which according to the (American) ABC, was an investigation led by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), US Postal Inspection Service and federal authorities in Louisiana.

The roughly 250 victims were spread across 39 states and five other countries — Australia, Belgium, Britain, Canada and New Zealand. Most were boys between 13 and 15. Two victims were 3 or younger, authorities said.

The pornographic images were shared on an underground website on the Tor network, an online anonymity network that masks the location of servers and conceals an Internet user’s location. The subscription-based website operated from about June 2012 until June 2013, had more than 27,000 members and shared more than 2,000 webcam-captured videos, mostly of young boys, authorities said.

There’s further material in the (Australian) ABC story, Australian victims among 251 identified in ‘members only’ child porn website.

The World Today ran Mark’s four-minute story, including comments from US secretary of homeland security Jeh Johnson, and federal attorney-general for Louisiana Kenneth Polite, as well as my own small contribution.

Play

The audio is of course ©2014 Australian Broadcasting Corporation, served here directly from their website —– where you can also read a full transcript.

If you’d like some more information on how Tor works, and how users’ mistakes can lead to their anonymity being rather less effective than they’d hoped, my Crikey Clarifier: how the FBI hacked users of Tor, the ‘secret internet’ from August 2013 could be a useful starting-point.

My first op-ed for CSO, “The Resource for Data Security Executives”, has just been posted. It’s voluntary ISP-level internet filtering, but a different angle from my Crikey piece earlier today.

After nearly four chaotic years, Australia’s internet filtering scheme is finally coming together in a way that makes sense technically and politically, if not necessarily for effective child protection.

The chaos wasn’t all communications minister Senator Stephen Conroy’s fault. The “clean feed” was announced as Labor policy back in March 2006 by then-leader Kim Beazley. ISPs would filter out the nasties hosted overseas, where they couldn’t be hit with a takedown notice from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

But Conroy’s name was on Labor’s Plan for Cyber-safety published just five days out from the federal election in late 2007, and once in government it was Conroy’s job to explain that plan and sell it to voters. Everyone presumably imagined it’d be a protect-the-kiddies no-brainer.

Problem was, neither the plan not Conroy’s explanations were clear…

As I say, it’s my first outing for CSO, but if all goes according to plan there’ll be more. And in case you’re wondering, CSO is a job title. Chief Security Officer.

Over at Crikey I’ve written a summary of what’s happening with Australia’s internet filter.

Australia’s mandatory internet filtering by internet service providers (ISPs) won’t happen for at least two years. But we’re getting filtering anyway. Voluntarily. By ISPs. Next month…

Telstra and Optus are expected to have their filters ready within weeks, although the situation with Primus is unclear…

The Internet Industry Association (IIA) is also about to release a voluntary industry code that would see an estimated 80% to 90% of Australian internet connections filtered by the Interpol blacklist over the next year. Attempts to access domains on the list would be redirected to an Interpol block page.

Overall, I reckon the process that’s now unfolding could well result in the gvernment’s planned mandatory ISP-level filtering disappearing off the table entirely.

As a bonus link, here’s Interpol’s explanation of their “worst-of” blacklist of child exploitation material.

Australia’s mandatory internet filter is at least two years away, but Telstra and Optus are only weeks from implementing their “voluntary” equivalents. Where are we up to with this controversial issue?

That’s what I covered in yesterday’s Patch Monday podcast for ZDNet Australia. And as I explained on the weekend, I’m returning to my habit of doing a blog post here for each episode.

For this internet filtering update, I spoke with Peter Black, who teaches internet and media law at the Queensland University of Technology; network engineer Mark Newton; and Lyle Shelton, chief of staff for the Australian Christian Lobby.

You can listen below. But it’s probably better for my stats if you listen at ZDNet Australia or subscribe to the RSS feed or subscribe in iTunes.

Since this podcast was recorded, we’ve discovered that Primus isn’t so sure about voluntary filtering any more. They were the third ISP to commit to the plan last year. However the Internet Industry Association (IIA) has said most Australian ISPs will filter via the Interpol list this year.

Previous podcast on this issue covered the meaning of the Refused Classification content category, Senator Conroy’s announcement of the strategy in July 2010, and the apparent fact that parents don’t act on their cybersafety fears.

Please let me know what you think. Comments below. We accept audio comments too. Either Skype to stilgherrian or phone Sydney +61 2 8011 3733.

Photograph of Senator Stephen Conroy

After Senator Stephen Conroy’s disastrous week last week — the ACMA blacklist of banned Internet content leaked and shown to be rubbish, the Classification Board’s website hacked and his damagingly poor performance on Q&A — what next? And what’s Conroy’s exit strategy?

Last month, Greens Senator Scott Ludlam wondered how we can move beyond criticism of the highly-flawed Internet filtering plan:

We’re all in vociferous agreement about what won’t work. But what will? Can this enormously empowered campaign speak with one cogent voice about what we’re for?

How do we empower parents to make the best choices for their families, and law enforcement agencies to prosecute the creators and distributors of the worst material trafficked over the internet?

Is there a way to adequately prepare children to understand other threats such as cyber-bullying, without asphyxiating the greatest information sharing tool in history?

Can we directly challenge the epidemic of sexualised violence against women and children in this country and place the online tip of the iceberg into its proper context?

All very good questions. And as Warwick Rendell points out, this isn’t just an abstract debate.

Read the rest of this entry »

Crikey logo

I’m in Crikey again today with an 800-word essay about the leaking of a secret Internet censorship blacklist — exactly what I’d predicted only on Wednesday.

The article is free to read, but here’s a flavour:

Dear Government, look, I hate to say we told you so, but… we told you so. On Wednesday. The more you try to hide your controversial Internet blacklist, the bigger you make it, the bigger the incentive for someone to leak it.

For money. For political advantage. For the sheer bloody fun of sticking it to The Man. And, yes, maybe someone might even leak it because they’re one of that tiny number of sick bastards who get off on child pornography…

American bank robber “Slick” Willie Sutton was (probably apocryphally) asked why he robbed banks. “Because that’s where the money is.” ACMA compiles a virtual bank vault of nasty websites and hands the keys to the makers of filter software and from there, it’s planned, every ISP in Australia — including many low-margin businesses which, let’s face it, don’t have the security procedures of an ASIO or an MI5. As yesterday’s leak to whisteblower website Wikileaks proves.

I go on to analyse the leaked list — I judge it “a pretty shit piece of work” — and drop in a few thoughts from Greens Senator Scott Ludlam. Enjoy.

I’ll post my 5-minute interview with Senator Ludlam tomorrow morning.

The Australian Christian Lobby’s Jim Wallace is on the Fairfax news sites today, telling the same old lies to support compulsory Internet filtering. Sigh.

Since Wallace promotes himself as a representative of good Christian values, I’ll allow that he may just be ignorant rather than a deliberate liar. Ignorance is no sin: it can be cured with knowledge. But he does use the familiar fraudulent propaganda techniques: misrepresenting his opponents; cherry-picking numbers; failing to explore the implications of those numbers; citing the same suspect Australia Institute report; and wrapping it up in the same old “protect the children” cant.

Those of us who’ve been covering this issue for more than a year now are getting sick of responding to the same easily-rebutted debating tricks. But, as I keep saying, politics is a marathon event. So if Jim’s rolling out the same material, we’ll point out the same flaws.

Again.

Read the rest of this entry »

If you really wanted to protect children from sexual abuse, why would you take money away from the very people who could best stop it? Better ask Kevin Rudd, because that’s exactly what he’s done.

$2.8 million, which the Howard government allocated to expand the Australian Federal Police’s Online Child Sexual Exploitation Team (OCSET), was instead used by Rudd to help create Conroy’s $44.5 million Rabbit-Proof Firewall.

That’s a shame, because OCSET’s entire annual budget in 2007 was only $7.5 million. Without that money, OCSET simply doesn’t have the staff to investigate all of the suspected pedophiles it already knows about. Some cases get palmed off to the states — that is, to police who don’t have the specialist training and experience of OCSET. The rest…?

“Only half are likely to be investigated by child protection police,” reported the Daily Telegraph. “The rest will be farmed out to local commands or dropped”.

What a great way to “protect the children”, eh? Take money from the police, where it’d do some good, and burn it on a poorly-defined Internet filtering project. Anyone who knows anything about IT will tell you the same thing: without clearly-defined goals up front, you will go over budget, over schedule and in all likelihood, your project will never be completed.

[This article is based on material which first appeared in my subscriber-only Crikey piece Another nail in the coffin of Conroy's Rabbit-Proof Firewall on 15 January 2008 2009, and would not have been possible without Irene Graham's superb research at Libertus.net. Another part of it, with some fascinating discussion in the comments, is over here.]

Crikey logo

Third Crikey story this week! Today I returned to that evergreen favourite, the idiocy of the Rudd government’s plans to install ISP-level filters on the Internet.

Alas, the story is currently behind Crikey‘s paywall, but it begins:

Is there anyone who reckons trying to filter bad stuff out of the Internet is the right way to go? Or even possible? Apart, that is, from sex-obsessed panic merchants and moral crusaders, politicians with Senate numbers to count on stubby little fingers, shiny-suited salesmen hawking boxes marked “Rooly-Trooly-Safe Internet Filter”, or cud-munching Luddites who just don’t understand anything about the Internet generally?

Those with a clue are getting sick of pointing out the same policy and technical flaws. But Minister for Denying the Bleeding Obvious Senator Stephen Conroy relentlessly continues his warped version of the trials program set up by Coalition predecessor Helen Coonan.

Filters won’t work because no shut up doesn’t matter let’s try again they don’t work no let’s try again they don’t work let’s try again don’t work try try try try … FFS!

The Rudd government says it’s all about evidence-based policy. Maybe this new report from the US Internet Safety Technical Task Force will help. This panel — a who’s who of Internet heavies — was set up by 49 state Attorneys General to tackle the problem of children being solicited for sex online. It discovered there’s actually no significant problem at all.

You can read the whole thing, if you’re a subscriber or take up the free trial offer, at Another nail in the coffin of Conroy’s Rabbit-Proof Firewall.

My writing must be starting to score some hits, because there’s been two comments today attacking the man and not the ball.

Read the rest of this entry »

Here are the web links I’ve found through to 10 December 2008, posted automatically.

  • #mumbai: three days as a Twitter journalist | News.com.au: The story of 21yo Aditya Sengupta, a Mumbai student who became part of the Twitter clearing house for news in the wake of last week’s terrorist attacks.
  • Adler, The Perverse Law of Child Pornography | The Columbia Law Review: “In our present culture of child abuse, is child pornography law the solution or the problem? My answer is that it is both. This reading pictures law and culture as unwitting partners. Both keep the sexualized child before us. Children and sex become inextricably linked, all while we proclaim the child’s innocence. The sexuality prohibited becomes the sexuality produced.” A challenging read.
  • Prospect reads: first rate, brave Economist article on Thailand at First Drafts | The Prospect magazine blog: This post reveals that The Economist‘s feature article on Thailand was written by Peter Collins, their southeast Asia chief, as his final act before moving back to London.
  • Thailand bans Economist | Straits Times: Needless to say, this week’s edition of The Economist is banned in Thailand, tho not “officially”. “This is one of those ‘cultural harmony’ bans, where the book distributors and stores take it on themselves not to distribute,” says free speech activist C J Hinke.
  • Thailand’s monarchy is part of the problem : The king and them | The Economist: Also from The Economist, a bold editorial calling for Thailand to abolish its “archaic” lèse-majesté law.
  • Thailand, its king and its crisis : A right royal mess | The Economist: The controversial cover story from The Economist this week, breaking the taboo on discussing the role of Thailand’s King in politics. It acknowledges that it’ll make Thais squirm, but it delivers one of the most incisive analyses I have yet seen. A must-read for anyone wanting to understand the Kingdom and the choices it faces.
  • Live Filtering Pilot Another Lab Test: DBCDE | How to Be A Systems Engineer: Can this be true? According to the DBCDE officer this guy spoke with, the Phase 2 trials of Australia’s Internet filtering still won’t be real. “This will be a closed network test and will not involve actual customers,” they said.
  • E-mail Etiquette 101 | Michael Hyatt: This is from mid-2007, and the hyphenated “e-mail” is a bit quaint. However these are all still valid points. I continue to be amazed at how poorly most businesses use basic tools like email.
  • Otto the octopus wrecks havoc | Telegraph: Octopuses are smart enough to get bored and start causing trouble.
  • Rolling Your Own Newsroom | O’Reilly Radar: Robert Passarella explains how he wired up a quick custom new page using Google Reader, Yahoo Pipes and some Typepad RSS widgets. The same thing could easily be dong using WordPress plugins or whatever.
  • World's Top Tourist Traps | ForbesTraveler.com: “Not all overcrowded, merchandise-swollen travel hot spots are created equal, and some deserve to be flagged as full-fledged tourist traps.”
  • Breaking news online: A short history and timeline | Teaching Online Journalism: A quick timeline of some major events in online journalism. I think it should include a lot more. Has anyone seen any more comprehensive lists?
  • Inside Story | Politics, Society and Culture: “Launched in October 2008 by Australian Policy Online, Inside Story combines high-quality journalism and analysis to bring readers a distinctive view of Australia and the world. Drawing on a network of writers, researchers and correspondents in Australia and overseas, Inside Story investigates the forces shaping contemporary politics, society and culture. Inside Story is edited at the Institute for Social Research at Swinburne University of Technology.”
  • Net porn: Whose rights matter most? | ABC News: Clive Hamilton has written another piece which tries to equate free speech with pornography, misrepresents the anti-filtering arguments, and deliberate overlooks that filtering won’t work — he even says he’s ignoring that discussion, claiming we should debate the morality of pornography before we look at whether filtering is possible. Full of intellectual dishonesty. Are these really the best arguments there are for comprehensive Internet censorship?
  • The Art of the Title Sequence: What is says: A website dedicated to the opening titles of films and TV programs. I stumbled across it because they’re currently highlighting Soylent Green.
  • A Penny for My Thoughts? | NYTimes.com: A Pasadena, California news site has outsourced all its local journalism to writers in India, who are paid $7.50 per 1000 words.
  • The Musical Compositions of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej: The King of Thailand is, amongst other things, an accomplished jazz musician, playing alto saxophone and writing. This is a selection of his work.
  • A piddling offence and much worse | www.smh.com.au: “Senator Stephen Conroy’s plotting and warring has added to Labor’s decline,” wrote Paul Sheehan in this revealing 2004 article. “His base certainly isn’t the electorate,” he writes. “His power comes from offstage, from the patronage of his mentor, Senator Robert Ray, and his years as a recruiter (his enemies call it branch-stacking), deal-maker and kneecapper for the Victorian Right. His reward was Senate preselection at the age of 31. Once in the Senate, Conroy could start knifing people under the protection of parliamentary privilege. He did not waste any time.”
  • Sharing Around the World | Facebook: This video showcases a Hackathon project that visualizes all the data Facebook receives.

« Older entries