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Cybersleuths aid in child porn crackdown

New technology helps police during investigations

Cybersleuths aid in child porn crackdown


By Jonathan Aiken
CNN

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- With Friday's bust of an alleged worldwide pedophile ring and the FBI's recent "Candyman" sting of child porn Web sites, investigators say they need to become more aggressive and innovative to stop what has become a global, lucrative trade in such illegal material.

But child porn sites like Candyman are nothing new to Dennis Guzzy. A former Philadelphia sex crimes cop, he now trolls the Web for an anti-pedophile task force run by the Pennsylvania attorney general's office.

His targets: child molesters who collect child porn and look for children in order to have sex.

Guzzy begins his cybersleuthing by posting messages where he seeks like-minded people who want to enjoy "family fun" -- a euphemism for incest.

He usually doesn't have to wait long for a reply.

"They are very quick to say what they want to do with these children," Guzzy said. "Some of these investigations may take as long as several weeks, some we've done in two days."

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One man said he couldn't wait to see Guzzy's imaginary daughters in their cheerleading uniforms. Another said he understood the need to be gentle with the girls.

Child porn, which was exclusively a backdoor trade in magazines and pulp fiction, has exploded in cyberspace. One chatroom alone may have more than 11,000 messages offering pictures and videos.

"Two years [ago], it was hard to see a child porn site on the Internet," said Guido Rudolphi, an Internet investigator. "Right now, you put in some search terms and you find thousands of pages."

In fact, international cybersleuths say some of the most popular Web sites are based in Russia, eastern Europe, and even one doing business in Afghanistan.

New tools

Technology has changed the market for kiddie porn. Some CD-ROMs, similar to ones seized as evidence that contain more than 20,000 images, sell for about $25,000 each.

New tools

What hasn't changed, authorities say, is the corollary -- that those who collect pornography involving children are also more likely to be those who molest them.

"Since 1997, we have been trying to show the direct correlation between those who traffic in child pornography and those who actually molest kids," said Raymond Smith, a U.S. postal inspector.

"Thirty-five percent of the individuals that we arrest for trafficking in child pornography are in fact, child molesters."

Police have new tools to help find stashes of kiddie porn -- no matter where they are.

This software tracks the location of Web sites -- or the area where an Internet server is housed. It even matches the general location with libraries of pre-existing satellite imagery of the neighborhood.

Changes in technology and the law continue.

Just four months ago, Pennsylvania took the lead in requiring Internet service providers, or ISPs, doing business in the state to shut down Web sites deemed obscene by state officials.

In just the past two months, more than 400 complaints have been filed with the state attorney general's office.



 
 
 
 


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