FBI: Adequate Laws Exist to Combat Child Porno

WASHINGTON – The FBI told a senate panel Thursday afternoon no more new laws
are needed to deal with online child pornography, insisting existing
prohibitions are more than adequate to prosecute kiddie porn purveyors.


“The laws are pretty well defined,” James H. Burris, deputy assistant
director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division told the Senate
Commerce Committee. “We have…arrested thousands of predators who would use
the Internet to entice children into exploitive situations.”


Nevertheless, Burris called child pornography a “big problem,” noting that
the Internet has facilitated an overall growth industry in pornography.


“More than ever, sexually explicit materials are cheap and distribution
channels are widespread,” he said. “With that comes the proliferation of
obscene material and child pornography.”


Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) told the panel legal Internet sites containing
pornography have grown from 14 million to 260 million in 2003. He said the
number of child porno sites – all illegal — is approximately 100,000.


“While the debate between protecting children from Internet pornography and
maintaining First Amendment rights continues in our courts, the business of
Internet pornography continues to boom,” he said.


James Weaver, a Virginia Tech professor, put the online pornography issue in
a broader context when he referred to the “marriage” of pornography
producers and corporate America.


According to Weaver, 2005 revenues for the adult entertainment industry
projects out to $12.6 billion with $4.3 billion generated by the sale or
rental of adult videos and another $2.5 billion through the Internet.


Moreover, he said, DirecTV earns over $20 million per month from adult films
and AT&T “generates similar income distributing pornography via its
broadband Internet services.”


He also noted that all of the top 50 U.S. hotel chains – with the exception
of Omni Hotels, offer pornography with sales accounting for nearly 70
percent of their in-room profits.


“Basically, the profiteering from sexually explicit media by mainstream
companies has helped to legitimize pornography as ‘normal’ and ‘commonplace’
for millions of Americans,” Weaver said.


Perhaps another reflection of the corporate influence in the skin trade was
the first ever appearance by an adult entertainment official before the
Senate Commerce Committee.


“It is my hope that my remarks will bring some balance to a discussion
before this Congress that is too often dominated by a vocal minority intent
on vilifying expression protected by our Constitution,” said Paul Cambria,
counsel to the Adult Freedom Foundation.


Cambria said on an average day, approximately 60 million unique viewers go
to adult entertainment Websites.


“Contrary to the claims of those who wish to stifle any adult expression
with an erotic theme, the adult entertainment industry does not exploit
children,” he said. “The industry does not employ child performers and does
not condone access to [those] materials created for the entertainment of adults.”


He added, “Every American Website is governed by the requirements of federal
obscenity laws. Similarly, these Websites must also comply with strict
federal child pornography laws.”


Despite those laws, Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) is pushing for a 25
percent excise tax on Internet pornography transactions to finance better
filtering tools and techniques for parents.


“Despite filtering and blocking technologies, children are accessing more
and more sexually explicit material at home on their family computer,”
Lincoln told the panel. “With the spread of wireless
handheld devices, the Internet can also bring inappropriate materials to
places like the school bus or the mall, where parents can’t always be
present to provide the necessary level of supervision.”


A March 2005 report by the Pew Internet & American Life Project shows a
sharp increase in the percentage of parents who use filters. The study also
shows that a substantial number of parents have implemented “house rules”
that detail when and for how long children can use the Internet.


“The statistics show that parents continue taking their online parenting
responsibilities seriously,” said Tim Lorden, executive director of the
Internet Education Foundation. “While there are no silver bullets to the
problem of Internet pornography, the studies and research show that a
holistic parenting solution can go a long way.”

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