Web-Based Child Pornography: Quantification and Qualification of Demand

Web-Based Child Pornography: Quantification and Qualification of Demand

Chad M.S. Steel (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/jdcf.2009062405
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While the supply of child pornography through the World Wide Web has been frequently speculated upon, the demand has not adequately been explored. Quantification and qualification of the demand provides forensic examiners a behavioral basis for determining the sophistication of individual seeking child pornography. Additionally, the research assists an examiner in searching for and presenting the evidence of child pornography browsing. The overall search engine demand for child pornography is bounded as being between .19 and .49%, depending on the inclusion of ambiguous phrases, with the top search for child pornography being “lolita bbs”. Unlike peer-to-peer networks, however, the top child pornography related query ranks only as the 198th most popular query overall. The queries on search engines appear to be decreasing as well, and the techniques employed are becoming less reliant direct links to content.
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One of the most frequent cases encountered by digital forensic examiners is the possession of child pornography. A major challenge for the examiner is characterizing the activities of the suspect – understanding how the suspect seeks out child pornography helps to meet that challenge. Because the web activities of a suspect are one of the most common features analyzed in an examination, understanding the demand for web-based child pornography is important.

A second reason for the study of web-based demand for child pornography is to provide an academic basis for statements related to the quantity of the activity. Those proposing particular legislation targeted at combating child pornography may tend to exaggerate the activities, whereas defense counsels may downplay the relationships between child pornography and particular search terms. By performing similarity analysis, we can provide accurate information to both parties without prejudice.

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