RECOMMENDATION 39

Part: 
Three
Chapter: 
3

Congress should enact legislation to prohibit the exchange of information concerning child pornography or children to be used in child pornography through computer networks.

Many pedophile offenders and child pornographers have traditionally used the mails as a mainstay of their psychological base as well as the source of information regarding potential victims.[490] Recently, however, pedophile offenders and child pornographers have begun to use personal computers for communications.[491] A person may now subscribe to an information service whereby he or she can contact other subscribers.[492] The services are private commercial enterprises which sell access codes to subscribing members. These services offer everything from "private" communications accessed through individual code words to conference calls.[493] The communication may also take the form of a "bulletin board" message to which any other subscriber may respond.[494]

Personal computers have instant communication capabilities and have afforded subscribers the opportunity to establish extensive networks.[495] Within these networks one or two pedophile offenders or child pornographers will often assume leadership roles.[496] These individuals will coordinate the conversations and activities with other members of the networks.[497]

Subscribers may identify themselves using a first name and will identify the children with whom they are currently sexually involved.[498] The vast network which may develop enables pedophile offenders who live hundreds of miles apart to communicate about contact with a child known to both.[499] During these computerized conversations the offender may describe his actual and imagined sexual exploits with children.

Investigators have discovered that pedophile offenders use personal computer communications to establish contacts and as sources for the exchange or sale of child pornography.[500] The computer user, after establishing a secure relationship with another subscriber, will arrange for materials to be sent through the mail.[501] The subscribers will identify and describe the types of materials they seek. Respondents will then transmit the materials to the designated address.

Pedophile offenders and child pornographers may also use personal computer services to identify particular children who can be used in making child pornography.[502] The subscribers may describe the child physically and give a location where the child may be found.[503]

The technologically complex computer systems and networks operated by pedophile offenders and their multijurisdictional nature should prompt federal interest and substantiate jurisdiction.[504] Each of these systems uses an interstate common carrier, the telephone, as its communication medium. The information about these minors is routinely conveyed between or among various states.

A recent example occurred in Raleigh, North Carolina, where authorities discovered a computer network known as the "Gay Teen Conference" which was operated by a local man. The network could be reached by any computer operator who obtained a special password and it contained descriptions and depictions of various homosexual acts. The operator of "Gay Teen Conference" also operated a religious computer bulletin board known as "Ministry Bulletin Board." A computer operator was able to obtain the password for "Gay Teen Conference" by contacting the "Ministry Bulletin Board"[505] The proposed legislation would provide a useful law enforcement tool in this area of serious concern.

Notes

  1. Miami Hearing, Vol. I, Paul Hartman, p. 105.
  2. Id., p. 106.
  3. Id., p. 106-07.
  4. Id., p. 108-10.
  5. During his testimony before the Commission, Postal Inspector Paul Hartman stated...... I accessed a computerized bulletin board and found a message rather casually displayed proclaiming another subscriber's interest in photographs of teen and preteen children." Id., p. 108.
  6. Id., p. 109.
  7. Id., p. 111.
  8. Id.
  9. Id.
  10. Id.111-12.
  11. Id., p. 111.
  12. Id., pp. 108-09.
  13. Id., p. 111.
  14. Id.
  15. Hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on juvenile justice, Oct. 1, 1985, p. 4; Senator Paul S. Trible, Jr. (R-Va.), and Senator Jeremiah Denton (R-Ala.) have introduced Senate Bill 1305 to amend 18 U.S.C. sections 1462 and 2252 to prohibit the use of computers for the interstate or foreign dissemination of obscene material, child pornography and advertisements for the same and information about minors which can be used for facilitating, encouraging, offering or soliciting sexually explicit conduct with a minor. The legislation provides:
  16. BILL

    "To amend title 18, United States Code, to establish criminal penalties for the transmission by computer of obscene matter, or by computer or other means, of matter pertaining to the sexual exploitation of children, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled. That this Act may be cited as the "Computer Pornography and Child Exploitation Prevention Act of 1985".

    Sec. 2 Section 1462 of Title 18, United States Code is amended by-

    1. Inserting after subsection (c) the following:

      "(d) any obscene, lewd, lascivious, or filthy writing, description, picture, or other matter entered, stored, or transmitted by or in a computer; or "Whoever knowingly owns, offers, provides, or operates any computer program or service is being used to transmit in interstate or foreign commerce any matter the carriage of which is herein made unlawful; or" and

    2. inserting at the end thereof the following:

      "For purposes of this section-

      1. the term 'computer' means an electronic magnetic, optical, electrochemical, or other high-speed data processing device performing logical, arithmetic, or storage functions, and includes any data storage facility or communications facility directly related to or operating in conjunction with such device;
      2. the term 'computer program' means an instruction or statement or a series of instructions or statements in a form acceptable to a computer which permits the functioning of a computer system in a manner designed to provide appropriate products from such computer system:
      3. the term 'computer service' includes computer time, data processing, and storage function; and
      4. the term 'computer system' means a set of related connected, or unconnected computers, computer equipment, devices, and software."
      1. Any person who knowingly enters into or transmits by means of computer, or makes, prints, publishes, or reproduces by other means, or knowingly causes or allows to be entered into or transmitted by means of compute, or made, printed, published, or reproduced by other means-
        1. any notice, statement or advertisement, or
        2. any minor's name, telephone number, place of residence, physical characteristics, or other descriptive or identifying information.

      For purposes of facilitating, encouraging, offering, or soliciting sexually explicit conduct of or with any minor, or the visual depiction of such conduct, shall by punished as provided in subsection (d) of this section, if such persons knows or has reason to know that such notice, statement, advertisement, or descriptive or identifying information will be transported in interstate or foreign commerce or mailed, or if such information has actually been transported in interstate or foreign commerce or mailed."

      Sec. 4 Section 2252 of Title 18, United States Code, is amended-

      1. in subsection (a) by striking out "subsection (b)" and inserting in lieu thereof "subsection (c)"
      2. by redesignating subsection (b) as subsection (c);
      3. by inserting after subsection (a) the following new subsection:
      4. "(b)Any person who knowingly enters into or transmits by means of computer, or makes, prints, publishes, or reproduces by other means, or knowingly causes or allows to be entered into or transmitted by means of computer, or made, printed, published, or reproduced by other means any notice, statement, or advertisement to buy, sell, receive, exchange, or disseminate any visual depiction, if

        "1. the producing of such visual depiction involves the use of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct; and

        2. such visual depiction is of such conduct;

        shall be punished as provided under subsection (c), of this section, if such person knows or has reason to know that such notice, statement, or advertisement will be transported in interstate or foreign commerce or mailed, or if such notice, statement, or advertisement has actually been transported in interstate or foreign commerce or mailed."

        Sec. 5, Section 2255 of Title 18, United States Code is amended by adding at the end thereof the following new paragraph:

        "(5) 'computer' means an electronic, magnetic, optical, electrochemical, or other high-speed data processing device performing logical, arithmetic, or storage function, and includes any data storage facility directly related to or operating in conjunction with such device."

  17. Seminary Graduate Charge in Porno Computer Network, The Fayetteville (N.C.) Times, Feb. 7, (1986), p. 14B.