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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."
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Department of Justice: FBI Too Focused On Child Porn

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  • PLEASE!!! (Score:5, Funny)

    by ganjadude (952775) on Friday April 29, 2011 @03:57PM (#35978682) Homepage
    Won't someone think of the FBI agents!
  • by SockPuppetOfTheWeek (1910282) on Friday April 29, 2011 @04:00PM (#35978716) Journal

    ...instead of focusing on child pornographers.

    • by hedwards (940851)

      I think the point there is that they can't be sure who is producing and who is trading until they investigate, at which point they've typically got the goods to send people to prison for just trading in the stuff.

      I've got several other issues with it, they don't seem to care much about getting it correct, there isn't a mens rea requirement covering possession and 41% is unlikely to be justifiable given the other things which FBI is supposed to be dealing with.

      • I think the counterpoint is that at the point it's being traded the harm to the child is done.

        • 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.

          • by AK Marc (707885) on Friday April 29, 2011 @06:15PM (#35980212)

            By trading it your encouraging it.

            By trading it, you are discouraging it.

            See, anyone can make illogical and unsupported assertions. Seriously, when some pervs are illegally trading copyrighted (yes, even if the material is illegal, the copies are still copyrighted) material you are asserting that it encourages the production of more. But the media organizations claim that when you illegally copy copyrighted material, you are actively discouraging the producers from making more.

            After listening to the MPAA and RIAA, pirating and trading child porn will decrease the number of children harmed. Please, trade child porn for the children. Won't you think of the children?



            Seriously, if pirating hurts media, then child porn pirates aren't encouraging anything. If pirating doesn't hurt media (as you asserted), then the regular media sharing should be legal. But no, it's always inconsistently applied because people don't actually care about fixing problems. People only "hate" whatever they hate, and then make up whatever lies they can to justify their personal opinion.

      • 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 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]

    • by jkauzlar (596349)
      or, more likely, instead of protecting the copyrights of our corporate overlords or spying on government watchdog organizations.
    • by Mashiki (184564)

      Meh it's just like the war on drugs for you guys. You go after the people smoking it, or selling it to a few buddies instead of going after the major growers/sellers. Yeah it's harder, but it has much larger results. That's the general way we deal with both problems in Canada. Much better results.

      Sadly this type of prosecution is the result of crowns and DA's wanting to get their name in lights for 'doing something'.

    • Exactly how many kiddie pornographers do you think there are in this country? Also, 41 percent?! Don't we have actual murders to solve?
      • I know this is Slashdot, but at least read the goddamn summary. 41% of their agents working to solve "cyber" crimes are working against child pornography.
        • by Fulcrum of Evil (560260) on Friday April 29, 2011 @04:47PM (#35979286)
          Okay, 41% chasing neckbeards on 4chan. Is ID theft and CC fraud a cyber crime?
  • 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: (Score:3, Funny)

      I'd rather my federal police do what it was created to do: Lock up criminals.

      Shit.. There goes at least half of your politicians and CEOs.. and police officers

    • 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.

      • 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 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.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

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

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        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. The

        • by Rockoon (1252108) on Friday April 29, 2011 @05:20PM (#35979644)
          The problem with your "younger and younger" argument is that the slope is slippery in every direction, and not just the direction that you cherry picked. Older and older.. Fatter and fatter.. Thinner and thinner.. Whiter and whiter.. Blacker and blacker.. Hairier and Hairier.. Uglier and uglier.. Shorter and shorter.. taller and taller.. Flatter and flatter.. Overbites.. Underbites.. we could go on and on..

          So, do pictures of shirt girls turn people into midget fetishists?
        • by PitaBred (632671) <slashdot.pitabred@dyndns@org> 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.

    • 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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gstoddart (321705)

      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 w

      • by vrmlguy (120854) <samwyse@nOsPAM.gmail.com> on Friday April 29, 2011 @04:56PM (#35979414) Homepage Journal

        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.

        You can see the math at http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2115012&cid=35979298 [slashdot.org], but basicly 134,000 images are produced per year by teens sexting each other. True, not all of them get posted to the internet, but it's quite possible for some people to have hundreds of thousands of images produced by underage teens of themselves.

      • by jandrese (485)
        Honestly, when I see a police statement that says they got the guy's machine and it had 300,000 child porn images on it, my first thought is always "They caught a guy who trades in the stuff, then added up all of the jpegs they found on his system to have a number for the press". They didn't actually look to see what the images were. The general hysteria you get around this subject only amplifies the effect and there are a lot of bogus statistics made up by people with an agenda.

        It's a problem, but I
    • by medv4380 (1604309)
      No their math isn't wrong you're just not picking up on what they are calling cyber-attacks. They are clearly considering the 19% national security intrusion as cyber attacks. The other part is cyber crime which some people may consider cyber-attacks but they aren't when they are saying they are spending twice as much on child porn.
    • Also, would you prefer the FBI not go after child porn?

      No, we'd prefer they not spend nearly half their time going after it.

    • The math is right. (Score:5, Informative)

      by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Friday April 29, 2011 @04:27PM (#35979056)

      41% devoted to online child porn, 59% for EVERYTHING else. Cyber attacks are not the primary mission of the FBI. As a matter of fact, they are supposed to be the counter-intelligence arm of the US security apparatus, which would mean that I would expect that to be the largest part of their effort. Instead, it is a mediocre 19%.

      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).

      Bullshit. Sorry, but you drank the Koolaid that online pervs are the biggest risk to kids. Never mind that the biggest risk of plain old abuse comes from parents and family members, the biggest risk of abduction comes from parents and the biggest risk of abuse comes from family members and friends of the family. Online pervs are a drop in the bucket in that list. Online posting of child porn is a) just proof of a crime that has happened in the past, and b) catching the posters or downloaders does little to nothing to help solve that particular crime. So yes, it is part of their mission, but it's not 41% of their mission. If anything, I'd peg it at about 1%-2%.

    • the Internet is making it easier for potential pedophiles to indulge their deranged fantasies... in the past they might have left the house to actually molest children.

      Fixed that for you.

  • by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Friday April 29, 2011 @04:03PM (#35978754)
    This shows a very unhealthy obsession at the FBI for prurient titillation... Seek therapy, guys!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 29, 2011 @04:04PM (#35978774)

    If you want to see child porn, join the vice squad!

  • 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.

  • Can they seize an accused pornographer's house and property like they do a drug dealer? If so, I can see the focus. My local police department doesn't go after street level dealers, only mid and top level ones who have cars, electronics and property for the State to seize.
  • 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 blueg3 (192743)

      The reverse DNS lookup is unnecessary; you can identify the ISP just by IP address.

      Also, this isn't nearly as efficient as the preferred method. Fire up a modified copy of LimeWire, search for CP, find people that have CP files, download and verify that it's illicit, log IP addresses, call up the ISPs, get some warrants, make some arrests. The whole first couple of steps can be almost entirely automated so that your system churns out a list of IPs that are sharing CP every day.

      • by tmosley (996283)
        Because no-one, and I mean NO-ONE can spoof an IP address.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jewelises (739285)
          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.)
    • by Animats (122034)

      Easy way to boost your conviction rate, with very little man power, and the people will love you for protecting the children.

      That's the real reason. Real online fraud investigations are hard. The trail may lead through multiple countries, and serious investigative work is required. Even then, the investigation may dead-end.

      Still, devoting 41% of FBI computer resources to kiddie porn, compared to 4% on online fraud, is way out of line. That's probably contributed to the growth in online fraud.

  • By safeguarding children, one may indirectly feel they are safeguarding their own children. When taking down these offenders, the officers involved can easily sense a direct impact they've had in rescuing someone from emotionally intense and distressing situations.

    Let's look at the other two categories. National Security Intrusions. OK, some Chinese hackers got through and stole some anti-missle plans. The ramifications won't be felt for years, if ever, even though it has the potential to deliver much more

    • Re:Emotional Impact (Score:5, Interesting)

      by StillNeedMoreCoffee (123989) on Friday April 29, 2011 @04:30PM (#35979078)

      I think this is a red herring, The child pornography industry, while heinous is relatively small, say compared to the forgein woman transported here for prostitution, or identity theft or bank robbery or White Collar crime. It pains me to see people being sold this fear which is way out of proportion to the problem. Case in point, the way Halloween used to be vs what it is today. Parents have to escort their kids and only during daylight, and all because of urban ledgends and maybe one or two incedents in the country. Again an over reaction. Trying to live in a riskless world. It ain't goina happen.

      Now I wonder what the effect on your kids are going to be if your identity is stolen and all your money taken and you loose your home and maybe your job and have to live homeless. That would have an sever impact on your children as well, and probably long term and far reaching.

  • like people who smoke weed or download metallica music.
  • Businesses can take care of themselves. Money protecting children is well spent. If we need more money, we can cut defense spending and subsidies to oil companies
    • by iamhassi (659463)
      "we can cut defense spending "

      I love this argument, "just cut defense spending!" You do realize we're the World Police, right? All the other countries come to us for help when shit goes down, we keep the entire world in line, without us their would be a constant world war. And do we buy tanks or fighter jets from other countries? No, but the entire world turns to us to buy our jets and tanks.

      It's easy to say cut defense when we haven't had a war on our soil in 150 years, and even that was us fight
      • by toadlife (301863)

        Think other countries wouldn't try something? Who would come to help us when we need it?

        No one. We'd build our defense up using our vast industrial resources and go kick some ass. Just like WWII.

  • by TexVex (669445) on Friday April 29, 2011 @04:15PM (#35978894)
    Screw the DoJ. They're busy laying the smack down on online poker. How about they stop with calling the kettle black and instead work on busting some real criminals of their own. Fuckers.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    >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

    • by sabs (255763)

      Part of the goal of going after the people who watch it, is to get them to turn over on the places where they got their CP from.

    • by hedwards (940851)

      The problem there is that you can't typically locate the provider without finding the people possessing. At that point, you've got the goods to prosecute people for possession and trading the materials, ignoring it at that point would be silly.

      Now, if you've got some way of just getting straight to the source, I'm sure the FBI is open to suggestions.

      The only issue I have with possession charges in all this is that there is no legal distinction between those that knowingly possess the stuff and those that ac

  • by geekmux (1040042) on Friday April 29, 2011 @04:50PM (#35979328)

    "...and 41 percent to investigate online child pornography matters."

    Something tells me with all the bullshit hype in the media with underage teenagers sending dirty pics to their 18-year old boyfriend/girlfriend, sexting is what is getting the main focus right now, and not going after true pedophiles.

  • by Aphoxema (1088507) on Friday April 29, 2011 @05:25PM (#35979700) Homepage Journal

    The FBI found something they can easily win, inexpensively, and remain extremely relevant. Thanks to the witch hunt, they've been given the role of thought police and it is a very easy thing for the fearful public to back up. I look back at that and think for a moment I'm being ridiculous, but am I really?

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