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“net anonymity” vs. “fight against child pornography”


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IT security is my daily business and so, amongst other things, I am very interested in state of the art technologies applicable also for the “greater” public.

The torproject [1] provides not only “security for the masses” but also “anonymity for the masses”. Anybody using the tor network infrastructure is “safe against eavesdropping”, given todays state of technology.

Now as much as I support everybody’s right of anonymity and really see it as a very basic human right, as much imporant to me is the protection of children against being sexually abused.

As it seems, the tor network has become a “save heaven” for really the lowest of lowest of lowest kinds of crappy pedophiles.

I mean, I really believe that “the authorities” should not have the general right to interfere with privacy, but it must be possible for them to interfere in case of major criminal actions, when an independent judge or similar has approved it.

The conflict between protecting internet users from countries that have no independent jurisdiction (dictatorships …) on the one hand and between tracking down people raping children on the other hand should always be resolved in favour of the weaker party, in that case the really innocent, badly hurt children.

I know that the fight against child pornography as well as the fight against terrorism can be a “killer argument” against any kind of anonymity and that it has indeed been misused more than once in the past by many countries around the world, but what is the alternative? Letting pedophiles continue to destroy children and call this “the price of our free societies”. No no no, just no.

One might argue that the actual abuse is not done by those sites but by the people physically hurting the children and closing down those sites won’t save the children from being hurt. That may be true at first glance, yet it is a known fact that the child pornography industry is huge (see [2] or [3]). And on the other hand, removing the audience for “private” molesters will make it less attractive for them and reduce the stimulus for other potential molesters.

So eventually, I believe that anonymity is no absolute, untouchable right. Every technology not allowing lawfull interception should be banned, with the keyword being lawfull.

[1] http://www.torproject.org/
[2] http://www.crime-research.org/news/22.03.2004/146/
[3] New York Times article on child pornography

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Sean
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The problem with your argument is that widespread public surveillance and net censorship does not catch or stop child pornography at the source where children are being abused. Successful child porn busts that actually rescue children and bring charges against porn ring leaders are conducted by undercover investigation and infiltration of child porn rings themselves, not gathering reams of IPs (which are often compromised or open proxies), watching internet traffic, or censoring or monitoring lists of distribution sites. See http://www.crime-research.org/news/22.03.2004/146/ for details on how the vast majority of child porn sites are copying their content from a small number of… Read more »

thesel
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yes, I understand what you mean and I agree – mostly. What you miss however, is the fact that someone has to host those files. I perfectly agree that focussing on hunting down the consumers does not solve anything, but hunting both the producers and the people hosting it would drastically reduce the amount of child pornography around. Maybe this is naive, but I think that the harder child pornography is available for a “greater audience”, the less the “demand” for molested children will be. So my point is to have lawfull possibilities for law enforcement agencies to gain access… Read more »

Sean
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Sean
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Sean
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Yes, I think we’re mostly in agreement. But I just want to re-emphasise just how censorship lists and even “lawful” surveillance often go horribly wrong. For example, Australia, Denmark, and Finland have all instituted censorship and surveillance programs in the name of blocking child porn and “terrorist materials”, and all have grown beyond their initial scope: http://www.forbes.com/2009/03/19/australia-internet-censorship-markets-economy-wikileaks.htmlhttp://cyberlaw.org.uk/2008/12/25/denmark-3863-sites-on-censorship-list-feb-2008-wikileaks/http://cyberlaw.org.uk/2008/12/25/thailand-official-mict-censorship-list-20-dec-2008-wikileaks/Meanwhile, it appears that the child pornographers have far outstripped the ability for filters and surveillance to block or catch them: http://www.wikileaks.com/wiki/My_life_in_child_porn#The_technology_of_todayhttp://www.wikileaks.com/wiki/My_life_in_child_porn#The_technology_of_todayDespite the obvious trust issues with this source, I believe it to be factual, simply because this is very similar to how spammers,… Read more »

Sean
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Arg, the HTML filter formatting is driving me crazy. That second wikileaks link should be:


http://www.wikileaks.com/wiki/My_life_in_child_porn#The_reality_of_filtering_ang_censorship

thesel
Guest

Yes, censorship is not only completely ineffective but counterproductive instead.

That wikileak article is an interesting read, though I find it ways too much focused on the producers, distributors and consumers but almost completely ignoring the (long term) effects abuse has for the involved children.

And after reading it I almost stand corrected, because anonymizing networks only appear to be a small fraction of this entire madness.

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