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Webmasters Get In-depth Lesson on Fighting CP, Protecting Sites

By Michael Pearson reprinted with permission from AVN

TORONTO - "Are You Protected?" was the theme during a Webmaster Access East workshop on Friday, May 18. Hosted by Tim Henning, compliance director for the Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection, the session instructed delegates on the realities of child porn: What can be done to fight it, and how do webmasters draw the line between such heinous illegal content and legitimate XXX content made by, with, and for adults?

Sponsored by adult companies such as AVN, Playboy, and, ASACP is an industry-funded, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating child porn from the Web. "We do everything we can to show government that we’re an industry that is responsible and self-regulating," said Henning.

To do this, ASACP provides an online hot line for webmasters and surfers to report suspected child pornography. These reports are investigated by ASACP, which identifies the hosting, billing, IP address, ownership, and linkage of suspected child-porn sites. "Red Flag" reports then are sent to government authorities for action. Throughout its 11 years in existence, ASACP has received more than 200,000 "raw" reports of suspected CP sites.

ASACP also provides "best practices" for adult sites and billing companies, to help them deter child pornography, identify suspected child porn operators trying to exploit unwitting legitimate adult sites to distribute child porn, and to label clearly adult sites that have verified their models’ ages—as well as employing the restricted-to-adults label (RTA).

For legitimate adult industry operators, child porn poses two threats: The first is the threat to children in general; the second is from unscrupulous politicians and the religious right, who deliberately link child porn with legal adult content to serve their own political ends. "They like to perceive legal [adult content] and child pornography as two sides of the same coin; where in fact they are very different," warned Henning. "No politician ever got into trouble by bashing porn."

"The real child-porn operators specialize in really heinous sexual abuse of children and toddlers," Henning said. "These images cannot be confused with legitimate adult images." Nevertheless, unless the adult industry steps up to fight child porn and prevent access by underage surfers to adults-only content, the right wing’s threat to the industry will continue, he said. This is why the ASACP has come up with the widely endorsed RTA Label. Posting the RTA Label on adult sites makes it clear to surfers and ISPs that the site contains adult content. ASACP also supports the Internet Content Rating Association system, which details the specific content of adult sites.

For the adult industry to protect itself, it must fight child porn publicly and actively, Henning explained. Anything less, and public confusion between child porn and legitimate adult content—and the ongoing public backlash—will continue. Judging by the rapt attention of the full house audience, webmasters were listening.