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Confusion Exists: What is Child Pornography?

Los Angeles, CA (February 16, 2003) – Recently, a webmaster wrote Adult Sites Against Child Pornography (ASACP) asking for advice and a review of his sites. He was upset that he had to pull his content because other webmasters claimed it contained child pornography. (If someone outside the industry is reading this, please note that the vast majority of webmasters are vigilant against child pornography.) He complained that his hits dropped from 120K to 8K daily. ASACP`s reply, If your hits dropped that much, there can only be one reason: the majority of your regular visitors were seeking underage looking children or child pornography content.

The legal system and the professionals in the adult industry have said "enough" to the depiction of underage children. When it comes to child pornography, it is always best to err on the side of caution. It may be legal, but you are asking for scrutiny by the government if your site contains:

  • Nude children or in fact, any children
  • Models that are over 18, but look much younger
  • Words or search terms that denote child pornography (a list of these terms are available at Unacceptable Terms )

Tim, ASACP Compliance and Site Review Manager, helps clarify three recurring questions relating to child pornography:

  1. First, why isn`t a picture of a naked seven-year-old child considered child pornography and why doesn`t ASACP report this to the F.B.I.?
  2. Under the current Child Pornography Laws nudity does not always equal child pornography. If a child is nude, partially nude or fully clothed is not the determining factor; what the child is doing and/or having done to him/her is. If the image is lewd, sexual in nature or the picture focuses on the genitals, then chances are - it is child pornography.

    A "loophole" exists to protect everyday people who may want to take an innocent picture of their child in the bath tub and share it with family and friends through email or on the family website. It also exists to protect legitimate artists, such as David Hamilton, who is a world-renowned photographer specializing in artistic child nude photographs. Unfortunately, a growing number of sites exploit this loophole. These sites are "artistic" in nature, contain the necessary legal disclaimers (18 U.S.C. Section 2256 compliance notice), and warnings for child predators to "stay out". In reality, everyone knows that the people purchasing memberships to these sites are not art lovers.

    If ASACP thinks there is any question as to the legal status of a site, they report it to the FBI. Rest assured that the authorities are aware of many of these sites and do prosecute if they conclude the content crosses that very thin line.

    FYI: Legal or not, ASACP would not accept these types of sites as members.
  3. Second, why report suspect child pornography sites to ASACP instead of directly to the F.B.I.?
  4. ASACP received over 4000 reports in January alone, so you could imagine how many the F.B.I. receives in a month. They are inundated with reports and it is hard for them to review them all. The F.B.I. knows that a site reported by ASACP has already reviewed and confirmed as child pornography and consider them high priority. In fact, according to the F.B.I., they issue subpoenas for almost all the sites reported by ASACP.

    Recently, Tim reviewed a report that led to a large adult site. He knew the company and this was totally out of character for them. Upon further investigation, it turns out that it was an affiliate. This affiliate was advertising `lolita` content and using lewd pictures of children as a method to direct more traffic and, of course, make more money. Tim notified the company; it identified the affiliate and immediately turned off the payment. ASACP sent a special report to the FBI. Due to Tim`s quick action along with the efforts of this company, the FBI is many steps closer to this criminal.

    ASACP encourages anyone who sees a child pornography site to report it to http://www.asacp.org/page.php?content=report.
  5. Third, is it worth reporting suspect child pornography sites from other originating countries?
  6. The location of the actual site(s), webmaster(s), owner(s), does not matter. The F.B.I. and other law enforcement agencies share information and coordinate resources with their counterparts in other countries. It is more difficult for authorities to shut down sites in certain countries, but not impossible. There have been recent high profile cases where an international law enforcement effort resulted in simultaneous arrests in several countries. Some of these countries have included Canada and England, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States. So, keep on reporting these sites!

    ASACP hopes that these answers have helped to clarify your understanding about these important issues. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email ASACP at comments@asacp.org. Thank you for your ongoing support in the battle against child pornography.