Analysis of ways of coverage of child pornography

Analysis of ways of coverage of child pornography via internet.

By Fernando da Rosa Morena

History record

In April this year the "Latin American Parliamentary Front against Sexual and Commercial Child Exploitation", asked me to give a talk before the Uruguayan Congress on "Child Pornography and the Internet". The work which preceded the lecture allowed me to perceive the complexity of the problem and at the same time motivated me to continue the research I had already started about the subject. One of the first studies that attracted my attention was the report "Marketing Pornography on the Information Superhighway: a Survey of 917,410 Images, Description, Short Stories and Animations Downloaded 8.5 Million Times by Consumers in Over 2000 Cities in Forty Countries, Provinces and Territories". This report was carried out by researchers at the Carnegie-Mellon Foundation and first appeared in the Georgetown Law Journal. Although its objective was pornography in general and not specifically child pornography, its coverage by Time magazine, July 1,1995, with a cover page which read CYBERPORNO!, ( available at http:/ caused a great impact on public opinion , so much so that the magazine later minimized the results of the research.

In 1995 the American Senate passed the Communications Decency Act, which banned the spreading of the obscene material on the internet and established fines and prison penalties to whoever put that material within reach of anyone under 18. The law was finally abolished in 1997 by the Supreme Court since it was considered against freedom of speech and therefore non-constitutional.

That same year Manuel Castells , in his book The Information Era said: "In this way an impoverished and unindustrialized town in northern Minnesota discovered that its children were the specific targets in the registers confiscated by the police in the pedophilia network run by the inmates from the prison." (Castells, Manuel. La era de la información.Alianza Editorial.1997.Madrid.)

Also in that year, in a study titled: "Pornography in Cyberspace: An exploration of what’s in Usenet", its authors found 150 pornographic images on the news on Usenet. 65% of the images came from amateurs and they were less "strong" than the ones mailed for commercial purposes. For example, in 25% of the commercial pictures children and adolescents appeared, while only 9% of the non-commercial pictures gave the impression of child pornography. (Mehta M.D. y Plaza D.E.1007,Pornography in Cyberspace: An exploration of what’s in Usenet".)

After the records above mentioned a lot of ink has been used about pornography on the internet, but we have not found yet, a serious study about the different forms of child pornography coverage on the network in our region. In this respect, we consider that even in the events directly related to the subject, very little has been contributed.

As an example we have realized how inaccurate was one of the presentations given in the Conference at Yokohama, where, although it was acknowledged the importance of the electronic mail and the chat channels as a way of distribution of child pornography, it nonetheless maintained: "Although the Web is one of the sources of child pornography on the network, it is by no means the main one. In a study carried out by the Irish University of Cork between June and November 1997, it was found out that the sexual images of girls under age which circulated on the Web came mainly from Japan, and that 73% of all the sites in the network were in that country." (UNICEF: Yokohama 2nd Conference on Sexual and Commercial Exploitation of Children".)

We do not totally agree with the above, since we have detected many websites in the United States, where there’s a wide coverage of sexual images of under age children. The way in which it is done is through associating such business with the distribution of "artistic photography".

Internet, the network of the networks

Internet can be defined as a global system of computer networks through which a user has access to the given info through any of the computers connected to the network. It was originally conceived by the agency ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency) of the United States Government in the year 1969 and was originally known as ARPANET. Today the Internet is a public communications medium, self-sufficient in economic terms and accessible to hundreds of million of individuals all over the world. Technically, what distinguishes internet is the use of the communications protocol, called TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) which is one of the elements that gives Internet its singular characteristics World Wide Web Consortium ( Internet Corporation for assigned Names and Numbers ( If, for instance, we are looking for data corresponding to the address above mentioned through some software such as Neotrace destined to consult the data base of the internet users – also used in our research- we would get an answer with, among others, the following data:

OrgName: Informatics Central Service Address: Colonia 2066, Montevideo 11200, Uruguay. Country: UY NetRange: NetName: RAU NameServer: SECIU.EDU.UY TechName: Castillo, Luis TechPhone: (598 

2) 4083901  TechEmail: These data allow us to know the location of the server who provides service to the site (the site can be found in the SECIU server) , its range of available addresses IP, the name of the server, the name of thee responsible and how to contact him/her.

The World Wide Web

Though Internet exists long before the World Wide Web, it was the latter which allowed the spreading and popularization of the internet when it associated all the functions of the internet with a system of hypertext. Some of its main advantages are:

1) Texts, graphics, and multimedia elements can be combined 

2) The elements can associate to hyperlinks or links/bonds which lead to other sites or pages of these sites, related to the info wanted. 

3) The form of navigation is extremely easy and intuitive. 

4) We can acceed to the network from any type of platform, using any navigator and from any part of the world. 

5) Information is dynamic since it can be stored and updated permanently. 

6) It is public and independent, since its storage is distributed in millions of hardware throughout the world and nobody can exert control over all of it.

The first website was created by Tim Berners-Lee on Christmas 1990,and in August 1991 it received between 10 and 100 visits per day. From then onwards the increase of the World Wide Web developed in a geometrical progression, and that exponential increase became one of the characteristics of Internet. Referring to the Hypertext 91 Meeting which took place in San Antonio, Texas, in December 1991, Tim Berners-Lee Wrote: "On the wall of the demonstrations room hung all the titles of the projects hung above each booth and only one of them had a reference to the World Wide Web: ours. In the same conference, two years later and on the same wall, every project on exhibition had something to do with the Web" (Berners-Lee, Tim. Weaving the Network. Siglo XXI España Editores, 2000.p.48.))

It is important to point out that both Tim Berners-Lee-who worked as a researcher for the CERN (Switzerland) when he developed the World Wide Web- and the CERN itself, resigned to the rights for commercial exploitation of the World Wide Web as well as the HTML language, which has been one of the elements that contributed to its important development.

Internet in Latin America and the Caribbean

According to the data of the ITU World Telecommunication Indicators 2002 (Telecommunication Data and Statistics Unit. Telecommunications Development Bureau. International Telecommunications Union. Place des Nations.CH-1211 Geneva 20, Switzerland., the evolution of the number of users of the internet in Latin American and Caribbean countries was as follows:

1995 - 508.511 Usuarios de Internet

1997 - 2.974.041

1999 - 11.087.522

2001 - 26.488.15 

If from the same source we draw a graphic of the data of some of the countries in the area most implicated in the development of the internet and with the information all through the years of the said period, we will find what follows: 

The above chart shows clearly the tendency in the use of the internet as a means of communication and the need to deal with the analysis of its potentialities both from the positive and the negative point of view.

Defining Child Pornography

The Conference at Yokohama refers to the definition of pornography as in the New Oxford Dictionary: "material that contains the description or explicit exhibition of organs or sexual activities, conceived to stimulate feelings less aesthetic or emotional than erotic. Origin: mid 19th century: from the Greek pornographos, write on prostitutes, from "porne"-prostitute + graphein- write."

At the end of this work we have used three definitions of child pornography. These definitions determine our working universe within a framework accepted by several institutions. The idea is to integrate the limits of each definition which we transcribe next, in order not to leave out of this analysis any of the accepted forms of child pornography. We will therefore base our work upon the following definitions: (UNICEF. 2nd Conference at Yokohama against Sexual and Commercial Exploitation of Children")

1) The Group of Interpol Specialized in Crimes against Children uses the following definition: Child pornography is created as a consequence of the exploitation or abuse of a child. It can be defined as all forms of representation or advertising of the sexual exploitation of children, including audio and printed material that focuses on children’s sexual behaviour or genitals. 

2) The definition given by ECPAT ( reflects to a certain extent, the one given by Interpol:

Visual pornography: visual representation of a child carrying out explicit sexual activities, real or simulated, or the obscene exhibition of genitals conceived for the user’s sexual gratification; it implies the production, distribution and/or utilization of such material Audio pornography: The utilization of any audio device using a child’s voice, real or simulated, with the purpose of getting the user’s sexual gratification; it implies the production, distribution and/or use of such material. 

3) The rough draft of the European Council Convention on Informatics Delinquency states that "child pornography" implies pornographic material which visually shows a minor given over to sexually explicit behaviour; any person with a child’s looks busy with a sexually explicit behaviour; Realistic images representing a child involved in explicit sexual action. The Women’s Rights and Equality of Opportunities Committee of the European Parliament, has recently added a request of amendment of the definition of child pornography, arguing that it must be considered as child pornography, any "audio, visual or written material which represents children with the intention of arousing sexual desire" We consider of importance to make clear that although many websites that distribute pictures of children showing their genitals hide behind the definition of "artistic photography" (that’s the reason why they are considered legal in many countries), we’ll take them into account in our work under a special category. In this respect, we’ll judge whether the selling of pictures of children is their only purpose, if it is mass distributed and if the exhibition of their genitals is done with the objective of providing the sexual gratification of the user.

General Objective

To detect the current forms of coverage of child pornography on the internet. To check, as a starting hypothesis, to what extent we ignore the actual magnitude of the problem.

Specific Objectives

1) Carry out a classification of the different channels that spread the contents via internet. Analyze their present utilization with relation to the coverage of child pornography, and to deal especially with the following ways of coverage:

a. Electronic mail 

b. Chat channels 

c. Websites 

d. Virtual communities 

e. Bulletin boards 

f. Games online 

g. Programmes for the exchange of info (the Napster type)

2) Investigate the incidence of the utilization of the software especially designed to hide the coverage of child pornography through techniques of steganography (the camouflage kind) and how its use can be detected. 

3) Analyze the incidence – on the coverage of child pornography- of the sites which allow to send out mail and participate in virtual communities anonymously (re- mailers)

Methodology and Work Plan:

Work was done according to the following stages:

1) To establish search categories. Selection of samples based on the established categories. 

2) Search on the internet and organize the data obtained. 

3) Process the info and write out the report. 4) Conclusions and recommendations.

The field of work has been restricted, within the margins that allow a study on the internet -by definition a global network- to the sites of the internet, chat channels, virtual communities etc., related to the coverage of child pornography. Special emphasis being laid upon the study of sites in Latin America and in Spanish. The sample has been elaborated according to the analysis of the sites, chat channels, virtual communities, etc., which are more exposed to the use of the general public. Though the analysis as a first resort, has been of the qualitative type, we carried ot a search by category in which we took the quantitative data into account in order to determine the relevance of the qualitative analysis of a certain category. That is, that when considering a more relevant category we have further deepened in the mechanisms used by this category.  With the purpose of carrying out the study we made use of a round the clock connection to internet and we used specific software of navigation and search of information. Thus we organized a systematic search based on the parameters more utilized by the addicts to child pornography. Definitions of the resources of the internet as a means of child pornography coverage.

Electronic mail

Device that allows to send messages to other users of the same network. On the internet, the e-mail lets all the users connected be able to exchange messages. The programmes for e-mail users offer a variety of advantages such as integrated access to the news servers, and the possibility to attach all kinds of files to the messages. ICQ, (I seek you) is mainly suitable to know when a selected person is connected to the net so we can send him/her messages in real time (it can also be done in differed time). Each user has one or several numbers of ICQ, which allow him/her to be identified on the internet.

Chat channels

It’s a system that allows communication in real time between two or more internet users. This is one of the tools that works on the model client/server, in such a way that the chat users can be connected to a server through a user program in order to establish their communications. There are many chat programs, being mlRC one of the most popular. In its basic form, the chat consists of a text that appears gradually on the screens of the users connected, as it is being sent to the server. .At present there are applications that allow a conversation with audio and video included as well as the interaction with virtual characters of two or three dimensions. Chat room is a virtual place on the net, also called channel, where people gather to chat with other people in the same room.


A series of files based on the HTML language, which constitute a significant unit of information accessible through the World Wide Web. This works through a navigating programme lodged in the user’s hardware. Its content may include texts, graphics, sounds and interactive multimedia material.

Virtual communities

Virtual communities can be defined as groups of people gathered by a common interest and that keep their relationship along time utilizing the Internet to communicate with one another. Nowadays, it is very easy to create a virtual community since there are many websites which provide this service for free. Mainly as a way of attracting users and make them get all the advertising on the net. The users of a virtual community can leave messages and/or files to which any of the members of the community can acced. These files can be images, videos, animations, etc.

Bulletin boards

The bulletin boards are spaces on the internet where it is possible to include all kinds of advertising classified in different categories and according to different interest areas. There are many sites which offer this service for free.

Games on-line

Through the use of a server meant just to provide such service, it is possible for many users to play, at the same time, in a virtual setting. In some cases the company which developed the games provides the server, in other cases there are users’ clubs which provide it.

Napsterlike programmes (p2p)

A definition for Napster could be: programme which allows the exchange of MP3 (music) files on the internet, right from the users’ hard drive, without intermediation and for free. Napster was attacked by the record companies and its site was closed, but as a counterpart many programmes based on the same principle, have appeared. This principle advocates to allow the internet users to put a file of their hard drive at the disposal of other users. On the other hand these new programmes allow all kind of exchanges, not only music. These new programmes are commonly known as Napsterlike programmes (or p2p), some of which are: GNUtella, iMESH, CuteMX, Audiogalaxy Satellite, FileNavigator,etc. In our research we used the programme called iMESH ( Through iMESH the users can share all kind of files, and it allows to categorize the information in "Images", "Music", "Videos", and "Documents".


There are programs, such as the one called Camouflage, that through stenography techniques, allow an image to be included within another codified by a key. Without this key and the above mentioned software, it is impossible to recover the original image. This would facilitate to send images of apparently innocent look carrying others such as child pornography pictures. Stenography comes from the Greek, stegos" (cover) and it means hidden writing or covered up writing. The most commonly used stenographic techniques in informatics are based on hiding the information in graphic or sound files. When the information is hidden in image files the bits used are the less significant or redundant. If the relationship between the information tohide and the size of the original image is acceptable, then it is practically impossible to tell the original image from the one that hides the information.


A re-mailer is a service given by a server acting as an intermediary while sending the e-mail ,that is, a user sends an e-mail and the re-mailer forwards it to the addressee deleting the headings that tell where the original mail comes from. It is a safe way of sending anonymous E-mails. (Johan Helsingius operated the largest and most popular anonymous re-mailer until it was closed in September 1996)

Sample Selection

The selection of the sample, considering the internet particular characteristics, emerged when it came to allot a variable period of time to the connections, according to each one of the categories above mentioned: 

a. Electronic mail. 

It was obtained through the equivalent to 20 hours of connection, based on the addresses obtained -as it will be explained later- of Chat channels and/or virtual communities. 

b. Chat channels. 

They were obtained through the equivalent to 10 hours of connection, based on a chat channel search carried out through the searchers Google, Altavista y Yupi MSN. Finally, in view of its relevance in Hispanic America we focused our work on the chat channels supported by MSN Groups and Chat. We devoted 20 hours of connection to visit the MSN and Chat channels. 

c. Websites. It was obtained after using 20 hours of search and navigation through the utilization of the searchers Google, Altavista and Yupi MSN For the search we used the terminology usually used on the chat channels when referring to child pornography. 

d. Virtual communities. Obtained after using 20 hours of connection for visiting the Chat channels addresses and searching – in YupiMSN and Chat (, channels – a space of easy access and especially meant for Latin America. 

e. Bulletin boards. Obtained after 20 hours of search through the searchers Google (, Altavista (h, and YupiMSN ( 

f. Games online. Obtaines after 20 hours of search through the searchers Google, Altavista, and YupiMSN. We finally focused our analysis on the game zone in the Microsoft line due to its relevance in the region. 

g. Exchange Information Programmes (the Napster type). Among the many programmes available, we selected iMesh because it could be easily used and utilized to search and download material during a period of 20 hours of connection. We have specifically excluded from the text all the addresses found and the material picked up as well as the terminology used in our search. They are at the disposal of BICE as documents of our work. The purpose of this exclusion is that the material obtained, the addresses and terminology utilized during the search, be handled with a more strict coverage criterion than the text in this report.

Results achieved

1. Electronic Mail

The electronic mail has become one of the most utilized ways for the distribution of child pornography, but its importance wouldn’t be such, as our investigations revealed, without the interaction of the electronic mail with other means of spreading material such as the Chat channels, virtual communities and programmes like the MS messenger (similar to the ICQ), (the MSN Messenger is a programme of instant courier which allows -among other things- to add friends, relatives, and fellow workers to the list of contacts). The interaction between all these elements is what empowers the use of the electronic mail as a means of spreading child pornography. It’s important to mention here that most of the addresses correspond to e-mail addresses in servers which offer free service. This is due, as far as we know, to the facility such servers give to keep anonymity. (e.g., and On the other hand, these servers facilitate the creation of many addresses and allow these addresses to be changed constantly. This leads to the fact that an address may appear or disappear in a matter of days making the use of these e-mail boxes very difficult to trace. For example: from a cyber café a user can crate an e-mail address under a fictional name, send out and receive e-mails for a day and then erase them not making it possible to detect the user’s real name, he/she can also keep the same address for a long time and gain access to this address from different cyber cafes at different times. Another possibility is the utilization of anonymous navigation sites and/or re-mailers. If the user does not want to be detected and has a minimum know how, all the above makes it difficult to detect the real user of an electronic mail box, Among the messages of e-mails received, and/or the ones we gain access through virtual communities and/or thanks to contacts established through chat channels, we got a total of 150 messages either with applications or offers of child pornography material of children whose ages ranged from 4 to 17. There were some cases in which it was requested to establish a personal contact. The mail addresses were mostly hotmail making a total of 78 messages, Both the text and addresses are in the hands of BICE.

2. Chat channels

The chat channels are one of the most common means of exchanging information in real time. In this work we carried out the study in one of the most popular chat channels, It owes its popularity to the fact that it offers the widest world access and has the largest coverage in Latin America. Within the chat channel mentioned before, it is frequent to find conferences related to the exchanging of images or videos on child pornography. In most cases such exchange is carried out at no profit. On some chat channels one can exchange files with the chat in progress (this is not possible in However, the current trend, in those which give chat service, is to avoid this possibility mainly out of fear of the spreading of informatic viruses. The method detected is the following: A user gets in touch with another user and gets his/her preferences to him/her, usually in the form called "whisper" through which a personal communication is established with each other, leaving the rest of the chatters out of this exchange. Then they exchange e-mail addresses or materials through MSN Messenger. In some cases files are exchanged among users of different preferences, for example, child pornography files in exchange for zoophilia files We believe that this methodology leads to the spreading of many types of pornography, since it is the currency of exchange on the net. Another methodology is the exchange of website addresses or names of virtual communities. For example, in this regard, it was through a chat conference that we came across the address of a virtual community which contained a great deal of child pornography. It is important to point out that the chat channels are widely spread and that it’s possible to incorporate a cat channel to a any website very easily. Thus it’s almost impossible to control all the chat channels on the net. What we want to make clear is that the chat channel we chose for our work, as relevant as it is, is representative only of a minimum fraction of the phenomenon which we consider of much greater magnitude. Due to the high rate of child pornography exchange on the chat channels, those who give the service, have started to take action by means of warnings and advice. All along this work and by pretending to exchange material or promising a remittance, we have obtained – through means parallel to the chat channel above mentioned – 209 images of child pornography and 21 videos on the subject. The images show relations between adults and minors, and minors with minors, maintaining both homosexual and heterosexual relations.

3. Websites

Unlike what some organizations which have studied the subject sustain, we have found a high impact of child pornography within the websites. We have classified them into three sub-categories. Websites which openly cover child pornography, websites which try to disguise it under "artistic photography"2, and websites which spread stories dealing with sexual abuse .performed on minors. 3.1) In the first sub-category, we found a site that perfectly exemplifies the situation. It is a paid site and has a Spanish version and those who are interested can make a subscription and pay by credit card. In this sub-category there is also a wide variety of servers such as which offers the possibility of free access to websites. These websites appear and disappear permanently and though they are of free access they’re difficult to locate. 3.2) In the second sub-category, highly suspicious of spreading child pornography, we found 14 sites and we could surely find a lot more. We consider this to be the way in which those who sell child pornography, will presently work. These sites are paid for by credit card. The iconography they use does not leave much room to doubt about the goals they pursue. 3.3) In the third sub-category, we found ten, but there surely are many more. In general, they repeat the same stories, they are free and are financed through advertising mainly of porno sites. In one of these sites we could find a "manual· on how to induce a minor to maintain sex relations with an adult. Such "manual" performs an analysis of all the psychological resources available in order to control the child.

4. Virtual Communities

In the virtual communities (or groups) supported by of Microsoft, and on which we did our work, we found 12 virtual communities related to child pornography. The virtual communities work in several different ways. You can join some of them freely, while to join others you have to be accepted first. As regards the issue we are dealing with, there are many virtual communities which propose to exchange child pornography and/or to establish contacts. In one of the virtual communities which we entered through a contact established by a chat channel, we found 40 child pornography pictures available to its members. As regards establishing contacts, one of the virtual communities offers to contact boys and girls with foreign adults. Another was meant to establish links between homosexuals and boys below age. One characteristic of these communities is that as they are created easily they can also be cancelled as easily, but then they re-appear after a while. To locate them again under their new name, you must search them using the language code utilized by its members. You have access to these codes through the chat channels. On the other hand, as they have the option of declaring themselves closed, they have the possibility of limiting the access of new members. In this case you can only accede by invitation. This protects its members’ anonymity as well as the knowledge of the content they keep.

5. Bulletin boards

During the exploration of 20 of the thousands of bulletin boards on the internet, we did not find any advertising of child pornography. In the areas related to sex, the ads are similar to the ones that ca be found in the classifieds of any newspaper. This is probably due to the fact that companies exert control over the advertising. On the other hand, the creation of a bulletin board cannot be done as easily as the creation of a virtual community. Another feature of the bulletin boards is that they are one of the first ways of exchanging information on the internet, and therefore, in their beginnings, they were more controlled by the administrators. And although their use has been described by Usenet as a means of spreading child pornography, they seem to have been substituted in this field by the virtual communities since these communities have more possibilities of preserving their anonymity. Anyway, we cannot conclude that bulletin boards are not used with this aim.

6. Online games.

Among the games online we have not found any reference to child pornography. However, they might be used by pedophiles to establish contact with children. This is a possibility that should be studied as prevention, since the access to the games is independent of the age and the links that is established in the so-called "clans" (groups of users that play together against others) . They can make a long virtual relation become, in time, a live relation which could be taken advantage of by pedophiles. The game online on which we worked is one of the most popular, Age of Empires. It’s a usual thing to find hundreds of young people playing it at any time of day. When acceding to the game, before starting, and during its development, users can exchange messages. On the other hand, it would be extremely simple for the users to agree on exchanging files through the MSN messenger.

7. Programmes of exchanging of information (the Napster type or p2p).

This kind of programmes, of which there’s a great variety, are used very frequently in the exchange and spreading of child pornography. When we studied one of these programmes (iMesh) we were able to detect a high rate of exchanging of child pornography. In one week, using the iMesh programme, we received 141 files, 51 of which were video and 90 were images, all of them on child pornography. This way of exchanging through iMesh is free, the users share their files with other users. But unlike the exchange by Chat it is not necessary to provide files, just with installing the programme it is possible to receive material, which makes this method one of the easiest access to child pornography. In some cases users offer, at no cost, pornographic material purchased on sites that sell such material.

8. Unexpected findings

The paradoxical phenomenon of the backup One of the surprises we found in our work was the existence of a backup for the sites on child pornography (surely willy-nilly). In the Google searcher such backup is established as follows: the searcher stores a copy of the sites in question, if the site is cancelled , which frequently happens to the child pornography sites, the backup in the user is still in force, thus making it possible to download such material from the searcher. This phenomenon makes it possible the paradox of having these sites still in force even after they have been cancelled in the corresponding server. The utilization of vocabulary related to child pornography as metatags on sites of tourist attraction The MetaTags are tags located at the beginning of the source code (html) of each web page. These tags contain useful data for the searchers. The principal tags are: Title of the Page, which is the title that we want to appear in the searcher. Author: the webmaster’s name or the name of the company responsible for the web page. Subject: the theme of the page which helps the searcher to classify the page. Description: short description. Key words: some searchers keep these words in their database. The text existent in the metatags is invisible for the user of the internet, unless he specifically wanted to see the HTML code of the page in question. In our search on the internet using the Google searcher, we came across a tourist site which without including pornographic material, utilized in the key words of its metatags,a number of words related to the search of child pornography, seemingly as a way of attracting visitors to its site. This would be a new way of utilization with commercial purposes as regards the subject on child pornography.


According to the objectives exposed at the beginning of our work, we have been able to detect the following:

1) The coverage of child pornography through the internet is much more spread than expected after the reading of other works on the subject. From our work, it clearly arises that it is sufficient with having a minimjm knowledge of navigating on the internet to be able to accede to a great amount of child pornography material. The fact that we used resources from Micrsoft was exactly with the objective to show that even the most generalized resources, available and visible are not free of spreading this kind of pornographic material. 

2) We consider the type of coverage to be basically structured in three ways: a. Through the coordinated utilization of four resources, the electronic mail, the Chat Channels, the virtual communities, and the ICQ or the MSN messenger. These resources allow the users with specific interests to be connected with one another and exchange child pornography files. Usually the first contact is established within the context of a chat channel. Then the communication shifts towards the sending of files through ICQ or MSN messenger, or towards the spreading of the address of a virtual community, the exchange of e-mail addresses of a free server such as Hotmail, or the spreading of the a website address housed in a free server. Besides, this method is also open to establish all kinds of contact aimed at sexual abuse or child prostitution. b. The second way is based on the subscription to a website covering child pornography. These subscriptions range around 10 dollars per month and payment is done by credit card. We consider it very likely that once someone subscribes to one of these sites and starts receiving between 100 and 200 pictures of naked children per month, the site will soon offer him/her stronger child pornography images, and even videos. In this regard some clearly pornographic material spread through method (a), shows, however – due to the technical characteristics of its making up -a professional realization typical of the paid circuit (b). This leads us to thinking that some of the child pornography consumers distribute in the (a) circuit, material received through the (b) circuit. c. Utilization of programmes of the Napster type. Through this way the user can get hundreds of files from other users’ computers which, while connected to the internet, become internet servers. This modus operandi is very difficult to control since users connect and disconnect as they please and exchange files only while connected. In the case of mode (a) it would be possible for Microsoft, for instance, to delete the virtual communities presented in this work, just if that happens to be their will. However as regards mode (c), it’s very difficult to detect who are the users in the world who have child pornography files in their hardware and that have installed some of the many programmes similar to the iMesh. 

3) Unlike what we had previously thought, we have not found cryptically encoded pornographic material.. We believe that as the distributors have found no difficulty whatsoever in using the resources available on the internet, they have dismissed the use of cryptic resources, which does not mean that they may not use them in the future. On the other hand, in both Europe and the United States, the cryptic encoding has been described and detected in the notorious case of the Wonderland Club (a highly organized association which had a president, a secretary, all kinds of recruitment procedures, and so on and so forth. The club members used a complicated system with passwords and encoding technologies, all of which was impossible for the police to decode after they had been uncovered. That’s why they could never be taken to court. Though the authorities could not decode the computers, they did find lots of child pornography images and videos). 4) Neither have we detected the utilization of re-mailers in the distribution of child pornography. This is with no doubt due to the fact that the distributors can make free use of Hotmail and Yahoo. We think that if these free servers were controlled, the distribution will anyway take place through the utilization of the resources available such as cryptic encoding and re-mailing. 5) There was an element that we had not considered at the beginning of our work but that appeared as a result of our research. It was the discovery of a new and sophisticated way of exploiting the child pornography subject, the use of words from the child pornography jargon as a means to catch visitors to a website. 6) The important, fast and sustained growth in the use of the internet in both Latin America and the Caribbean, has been of great help in the spreading of child pornography. We consider this as one of the reasons why, unlike what happens in the developed countries, the disseminators of child pornography, do not need to utilize cryptical encoded resources to spread child pornography. One of the elements that we consider important to point out is that after we finished our research we got to the conclusion that the different forms of child pornography coverage on the Internet work in a synergic way empowering one another. On the other hand, it is a dynamic process, the sites most involved in the spreading of child pornography change their names continually as well as the virtual communities and the users’ e-mail addresses. What works as an updating element of these data in real time, are the chat channels. This leads us to think that although the problem should be attacked in all its forms, perhaps stressing the work on the chat channels would give good results.


We believe that by taking some measures, the easy way through which child pornography is spread nowadays could be diminished, and the ease with which the paid circuit gets profits could also be limited.

1) Although there are countries in which the legislation allows the existence of websites that sell pictures of children exhibiting their genitals, and thus not being able to draw a legal limit between pornography and art photography. Pressure should be exerted on credit card issuers so that they would not allow such websites to utilize their services. FURTHERMORE, THE MONEY RAISED THROUGH THE CREDIT CARDS IS THE ONE THAT STIMULATES -THANKS TO their FINANCING, the production of child pornography and consequently the abuse of the children used with this purpose.

2) Legislation could be passed so as to make the companies responsible for lodging virtual communities, websites and/or chat channels and for the content in their servers. They should also finance independent groups in order that they control the existing contents.

3) With relation to child pornography, there should be a global legal framework, since in spite of the fact that there are many countries where laws reinforce the control of child pornography, it would be enough that just one country be permissive and the spreading of pornography would reach each site of the network.

4) Emergency lines should be developed in our region where the users could pour the data in case they come across child pornography on the network.

5) From the technical point of view:

a) Develop resources that allowed users to detect the sites which cover child pornography. 

b) Improve the programmes aimed at parents so they would be able to tell which programmes are suitable for their children and which aren’t. 

c) Demand from the searchers the deletion of the backup of the websites covering child pornography.

6) At the educational level:

a) The teaching staff should be prepared in the handling and detection of situations in which children are subject to sexual abuse or have to endure the contact with the topic through the internet, watching images and/or videos on sexual abuse. 

b) Parents should be trained in order to wisely use the connection to the internet in their homes, getting them acquainted with the resources available to report the sites on child pornography. Also spreading the rules and programmes available to protect children from the exposure to those materials. c) The educational system should provide children with sexual education supplying them with elements so as not to be defenceless if faced with the unexpected on the internet. In this regard is that we consider that the phenomenon should be attacked through the formation of multidisciplinary teams to deal with the analysis of the subject from all the angles above mentioned, putting forward concrete proposals with the purpose of attacking the spreading of child pornography from all possible angles. We know that this phenomenon will always find mechanisms for spreading the material, these mechanisms will be more o less exposed to social control. For this reason, although a greater control might help in diminishing the level of child pornography coverage, as a last resort only prevention will work. This will be done through the assistance to children and families with children at risk either to be exposed to child pornography or to become directly involved. This will be of great use to substantially modify the situation in the future.


* ARONOWITS, Staleny; Martinsons, Barbara y Menser, Michael. Tecnociencia y cibercultura; la interrelación entre cultura, tecnología y ciencia. Barcelona, Ediciones Paidós, 1996. 

* BERNERS-LEE, Tim. Tejiendo la red. Madrid, Siglo XXI Editores, 2000.  * CASTELLS, Manuel. La era de la información. Alianza editorial, Madrid, 1997. * CEBRIÁN, Juan. La red. España, Grupo Santillana de Ediciones, 1998. * DERY, Mark. Velocidad de escape; la cibercultura en el final del siglo. Madrid, Ediciones Siruela, 1998. * MALDONADO, Tomás. Crítica de la razón informática. Barcelona, Ediciones Paidós Ibérica, 1998. * NEGROPONTE, Nicholas. Ser digital. Buenos Aires, Editorial Atlántida, 1995. * PISCITELLI, Alejandro. Ciberculturas en la era de las máquinas inteligentes. Buenos Aires, Editorial Piados, 1995. * TERCEIRO, José. Socied@d digit@l; del homo sapiens al homo digitalis. Madrid, Alianza Editorial, 1996. 

* WALLACE, Patricia. La psicología de internet. Barcelona, Ediciones Paidós Ibérica, 2001.

Electronic resources

UNICEF. Segundo Congreso de Yokohama contra la Explotación Sexual Comercial de los Niños.

Compromiso Global de Yokohama 2001

Revista de la OIT. La explotación sexual de los niños. Núm. 42, marzo de 2002

BICE. 27ª Sesión especial de la Asamblea general de las Naciones Unidas dedicada a los niños del 8 al 10 de mayo de 2002.

Boletín de información y análisis sobre Explotación Sexual Comercial Explotación sexual de la niñez. Número I año 3 Marzo de 2001.

Casa Alianza. Noticias de Ultima Hora. Explotación sexual.

DIGNITY Online Resource Center. Explotación Comercial de la niñez. Acción contra la explotación sexual comercial de niños, niñas y adolescentes. Boletín de información. Junio de 1999. Año 1, número 2

Naciones Unidas Uruguay "Compromiso para una estrategia contra la Explotación Sexual Comercial de la Infancia y la Adolescencia en la Región de América Latina y el Caribe". Montevideo, 9 de noviembre de 2001.

Naciones Unidas Uruguay. "La lucha contra la explotación sexual comercial en Uruguay y la protección emocional a niños víctimas de abuso sexual en el sistema de justicia" Montevideo, 8 de noviembre de 2001.

Seguridad en Internet en términos generales

Información para padres

Denuncia de material negativo

Filtro y bloqueo, y programas de control paterno