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US Operation Peer Blitz finds child porn in Scotland among the 3m world wide network

Sunday 20th January 2008

US FBI agents have passed on to Scottish police information on more than 700 computer users in Edinburgh allegedly involved in child pornography. Flint Waters, agent in charge of the Wyoming Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, said the number could actually be higher. Under Operation Peer Precision, more than 3m computers worldwide have been identified as sharing child pornography.

"They may be individuals who have placed images in shared folders which others can download," Waters said. "They are not the only occasions where agents have been offered them directly, our software is also able to find these folders online."

Investigators in the US, sometimes posing as children or paedophiles, found 10,000 images and videos on more than 700 computers in Edinburgh. Most depicted children under the age of 8 engaged in sex acts and included pictures of young children being raped.

The team in Wyoming is part of a coordinated investigation by law enforcement agencies in 18 countries, including Britain, named Operation Peer Blitz.

Source: http://www.upi.com


OJP is awarding more than $14m to fund ICAC task forces, including a new task force in Southern Texas.
bringing us to 46 task forces in operation across the country. The ICAC Task Forces are incredibly effective. Since 1998 when ICAC was created, the task forces have received more than 250,000 complaints of child sexual exploitation facilitated by computers. The task force operations have led to nearly 6,000 arrests nationwide and forensic exams of more than 23,000 computers. In addition, more than 134,000 law enforcement officers and prosecutors have received training on how to conduct these investigations.

In May 2005, the ICAC task forces played a key role in Operation Peerless. This was a national effort to combat child pornography trafficked through peer-to-peer computer networks. As some of you may know, peer-to-peer software provides direct links between users and allows users to avoid the firewalls installed on regular Internet servers. As you can imagine, it enables a great deal of illegal activity.

Through Operation Peerless, authorities identified more than 3,500 computers that shared child pornography and arrested and prosecuted more than 65 individuals. An additional 10 suspects have been arrested and are awaiting prosecution. On the heels of Operation Peerless, ICAC task forces have stepped up their undercover operations in the peer to peer environments.

For example, under Operation Peer Precision, more than 3m computers worldwide have been identified as sharing child pornography. The volume of activity is so great that ICAC task forces have reached out and partnered with more than a dozen countries in Europe, Asia, South America, and Africa.

As the numbers suggest, and as the task forces have in fact discovered, computer-facilitated child sexual exploitation is becoming more organized. It's part of a trend in the world of organised crime.

ICAC has helped to improve our understanding of the dynamics of Internet crime, and this knowledge is a crime-fighting tool in itself. For example, most task force investigations have involved substantial communication and coordination between federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.

This proves that cybercrime makes jurisdictional boundaries obsolete. In response, OJP has published program standards to facilitate interagency referrals of child pornography and cyber-enticement cases.

We've also learned that most investigations are initiated in response to citizen complaints, rather than through undercover operations in which officers pose as minors in a chatroom. For example, the CyberTipline, operated by our friends at the The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, has been an invaluable partner in ICAC's efforts.

The CyberTipline is a one-stop reporting point for citizens with information about suspicious Internet activity. Specially trained analysts review and verify all information that comes in through the tipline and then forward those leads to appropriate law enforcement agencies. Since it began operation more than six years ago, the CyberTipline has received tens of thousands of reports regarding the sexual exploitation of children.

Although we've learned that many people know about cybercrime, they still are not sufficiently informed about what to do when they encounter it. For example, parents may not realize how quickly their children can be lured into meeting with strangers they have met online. In one instance, it took just 45 minutes for a task force officer, posing as a teenager, to arrange a meeting with a 13-year-old girl.

And parents don't always know what to do when they come across suspicious activity. ICAC task forces have investigated several cases in which vigilant parents warded off perpetrators, but did not call the CyberTipline. Although their children were spared harm, the perpetrators probably went on to victimise other children.

Source: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/aag/speeches/ICAC.htm

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