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Senators OK $1 Billion for Online Child Porn Fight 529

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the blinded-by-the-children dept.
A bill that could allocate more than $1 billion over the next eight years to combat those who trade in child pornography has been unanimously approved by a Senate panel. "The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday voted to send an amended version of the Combating Child Exploitation Act, chiefly sponsored by Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), to the full slate of politicians for a vote. [...] An amendment adopted Thursday also adds new sections to the original bill that would rewrite existing child pornography laws. One section is designed to make it clear that live Webcam broadcasts of child abuse are illegal, which the bill's authors argue is an "open question." Another change is aimed at closing another perceived loophole, prohibiting digital alteration of an innocent image of a child so that sexually explicit activity is instead depicted."
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Senators OK $1 Billion for Online Child Porn Fight

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  • thought crime (Score:5, Insightful)

    by opencity (582224) on Friday May 16, 2008 @04:32PM (#23439492) Homepage
    a billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you're talking about real money

    > "Another change is aimed at closing another perceived loophole, prohibiting digital alteration of an innocent image of a child so that sexually explicit activity is instead depicted."

    So it's the image that would be illegal as well as the act.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by AxemRed (755470)
      a billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you're talking about real money

      Sadly, you would think that $1 billion IS real money. Sadly, our government doesn't always see it that way...
    • Re:thought crime (Score:5, Interesting)

      by moderatorrater (1095745) on Friday May 16, 2008 @04:36PM (#23439556)

      So it's the image that would be illegal as well as the act.
      Yes, yes it would be. As it stands they prosecute people who have the image but didn't commit the act. Those who seek sexual gratification from these images are likely the ones who are going to pursue the actual act in the future, or so goes the reasoning.

      What I find interesting about that is that a similar law was struck down in the supreme court a few years back. I'm surprised they'd pass a law so similar, seeing as how it's likely to get struck down in the future. Does anyone know what the differences are between this one and the one that was struck down?
      • Re:thought crime (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 16, 2008 @04:40PM (#23439636)
        Does anyone know what the differences are between this one and the one that was struck down?

        This one makes it illegal and throws money at various corporations and government departments, the last one just made it illegal.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 16, 2008 @06:06PM (#23440676)
          There were some precedent-setting cases prior to 2003 in which digital child porn, cartoon child porn, or any other kind of porn that did not involve real children in any way, was found to be legal (or rather, the laws that made it illegal were found to be unconstitutional).

          The protect act of 2003 explicitly made cartoon images, sculptures, or fictitious written accounts, of children performing sexual activities illegal.

          There was a case in 2004 (can't remember the details offhand) in which a person was convicted for owning cartoon child porn. That case did not go all the way up to the supreme court, however.

          So, it seems to me that the issue is still kind of muddy. There are obviously strong opinions on both sides, and proponents of these opinions will continue to throw more legislation at it, so I expect that the door will swing back and forth, and the issue will remain muddy, indefinitely.

          One thing is clear, however: this is a freedom vs security issue.

          • by Original Replica (908688) on Friday May 16, 2008 @07:07PM (#23441202) Journal
            There was a case in 2004 (can't remember the details offhand) in which a person was convicted for owning cartoon child porn.

            So they had an anime/hentai collection? Seriously, most of the main characters in anime are high school age (read: under 18), and there are frequently purposefully erotic scenes (if not tentacle rape) Does this mean that everyone with a Sailor Moon DVD is open to prosecution for child porn?
            • by MikeBabcock (65886) <mtb-slashdot@mikebabcock.ca> on Saturday May 17, 2008 @12:23AM (#23443244) Homepage Journal
              If its an import, definitely :-)

              Consider a recent book that won prizes in Canada for its depiction of a kidnapper who believes he's in love with the little girl he has confined. It is an excellent piece of literature, but you wouldn't want it on your shelf if you live in a country where mere depictions of acts are illegal, no matter their intent, or the actual safety of children.

              PS, I've heard it said a few times on the radio and elsewhere that there is no good evidence to show that the viewing of child pornography in any way leads to or is even indicative of the desire to abuse actual children, not that anyone in the Senate would stand up and oppose a child safety act.
          • by cayenne8 (626475) on Friday May 16, 2008 @09:03PM (#23442172) Homepage Journal
            "There were some precedent-setting cases prior to 2003 in which digital child porn, cartoon child porn, or any other kind of porn that did not involve real children in any way, was found to be legal (or rather, the laws that made it illegal were found to be unconstitutional). The protect act of 2003 explicitly made cartoon images, sculptures, or fictitious written accounts, of children performing sexual activities illegal. There was a case in 2004 (can't remember the details offhand) in which a person was convicted for owning cartoon child porn. That case did not go all the way up to the supreme court, however."

            I guess we can't see movies any more like Fast Times At Ridgemont High [wikipedia.org] since they portray onscreen underage sex.....well, at least we got to see Phoebe Cates back in the good old days....

            :-)

      • Re:thought crime (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 16, 2008 @04:41PM (#23439646)
        It doesn't matter if it sticks or gets struck down. By doing this they LOOK like they are doing something useful and thats all it's really mean to accomplish.
        • Re:thought crime (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Original Replica (908688) on Friday May 16, 2008 @07:42PM (#23441488) Journal
          It doesn't matter if it sticks or gets struck down.

          Until the next election when absolutely no congressmen want to face ads that say "Senator X voted AGAINST a bill to stop child pornography". Based on that alone, this bill could be 100% pure pork-barrel with an extra one billion in earmarks added on and it would still pass.
          • Re:thought crime (Score:4, Insightful)

            by dgatwood (11270) on Saturday May 17, 2008 @02:47AM (#23443870) Journal

            Ding ding ding! Now you're getting the picture. Congress passes a bill that can't possibly do any good, all so that they can throw truckloads of money at their friends in the name of "protecting children". This is a prime example of why we need the federal budget process to be a lot more transparent and need laws that limit the ability to attach riders to legislation.

            Frankly, this bill appears to be up to its neck in bullshit. When laws were about protecting children, those were okay, and most people wouldn't disagree with them. This bill, though, crosses a lot of lines. First, they start going after fake porn that includes pictures of children. Okay, I suppose you could argue that this protects children from having their pictures used and being humiliated when other people see them and believe that they were abused. Certainly not nearly as bad as actually being abused, but I can still see that as reasonable to protect against. That said, this screams "civil lawsuit" to me if it is really bad enough to warrant it. It certainly does not seem "ten years in jail" serious or whatever.

            Perhaps more importantly, the first time they go after somebody who took an old childhood picture of a consenting adult and modified it in that way, the law suddenly and clearly crosses a legal line from protecting children to protecting the idea of children. That's where the law crosses the line from merely being questionable right into crackpot pork barrel bullshit territory.

            And even in the case of pictures of children "altered", the big question that arises is where you draw the line. Does every teenager who does a pasteup of an underage girl's head on a naked model's body go to jail? Technically speaking, that violates the description I've seen of this law. What about the kid who draws red nipples onto a girl wearing a white cotton T-shirt as though they were showing through and then posts that picture on the wall at school? It is clearly an altered photo of a child that has been converted into pornography, so obviously the kid who posted it must be a sexual deviant who should spend twenty years behind bars.... Crackpot bullshit territory again. Why don't we just arrest everyone who has ever drawn a moustache on a girl's photo and posted it. After all, that's equally humiliating. Let's just legislate morality and proper manners. If a kid can't behave like a proper adult, we should lock them up for life. Why not? Perhaps because this, too, is crackpot bullshit?

            As for the so-called open question of whether profiting from a live webcam broadcast of child abuse is legal, no it isn't an open question. You cannot profit from a crime, and child abuse is a crime. Every case where someone was not allowed to profit from books about a crime should be ample proof of that. The legality of a live webcam of child abuse is about as much of an open question as whether the sky is blue or the sun is yellow. If you want to get really pedantic, you might argue that the sky is clear and merely scatters light unevenly, or that the sun consists of a broad range of light frequencies, but in practical terms, your argument either way is nothing more than a bunch of hot air.

            We don't need more laws on the book that declare things that are already illegal to be illegal. We have orders of magnitude too many laws on the books already. The way I see it, if God thought ten were enough, we sure don't need hundreds of thousands. :-) We need to get rid of archaic laws, not add lots more useless ones that just clutter the books and waste the courts' time and energy. We should save the courts for extraordinary problems, not use them as the first resort for every little minor infraction, and in my assessment, the latter is much more likely to occur than the former if such a foolhardy law passes.

            Senator Biden, quit wasting everyone's time with this crackpot bullshit and spend that money to actually help the children---reducing our national deficit so our children don't ha

          • Re:thought crime (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Iamthecheese (1264298) on Saturday May 17, 2008 @03:08AM (#23443914)
            Can we get the parent one more mod point, please? Lives will be ruined, money wasted, freedom lost because of the mindless fear attached by media to the words "child porn". Like drugs, it is pollitically impossible to be rational about these things.
      • Re:thought crime (Score:4, Insightful)

        by PitaBred (632671) <<slashdot> <at> <pitabred.dyndns.org>> on Friday May 16, 2008 @04:41PM (#23439648) Homepage
        And black people are more prone to rob a store or do drugs than white people (if you think the prison populations are a good indicator). Let's just proactively lock them up, too.
        • That arguments ridiculous. There's nothing inherent in being black that makes them more likely to commit crimes, the root cause is in society and culture. Also, they don't actively seek out being black, whereas you're not born with a thumb drive full of kiddie porn. This is closer to speeding laws, where a certain behavior hasn't harmed someone else yet, but it's increasing the probability of you hurting someone in the future.

          Besides, these people aren't just being put into prison because they might ab
          • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 16, 2008 @05:11PM (#23440072)
            God i hate that old CS Lewis line.

            A witch hunt is generally defined, in it's normal emotive context, by the prosecution and identification of witches with a complete and utter lack of regard for any standards of evidence, justice, fairness or internal consistency.

            It reminds me of the old monty python skit.

            (I paraphrase from memory)


            She's a witch!
            how do you know?
            Because she burns!
            What else do we burn?
            Wood!
            So she is made of wood!
            Yes, and wood floats!
            aha! what else floats?
            ducks!
            Yes! Therefore witches are lighter than ducks!
            (puts the witch on a broken scale which shows she is lighter than a duck)
            Burn her!!!


            What is child porn exactly?

            Most attorneys will tell you that in most US states, that question is nonsensical when you approach the "border line".

            It used to be defined (the first child porn laws came about in 1976, before which it was entirely legal in every way).... that child porn was a child "engaged in sexual contact". That was very shortly later amended to "or showing obvious arousal".

            That's a pretty simple definition and the border-cases are rare.

            But today, child porn in most states is defined as

            "any image of a child, or someone appearing to be a child (or fictionally created to represent a child) which is viewed with the intent to cause arousal or sexual satisfaction"

            There are a number of men in prison for things like.... owning a collection of boys underwear catalogs. Or taking photos of girls in bathing suits.

            What it comes down to, and the issue that I have with these laws, is that it is impossible to know whether you are possessing child pornography BEFORE the jury reaches a verdict.

            In fact, a given image can both be simultaneously porn and not-porn depending on who is looking at it.

            In fact, the jury is instructed to divine the "intent" of the viewer of the image, often years after the actual "viewing" took place.

            Obviously, there are plenty of cases with dudes downloading videos of 5 year olds being penetrated and I guess there's no argument in that case, but the cultural climate which allows laws that allow statements to enter a US court room such as "jury divined intent", "illegal fiction" and "simultaneous porn and not-porn" are the sort of things that lead us hand-in-hand toward the collapse of our fundamental structures of justice and freedom.

            The fact that laws are allowed with these sorts of phrases are a travesty to our judicial and government systems and represent a black-eye to the framing of the constitution and modern law.

            That's just my opinion, but I'm sticking to it.
            • by Chris Hansen (1290940) on Friday May 16, 2008 @07:42PM (#23441494)
              Why don't you have a seat right over there?
            • But today, child porn in most states is defined as

              "any image of a child, or someone appearing to be a child (or fictionally created to represent a child) which is viewed with the intent to cause arousal or sexual satisfaction"

              Wow... that would be very troubling with so many ambiguous cartoons / mangas (okay, hentai).

              I looked it up with Google, and here's what Cornell has to say about it:
              http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/18/2256.html [cornell.edu]

              (8) "child pornography" means any visual depiction, including any photograph, film, video, picture, or computer or computer-generated image or picture, whether made or produced by electronic, mechanical, or other means, of sexually explicit conduct, where--
              (A) the production of such visual depiction involves the use of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct;

              (B) such visual depiction is a digital image, computer image, or computer-generated image that is, or is indistinguishable from, that of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct; or

              (C) such visual depiction has been created, adapted, or modified to appear that an identifiable minor is engaging in sexually explicit conduct.

              (9) "identifiable minor"--

              (A) means a person-- (i)

              (I) who was a minor at the time the visual depiction was created, adapted, or modified; or

              (II) whose image as a minor was used in creating, adapting, or modifying the visual depiction; and

              (ii) who is recognizable as an actual person by the person's face, likeness, or other distinguishing characteristic, such as a unique birthmark or other recognizable feature; and

              (B) shall not be construed to require proof of the actual identity of the identifiable minor. (10) "graphic", when used with respect to a depiction of sexually explicit conduct, means that a viewer can observe any part of the genitals or pubic area of any depicted person or animal during any part of the time that the sexually explicit conduct is being depicted; and

              (11) the term "indistinguishable" used with respect to a depiction, means virtually indistinguishable, in that the depiction is such that an ordinary person viewing the depiction would conclude that the depiction is of an actual minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

              This definition does not apply to depictions that are drawings, cartoons, sculptures, or paintings depicting minors or adults.

              It's the US code, which I don't know how it works in the US, but state laws take precedence over it? Or it's a diferent jury, prision, sentence, etc? Apparently it's not illegal (whether it's amoral or unethical is another matter)

              "Supreme Court strikes down ban on 'virtual child porn'":

          • by wattrlz (1162603) on Friday May 16, 2008 @05:19PM (#23440158)

            There are certain crimes which are so emotionally charged people will vehemently support lawmakers going to any length to prevent them. Going back to the speeding - What percentage of speeders are in fatal collisions? I don't remember exactly, but it's less than 1, yet still it's probably the most prosecuted crime in the US.

            What percentage of people who possess child porn actually paid for it, thus supporting the child-pr0n industry? What percentage of those in possession of child porn eventually decide to go out and abuse children? I'm hypothesizing it's not a great number, but I would appreciate it if anybody with hard facts on the issue could confirm or disprove. Even so, many parents appear to feel it's the biggest threat their children face and no price is too high if it reduces the risk one iota.

            • by Sancho (17056) * on Friday May 16, 2008 @06:21PM (#23440830) Homepage

              What percentage of speeders are in fatal collisions? I don't remember exactly, but it's less than 1, yet still it's probably the most prosecuted crime in the US.
              Well, it's low-hanging fruit. Almost no investigative work is required to handle moving violations. It's also one of the most commonly violated offenses on the books. If there were a way to accurately measure instances of speeding, I'd venture to guess that despite being enforced frequently, the percentage of speeders who are ticketed is extremely low.

              Of course, being a revenue stream for the city doesn't hurt, either.

              What percentage of people who possess child porn actually paid for it, thus supporting the child-pr0n industry?
              Probably very few, but I don't really know.

              What percentage of those in possession of child porn eventually decide to go out and abuse children?
              There's a high correlation between abusers and child porn owners, but no known causation that I'm aware of.

              Even so, many parents appear to feel it's the biggest threat their children face and no price is too high if it reduces the risk one iota.
              One of the benefits of a democratic republic like ours is that the leaders can decide to ignore their constituents when their constituents are wrong. One of the drawbacks is that the career politicians can't do this without risking losing their jobs.

              Keep in mind that people, in general, are stupid. They are often incapable of overriding emotional response with rational thought. It's sad, but even if you came out with hard statistics that showed no causation, parents would probably still riot in the streets if politicians went soft on child porn.
              • by MasaMuneCyrus (779918) on Friday May 16, 2008 @09:10PM (#23442218)
                Might I add that Japan has one of the lowest child abuse rates in the world, but lolicon is available quite freely. Viewing images of fake children and fucking a toddler are unrelated, just as pro Counter-Strike players playing Counter-Strike everyday doesn't lead them to go out, buy sub-machine guns, and kill people.
            • by Kjella (173770) on Friday May 16, 2008 @09:10PM (#23442216) Homepage

              What percentage of people who possess child porn actually paid for it, thus supporting the child-pr0n industry?
              I would imagine quite few, since money is quite tracable (unless we're talking cash in envelope, and even then you have to know where to send it). You're making the assumption that money is the only thing to drive demand. Imagine instead a barter economy - someone has child porn, someone else wants child porn. They're told "trade me some of yours" and if they don't have anything or the one they're trading with already have it, then what? There's an innate pressure to that kind of economy to produce because it would essentially be like printing free money. Things everybody have would have nearly no "value", while the more exclusive the more valuable. Obviously anything you produce yourself would be the most unique and valuable since noone else has it. I don't know how much of that is reality, but as a thought experiment it's certainly not hard to imagine non-monetary incentives.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Scrameustache (459504)

            That arguments ridiculous. There's nothing inherent in being black that makes them more likely to commit crimes, the root cause is in society and culture. Also, they don't actively seek out being black

            Those rap CDs and rims are dropped by the stork. There are no black churches, no black hair salons, it's not a cultural thing at all. /sarcasm

            This is closer to speeding laws, where a certain behavior hasn't harmed someone else yet, but it's increasing the probability of you hurting someone in the future.

            Speeding laws are not about safety [sfgate.com], they are about revenue.

            The safety bit is FUD, rhetoric meant to manufacture consent with the revenue stream.

            Besides, these people aren't just being put into prison because they might abuse children, they're actively supporting and distributing these acts to other people.

            So it's not because they might do something bad, it's because they might cause someone else to maybe do the bad thing?

            Putting someone in jail for kiddie porn is completely reasonable to me,

            You have accepted the rationalizations.
            I'd send them to a shrink, give 'em a stern lecture about the co

          • by Brian Ribbon (986353) on Friday May 16, 2008 @06:45PM (#23441038) Journal

            "That arguments ridiculous. There's nothing inherent in being black that makes them more likely to commit crimes, the root cause is in society and culture.


            Paedophiles aren't inherently driven to commit crimes, because most of us have restraint. I like the idea of having sex with young boys, but I don't go out and do that for the same reasons that you don't rape women.

            "Those who seek sexual gratification from these images are likely the ones who are going to pursue the actual act in the future, or so goes the reasoning."


            As far as child pornography is concerned.. a few months ago, I was staying in a country where accessing child pornography is not a criminal offence. At the time, it was not illegal to act contrary to my home jurisdiction's laws abroad (unless the act also constituted an offence in the foreign jurisdiction). While I was in the foreign jurisdiction, I bought a hard drive to use only in said foreign jurisdiction. I was legally able to browse without restriction (although the cache etc had to be disabled due to the strange laws of the foreign jurisdiction). Although there was virtually no "pornographic child pornography" to be found on the internet, it was possible to find a lot of posed images which would be illegal if I'd viewed them in my home jurisdiction.

            And I can still control myself around children....

            "Besides, these people aren't just being put into prison because they might abuse children, they're actively supporting and distributing these acts to other people."


            The problem with applying the "supply and demand" theory to people who possess but don't purchase child pornography is that they are not contributing to demand, because the supplier is not interested in producing images for people who are effectively "stealing" them by viewing them for free, for the same reasons that artists don't record music for people downloading it from file sharing networks. Supply and demand is an economic theory - a buyer-seller relationship - which applies to commercial sale, not products being used for free. Producers of any material do not want their material to be used freely, so an increased interest in freely available pornography is going to harm them. People will be less likely to purchase child pornography if viewing freely available child pornography is legalised, as viewing freely available child pornography will become the safe and legal option. Production of child pornography will therefore fall because of a lack of demand, meaning that less children will be abused by child pornographers.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by ultranova (717540)

            Also, they don't actively seek out being black, whereas you're not born with a thumb drive full of kiddie porn.

            I doubt that anyone seeked out being a pedophile, either. What you're attracted to is just as much a part of you than your skin color; perhaps even more, since skin color is skin deep, while attraction is part of your mental makeup - your soul, to risk a religious flamewar.

            This is closer to speeding laws, where a certain behavior hasn't harmed someone else yet, but it's increasing the probabi

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by arth1 (260657)

            Besides, these people aren't just being put into prison because they might abuse children, they're actively supporting and distributing these acts to other people.

            How is altering an innocent image so it becomes sexual in nature actively supporting child abuse? This is explicitly made illegal with this new law.

            It seems rather clear to me that due to the strong feelings about the subject, we are not targetting the abusers, but anyone with a desire. That, I feel is completely wrong on many levels. Not the l

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by cayenne8 (626475)
            "Besides, these people aren't just being put into prison because they might abuse children, they're actively supporting and distributing these acts to other people. Putting someone in jail for kiddie porn is completely reasonable to me"

            I really hate acting as devils advocate for this...BUT, what if said images are computer generated, NO real kids abused? Where is the harm in that?

            I don't think that there has been any study conclusively showing that viewing kiddie pr0N causes you to commit the real act in

      • Re:thought crime (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SpecBear (769433) on Friday May 16, 2008 @04:46PM (#23439730)
        Given the frequency with which this has been attempted and failed over the years, I've come to the conclusion that Congress WANTS these laws to be challenged and struck down.

        If it becomes a matter for the courts, then it's something that can be dragged on for years, repeatedly used as a diversion, and perhaps even used in a campaign. And when it fails, they can try again and again paint themselves as Tireless Protectors of the Children.
        • Voter Exploitation (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Jafafa Hots (580169) on Friday May 16, 2008 @04:59PM (#23439926) Homepage Journal
          They don't give a shit if it fails, they don't even give a shit if it is signed into law in the first place.

          All that's important to them is a nice headline like this one during an election year. Beats doing any REAL work. Oversight? Investigations? Fuck that, that's hard work. Budgets? Infrastructure appropriations? Screw that, makes voters yawn.

          It's just a BS game, happens every election year. Voter Exploitation. "Fighting Child Abuse" gets more votes than fighting executive abuse of power.

      • Re:thought crime (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) on Friday May 16, 2008 @04:55PM (#23439852)
        My question is how do they prove that the person in the picture is a minor (yes I know that in extreme cases it's easy). I dated a very tiny girl a few years ago. She was 22 and yet still got carded every time we went out, even got stopped by the cops once wondering why she wasn't in high school. So now are you telling me that some of my mementos from our relationship could now be illegal?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          There's a difference between telling the age of a girl with clothes on by an amateur and telling the age of a naked girl with doctors there pointing at physiological signs that are very reliable (distribution of fat, proportions, etc). That said, I would hope that if there's any doubt at all that the girl would have to be found first so that her age was without question.
      • Re:thought crime (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Scrameustache (459504) on Friday May 16, 2008 @05:44PM (#23440428) Homepage Journal

        Those who seek sexual gratification from these images are likely the ones who are going to pursue the actual act in the future, or so goes the reasoning.
        I'd love to see some science on that assumption someday.
        I kinda feel like it's the exact same reasoning that goes "violent videogames lead to violent people"... which isn't exactly true.
      • Re:thought crime (Score:5, Insightful)

        by NMerriam (15122) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Friday May 16, 2008 @06:02PM (#23440652) Homepage

        As it stands they prosecute people who have the image but didn't commit the act. Those who seek sexual gratification from these images are likely the ones who are going to pursue the actual act in the future, or so goes the reasoning.


        That isn't the reasoning behind the prohibition on possession. We don't jail people because of statistical likelihoods. Possession is illegal because it is considered a continuation and extension of the original crime of sexual abuse, and because (like with drugs) the thought is that if you cut off demand, the suppliers will necessarily abuse fewer children. The legal reasoning has had to show some connection between possession and the actual abuse of children in order to be upheld in most countries with a guarantee of free expression.

        what the differences are between this one and the one that was struck down?


        The previous laws were outlawing pornography involving adults that only pretended or appeared to be underage, and of completely virtual child porn. The law here is about creating virtual child pornography, but using a real minor's identifiable likeness to do so. It's an interesting legal situation since there is no direct sexual abuse anywhere in the chain.
    • Re:thought crime (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Friday May 16, 2008 @04:40PM (#23439624) Journal
      So who are they trying to protect, exactly? I thought the whole rational basis for the prohibition of child pornography is the very legitimate concern over the children that are abused to make it.

      If there is no abuse, and, indeed, no actual children involved, then what the hell is the justification?

      Not to mention the whole, "Whoops I clicked on a non-descriptive link, and my browser cached the imagine and now I'm in jail for kiddie porn" issue.
      • Re:thought crime (Score:5, Insightful)

        by robbblack (995732) on Friday May 16, 2008 @04:56PM (#23439876)

        So who are they trying to protect, exactly?
        Themselves and their ability to get re-elected.
      • Re:thought crime (Score:4, Interesting)

        by bennomatic (691188) on Friday May 16, 2008 @05:23PM (#23440208) Homepage
        It seems to me that maybe this could be covered under an extension to libel laws. If you take a recognizable picture of anyone--say Britney Spears--and modify it such that she looks like she did something she did not (rob a bank, kill John Lennon, have sex with Joe Pornstar) and distribute it, does she have any recourse? If you write a false article as if it were a factual account, she certainly does.

        If indeed people in general are protected, then it seems like double, treble or more damages might be implied if a minor is involved. I'm guessing, although IANAL, that any protections would be civil rather than criminal, but if I had a kid and some sicko (adult or minor) photoshopped it so that my child's recognizable face was doing something suggestive, inappropriate, outright sexual or deviant, I think it would be appropriate for that creator/distributor to have to face some consequences.
      • Re:thought crime (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Chris Burke (6130) on Friday May 16, 2008 @05:25PM (#23440240) Homepage
        So who are they trying to protect, exactly? I thought the whole rational basis for the prohibition of child pornography is the very legitimate concern over the children that are abused to make it.

        If there is no abuse, and, indeed, no actual children involved, then what the hell is the justification?


        Well there are actual children involved, the ones whose photos are used to create the faux-porn. Instead of the child being directly abused, it's their image that is being abused. We already have laws regarding using someone's likeness without their consent, your face is considered something you own and its unwelcomed use a violation of our privacy, and that's for adults. Think about how you'd feel if you saw your child's picture pasted onto porn, or how the child would feel, and I think there are legitimate, rational issues regarding the child's rights here. That's what we should be trying to protect.

        Now I used the word "abuse" in the last paragraph, but clearly it isn't the same kind of abuse. I don't think the penalties for this form of privacy violation should match those of child rape or having recordings of child rape. We should be vigilant protecting a child's rights, but not with same force with which we protect their person.

        The question is: while I agree in some ways with the intent of the law, can I expect that it will actually be sanely written? Or is this simply going to broaden the brush with which the color "sex offender" is painted? I don't know, haven't read the law, but I'm going to go out on a limb and guess the latter.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 16, 2008 @05:36PM (#23440362)
        There is a concept trotted out by law enforcement now and then that when a child is viewed in a sexual content, that child is "victimized by proxy".

        This is most frequently used when discussing "real" (obvious) child porn.

        They state that the viewing of porn (even child porn made back when it was legal to make without distribution of any kind) constitutes a "re-victimization" of the person in the image.

        This is so they can get around the shady and un-proven idea that porn somehow leads to rape (or child porn leads to child rape), which is the original justification behind the laws.... but that nobody can admit because it's a flawed, emotive argument.

        In fact, the real reason for these laws is that most people find pedophiles iicky and it makes their skin crawl to think that someone get a boner while thinking about their kid. Frankly, it's that personal discomfort that causes people to applaud when our legislator seek out new and creative ways to ensure they aren't allowed to continue being creepy (by thinking those creepy thoughts).

        That is the REAL basis of these laws.
    • Re:thought crime (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Threni (635302) on Friday May 16, 2008 @04:42PM (#23439668)
      > So it's the image that would be illegal as well as the act.

      It could be worse. In the UK our moral guardians are trying to protect us from harm by criminalising the writing of descriptions of violent sexual acts. Violent sexual acts between consenting adults, of course, is not illegal under most circumstances (there have been a few cases brought, but generally involving disgusting homosexuals, not us fine upstanding god fearing straight folk), but as soon as you put it into writing you'd be arrested and charged.
    • Re:thought crime (Score:5, Informative)

      by tinkerghost (944862) on Friday May 16, 2008 @04:58PM (#23439902) Homepage

      "Another change is aimed at closing another perceived loophole, prohibiting digital alteration of an innocent image of a child so that sexually explicit activity is instead depicted."

      Um, if I remember correctly, SCOTUS already shot down one law that dealt with 'pseudo' child porn - if it's not a real child doing real porn, it's not child-porn. Of course this is congress, passing good laws is so much harder than 'thinking of the children'.
      The other problem is that they are budgeting $125M/year - but not, evidently, using it to put more FBI into cubicles. It looks like they are throwing the money at whoever promises to solve the problem without adding cops.
  • Revenge? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 16, 2008 @04:33PM (#23439506)
    So some bored kid using photoshop to cut a kid he hates head onto gay pron is going to be committing child porn crimes..... Damn revenge is getting harder every year
  • Oh My, (Score:5, Funny)

    by Gat0r30y (957941) on Friday May 16, 2008 @04:33PM (#23439508) Homepage Journal
    My initial reading of the title left off the "Fight" part - anyone else?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 16, 2008 @04:35PM (#23439544)

    prohibiting digital alteration of an innocent image of a child so that sexually explicit activity is instead depicted."

    As repugnant as child pornography is, this seems to be overstepping the realm of protecting children. Why should the alteration of an image, even to a repugnant end, be illegal? Possession of child porn is illegal, so it's in the interest of the "alterer" not to create fake child porn. I know we find it morally reprehensible, but there is no harm coming to anyone in and of the act of alteration itself. This seems a tad intrusive, and an undesirable precedent if nothing else.

    • by Jafafa Hots (580169) on Friday May 16, 2008 @04:43PM (#23439684) Homepage Journal
      You haven't heard? The photoshopping of cocks into where ice cream cones used to be is a huge national problem!

      I mean, it's not like there's a war on, or an economic problem, or anything else worth doing right now...

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by veganboyjosh (896761)
        Speaking of cocks and ice cream cones...

        I don't recall where I saw it, perhaps someone here will have a link...but some web forum(s) out there has artwork by users where they make porn "Safe for work" by painting over the naughty bits in creative ways...lots of porn star girls singing into microphones, eating ice cream cones, etc. Some funny stuff. Google "making porn safe for work", and you're bound to come across some of it.
    • by Ohio Calvinist (895750) on Friday May 16, 2008 @05:22PM (#23440182)
      I'm of the thought that it should be illegal to photoshop a picture of any person for any reason, without their express consent (with exception for obvious satire). I'm not a legal expert, but I was under the impression this is what Model Releases were for. It seems to me like a logical line in the sand for the 21st century addition to libel. (As it is no different from printing that I perform an illegal act such as smoking marijuana as it is to photoshop a joint in my mouth where a cigar was IRL that caused me to loose my job.)

      Given that a minor can't sign a model release, there would already be no legal avenue to take a benign photo of a minor and make pornography of it. If the model is over 18 and gives consent, it is already legal in the US to make her "look younger" than she really is.
    • by NMerriam (15122) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Friday May 16, 2008 @05:35PM (#23440342) Homepage
      The Supreme Court has previously said (ie in Ashcroft v. The Free Speech Coalition) that unless there is real child being used to create porn, it's a simple matter of free speech.

      Certainly it would be easy to imagine a case where you could use the face of an underage public figure to make a clear political or social commentary (I'm not saying it would be tasteful, just very possible). I'm not so sure that you could make such a case for private individuals. One issue would be for the courts to decide if such a use would really be considered true child pornography rather than simply a case of defamation or something similar.

      One major factor that jumps to mind is that in creating the fake child porn, you aren't directly causing any damage to the victim, it's only through distribution that the victim is harmed (or even aware something has happened!). But child porn is illegal to create or possess, which would mean people looking at major felonies for a victimless crime if they simply created images for their own use and never distributed them. I can't see the court endorsing that. Without distribution of the images, we seem to be close to the realm of thought crimes, but with distribution it would be a very interesting case to see argued.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      As repugnant as child pornography is, this seems to be overstepping the realm of protecting children. Why should the alteration of an image, even to a repugnant end, be illegal? Possession of child porn is illegal, so it's in the interest of the "alterer" not to create fake child porn. I know we find it morally reprehensible, but there is no harm coming to anyone in and of the act of alteration itself. This seems a tad intrusive, and an undesirable precedent if nothing else.

      Let's try a thought experiment. Pornographer #1 hides a camera, and manages to get a photo of a child masturbating. He distributes this.

      Pornographer #2 is not so lucky. All he gets is photos of children clothed, not doing anything sexual, so uses his 'leet Photoshop skills to fix them.

      Neither pornographer, in producing their photograph, has harmed his subjects. The harm comes from when the photographs are distributed. In the case of pornographer #1, the photo displays child #1 in a way that will

      • by QCompson (675963) on Saturday May 17, 2008 @12:28AM (#23443274)

        Let's try a thought experiment.
        Sigh. Yes, lets.

        Neither pornographer, in producing their photograph, has harmed his subjects. The harm comes from when the photographs are distributed. In the case of pornographer #1, the photo displays child #1 in a way that will cause great embarrassment, and could subject the child to ridicule or worse, and I doubt you'll find many people arguing that child porn should be OK to produce as long as the child is merely being spied on performing sexual or erotic acts on their own and don't realize they are being recorded.
        So the worst case scenario in either #1 or #2 is that a child would be subject to embarrassment or ridicule? What do you think an appropriate prison sentence for such a "child pornographer" should be? Currently, under federal law, they would be facing a minimum of five years in prison; many states deal out much harsher sentences. While you ponder that answer, consider how long a person should go to prison for filming a child in a non-sexual embarrassing situation; perhaps filming a child while they are picking their nose and eating their boogers or scratching their ass. Does the presence of sexual activity automatically require an incredibly harsh penalty?

        Basically, appearing in child porn is probably harmful to a child, as long as they are recognizable, even if the photos have been altered somewhat.
        Do you believe this to be true even if the material is never distributed? Or alternatively, what if the material is distributed to a few people but the child is halfway across the world and is never aware of the photo or it's alteration? Is there still harm to the child? Should pornographer #2 still be punished despite this?

        Also, note that if #2 is OK but #1 is not, pornographer #1 is just going to claim when caught that his photos aren't real.
        Put this in another perspective. If I possess a videotape of me murdering someone, but it looks like it may be digitally altered, should I be charged with murder anyway, just in case it might be real? The difference of course, is that videos of murder aren't illegal, but videos of sexual activity with minors is. But the principle still applies. You advocate punishing someone for a crime just in case they may in fact be guilty. It's not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, it's guilt with any semblance of doubt.

        Sad.
  • Uhuh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bsDaemon (87307) on Friday May 16, 2008 @04:35PM (#23439552)
    Because, you know... rebuilding bridges and roads and stuff like that wouldn't be a better use of the money than on combating some fuzzy crime (17 year old makes a tape with her boyfriend and it gets shared? they just molested each other!!! kiddy pr0n!!!), the definition of which seems to keep shifting constantly.

    back in the 80s its like all they talked about was satan worshipers and commies... now its kiddy diddlers and terrorists.

    Meanwhile, the people who aren't doing anything wrong get no attention AT ALL, when we could actually use a thing or two to get done around here, but NOOOOOOOOOOOO... they'll just take our money to go fight Russian criminals through the inner-tubes.
    • by ebuck (585470) on Friday May 16, 2008 @05:02PM (#23439974)
      One billion dollars to fight something we can't consistently or accurately define.

      Assuming there's a thousand of these illegal acts performed this year, that's a million dollars per act. This is nearly 7000 houses that could be bought outright and then given away in my neighborhood.

      What a waste of money. It's nearly $3.32 of every man, woman, and child in the U.S.A (from 2007 population estimates). Somehow I don't think child pornography is so widespread that it requires this kind of money.

      Sure, there will be people saying it's worth $3.32 to know that no child is being molested, but that's not what we're buying here. At best we're buying that people will fight children being exploited; something that we've been paying for already.
  • by Jafafa Hots (580169) on Friday May 16, 2008 @04:37PM (#23439566) Homepage Journal
    ...that something like this would be proposed during an election year?
  • by spazdor (902907) on Friday May 16, 2008 @04:37PM (#23439580)

    prohibiting digital alteration of an innocent image of a child so that sexually explicit activity is instead depicted.


    Whoa there. Photoshopping up child porn is going to be a crime, even if no child abuse occurs?

    I could see if *distributing* such an image was a crime (because of the use of a kid's likeness), but producing it in the first place? If the law says what TFA says it does, this is constitutionally VERY shaky.
    • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Friday May 16, 2008 @04:43PM (#23439678) Homepage Journal
      Yeah, but try being the senator that brings that up in committee. It's going to look great for your re-election campaign when your opponent plasters ads all over the place about how you're pro-kiddy porn and perverts.
      • by spazdor (902907) on Friday May 16, 2008 @04:51PM (#23439816)
        A good argument can be made that ethically-produced child erotica helps pedophiles to live abuse-free lives.

        Others will argue that the porn creates its own market, and might give people creepy sexual appetites that they wouldn't otherwise have.

        Of course this is controversial, but a decent rhetorician should at least be able to argue the former point without sounding like a kiddy fiddler.

        Maybe I'm giving legislators way too much credit.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mweather (1089505)
        That's how the RAVE act got passed after failing repeatedly. They attached it to the Amber Alert bill. You could have attached a rider that legalized crack and it would have passed.
  • One section is designed to make it clear that live Webcam broadcasts of child abuse are illegal, which the bill's authors argue is an "open question." Another change is aimed at closing another perceived loophole, prohibiting digital alteration of an innocent image of a child so that sexually explicit activity is instead depicted.

    In other words, 17 year old highschool kids flashing their boobs on webcams or bored people modifying photos will now have their lives destroyed by these witchunts and blacklists even though they haven't abused anyone at all. Brilliant progress our society is making in the 21st century.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 16, 2008 @04:40PM (#23439628)
    Peter Gibbons: What would you do if you had a billion dollars?
    Senate: I'll tell you what I'd do, man: Online Child Porn Fight.
    Peter Gibbons: That's it? If you had a million dollars, you'd have an online child porn fight?
    Senate: Damn straight. I always wanted to do that, man. And I think if I were a billionaire I could hook that up, too; 'cause child porn fighters dig a dude with money.
    Peter Gibbons: Good point.

  • For the children (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stox (131684) on Friday May 16, 2008 @04:42PM (#23439672) Homepage
    is getting to be the cry of the modern fascist. Are out children really in more danger than they used to be? Is it worth throwing away our freedom and privacy to give them more protection? Does this "protection" actually serve our children's best interests?
  • by PortHaven (242123) on Friday May 16, 2008 @04:44PM (#23439706) Homepage
    How many pedophiles and child porn addicts are there in the USA?

    Okay, let's say there 10,000. We could simply off $100,000 and amnesty (only for viewing not creating or abusing children) for them to turn themselves in to receive help.

    Okay, so maybe there are more than 10,000 in the USA. Let's say there are a 100,000. In which case we could offer them all $10,000.

    Heck, even if there were 1,000,000 we could offer them a $1,000 each. Of course, realize if there are that many in the USA we have a problem because that means 1 in 250 of us are the targets of this.

    ***

    War on Drugs
    War on Terror
    War on Transfats
    War on Child Porn

    Not saying child porn is not insidiously evil. But it seems to be an extremely high ticket price. I'd really like to know how thought out this is.

    Now if this is supposed to be against global child porn. Are we ready to invade Thailand and the rest of Asia in order to stop the child porn industries over there?

     
    • by Brian Ribbon (986353) on Friday May 16, 2008 @05:52PM (#23440528) Journal

      "How many pedophiles [..] are there in the USA?"

      Around 5% of adult males are paedophiles; around 33% of adult men have some attraction to pre-pubescent children. [1] [nfshost.com]

      "Not saying child porn is not insidiously evil."

      See my comment here [slashdot.org].
  • by R2.0 (532027) on Friday May 16, 2008 @04:45PM (#23439720)
    "Another change is aimed at closing another perceived loophole, prohibiting digital alteration of an innocent image of a child so that sexually explicit activity is instead depicted."

    Altering a picture digitally to show a crime being perpetrated on someone is protected under the first amendment - Ask Hollywood. Although some shoot-em-up movies are crimes against taste.
  • 4chan (Score:5, Funny)

    by DeathGod321 (1126621) on Friday May 16, 2008 @04:47PM (#23439760)
    I don't see why this is so hard, all you have to do is take down 4chan.
  • by AxemRed (755470) on Friday May 16, 2008 @04:54PM (#23439848)
    From the article:

    Then they download files--frequently videos, sometimes as long as 20 to 30 minutes, with names like "children kiddy underage illegal.mpg" and much more obscene--to their own machines.

    It doesn't seem like someone would name a file "children kiddy underage illegal.mpg" if they were really trying to share child pornography on a P2P network, especially if they were planning on not getting caught. I mean, that file name tells you nothing about the file other than that it's illegal and involves children. It doesn't even actually mention sex, although I guess it kind of implies it. Although I definitely don't have any first hand experience, I would imagine that pedophiles, like other people, would have specific preferences in their pornography and would want to know at least a little bit about the content before they download a file. I mean, I'm not going to download a file that's simply called "hardcore adult.mpg" when I'm looking for porn. What if it's two dudes? What if it's 2 girls 1 cup? Anyway, the example file name they gave sounds more like a file shared by someone who is trying to catch pedophiles than an actual pedophile trying to share child pornography.
  • What else? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by peipas (809350) on Friday May 16, 2008 @04:59PM (#23439922)
    So what kind of riders will be on this bill? Adding them to a child porn bill is a slam dunk.
  • by Jimmy_B (129296) <slashdot.jimrandomh@org> on Friday May 16, 2008 @05:19PM (#23440162) Homepage
    The problem with child pornography is that it's too easy to frame someone for. Up to a quarter of all computers may be part of botnets (source [bbc.co.uk]). For every compromised computer, there exists a person who could be paid to frame the computer's owner for pedophilia. If we spend a billion dollars on hunting down people with child porn on their computers, we're going to find a lot of people who didn't put it there but can't prove that they didn't. In other words, we will falsely accuse a lot of people, and ruin their lives and reputations. That will be a travesty.
  • by bxwatso (1059160) on Friday May 16, 2008 @05:30PM (#23440304)
    child porn is a very infrequent crime, so $1bln seems like a very large sum to fight it relative to the number of its victims

    Just like the RICO act was used to prosecute pro-life protesters and the Patriot Act has primarily resulted in arrests unrelated to terrorism, this funding will be used to dig up any manner of crime, not just child porn.

    The real title of this bill should be "$1bln to scour the internet for whatever we want and prosecute whatever turns up." Whenever the government says its "for the children," beware.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by cdrguru (88047)
      Infrequent? What rock have you been living under?

      Today, just about all "computer forensic examiners" in the US spend 50-80% of their time on child porn cases. This is well over 10,000 people working for local, state and federal law enforcement. Child porn cases are the #1 workload item for Army CID.

      Yes, this means there is enough work for 10,000 people to spend all day, every day doing nothing but digging out child porn from seized computers.

      I do not know the number of convictions in the last year, but I
      • by slimjim8094 (941042) <slashdot3.justconnected@net> on Friday May 16, 2008 @07:57PM (#23441642)
        I call bullshit.

        You don't have *any* numbers for the first bit.

        Your second bit is also weird. How many CP cases are NOT at the federal level? It's a federal felony, no?

        So a base of 1700. Let's quadruple that and be conservative.

        That's still under 8000 *a year*. Subtract out of that the healthy fraction that aren't really child porn but more 17yo on 17yo sharing between them (they abused each other!!!)

        Also subtract a significant number of people who are parts of botnets... if a botnet is running on your computer, it's almost unprovable that you actually did anything

        You're left with (liberal estimate) 5K cases a year... for $1B?????
  • by The Ultimate Fartkno (756456) on Friday May 16, 2008 @06:19PM (#23440810)
    ...and probably have to change my name afterwards.

    I'm single, and I look at a lot of porn. A *lot*. Nothing too deranged, but let's just say I know my way around the net that you use when you're looking for binaries. In my experience, real child porn is damned hard to find. Jailbait / "lolita" porn that features girls who are post-pubescent and legal in their home countries gets spammed to damned near eve4ry binaries group in existence on a daily basis, but *real* child porn? The kind that really damages kids? I just don't see it. The people who produce it have gone way underground compared to just a few years ago. You used to be able to see some pretty horrifying stuff in every group on any day, but that seems to have been driven out. It seems to me that the billions of dollars that are "needed" to fight "child pornography" are really fear-mongering dollars that we have to spend in an effort to pretend that 16-year-olds are as tingly and curious as *we* were when we were 16. If anything, I think that this whole campaign is making our (US-ian) culture even more damaged and sex-phobic. Do we really need specific legislation to outlaw webcam broadcasts of baby rape? Seriously? How often does that happen, and how is it not covered by existing statutes?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by RPoet (20693)
      In my experience, real child porn is damned hard to find.

      You can't be looking closely. Wikipedia says:

      According to The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and other sources, child pornography is a multi-billion dollar industry and among the fastest growing business segments on the Internet;[3][4][5][6][7][8][9]

      Do we really need specific legislation to outlaw webcam broadcasts of baby rape? Seriously? How often does that happen

      According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited [ncmec.org]

  • by Killer Eye (3711) on Saturday May 17, 2008 @03:09AM (#23443916)
    My company nitpicks about a few thousand in travel costs, because it knows its investors will act if money is spent unnecessarily.

    Then there's the government. It is supposed to work the same way, as an organization that could have its ass handed to it at any moment by its "investors", so it had better do well. Especially since it has WAY more money, and WAY more "shareholders".

    Instead, the government has no fear. It can write a check for a billion dollars, without anywhere near as much scrutiny as a company applies to a stupid plane ticket. You know the people in government haven't done the homework, a billion dollars is just a "nice round number" to make politicians look tough on crime. And if anyone were to stand up and protest this spending, they'd probably be labelled a pornographer themselves and bashed into oblivion. (That reminds me of the equal bull of committing "treason" for opposing any and all military spending.)

    Companies like to encourage employees to help them save, to nickel and dime things, acting "like it's your own money". And ridiculously, I've seen people who put real effort into helping their stupid company, on a scale that is insignificant compared to government spending; while those same people have never lifted a finger to question the government. They give a huge percentage of their money away and don't care what happens to it. What's wrong here?

C makes it easy for you to shoot yourself in the foot. C++ makes that harder, but when you do, it blows away your whole leg. -- Bjarne Stroustrup

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