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This is largely due to the global nature of the phenomenon as the Internet is indeed the trademark of interdependence and globalization. The relations and connections it facilitates allow people around the world to come together in all sorts of activities, and, inevitably, pornography is one of them. Therefore, this type of complexity demanded a thorough response from the part of the authorities both at global and at the national level.
From a global perspective, the phenomenon is dealt with by numerous international organizations. On the one hand, the United Nations has been promoting concerted action in this field through the Economic and Social Council that supervises the activities of the Human Rights Council. Its annual reports on the state of children around the world have improved the visibility of child pornography as a contemporary problem. From this point-of-view, the Council monitories the evolution of national states and its elaboration of reports represents the final result of this systematic control. Thus, child pornography is addressed in a wide context and the conclusions reached make it possible for the organization, through its specialized organs and agencies, to advise and guide states to take the necessary actions to improve their record in the field.
In order to make the connection between the global level and the national one in terms of action activity, the commission for Human Rights authorizes the elaboration of these reports on the one hand, and of action guidelines on the other. Therefore, in 2005, the institution reported on the overall implications of child pornography, but it does so only based on information provided by the national governments. This comes to prove the importance of the interdependent ratio between the Commission and the national states. At the same time however, this relationship relies on the goodwill and good faith of the states involved, as some countries may ponder between sending or not accurate, reliable and true information over to the Commission for it to draft its report. Despite this impediment, this system involving both resources with authority at the global level and information and infrastructure at the national one represents the result of the complementarities needed to face up to such a transnational phenomenon.
Another important institution that places child pornography as head of the list of modern evils, and one that has tried to take action for preventing its spread while acknowledging the role the Internet plays, is Child Net International. According to its own status, Child Net is a nonprofit organization "working with others to "help make the Internet a great and safe place for children." (Child Net International, 2004) it promotes a similar action guide as the rest of the international organizations is by placing great importance on cooperation at the supranational level, counting on the support of the nation states directly involved. Still, it does not exclude the participation of any party interested in joining the global cause against child pornography on the Internet, thus, "Child Net International's mission is to work in partnership with others around the world." (Child Net, 2004)
In their attempt to influence the evolution of the phenomenon, they have established a series of guidelines and action plans that are meant to set the working areas both for the organization and for the cooperation with the other parties involved. Thus, it considers it important to focus on the instruction of children in the proper use of the Internet's resources; also, the organization tries to play a role in "Helping children and young people acquire new "net literacy" skills and giving advice to industry, organizations, parents, teachers, and care takers about Internet and mobile safety."(Child Net, 2004) Thus, they emphasize the need for proper educational training and an adequate use of the resources available on the virtual net. Finally, the third important area of action is represented by the initiative to directly address the issue of online child exploitation as well as elaborating and influencing policies in the matter.
Overall, it can be said that international organizations, be they a result of intergovernmental participation or nonprofit institutions, all see cooperation among states and every party willing to get involved as the most important element in the strategy designed to tackle child pornography and its spread on the internet. As a consequence, the decisions and guidelines decided upon at a supranational level are followed by concrete actions implemented at the national level. Therefore, again, the complementarities between global actions and local implementation are pointed out as essential.
The results of these constant consultations among states and other organizations and nonprofit bodies led to the establishment of a series of directions for action and in most cases concrete results are visible.
Firstly, according the Economic and Social Council, an important step for the states to take in their attempt to crack down on child prostitution on the Internet is the adaptation of the legal framework, as "many countries still do not have legislation on child pornography. This legal vacuum leaves a dangerous gap that exposes children to the risk of abuse, further increased by the impunity factor." (UN Economic and Social Council, 2004, 2) Child pornography presented on the Internet bares different masks, which vary from merely possessing pornographic material on one's personal computer to actually being engaged in activities meant to encourage or promote pornographic behavior. The wide range of actions that must be covered by the national legislation has made the latter become inadequate for the challenges facing our society from this point-of-view. For instance, while the possession of pornographic material, in any form of shape, is punishable by law, and therefore considered to be a crime, other means of Internet interaction such as grooming, or luring, that is "online enticement of children for sexual acts," is yet to be properly addressed by the criminal system. (UN Economic and Social Council, 2004) From this point-of-view, additional legislative measures should by taken by the states in order to address the evolving practices of those engaged in child pornography on the internet.
In addition, another important step states must make for a better control over the phenomenon is the improvement of the criminal legal system that would somehow exclude the treatment of children as criminals and consider them as victims of those practicing pornography. It has been common practice for children who are involved in such act to be considered for criminal charges for having, knowingly or otherwise, be part of Internet pornography. However, this is psychologically unfair, especially taking into account the emotional stress they are faced with both during the actual activities and afterwards, as part of a criminal trial. This is why it is important to bear in mind the vulnerable capacity of the child and to ensure that the legal system treats him as a victim, and not as a criminal.
The proper way for dealing with child pornography on the internet, as stated before, is represented by the joint action of different segments of the society, be it state authorities or the civil society. This is why programs supporting the cooperation between the state and the NGOs present in a certain country are benefic and could influence the current state of affairs concerning pornography. A relevant example is Brazil's initiative to improve the cooperation between the state authorities and national and international organizations in order to deal with the alarming situation present in the country. The plan involved the Government, the civil society and the private sector as well, thus it was a joint action that benefited from the financial and public support of all the important actors in Brazil. (UN Economic and Social Council, 2004)
The actions taken by the United States can be considered to have been relatively successful, at least from the point-of-view of the United Nations. This is obvious in the recent additional reports presented before the organization in which the United States is indeed accused of violating women's rights, but not of endangering the safety of minors or promoting pornographic behavior on the internet. (UN Economic and Social Council, 2006, 38) This could be the result of the series of measures taken at the level of the federal organizational chart and most importantly the FBI's Innocent Images National Initiative. It is a program designed with a double aim, on the one hand, it sets to "identify, investigate, and prosecute sexual offenders who use the Internet and other online services to sexually exploit children; and (b) to identify and protect child victims." (UN Economic and Social Council, 2004, 17) Their actions include undercover operations led by special agents who access suspected sexual predators and ultimately catch them in the act.
Another important segment of the strategy to prevent the spread of child pornography on the internet is the Internet Crimes against Children Task Force established by the Justice Department. Its main goal is to offer the logistical and financial support to local and state governments to implement actions and measures meant to deal with cyber-enticement and…[continue]
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Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 16(4): 99-114. Barrett, David & Melrose, Margaret (2012). Courting Controversy -- Children Sexually Abused Through Prostitution -- Are They Everybody's Distant Relatives but Nobody's Children? Child and Family Law Quarterly, 15(4): 371-382. McCabe, Kimberly (2007). The Role of Internet Service Providers in Cases of Child Pornography and Child Prostitution. Social Science Computer Review, 26(2): 247-251. Streetlight USA (2012). The Issue. Accessed 18 July 2012 at http://streetlightusa.org/the-issue/ U.S. Department
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