|ASACP: Executive Director Joan Irvine discusses the present and future of child protection.
By: Joan Irvine
Posted: 12:00 am PDT 7-1-2005
When people ask who I work for, I say "the Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection." They smile, nod their heads, and murmur words of appreciation that I do such noble work. But when I add that ASACP is "funded by the adult entertainment industry," their reactions are mixed. In California, most people are surprised that pornographers (their term, not mine) would fund this effort, but they’re generally supportive. Outside California, people snicker and question the intention of ASACP. In fact, in its April newsletter, the organization Morality in Media called me a "spokesperson for the adult obscenity racket." (They kindly changed this statement after I sent them an email explaining what ASACP does).
I’m not surprised that mainstream people misunderstand ASACP and its mission because even people in the industry are somewhat confused. That’s why I‘d like to clear up some misconceptions and talk about what’s on the horizon for ASACP.
Why was ASACP established?
ASACP was established in 1996 as Adult Sites Against Child Pornography. ASACP became the Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection and obtained nonprofit status in 2005.In 1996 law enforcement agencies and the government tried to blame the adult entertainment industry for child pornography. Groups keeping track of this information included the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), the FBI and other government law enforcement agencies, and a few mainstream child protection and international hotlines. However, none of these were friendly to the adult industry.
Alec Helmy of XBiz recognized the need for an industry hotline that provided a method for webmasters and surfers to report suspected child pornography to ASACP without worry that their email or IP addresses would be entered into some government database.
How does ASACP deal with child porn reports to the hotline?
ASACP is best known for its online hotline where people can report suspected child pornography. A site reviewer investigates these reports and determines if it appears to be actual child porn. If it is, a Red Flag Report (RFR) is sent to the FBI in Austin and Los Angeles, NCMEC, and other relevant international hotlines.
ASACP receives more than 6,000 reports a month. Of these, more than 50 percent are duplicates or were previously reported; approximately 250 (8 percent), however, result in a RFR.
During its investigations, ASACP has identified significant trends such as:
- how child porn distributors use ISPs, billing companies, and domain registrars
- how teen modeling sites are pushing the envelope
- ASACP works with the industry leaders to write best practices (http://www.asacp.org/page.php?content=best_practices) for the various segments: adult sites, billing, search engines, hosting, adult dating and TPGs. The most important among all the best practices – KNOW YOUR CLIENTS.
Membership has its privileges.
ASACP has an approved member program that requires its members to comply with both the letter and spirit of child porn laws. ASACP’s membership coordinator reviews all applicants’ sites, looking for 2257 disclaimers and warning pages. Then she looks at the images to be certain that the models in them look over 18 years old.
She then uses a spidering service that scans websites using a list of more than 100 words that could denote child pornography to verify that no such term is on the sites or in the meta tags.
ASACP is in the process of obtaining approval for a 'hashing project" from state and federal law enforcement agencies. Known child pornography images would be hashed for MD5 and SHA1 values (the same process that Interpol uses) and stored in a database. ASACP would use this data to spider suspected child pornography websites and to programmatically determine if there are matches of known child porn images. Using software to spot matches reduces the stress and strain of a human reviewer, plus allows for more productivity since the software can run on a 24/7 basis.
Illegal images pop up on more than just websites; therefore, ASACP helps other associations and industries combat child pornography by sharing recently developed technology platforms: In addition to the ASACP child protection hotline, the Distributed Computing Industry Association (www.DCIA.info) and the DCIA-sponsored P2P PATROL "Peer-to-Peer Parents And Teens React On Line" initiative (www.P2Ppatrol.com) have saved the DCIA years of development and provide an immediate method for P2P customers to report suspected child pornography.
ASACP’s next project will be to work with the cell phone industry to share solutions developed for its users to report child pornography, as this is the newest distribution method.
Joan Irvine is the executive director of ASACP.