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Internet child pornography a growing problem -

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Internet child pornography a growing problem

Reporter: Peter McCutcheon

KERRY O'BRIEN: For many people, the Internet of course has created an exciting new world of
information and communication but as we've increasingly come to know, it has its very definite dark
side. Broadband and high-speed Internet connections have helped a global market in images of abused
children. Interpol now has a database of a staggering 200,000 images and only a fraction of these
children have been identified. If anything, the problem is only getting worse, as Peter McCutcheon
reports.

ARNOLD BELL: You are trudging through the worst type of material that I've ever seen in 20 years in
law enforcement. Your heart goes out for these kids and you want to help them now and a lot of
times you just don't have the ability to reach in and grab that kid and pull them out of that
situation.

PETER MCCUTCHEON: Arnold Bell has seen the stuff of nightmares. As chief of the FBI's Innocent
Images unit, he's shocked to see the sheer number of child abuse images on the Internet.

ARNOLD BELL: Our unit started in 1995 and we've seen a 2,000 per cent increase pretty much across
the board.

PETER MCCUTCHEON: Arnold Bell and nearly 100 other law enforcement officials with similar
experiences met in Brisbane recently to discuss ways of tackling the dark side of the Internet.
It's a shadow that is growing longer.

ROSS BARNETT, TASK FORCE ARGOS: The Internet just makes it so easy for people who have that
interest to be able to access that material, share it, trade it and keep it.

JULIE INMAN, MICROSOFT ASIA PACIFIC: It's such an enormous problem. It's a multi-billion-dollar
industry.

PETER MCCUTCHEON: Every year the Internet is getting faster and faster. Although that may be great
news for consumers, it also opens up new opportunities for dealers in sordid images. One US agency
reported a 15-fold increase in reports of child pornography since 2001.

PETER MCCUTCHEON: Child pornography appears to have grown exponentially over the past decade; why?

ARNOLD BELL: I think a lot to do with the evolution of the technology; I think there's much greater
access to broadband and high speed Internet which allows for the transmission of huge amounts of
data. There's also the connectivity that the Internet allows and allows for perpetrators, if you
will, to find like-minded people and to network with each other and to trade their collections and
discuss their trade craft.

PETER MCCUTCHEON: One of the biggest challenges for law enforcement agencies is the global nature
of the industry. No matter how strict the laws are in the developed world, countries like Cambodia
are often targeted by dealers in child pornography and images are later sold to customers in
countries like Australia.

JULIE INMAN: There are an estimated 33,000 child sex workers in Cambodia and because AIDS has
become a bit of an epidemic there are thousands of orphans who are very, very vulnerable to being
trafficked or forced into prostitution.

PETER MCCUTCHEON: The American software giant Microsoft recently joined forces with the British
Government to co sponsor a training conference for Cambodian police.

JULIE INMAN: We believe we have a strong corporate responsibility to keeping the Internet safe.

PETER WATSON, MICROSOFT AUSTRALIA: There's a focus, that most of the people are using our products
out there. But we definitely see this as an ecosystem issue. All players within the IT industry
need to take some responsibility for what is going on.

SCHOOLBOY: You need to think about the real world and what could happen and, yeah, you've got to
think twice before doing everything.

PETER MCCUTCHEON: Microsoft also teamed up with the Australian Federal Police and a primary school
in Melbourne recently to launch an awareness campaign for children using the Internet. And while
police in Australia have had some success in catching paedophiles who pose as children online, the
international effort is trying to take out the administrators of websites that display images of
exploited children. One disturbing trend is the growing involvement of organised crime.

ARNOLD BELL: We see organised crime groups that are based abroad where they traditionally dealt in
drugs or guns or whatever; they are now taking to this media because there's a big market out
there, there is a lot of money and in some places the laws don't exist to address it, so there are
certain parts of the world where you have easy access to kids. The dollar goes a long way.

PETER MCCUTCHEON: The US Centre for Missing and Exploited Children gave an insight into the size of
the industry in a testimony before a Senate committee in September. Investigators uncovered one
website with 70,000 customers, all paying nearly $30 a month for graphic images of children being
abused.

GUILLERMO GALARZA: We are getting more victims and one victim, there is going to be another victim
and another victim and another victim. So it may be one person, but multiple victims.

PETER MCCUTCHEON: If there's any good news to come out of international conferences like this one,
it's that law enforcement agencies from around the world are getting better at working together.
Australia next year is to join the US, Canada, Indonesia and Cambodia in a new child exploitation
tracking system or CETS, developed by Microsoft and the Toronto police service.

PETER WATSON: What it really is is around how can law enforcement agencies share information on
investigations that they are doing? One of the biggest issues in this area of online child
pornography and also a lot of the other computer crimes that we see is they don't really know any
jurisdictional boundaries.

PETER MCCUTCHEON: Tragically, many perpetrators of child abuse images have expertise in computer
technology and many will continue to remain elusive.

ARNOLD BELL: You see kids grow up in situations where you see them the first time, they are four
and three years later they are seven and you are watching them grow up being abused and you are
trying to do the best you can to find these kids, but it is frustrating and heartbreaking to see
this kind of stuff happen.