ASACP Celebrates 20 Years of Child Protection and Industry Service
Among the many milestones set to be celebrated in 2016, perhaps none is more important than is the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP).
Founded in 1996 by XBIZ CEO Alec Helmy as the Adult Sites Against Child Pornography, ASACP changed its name in 2005 to Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection, retaining its “ASACP” title while reflecting the growing diversity of its membership and mission. A non-profit, member supported organization, ASACP has provided an internationally recognized Tipline for webmasters and members of the public to anonymously report suspected child pornography since 1996, with ASACP’s member sites linking to this active Tipline, which receives and processes thousands of reports every month.
As part of this examination, ASACP determines information such as the site’s IP address, its hosting and billing providers, ownership, and linkage to other sites. ASACP then forwards verified “Red Flag” reports to the appropriate agencies, including the FBI and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, as well as to various European CP prevention hotlines. The technical infrastructure of ASACP’s Tipline was vastly improved in 2003, allowing the association to gather more accurate statistics on its reports, which helps to track the overall incidences of CP and the effectiveness of its various initiatives aimed at combating this terrible crime.
The Tipline is funded by ASACP’s sister organization, the ASACP Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that also funds the Restricted To Adults (RTA) website labeling program, which works with content filtering software to provide parents and institutions, libraries and schools, with effective, free protection against exposure to age-inappropriate materials. Contributions to the ASACP Foundation are tax deductible for American businesses and may also provide tax benefits to overseas operators.
In addition to its CP Reporting Tipline and RTA meta label, ASACP provides digital media companies with a set of market-specific Best Practices, as well as a formalized Code of Ethics, and a list of banned words and expressions commonly used to describe CP in website searches. This list is translated into 25 unique languages and is a simple plugin for adult search engines, tube sites, and other platforms that rely upon user-generated content to scrub user inputs against — filtering out trouble before it hits their sites, and is yet another way the association provides the tools that proactive businesses need to protect children.
This laundry list of services barely scratches the surface of the association and the factors that fuel its unprecedented and enviable success level, however — success that can be attributed to its dedicated staff members, including Executive Director Tim Henning, who has been with ASACP since its inception; Operations Director Erege Macis; Membership Manager Dawn Yagielowicz, celebrating 10 years with the association in 2016; and Systems Manager Cal Woodruff, Hotline Analyst Lucia Varela, and Director of European Outreach, Vince Charlton. The sacrifices that this intimate group make cannot be discounted, as the nature of the work takes a heavy toll on investigators, and others who might be exposed to the horrors of CP in the line of duty.
“Over the past 20 years it has been both an honor and a privilege to serve this industry and to further child protection efforts on its behalf,” Henning told XBIZ. “I wish to offer my heartfelt gratitude to every individual and company that has and continues to support this valuable organization.”
This small team is augmented by the guidance of its volunteer Advisory Council, which includes Helmy, along with CCBill’s Gary Jackson, Epoch Transaction Services’ Rand Pate, AVN’s Roy Salter, Balazs Sipocz from Adult Webmaster Empire (AWE), Mike Ackerman of Actually Helping Inc., ATKingdom’s Kim Nielsen and Relani Belous of Friend Finder Networks, as well as Christoph Pass of SABOOM/PartnerCash — all of whom provide valuable insights on the inner workings of today’s legitimate adult entertainment and digital media industries.
An Association Built and Sustained on Community Support
ASACP and its valiant mission have enjoyed the continued support of the adult entertainment industry’s top players and service providers, proving that the legitimate companies that make up this business are committed to protecting children. From AVN (ASACP’s first corporate sponsor) to Zombaio, an alphabet soup of companies, individuals and organizations have stood behind the association over its long history.
Today, this roster includes market-leading companies such as Adult Webmaster Empire and MindGeek, Epoch, AVN and XBIZ, AdultCentro and ATKingdom, CCBill, Southern Charms, and 7Veils, along with such well-known adult brands as Adam & Eve, Adult Webcam Conference, BaDoink, CAM4, Cherry Pimps, and CommerceGate, Cybersocket, Cyber Stampede, Dating Gold, EPGBill, Eros.com, FUBAR Webmasters, Fuckbook, Fleshlight, Gamma Entertainment, Girlfriends Films, GTBill, Hustler, ImLive, Pimps Promo, Porn.com, Rabbits Reviews, Saboom, SexSearch, Sextronix, Swingers Date Club, The European Summit, The Lion’s Den, and Tubo Limited.
Add to this list numerous members and supporters, as well as industry attorneys such as Larry Walters, Greg Piccionelli and Marc Randazza, along with advocacy groups including the Free Speech Coalition, The Eros Association, Parents in Adult, and the ACI Foundation, plus dozens of webmaster communities, consumer collectives and more, and it is clear that ASACP’s message and mission of keeping children out of and away from adult entertainment resonates with the stakeholders that it most closely impacts.
One of the association’s most dedicated benefactors over the years is one of its founding sponsors — top-tier Internet Payment Services Provider, Epoch.com.
According to Epoch’s Rand Pate, ASACP has always had an important mission that the company strongly supports — which is to advocate for child protection both in the online world, and in the physical world.
“In the early days of the Internet there were some who attempted to use sites that deliver digital content, and especially adult sites, as a vehicle to sell or share inappropriate content of minors,” Pate explains. “It was quite veiled in most cases, using affiliate programs to collect funds and secret sites to deliver the content.”
“The adult webmaster community appeared to be supporting this practice, when in reality this wasn’t the case at all. In fact, the adult industry with ASACP’s leadership was able to utilize their expertise to attack, identify and dismantle a business model where children were being victimized,” Pate continues. “ASACP has helped to demonstrate that the established adult industry is not only a deterrent but a clear nemesis to child exploitation.”
For its part, Epoch supports ASACP and its mission in a number of diverse ways.
“Epoch is a Platinum level financial sponsor of ASACP and has been a supporter since 2003,” Pate says. “Since becoming a sponsor, we have continued to have a chair on the association’s advisory council and for many years we have provided a space for the advisory council to meet four times annually at Epoch’s corporate offices in Santa Monica, California.”
“We’ve had a long standing relationship with founder Alec Helmy in many capacities,” Pate adds, noting that “ASACP is an important effort that we are proud to support.”
As a financial services provider, Epoch is a stellar example of how even those companies that are not directly involved in adult content continue to support ASACP, simply because it is the right thing to do — and as a company that has worked with government authorities in the past to help investigations, Epoch has always realized the importance of doing all that it can do to protect children from exposure to adult content and from exploitation.
“Even companies not directly involved with content or billing should support the noble efforts as responsible members of an industry of professionals actively working to protect children,” Pate notes. “ASACP is the venue to achieve that goal and does so on a level that in some ways exceeds what larger government-funded organizations do.”
Pate cites the dedication of ASACP’s staff and supporters as being a key to the association’s success — including those companies that have donated services or provided access to their industry events, etc., as well as those who volunteer their time and expertise to further the cause.
“Being a member of the advisory council, I can tell you that everyone who is a part of the ASACP team is truly dedicated and fully believes in their mission. Heading that team is Tim Henning who has been with ASACP from year one,” Pate says. “Henning has made many connections throughout the industry and is a well-known face at most industry events; and he would be the first to tell you that those working with his team play invaluable roles in continuing ASACP’s mission.”
“If your organization is a sponsor of ASACP, I’m sure I speak for everyone involved when I say your support is very much appreciated and with your help we remain dedicated to the mission,” Pate added. “If you are not yet a sponsor know that you can become one very easily and you can join many industry peers in the mission of child protection. Individual memberships are also available.”
On the topic of why it is important for market leaders to tangibly demonstrate their stewardship by supporting the organizations that support them back, Pate offers a simple, wholesome motive:
“Although it is important to support those that help your business,” Pate concludes, “the number one reason to help must still be protecting the children.”
Among the individuals that support ASACP are adult industry business leaders and performers, some of whom have appeared in ads and Public Service Announcements (PSAs), on behalf of the association and its RTA labeling program. These include adult stars such as Chi Chi LaRue, Catalina Cruz, Kayden Kross, Kirsten Price, Riley Steele, Stormy Daniels, Sunny Leone, Tera Patrick and Evan Seinfeld, Tori Black, and adult icon Ron Jeremy. Catering to adult performers living on a limited budget, ASACP offers a special Star Supporter membership level that makes participation affordable for everyone.
In addition to detailing the importance and use of RTA labeling, ASACP’s PSAs have covered topics that include tips for protecting children online, how to report child pornography, and how the adult industry works to keep children safer. Other outreach materials include parental guidelines and child protection resources that have an international appeal.
Defying uninformed stereotypes, adult entertainers and industry operators are real people with families, and are committed to protecting children. One notable example is Wicked Pictures’ contract performer, writer and director Stormy Daniels, who lent her support to the association in a variety of helpful ways — including traveling to Washington, D.C., in 2008, along with Wicked Pictures’ VP Joy King and former ASACP CEO Joan Irvine, for an executive child protection session at the National Press Club in honor of National Internet Safety Month, co-sponsored by the Website Rating and Advisory Council (WRAAC).
Joining these more public faces in producing PSAs were industry luminaries including Pink Visual’s Allison Vivas and AWE’s Mickey Bojcsik, while Hustler veteran Michael Klein was featured in one of ASACP’s most popular print ads — an honor shared by Wasteland and BoodiGo chief, Colin Rowntree.
ASACP’s relationship with the adult entertainment industry is one of give-and-take, with the association both attending and sharing its expertise and resources at a wide range of events — making mutually beneficial connections with adult business leaders, regulators and other stakeholders around the world, while presenting its position, strategies and tools through networking, panels, seminars and workshops.
These events span the globe, and include gatherings such as The European Summit, The Phoenix Forum, the Cybernet, Internext and QWEBEC Expos, plus Webmaster Access shows, along with XBIZ’s popular events in Chicago, London, Los Angeles, Miami and beyond, the Adult Industry Trade Association (AITA) gathering, the Mobile Adult Content Congress, and more, as well as next-generation online events, such as the Adult Entertainment Virtual Convention. Add in several consumer oriented events, including AEE and EXXXOTICA, plus STOREROTICA and more, and it’s easy to see how ASACP is able to reach the actual decision makers on the front lines of adult entertainment who are best positioned to take the steps that are necessary to keep children out of and away from age-inappropriate materials.
The association endeavors to have a presence at as many relevant gatherings as possible, relying on the ongoing sponsorship of event promoters to make it possible. This patronage can be extensive, including complimentary admission, and assistance with accommodations, travel expenses and other resources —an extremely welcome amount of aid that enables the non-profit organization to make a real difference.
Even at events where ASACP is unable to send representation due to its limited funding and staff size, the association is able to extend its message through the generosity of event promoters, who typically provide a table for literature, promo materials, fundraisers and more; helping to raise awareness within the industry of the need for online child protection — and how ASACP provides the tools that can help.
Sometimes, industry players have even created events to support the association, such as when Sureflix held a networking reception in Toronto to introduce ASACP to stakeholders in the Canadian market; and the annual CCBill-sponsored X2K Charity Golf Tournament, which to date has raised more than $10,000 for the association — along with a wide range of other much needed fundraisers and promotions.
Several firms have offered specials whereby a portion of sales have been donated to the association, such as Elevated X, which donated 15 percent of gross new CMS product sales to the ASACP Foundation in a 2014 promotion — an increase over the 10 percent it donated on similar offers in 2010 and 2012 — and a financial contribution that was augmented by the content management solution’s inclusion of the RTA meta tag in its default web page templates.
Other companies have offered ASACP members and sponsors a discount on their products and services, such as Too Much Media, which waived the software setup and training fee for clients who are ASACP members or sponsors — a saving of at least $250 — and a follow-up to the company’s earlier promotion that donated $250 to ASACP for each new sale during a specified time period.
Some, such as OrbitalPay and CEO Steve Bryson, long known for his philanthropic efforts, made a large, targeted donation to the ASACP Foundation — which in this case funded its international outreach for encouraging broader use of the RTA meta tag, and provided online resources for parents; while Moniker auctioned a premium domain name, with the proceeds of $2,400 going to the association; and Sex.com covered half of the basic membership fee for its clients making a minimum advertising buy, swelling the association’s ranks.
There are many ways in which companies can leverage their assets, including their customer base and mailing lists, site members and staffers, to help the association. For example, SDC Media, the publisher of the popular Swingers Date Club website, set up a special web page where members could easily make a donation to ASACP, allowing everyday folk to help protect children online. Likewise, gay adult website Badpuppy.com promoted ASACP across its network of consumer- and webmaster-oriented sites, in an effort to raise awareness of the association’s mission, and to encourage donations.
One unique fundraiser was the “steak versus steak” edition the International Food Challenge, a cooking competition at the Hotel Calipolis in Barcelona, Spain, between FUBAR Webmasters’ Julius F. Kedvessy, and Walter and Andreas from The European Summit; while Epoch and RIVCash hosted a Speed Painting Art Event and Auction in Barcelona, featuring one of the city’s most famous painters, David Machuca, raising more than $10,500 for the ASACP Foundation and the children’s Haiti relief effort.
On a more individual effort, Synergy-DTI CEO Tanya Martin held several birthday fundraisers on Facebook to benefit the ASACP Foundation, asking family and friends to donate in lieu of giving her gifts.
These examples illustrate how a little creativity and a willingness to make a difference can go a long way in protecting our at-risk youth. The association is extremely grateful for this outpouring of support, with initiatives such as its monthly Featured Sponsors program and annual ASACP Service Recognition Award honoring many of its top benefactors.
ASACP Service Recognition Award winners include social media strategist Lauren MacEwen, attorneys Lawrence Walters, Marc Randazza and Greg Piccionelli, plus Cyber Stampede’s Rodney Thompson and Scott Rabinowitz, John Van Arnam, Epoch’s Joel Hall, Cydata Services’ Brandon Shalton, and adult stars Stormy Daniels, Tera Patrick and Evan Seinfeld, as well as Fiona Patten and Robbie Swan of Australia’s Eros Association, plus ASACP’s Tim Henning and Vince Charlton, and new for 2016, adult media analyst Stephen Yagielowicz — all of whom were honored for their consistently “over and above” contributions to the association and its mission.
ASACP has also given back to the industry in a diverse number of ways, including assisting CCBill in its policy development process; by partnering with BoodiGo.com to build a safer adult search engine; and through initiatives such as its Affinity Program, which among other offerings provided a reduced cost business insurance plan to members.
ASACP’s Distinguished Record of Ongoing Success Earns Widespread Recognition
ASACP’s ongoing distinguished record of success has resulted in voluminous media coverage both within the adult industry and the broader mainstream media, with one recent case coming from popular media outlet Huffington Post, which cited ASACP in the same breath as Apple and Facebook as examples of top tech interests that are working to make the Internet safer for children. Most media attention focuses on what Epoch’s Rand Pate terms “the remarkable volume of [suspected CP site] reports that ASACP is able to process despite its very limited resources” — a volume that now numbers more than one million raw reports to the association’s CP Reporting Hotline.
This figure includes the many thousands of illegal websites featuring underage performers and actual depictions of the sexual exploitation of children that were closed down by authorities — including the notorious “Dreamboard,” and billing firm “Regpay,” two of the largest CP busts, shuttered in large part due to ASACP’s analysis, forensic identification and reporting efforts, which help differentiate between the truly illegal depictions and lawful depictions of “young looking” performers of legal age.
Through its efforts and industry knowledge, ASACP helps to make the haystack of suspected CP smaller, and the needles within it more visible, enabling law enforcement to focus its resources on actual CP.
In addition to its Hotline, ASACP’s continued development of the RTA label, with enhancements such as the RTA Verified program, plus a simple plugin for WordPress-powered websites, as well as translations of its website and services, and expansion into the peer-to-peer and mobile arenas (including its release of parental controls for Android applications), helps the association to keep pace with our fast-changing technological environment and the significant challenges it presents.
Surpassing its outreach to frontline operators in the adult entertainment industry, ASACP builds bridges beyond these businesses by using doors that were opened by its mission, reputation and success, which helps to leverage its efforts to protect at-risk youth. This outreach includes governmental organizations such as the U.S. Congress and the Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee, along with global law enforcement and regulatory agencies, such as the FBI, U.S. Customs, ATVOD and Interpol, plus the Financial Coalition Against Child Pornography — which includes the world’s largest financial institutions and other stakeholders, such as AOL, American Express, Bank of America, Chase, Citigroup, Discover, Visa, Wells Fargo, and Yahoo, among others.
It is ASACP’s governmental outreach, both in the U.S. and abroad, that has perhaps provided the most benefit to its supporters within the adult entertainment and broader online media industries, with one highlight being the association’s response to Congressional demands that the industry “do something” about children’s unfettered access to age-inappropriate materials online. The industry responded with ASACP’s development of the RTA label, and subsequent educational efforts to speed its adoption.
Other initiatives include ASACP’s Congressional protest over erroneous assumptions and misinformation in the “Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011,” which educated lawmakers about the use of RTA labeling by legitimate adult websites, and the actual sources of CP, being sown online by criminals in Eastern Europe and elsewhere — providing factual data that proves the industry is not the source of this illegal material, and in fact, works to eliminate it. ASACP’s educational initiative countered the false narrative of the so-called “War on Pornography,” whereby lawmakers attempted to compel the Attorney General to ramp up obscenity prosecutions against lawfully operated adult sites. ASACP’s letter to Congress and the State Attorneys General, as well as U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, cast a light on the realities of the industry and the freedoms at stake — helping to prevent draconian actions against industry operators. Included were statistics revealing that more than 20 billion monthly hits are made to RTA-labeled web pages, including the 20 percent of adult websites that generate nearly 80 percent of all adult entertainment traffic on the Internet.
ASACP was also vocal in its Congressional protest of HR 4472, the “Children’s Safety and Violent Crime Reduction Act,” which contained provisions under Title VI, entitled “Child Pornography Prevention,” which would have strengthened the already onerous 18 USC ‘2257 federal record-keeping requirement — a law long opposed by the industry due to its burdens and poor conception. ASACP also sought to influence the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation, when it held a hearing entitled “Protecting Children on the Internet.”
By being for common sense, fact based regulation, and working to fight misconceptions about the adult industry, ASACP has prevented stricter rules governing online content creation and website publishing.
Beyond U.S. borders, ASACP has been on the frontline of ATVOD’s reshaping of the U.K.’s digital media marketplace, working with regulators across a range of issues, including mandatory ISP-level Internet filtering — a move that the association helped turn into a voluntary measure — as well as the future of online age verification, with ASACP’s Director of European Outreach, Vince Charlton, participating in the inaugural meeting of the U.K.’s Digital Policy Alliance, chaired by Lord Erroll, at London’s House of Lords, in Westminster Palace.
ASACP also works with NGOs such as the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI), participating in its European Conference that discusses privacy, data retention, mobile usage, digital citizenship, policy development and other issues; plus working with the Internet Content Rating Association (ICRA); and has collaborated and/or participated in a large number of mainstream conferences and events, such as the Virtual Global Taskforce Conference in Belfast, Digital Coast Roundtable, INHOPE, the Sex in Video Games Conference, the Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee’s State of the Mobile Net Conference, the Tech Policy Summit, and more.
ASACP has also received a large number of accolades, awards and other recognition from an array of organizations — including being repeatedly named to the Associations Advance America Honor Roll, being the Overall Winner of the Associations Make a Better World Award, the Chamber of Commerce Leadership Program, as well as being honored by the cities of Los Angeles, Redondo Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, and West Hollywood, along with receiving a Congressional Commendation from the U.S. House of Representatives, plus awards from the California State Assembly and California State Senate.
ASACP’s newest accolade is the 2016 Boardroom Elite Award as “Best Child Protection Advocates” for California, which includes prominent exposure on the Corporate America website — continuing the association’s heritage of mainstream recognition.
Perhaps ASACP’s most important recognition, however, comes from the criminal purveyors of underage obscenity, and those who oppose its message of proactive corporate responsibility and self-regulation; as evidenced by numerous attacks upon the association, its computer systems, and other resources in retaliation for ASACP’s role in the decimation of commercial child pornography, legitimization of today’s adult entertainment industry, and leadership position in protecting the rights of consumers and content producers alike.
Building upon its past successes, ASACP continues moving forward into the future, determined to make the coming era of Virtual Reality and ubiquitous mobile Internet access a safe realm for children without sacrificing the freedoms of consenting adults. It will carry on this mission both through technology along with corporate, governmental and public awareness, and do so through the generous ongoing financial and material support of its sponsors, members and contributors. If we all do our part, then ASACP will be around for another 20 years.
Henning says that ASACP is currently working on several key projects that will help move the association and industry child protection advocacy forward, but says it is impossible to overemphasize the fact that much more can and needs to be done — but it is only possible with greater industry support.
“The work that ASACP does on behalf of the digital adult entertainment industry, and the data that we collect is invaluable in the fight against online child exploitation,” Henning concludes. “Please help to ensure that ASACP continues to be there for you, parents, educators, policy makers and of course our children — we simply cannot continue to do what we do without your generous help and support.”
To learn how your company can protect itself by keeping children out of and away from adult materials, visit ASACP.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Founded in 1996, ASACP is a non-profit organization dedicated to online child protection.
ASACP is comprised of two separate corporate entities, the Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection and the ASACP Foundation. The Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP) is a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization. ASACP manages a membership program that provides resources to companies in order to help them protect children online. The ASACP Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. The ASACP Foundation battles child pornography through its CP Reporting Hotline and helps parents prevent children from viewing age-restricted material online with its Restricted To Adults (RTA) website label (www.rtalabel.org). ASACP has invested 19 years in developing progressive programs to protect children, and its relationship in assisting the adult industry’s child protection efforts is unparalleled. For more information, visit www.asacp.org.