A couple of weeks ago, in the midst of doing research into child pornography censorship legislation, I did a quick experiment and Googled the word “sex”. I wanted to test the claims of various anti-censorship voices who argue that hard core on-line sexual abuse material is rare and difficult to find and that current anti-pornography censorship legislation is a form of crypto-totalitarian control.
The most popular hit under “sex” was something called the “pornhub”. This website advertised another called “Passed Out Pussy” which offers customers “Extreme videos of drunk young girls fucked to pieces and ruined for life!!”. Here is the text from the home page:
Welcome to the nastiest adult site on the net … Passed Out Pussy!!! We feature thousand of the most extreme teen porn movies ever taped! Our speciality is young girls drunk or drugged before they are brutally abused!! All our movies are high quality DVD ripps available both for downloading an instant online streaming for your perverted convenience ... Note: Yes this site is extreme, disgusting, immoral, bordeline, unbelievable and gruesome but it is 100% legal. All models depicted are at least 18 years old at the time photos and videos were taken. Some guys help a girl home when she has had to [sic] much to drink. We say, call your friends, bring out the camera and then take turns to f### that drunk slut to a pulp!! Make sure you film evey [sic] minute of her humiliation and brutal f### that passed out little f### hole so hard that her grand daughters will be sore!!.
Beneath this confident incitement to crime, there are 220 photographic still from videos of young girls being tortured and raped. Seventy of these images are of girls screaming, three girls have knives held to their throats, one has a gun held to her head, many are unconscious, forced to drink alcohol, bound, gagged, and being tortured. The website offers “thousands” more of these videos. The over-all impression is that this website is distributing a vast collection of actual rape material which has been produced by rapists and not professional pornographers. “Passed Out Pussy” invites users to contribute their own home produced rape material. Moreover, one would be truly naïve to assume that this website is telling the truth when it claims that all of the “models” being raped are 18 years and over. Many of the girls look as though they are 14- or 15-years-old. Several images are of girls being raped by men who are in their 50s and 60s.
“Passed Out Pussy” is part of X.movies.com, “the most comprehensive downloadable adult video site on the Internet today”. The website is also listed as belonging to Internet Media Productions and Ramson Productions Ltd, both of which are large mainstream UK based companies.
My very simple experiment demonstrated that by merely Googling the word “sex” Internet users (men, women, children, teens) are immediately offered a vast database of child sexual abuse material. I reported the website to the ACMA who replied that it was prohibited material and that they had “notified the above content to the makers of IIA approved filters, for their attention and appropriate action. The code requires ISPs to make available to customers an IIA approved filter” (August 10, 2009). I asked the ACMA exactly what they meant by this and what their policy was when a citizen reported photographic evidence of sex crimes against minors and ten days later they replied that they do in fact report to the Australian Federal Police, but failed to mention if they had done so in this case.
I asked the IIA (Internet Industry Association) the same question and was eventually told that I can purchase filtering software that “costs between $50 and $80 with provisions for regular updates”. And that “many products may be be [sic] downloaded on a trial basis of up to 60days, so that the user need not commit their funds to a solution that is not suited for their requirements” (August 19, 2009). In other words, I have to pay a corporation to make sure that I am not traumatised by online child sexual abuse images.
Currently, there is a general agreement among experts that it is impossible to regulate the online distribution of child sexual abuse material. Because the Internet is ungovernable, the only possibility of censoring child sexual abuse material is through a process of internal self-regulation. The responsibility for regulating the Internet child sexual abuse industry essentially rests with ISPs who, as experts also point out, are reluctant to put children’s rights before profit.
The situation is compounded when one recognises that the self-regulation of online child sexual abuse material largely depends on complaints made by citizens. As I discovered, the process of reporting child pornography is not as transparent as it should be. I do not know if the crimes I reported will be investigated. Nor do I know if my ISP will take responsibility for failing to regulate child pornography and traumatising its customers. But I can, if I chose to, fork out some money for filtering software.
The de-regulated expansion of the online child sexual abuse industry is one of the more nefarious manifestations of late-capitalism. Until ISPs are held to account by citizens and governments, misogynistic sites such as “Passed Out Pussy” will continue to confidently advocate the sadistic rape of children. Given this situation, it is hardly surprising that, as the Centre for Problem-Oriented Policing puts it, “many offenders realise that realistically their chances of being caught are quite remote”.
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