Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Government Security Your Rights Online

Department of Justice: FBI Too Focused On Child Porn 487

Posted by Soulskill
from the perhaps-not-the-wording-they-would-have-chosen dept.
itwbennett writes "The Department of Justice has issued a scathing report (PDF) on the ineffectiveness of the FBI in investigating and countering cyber attacks. The shortcomings are partly attributed to lack of training and lack of communication, but the biggest issue is the allocation of effort. From the report: 'Overall, we determined that in FY 2009 the FBI used 19 percent of its cyber agents on national security intrusion investigations, 31 percent to address criminal-based intrusions, and 41 percent to investigate online child pornography matters."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Department of Justice: FBI Too Focused On Child Porn

Comments Filter:
  • by SockPuppetOfTheWeek (1910282) on Friday April 29, 2011 @04:00PM (#35978716) Journal

    ...instead of focusing on child pornographers.

  • by PCM2 (4486) on Friday April 29, 2011 @04:02PM (#35978740) Homepage

    The subhead of TFA: "Cyberattacks are at an all time high; FBI spends twice as much effort fighting porn."

    According to the report, though, 41 percent of its effort was spent on child pornography, leaving 59 percent for cyber-attacks. "Twice as much"?

    Also, would you prefer the FBI not go after child porn? I personally think it's a pretty odious thing, and the Internet is making it easier for pedophiles to indulge (where, for example, in the past they might have had to order magazines or videos from shady overseas sources or something). 41 percent of the FBI's effort sounds like a lot -- I'm not sure there's that much child porn out there -- but it's definitely within the FBI's bailiwick.

    TFA seems to argue that the FBI should be doing more to conduct "cyber-warfare" and combat attacks by the Chinese military. But last I heard, the FBI was a law enforcement organization, not a military one. If the CIA wants to run a cyber-war, let it. I'd rather my federal police do what it was created to do: Lock up criminals.

  • Re:Bureaucrats (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sprouticus (1503545) on Friday April 29, 2011 @04:03PM (#35978772)

    ORRRRRR

    someone @ te DoJ realizes that 41% of the resources being used on theoretical pedobears was a waste of money compared to people who could actually hurt the underlying infrastructure and cause millions if not billions of dollars in damage.

    I know its not popular, but pedophiles dont do much harm in the big picture.

  • by countertrolling (1585477) * on Friday April 29, 2011 @04:04PM (#35978778) Journal

    Very easy to falsify, prosecute, and get convictions. People count conviction rates. They don't care what 'crime' it is. It's like the cops spending time issuing speeding tickets, while just up the street somebody's being shot. These people don't serve justice, they serve their department or boss.

  • Low hanging fruit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Friday April 29, 2011 @04:04PM (#35978784) Journal

    Why do all the hard work tracking down serious fraud when you can link a honeypot image on some pervy website, do a reverse DNS lookup, call the ISP, get a warrant, and bust the perp? Easy way to boost your conviction rate, with very little man power, and the people will love you for protecting the children. Plus, you get all the kiddie porn you want... you know, for the investigation.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Friday April 29, 2011 @04:12PM (#35978874) Journal

    The FBI should go after producers of child porn. The ones actually harming the children, not the spectators. Sure, bust the spectators if you happen to catch one anyway. But actively setting up stings to catch people who aren't actively going out and harming children is a bit of a waste.

    I'd really rather have the FBI collecting evidence against Goldman Sachs.

  • Re:Bureaucrats (Score:5, Insightful)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Friday April 29, 2011 @04:14PM (#35978888)
    Moreover, people who view or collect child pornography may do no harm whatsoever. The overwhelming majority of people who watch child pornography are not paying for it, and most of what gets "traded" are old pictures and videos. Some guy who is sitting in his home masturbating to images of child abuse may have some psychological problems, but that in and of itself does not cause harm and it is a waste of law enforcement time and resources to arrest such a person.

    Of course, the FBI has released official statements in the past that promote the idea that, in fact, just by looking at images of child abuse, a person is harming children, even if the children have been rescued and their abusers have been put in prison (unless, one is looking at those images as part of their job as an FBI agent, in which case it is not harmful).
  • by v1 (525388) on Friday April 29, 2011 @04:19PM (#35978948) Homepage Journal

    Tho I agree, playing devil's advocate I'd have to point out they are trying to remove the market for the kiddie porn. Remove the market and the producers will dramatically drop off. Only a minor percentage are paying for it, but there are also a lot more that are funding the producers/distributors indirectly with banner impressions and clicks, and with zip files of KP with botnet/spyware sprinkled in.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 29, 2011 @04:19PM (#35978950)

    >would you prefer the FBI not go after child porn?

    I'm responding as a parent with two young children of my own...

    That depends. if a load of tax payers' dollars are going to be wasted on someone who looks at a picture of child porn - then no, don't waste tax payers' money on it. If you're talking about targeting perpetrators or sellers of child porn, then go your hardest.

    AC

  • Re:Bureaucrats (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 29, 2011 @04:21PM (#35978978)

    Of course, the FBI has released official statements in the past that promote the idea that, in fact, just by looking at images of child abuse, a person is harming children, even if the children have been rescued and their abusers have been put in prison (unless, one is looking at those images as part of their job as an FBI agent, in which case it is not harmful).

    In a sense, they're right.

    If there exists a demand for a good, eventually someone will fill that demand. If there is a "healthy" "market" for child pornography then some people will go out and get fresh product for that market. This is how children are harmed by viewing it.

  • by StillNeedMoreCoffee (123989) on Friday April 29, 2011 @04:22PM (#35978996)

    I think that the identify theft and other breakins as well at the botting of innocent peoples computers for illegal or just monitary purposes is a far larger area of crime. If you look at the statistics of how many child pornographers there are vs, say the theft from Sony of tens of thousands of credit cards. It is not a size nor a severity issue but someones decision that this crime is worse than say stealing all of someones money, or killing them, or kidnapping them. I think this is an ideological aberation from those in the FBI. Methinks they protest too much.

  • by Samedi1971 (194079) on Friday April 29, 2011 @04:23PM (#35979010)

    Tho I agree, playing devil's advocate I'd have to point out they are trying to remove the market for the kiddie porn. Remove the market and the producers will dramatically drop off. Only a minor percentage are paying for it, but there are also a lot more that are funding the producers/distributors indirectly with banner impressions and clicks, and with zip files of KP with botnet/spyware sprinkled in.

    Why not? It's been working so well to shut down the drug trade.

  • by gstoddart (321705) on Friday April 29, 2011 @04:23PM (#35979012) Homepage

    I'm not sure there's that much child porn out there

    I'm sure you'd be horribly wrong.

    When you see some of these news stories about some of these people having hundreds of thousands of images, if not millions, it really must be on a rather large scale.

    About a 15+ years or so ago, back when we all used the alt.binaries.pictures* tree in usenet I stumbled on some. This was before people were largely aware of it, so it was less known and publicized. I reported it, and then felt the need to rinse my brain out with bleach ... I really wish I could get that fully out of my head. It's not something you can 'unsee'. It skeeves me out to think of it, really. If one or two images are seared into my head forever, then I can only pity the poor bastards who have to do this as part of law enforcement. I shudder at having to look through vast quantities of it to try to identify victims or perpetrators.

    I agree that 41% of all of the FBI work done for "cyber" crime for child porn is a huge percentage. But, I don't think I'd want to downplay the scope of it or the damage it does. I guess if people want it to be pursued in that proportion, fine. But, I guess it's like breast cancer vs the other cancers -- everybody focuses on breast cancer, and it proportionally gets a lot more funding.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 29, 2011 @04:26PM (#35979048)

    And prostitution. I think they've just about gotten that one all wrapped up.

  • by hedwards (940851) on Friday April 29, 2011 @04:28PM (#35979060)

    And your point is? By trading it your encouraging it. From what I gather there are definitely places where one would go that operate like the old ratio servers for MP3s.

    Even if it is true that no further harm is being done at that point, the person that's been sexually abused is still being used for such purposes, I wouldn't personally want footage or pics of something like that happening to me or a close relation being distributed. There should be consequences of some sort, and I'm not sure that this is really an appropriate area to make civil rather than criminal.

    The main issue is why they're spending that much time on that rather than other serious crimes and why we still don't have any mens rea requirements for conviction. Convicting the innocent is hardly something that's going to help the survivors of such abuse.

  • Re:Bureaucrats (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nedlohs (1335013) on Friday April 29, 2011 @04:29PM (#35979066)

    So I'm suporting the MPAA by downloading movies from a torrent and watching them?

    Why do they seem to not like it then?

  • Re:Bureaucrats (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cpu6502 (1960974) on Friday April 29, 2011 @04:30PM (#35979084)

    >>>If there is a "healthy" "market" for child pornography then some people will go out and get fresh product for that market. This is how children are harmed by viewing it.

    Your logic is lacking. If it made sense, we should also outlaw:
    - murder photos
    - snuff videos (like animals set on fire)
    - accident scenes
    - and so on. Because the distribution of this material will cause an "industry" of murder to create new photos/films! The horror!!!

    Or not.

    Your logic is flawed. Just like most religious nutcases (think Jim Baker or Pat Robertson). Stop trying to suppress free people from exercising "thoughtcrimes" like pornography, smoking weed, chewing tobacco (sin tax), and so on. Victimless crimes are NOT crimes.

  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Friday April 29, 2011 @04:33PM (#35979122)

    I think the point there is that they can't be sure who is producing and who is trading until they investigate

    Somehow, I doubt this -- the FBI has agents who search for and patrol pedophile forums, and has a large database of known child pornography images. Someone who is producing or is higher in the distribution chain would stand out like a sore thumb when they start posting new material. What is the point in going after someone who is just collecting the images?

    The real problem the FBI faces, as far as I understand it, is that people involved in the production of child pornography are paranoid and technically sophisticated. Unlike the drug trade, which people generally become involved with out of desperation, being a pedophile is a psychological problem that can affect people at various levels of society. Pedophiles actively exchange information on remaining anonymous and avoiding police attention, encrypting evidence, etc. At the higher levels of production and distribution, the paranoia and the operational security measures increase drastically, and it can take many years of work for law enforcement agents to gain access to groups that operate at the highest levels.

    In the end, though, someone still has to post new material on pedophile boards. The FBI should not waste time with people who are reposting the same old images, they should go after the new material. The person who has new material is the person who is connected to sources higher in the distribution chain. I doubt that it would take 41% of the FBI's Internet crime resources to track those people down.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 29, 2011 @04:36PM (#35979156)

    I suspect the following is true: People surfing the net looking for regular porn find a lot of very diverse stuff. There's a huge supply of teen and 'barely legal' stuff and sometimes the difference with real kiddie porn stuff is very small (in the Max Hardcore films, young looking actresses behave like childish school girls, these films are popular). It's unlikely that (many) men's preferences for young girls suddenly stop at 18. They may continue looking for even younger stuff in the illegal channels. There the preference for even younger girls is reaffirmed by masturbating to young girls, and presto you have a pedophile where before there was just a guy interested in teen movies. My point is, the availability of teen and kiddie porn is probably *creating* pedophiles.

    And that, gentlemen, if true, would be a very good reason to try to get kiddie porn off the internet and to make possession and trading illegal.

  • Re:Bureaucrats (Score:3, Insightful)

    by postbigbang (761081) on Friday April 29, 2011 @04:41PM (#35979212)

    But there are victims: kids. Somebody makes these photos, domestically or internationally. The exploitation of children for sexual gratification is plainly evil. Some adults are addicted to it. They need help. By chasing them down, you reduce the harm to children; you may never be able to eliminate it.

    The resources used, if the data is correct however, is way too high of a portion. Porn is otherwise largely a victimless crime, barring child porn, or those held in "white slavery". Not every porn actor did what they did of free will, altho many do.

  • by jewelises (739285) on Friday April 29, 2011 @04:46PM (#35979270)
    It's easy to spoof, but it's hard to establish a TCP connection by only sending outgoing packets. (Spoofing is the most useful for attacks on UDP protocols.)
  • Re:Bureaucrats (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cheekyjohnson (1873388) on Friday April 29, 2011 @04:48PM (#35979308)

    Somebody makes these photos, domestically or internationally.

    And looking at a picture will change nothing. It won't somehow make the situation worse. If people are so afraid of them, for some reason, beginning to buy child porn, despite the fact that most people apparently don't (if that's true), then why don't they also ban murder photos and the like?

    The exploitation of children for sexual gratification is plainly evil.

    That depends on your definition of "evil."

  • Re:Bureaucrats (Score:5, Insightful)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Friday April 29, 2011 @04:50PM (#35979330)

    If there exists a demand for a good, eventually someone will fill that demand.

    Not at no cost; were you not paying attention in your economics course? Most of the "consumers" of child pornography are paying nothing for it -- they are not paying for it with money, they are not paying for it with new images of child abuse, they are just leeching off the small minority who are fueling the production.

    My understanding of the economics of child pornography is this: at the highest levels of production and distribution, pedophiles are trading new and unseen images and videos with each other. The market is based on barter, not money, to thwart efforts at tracing the participants.

    Eventually this material is somehow leaked to lower level forums which are more easily accessible, and from there the images are reposted again and again. Below a certain level in the distribution chain, the incentive for the producers to keep producing is entirely lost; the material is reposted on various forums at no cost. The overwhelming majority of people who view child pornography are viewing it at a level that is far below this point, and are contributing nothing to its production.

    In simpler terms, arrested the "low hanging fruit" is nothing more than showmanship; it has little affect on the people who are actually abusing children. Every few years we hear about some big deal arrest, where law enforcement agencies manage to gain access to a high level production network, and those are good things in terms of thwarting child abuse. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of child pornography arrests are not in that category.

  • Re:Bureaucrats (Score:5, Insightful)

    by O('_')O_Bush (1162487) on Friday April 29, 2011 @04:52PM (#35979360)
    That is completely irrelevant. Nobody is arguing that exploiting children is right, they're arguing that the demand for it isn't causing supply. A pervert is going to do perverted things whether someone views it or not, since almost always, the pervert doesn't know who sees the material or how it it shared.

    Big difference between someone abusing children and making material and someone who is viewing material.
  • by NFN_NLN (633283) on Friday April 29, 2011 @04:55PM (#35979406)

    I think the point there is that they can't be sure who is producing and who is trading until they investigate

    The real problem the FBI faces, as far as I understand it, is that people involved in the production of child pornography are paranoid and technically sophisticated.

    Attention whoring teens who take pictures of themselves and upload them to the internet are "technically sophisticated"?

    I think there is a disconnect between the popular idea of the criminal charge and what it actually is:

    Assault - can be touching someone, spitting on someone Vs. the common idea of beating the snot out of someone
    Sex offender - can be pissing on side of road Vs. rapist
    Child porn - can child abused by captor Vs. 17 year olds sexting

    "A new survey from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project found that 4% of cell-owning teens ages 12-17 say they have sent sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude images or videos of themselves to someone else via text messaging, a practice also known as “sexting”; 15% say they have received such images of someone they know via text message."

    - http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2009/Teens-and-Sexting.aspx [pewinternet.org]

  • Re:Bureaucrats (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cheekyjohnson (1873388) on Friday April 29, 2011 @05:28PM (#35979726)

    It's evil because children are exploited.

    Which isn't "evil" to all individuals. Whether something is "good" or "bad" is subjective, really. Personally, I think it's evil, but that does not make it a fact.

    Looking at the picture gives vicarious gratification.

    And? How does it logically do any further harm? Looking at the picture can't harm the child anymore than they have already been harmed.

    Whether you share the porn or buy it, you're part of the chain that started with exploitation

    The difference is that, more often than not, the people who made it won't even know that the people who didn't give them money, but still viewed it, even exist.

    Either motivation exploits children.

    Why does the same not apply to murder pictures and the like? People who like that type of stuff are supporting the behavior, according to you, right (even if they don't give anyone any money for the pictures)?

    The people who hurt the children are the ones who actually hurt the children, anyway. Not random people who merely view images anonymously, I believe.

  • by vrmlguy (120854) <samwyse@nOsPAM.gmail.com> on Friday April 29, 2011 @05:31PM (#35979768) Homepage Journal

    >>>I'm sure that these people are reassured by your arguments.

    Last I heard they were freed, and all charges dropped, since sharing nude photos of your own body (which you own) is not a crime.

    The prosecutors didn't think that when they charged these kids with the production and possession of CP. And if sharing nude photos of your own body is not a crime, why are states now amending their laws to make sexting a misdemeanor instead of the felony that so many prosecutors were willing to treat it as.

  • Re:Bureaucrats (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Marful (861873) on Friday April 29, 2011 @06:04PM (#35980088)
    What about the 16 year old girl who sent a sexual nude pic of herself to her boyfriend who then went and shared the pic with the whole class getting the 16 year old girl arrested for creating and distributing child porn?

    She is now a registered sex offender and can't go to school or college. Her life is destroyed because of some blind application of a law that was not intended to target her but because of overzealous DA's who want a notch on their political belt go after such easy crimes because of the emotional appeal to people like you.

    http://www.watoday.com.au/wa-news/sexting-teens-makes-sex-offender-list-20110121-19zwu.html [watoday.com.au]
    http://articles.cnn.com/2009-04-07/justice/sexting.busts_1_phillip-alpert-offender-list-offender-registry?_s=PM:CRIME [cnn.com]
    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-20001082-504083.html [cbsnews.com]


    Or how about the grandmother who took pictures of her naked grandchildren (under the age of 3) in a bathtub and then took the pics to walmart to get prints? Another overzealous DA went and prosecuted her. She was sentenced to 3 years in prison.

    http://reason.com/blog/2009/05/04/grandma-arrested-for-child-por [reason.com]


    It is evil that children are getting exploited. The problem is, the ones getting punished by the application of the laws due to the political and emotional fervor such application engenders for those leading the crusade, are not the ones exploiting the children.

    Both those who download decade old pictures, or pictures of jailbait teens who voluntarily post their own pics on the net, or of innocent grandmothers who take pictures of their infant children, these are not the people being exploited nor are they the one's exploiting others, yet they are the people being targeted by the current application of the law.


    Because a DA with 10 "Child Porn convictions" under his belt has an emotional appeal to mindless cosmic space zombie followers and that emotional appeal will get him elected / re-elected.
  • Re:Bureaucrats (Score:4, Insightful)

    by arth1 (260657) on Friday April 29, 2011 @06:25PM (#35980308) Homepage Journal

    And the amount of time we stick on the social retards (many looking at 40 plus according to my friend) simply means we'll have to let more vicious criminals go to put up some guy who sits in his basement and jacks off. yep, smart plan we have there.

    Not only is it the cost of incarceration, and the loss of productivity going into society during the incarceration, but the cost of that person not working anymore for the rest of his life. Convicted sex offenders are pretty much unhirable.
    If the idea was to get that person to stop looking at child porn, slap him a fine and use that fine to pay for a shrink that might help him move on. But no, it's not about that at all, it's about vengeance and "righteous" wrath.

    And, I think, a need to distance oneself from ones own attraction to teenagers by violently and publicly opposing it.
    Hint: Being attracted to teens is normal. Sleeping with teens (unless you're one) isn't.
    We need to differentiate the two. Stop going after guys who wank off to teens, and stop going after pedophiles unless you intend to help them. Start going after child molesters, whether they wear uniforms or frocks.

  • Re:Bureaucrats (Score:4, Insightful)

    by toriver (11308) on Friday April 29, 2011 @06:25PM (#35980310)

    viewing it makes you part of the production process as an end (ab)user

    How? Since when is observing an act, or in this case a record of it, comparable to committing it? If I watch news footage of a clash between protesters and police, am I a protester? Or am I part of the police force? Is the severity of a crime dependent on the number of observers?

    Also, you seem not to understand how wide the child porn definition is. A 17-year old girl snapping a nude picture of herself with a cellphone camera and sending it to her boyfriend has committed the crime of manufacturing and distributing child porn (since the model is under 18 years) and her boyfriend can in turn be charged with possession of child porn. Do you want those two to end up on the sex offender register, or do you want the FBI to focus on stopping actual child abuse instead? Chasing after the fluttering images does not help the victims, it just creates more prisoners.

  • by PitaBred (632671) <[gro.sndnyd.derbatip] [ta] [todhsals]> on Friday April 29, 2011 @06:40PM (#35980468) Homepage

    Your totally unfounded and unsupported suspicion is a very good reason to try to get kiddie porn off the internet and a specious "if x then y" train of thought? Really? No wonder our country is in the toilet.

    You don't "create" a pedophile with pornography. You create one by having someone subjected to an abnormal childhood and distorted understanding of sexuality and growth *cough*childpageants*cough*, or various other developmental issues. Just as you can't make a straight man gay by having him look at pictures of naked men, you cannot make a non-pedophile a pedophile.

    Young porn is arousing to most men because that's the age the girls were when they started having sexual feelings, and attach those feelings to women around that age. Almost all of the young porn I've seen has still been of sexually mature girls who just look young. Pedophilia is not just liking young models that are sexually mature (regardless of the law), pedophilia is being sexually attracted to the pre-pubescent.

C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas l'Informatique. -- Bosquet [on seeing the IBM 4341]

Working...