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New Zealand Case Shows Worldwide Growth Of Internet Child Porn

The video of a man raping his 9-year-old daughter discovered in New Zealand in 2016 triggered a global search including the FBI, the U.S. State Department, and the Department of Homeland Security. Months later, investigators raided the Bisbee, Az. home of Paul Adams, arrested him, and rescued the girl in the video along with her five siblings. While Adams died by suicide in custody, the videos live on, downloaded and uploaded by child pornographers across the U.S. and around the globe, growing ever more popular as police, prosecutors, and internet companies engage in a futile effort to remove the images, reports the Associated Press. The number of times the Adams video has been seen soared from fewer than 100 in 2017 to 4,500 in 2021 according the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), a nonprofit that tracks child pornography on the internet. “That’s the horrendous part about it,” said Nancy Salminen, her adoptive mother. “You can’t just say that’s in the past and shut the door and move on. She will never be able to turn her back on what’s happened.” Police referred the Adams video, or portions of it, to NCMEC for identification 1,850 times since it was discovered, contributing to nearly 800 arrests on federal child pornography charges last year.


The seeming immortality of the Adams video underscores the limits of computer sleuthing by a global network of investigators racing to stop internet child pornography, and it reveals how advances in data storage and video technology have outpaced efforts to stop it. Permanently removing the images from the internet is nearly impossible because pornographers throughout the world are constantly downloading the images, storing them, and reposting them. Over the last several years, sightings of child sexual abuse material on the internet have skyrocketed. Under federal law, every U.S.-based internet platform is required to report discoveries of child pornography on their social media pages to NCMEC’s Cyber Tipline, which faced a 61 percent increase over two years. The vast majority of reports stem from child pornography posted on the open internet and do not account for child porn posted to the dark web, where producers and consumers of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) operate with near complete anonymity. Investigators attribute the increase of CSAM to advances in technology that have made it easier and less expensive for amateurs to take pornographic videos with their cellphones and to store vast amounts of child pornography at minimal cost on remote servers or external hard drives. Investigators also attribute the sharp rise in internet child porn to the worldwide travel restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic. Unable to visit countries where child prostitution proliferates, some pornographers resorted to “sextortion,” in which an online perpetrator lures a child into sending compromising selfies.


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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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