File-Sharing Programs: Users of Peer-to-Peer Networks Can Readily Access Child Pornography

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2003-09-09.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                          United States General Accounting Office

GAO                       Testimony
                          Before the Committee on the Judiciary
                          U.S. Senate

For Release on Delivery
Expected at 2 p.m. EDT
on Tuesday
September 9, 2003
                          Users of Peer-to-Peer
                          Networks Can Readily
                          Access Child Pornography
                          Statement of Linda D. Koontz
                          Director, Information Managment Issues

                                                September 9, 2003

                                                FILE-SHARING PROGRAMS

                                                Users of Peer-to-Peer Networks Can
Highlights of GAO-03-1115T, a testimony         Readily Access Child Pornography
before the Committee on the Judiciary,
United States Senate

The availability of child                       Child pornography is easily found and downloaded from peer-to-peer
pornography has dramatically                    networks. In one search, using 12 keywords known to be associated with
increased in recent years as it has             child pornography on the Internet, GAO identified 1,286 titles and file names,
migrated from printed material to               determining that 543 (about 42 percent) were associated with child
the World Wide Web, becoming                    pornography images. Of the remaining, 34 percent were classified as adult
accessible through Web sites, chat
rooms, newsgroups, and now the
                                                pornography and 24 percent as nonpornographic. In another search using
increasingly popular peer-to-peer               three keywords, a Customs analyst downloaded 341 images, of which 149
file sharing programs. These                    (about 44 percent) contained child pornography (see the figure below).
programs enable direct                          These results are in accord with increased reports of child pornography on
communication between users,                    peer-to-peer networks; since it began tracking these in 2001, the National
allowing users to access each                   Center for Missing and Exploited Children has seen a fourfold increase—
other’s files and share digital                 from 156 in 2001 to 757 in 2002. Although the numbers are as yet small by
music, images, and video.                       comparison to those for other sources (26,759 reports of child pornography
                                                on Web sites in 2002), the increase is significant.
GAO was requested to determine
the ease of access to child                     Juvenile users of peer-to-peer networks are at significant risk of inadvertent
pornography on peer-to-peer
networks; the risk of inadvertent
                                                exposure to pornography, including child pornography. Searches on
exposure of juvenile users of peer-             innocuous keywords likely to be used by juveniles (such as names of
to-peer networks to pornography,                cartoon characters or celebrities) produced a high proportion of
including child pornography; and                pornographic images: in our searches, the retrieved images included adult
the extent of federal law                       pornography (34 percent), cartoon pornography (14 percent), child erotica
enforcement resources available                 (7 percent), and child pornography (1 percent).
for combating child pornography
on peer-to-peer networks. Today’s               While federal law enforcement agencies—including the FBI, Justice’s Child
testimony is based on GAO’s report              Exploitation and Obscenity Section, and Customs—are devoting resources
on the results of that work (GAO-               to combating child exploitation and child pornography in general, these
03-351),                                        agencies do not track the resources dedicated to specific technologies used
Because child pornography cannot
                                                to access and download child pornography on the Internet. Therefore, GAO
be accessed legally other than by               was unable to quantify the resources devoted to investigating cases on peer-
law enforcement agencies, GAO                   to-peer networks. According to law enforcement officials, however, as tips
worked with the Customs Cyber-                  concerning child pornography on peer-to-peer networks escalate, law
Smuggling Center in performing                  enforcement resources are increasingly being focused on this area.
searches: Customs downloaded
and analyzed image files, and GAO               Classification of Images Downloaded through Peer-to-Peer File-Sharing Program
performed analyses based on
keywords and file names only.


To view the full testimony, click on the link
For more information, contact Linda Koontz at
(202) 512-6240 or koontzl@gao.gov.
                   Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:

                   Thank you for inviting us to discuss our work on the availability of child
                   pornography on peer-to-peer networks.1

                   In recent years, child pornography has become increasingly available as it
                   has migrated from magazines, photographs, and videos to the World Wide
                   Web. As you know, a great strength of the Internet is that it includes a wide
                   range of search and retrieval technologies that make finding information
                   fast and easy. However, this capability also makes it easy to access,
                   disseminate, and trade pornographic images and videos, including child
                   pornography. As a result, child pornography has become accessible
                   through Web sites, chat rooms, newsgroups, and the increasingly popular
                   peer-to-peer technology, a form of networking that allows direct
                   communication between computer users so that they can access and share
                   each other’s files (including images, video, and software).

                   As requested, in my remarks today, I will summarize the results of a review
                   that we recently conducted to determine

                   • the ease of access to child pornography on peer-to-peer networks;

                   • the risk of inadvertent exposure of juvenile users of peer-to-peer
                     networks to pornography, including child pornography; and

                   • the extent of federal law enforcement resources available for combating
                     child pornography on peer-to-peer networks.

                   We also include an attachment that briefly discusses how peer-to-peer file
                   sharing works.

Results in Brief   It is easy to access and download child pornography over peer-to-peer
                   networks. We used KaZaA, a popular peer-to-peer file-sharing program, 2 to
                   search for image files, using 12 keywords known to be associated with

                    U.S. General Accounting Office, File-Sharing Programs: Peer-to-Peer Networks Provide
                   Ready Access to Child Pornography, GAO-03-351 (Washington, D.C.: Feb. 20, 2003).
                   Other popular peer-to-peer applications include Gnutella, BearShare, LimeWire, and

                   Page 1                                                                     GAO-03-1115T
child pornography on the Internet.3 Of 1,286 items identified in our search,
about 42 percent were associated with child pornography images. The
remaining items included 34 percent classified as adult pornography and 24
percent as nonpornographic. In another KaZaA search, the Customs
CyberSmuggling Center used three keywords to search for and download
child pornography image files. This search identified 341 image files, of
which about 44 percent were classified as child pornography and 29
percent as adult pornography. The remaining images were classified as
child erotica4 (13 percent) or other (nonpornographic) images (14 percent).
These results are consistent with observations of the National Center for
Missing and Exploited Children, which has stated that peer-to-peer
technology is increasingly popular for the dissemination of child
pornography. Since 2001, when the center began to track reports of child
pornography on peer-to-peer networks, such reports have increased more
than fourfold—from 156 in 2001 to 757 in 2002.

When searching and downloading images on peer-to-peer networks,
juvenile users can be inadvertently exposed to pornography, including child
pornography. In searches on innocuous keywords likely to be used by
juveniles, we obtained images that included a high proportion of
pornography: in our searches, the retrieved images included adult
pornography (34 percent), cartoon pornography5 (14 percent), and child
pornography (1 percent); another 7 percent of the images were classified as
child erotica.

We could not quantify the extent of federal law enforcement resources
available for combating child pornography on peer-to-peer networks. Law
enforcement agencies that work to combat child exploitation and child
pornography do not track their resource use according to specific Internet
technologies. However, law enforcement officials told us that as they
receive more tips concerning child pornography on peer-to-peer networks,
they are focusing more resources in this area.

 The U.S. Customs CyberSmuggling Center assisted us in this work. Because child
pornography cannot be accessed legally other than by law enforcement agencies, we relied
on Customs to download and analyze image files. We performed analyses based on titles and
file names only.
Erotic images of children that do not depict sexually explicit conduct.
Images of cartoon characters depicting sexually explicit conduct.

Page 2                                                                     GAO-03-1115T
Background   Child pornography is prohibited by federal statutes, which provide for civil
             and criminal penalties for its production, advertising, possession, receipt,
             distribution, and sale.6 Defined by statute as the visual depiction of a
             minor—a person under 18 years of age—engaged in sexually explicit
             conduct,7 child pornography is unprotected by the First Amendment,8 as it
             is intrinsically related to the sexual abuse of children.

             In the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996,9 Congress sought to
             prohibit images that are or appear to be “of a minor engaging in sexually
             explicit conduct” or are “advertised, promoted, presented, described, or
             distributed in such a manner that conveys the impression that the material
             is or contains a visual depiction of a minor engaging in sexually explicit
             conduct.” In 2002, the Supreme Court struck down this legislative attempt
             to ban “virtual” child pornography10 in Ashcroft v. The Free Speech
             Coalition, ruling that the expansion of the act to material that did not
             involve and thus harm actual children in its creation is an unconstitutional
             violation of free speech rights. According to government officials, this
             ruling may increase the difficulty of prosecuting those who produce and
             possess child pornography. Defendants may claim that pornographic
             images are of “virtual” children, thus requiring the government to establish
             that the children shown in these digital images are real. Recently, Congress

             See chapter 110 of Title 18, United States Code.
             See 18 U.S.C. § 2256(8).
             See New York v. Ferber, 458 U.S. 747 (1982).
             Section 121, P.L. 104-208, 110 Stat. 3009-26.
              According to the Justice Department, rapidly advancing technology has raised the
             possibility of creating images of child pornography without the use of a real child (“virtual”
             child pornography). Totally virtual creations would be both time-intensive and, for now,
             prohibitively costly to produce. However, the technology has led to a ready defense (the
             “virtual” porn defense) against prosecution under laws that are limited to sexually explicit
             depictions of actual minors. Because the technology exists today to alter images to disguise
             the identity of the real child or make the image seem computer-generated, producers and
             distributors of child pornography may try to alter depictions of actual children in slight ways
             to make them appear to be “virtual” (as well as unidentifiable), thereby attempting to defeat
             prosecution. Making such alterations is much easier and cheaper than building an entirely
             computer-generated image.

             Page 3                                                                          GAO-03-1115T
                            enacted the PROTECT Act,11 which attempts to address the constitutional
                            issues raised in The Free Speech Coalition decision.12

The Internet Has Emerged    Historically, pornography, including child pornography, tended to be found
as the Principal Tool for   mainly in photographs, magazines, and videos.13 With the advent of the
                            Internet, however, both the volume and the nature of available child
Exchanging Child            pornography have changed significantly. The rapid expansion of the
Pornography                 Internet and its technologies, the increased availability of broadband
                            Internet services, advances in digital imaging technologies, and the
                            availability of powerful digital graphic programs have led to a proliferation
                            of child pornography on the Internet.

                            According to experts, pornographers have traditionally exploited—and
                            sometimes pioneered—emerging communication technologies—from the
                            dial-in bulletin board systems of the 1970s to the World Wide Web—to
                            access, trade, and distribute pornography, including child pornography.14
                            Today, child pornography is available through virtually every Internet
                            technology (see table 1).

                                 Public Law No. 108-21 (Apr. 30, 2003).
                                 S. Rep. No. 108-2, at 13 (2003).
                             John Carr, Theme Paper on Child Pornography for the 2nd World Congress on
                            Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, NCH Children’s Charities, Children &
                            Technology Unit (Yokohama, 2001).
                              Frederick E. Allen, “When Sex Drives Technological Innovation and Why It Has to,”
                            American Heritage Magazine, vol. 51, no. 5 (September 2000), p. 19.
                            Allen notes that pornographers have driven the development of some of the Internet
                            technologies, including the development of systems used to verify on-line financial
                            transactions and that of digital watermarking technology to prevent the unauthorized use of
                            on-line images.

                            Page 4                                                                       GAO-03-1115T
Table 1: Internet Technologies Providing Access to Child Pornography

Technology           Characteristics
World Wide Web       Web sites provide on-line access to text and multimedia materials
                     identified and accessed through the uniform resource locator (URL).
Usenet               A distributed electronic bulletin system, Usenet offers over 80,000
                     newsgroups, with many newsgroups dedicated to sharing of digital
Peer-to-peer file-   Internet applications operating over peer-to-peer networks enable
sharing programs     direct communication between users. Used largely for sharing of
                     digital music, images, and video, peer-to-peer applications include
                     BearShare, Gnutella, LimeWire, and KaZaA. KaZaA is the most
                     popular, with over 3 million KaZaA users sharing files at any time.
E-mail               E-mail allows the transmission of messages over a network or the
                     Internet. Users can send E-mail to a single recipient or broadcast it
                     to multiple users. E-mail supports the delivery of attached files,
                     including image files.
Instant messaging    Instant messaging is not a dial-up system like the telephone; it
                     requires that both parties be on line at the same time. AOL’s Instant
                     Messenger and Microsoft’s MSN Messenger and Internet Relay
                     Chat are the major instant messaging services. Users may
                     exchange files, including image files.
Chat and Internet    Chat technologies allow computer conferencing using the keyboard
Relay Chat           over the Internet between two or more people.
Source: GAO.

Among the principal channels for the distribution of child pornography are
commercial Web sites, Usenet newsgroups, and peer-to-peer networks.15

Web sites. According to recent estimates, there are about 400,000
commercial pornography Web sites worldwide,16 with some of the sites
selling pornographic images of children. The child pornography trade on
the Internet is not only profitable, it has a worldwide reach: recently a child
pornography ring was uncovered that included a Texas-based firm
providing credit card billing and password access services for one Russian

   According to Department of Justice officials, other forums and technologies are used to
disseminate pornography on the Internet. These include Web portal communities such as
Yahoo! Groups and MSN Groups, as well as file servers operating on Internet Relay Chat
   Dick Thornburgh and Herbert S. Lin, editors, Youth, Pornography, and The Internet,
National Academy Press (Washington, D.C.: 2002).

Page 5                                                                        GAO-03-1115T
                             and two Indonesian child pornography Web sites. According to the U.S.
                             Postal Inspection Service, the ring grossed as much as $1.4 million in just
                             1 month selling child pornography to paying customers.

                             Usenet. Usenet newsgroups also provide access to pornography, with
                             several of the image-oriented newsgroups being focused on child erotica
                             and child pornography. These newsgroups are frequently used by
                             commercial pornographers who post “free” images to advertise adult and
                             child pornography available for a fee from their Web sites.

                             Peer-to-peer networks. Although peer-to-peer file-sharing programs are
                             largely known for the extensive sharing of copyrighted digital music,17 they
                             are emerging as a conduit for the sharing of pornographic images and
                             videos, including child pornography. In a recent study by congressional
                             staff,18 a single search for the term “porn” using a file-sharing program
                             yielded over 25,000 files. In another study, focused on the availability of
                             pornographic video files on peer-to-peer sharing networks, a sample of 507
                             pornographic video files retrieved with a file-sharing program included
                             about 3.7 percent child pornography videos.19

Several Agencies Have Law    Table 2 shows the key national organizations and agencies that are
Enforcement                  currently involved in efforts to combat child pornography on peer-to-peer
Responsibilities Regarding
Child Pornography on Peer-
to-Peer Networks

                              According to the Yankee Group, a technology research and consulting firm, Internet users
                             aged 14 and older downloaded 5.16 billion audio files in the United States via unlicensed file-
                             sharing services in 2001.
                              Minority Staff, Children’s Access to Pornography through Internet File-Sharing
                             Programs, Special Investigations Division, Committee on Government Reform, U.S. House
                             of Representatives (July 27, 2001).
                              Michael D. Mehta, Don Best, and Nancy Poon, “Peer-to-Peer Sharing on the Internet: An
                             Analysis of How Gnutella Networks Are Used to Distribute Pornographic Material,”
                             Canadian Journal of Law and Technology, vol. 1, no. 1 (January 2002).

                             Page 6                                                                          GAO-03-1115T
Table 2: Table 2: Organizations and Agencies Involved with Peer-to-Peer Child Pornography Efforts

Agency                        Unit                              Focus
National Center for Missing   Exploited Child Unit              Works with the Customs Service, Postal Service, and the FBI to analyze
and Exploited Children                                          and investigate child pornography leads.
Federal entities
Department of Justice         Federal Bureau of                 Proactively investigates crimes against children. Operates a national
                              Investigation a                   “Innocent Images Initiative” to combat Internet-related sexual exploitation
                                                                of children.
                              Criminal Division, Child          Is a specialized group of attorneys who, among other things, prosecute
                              Exploitation and Obscenity        those who possess, manufacture, or distribute child pornography. Its High
                              Section                           Tech Investigative Unit actively conducts on-line investigations to identify
                                                                distributors of obscenity and child pornography.
Department of Homeland        U.S. Customs Service              Conducts international child pornography investigations as part of its
Security                      CyberSmuggling Center a, b        mission to investigate international criminal activity conducted on or
                                                                facilitated by the Internet.
Department of the Treasury    U.S. Secret Service a             Provides forensic and technical assistance in matters involving missing
                                                                and sexually exploited children.
Source: GAO.
                                              Agency has staff assigned to NCMEC.
                                               At the time of our review, the Customs Service was under the Department of the Treasury. Under the
                                              Homeland Security Act of 2002, it became part of the new Department of Homeland Security on March
                                              1, 2003.

                                              The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), a
                                              federally funded nonprofit organization, serves as a national resource
                                              center for information related to crimes against children. Its mission is to
                                              find missing children and prevent child victimization. The center’s
                                              Exploited Child Unit operates the CyberTipline, which receives child
                                              pornography tips provided by the public; its CyberTipline II also receives
                                              tips from Internet service providers. The Exploited Child Unit investigates
                                              and processes tips to determine if the images in question constitute a
                                              violation of child pornography laws. The CyberTipline provides
                                              investigative leads to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S.
                                              Customs, the Postal Inspection Service, and state and local law
                                              enforcement agencies. The FBI and the U.S. Customs also investigate leads
                                              from Internet service providers via the Exploited Child Unit’s CyberTipline
                                              II. The FBI, Customs Service, Postal Inspection Service, and Secret Service
                                              have staff assigned directly to NCMEC as analysts.20

                                                   According to the Secret Service, its staff assigned to NCMEC also includes an agent.

                                              Page 7                                                                             GAO-03-1115T
Two organizations in the Department of Justice have responsibilities
regarding child pornography: the FBI and the Justice Criminal Division’s
Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS).21

• The FBI investigates various crimes against children, including federal
  child pornography crimes involving interstate or foreign commerce. It
  deals with violations of child pornography laws related to the
  production of child pornography; selling or buying children for use in
  child pornography; and the transportation, shipment, or distribution of
  child pornography by any means, including by computer.

• CEOS prosecutes child sex offenses and trafficking in women and
  children for sexual exploitation. Its mission includes prosecution of
  individuals who possess, manufacture, produce, or distribute child
  pornography; use the Internet to lure children to engage in prohibited
  sexual conduct; or traffic in women and children interstate or
  internationally to engage in sexually explicit conduct.

Two other organizations have responsibilities regarding child pornography:
the Customs Service (now part of the Department of Homeland Security)
and the Secret Service in the Department of the Treasury.

• The Customs Service targets illegal importation and trafficking in child
  pornography and is the country’s front line of defense in combating
  child pornography distributed through various channels, including the
  Internet. Customs is involved in cases with international links, focusing
  on pornography that enters the United States from foreign countries.
  The Customs CyberSmuggling Center has the lead in the investigation of
  international and domestic criminal activities conducted on or
  facilitated by the Internet, including the sharing and distribution of child
  pornography on peer-to-peer networks. Customs maintains a reporting
  link with NCMEC, and it acts on tips received via the CyberTipline from
  callers reporting instances of child pornography on Web sites, Usenet
  newsgroups, chat rooms, or the computers of users of peer-to-peer

 Two additional Justice agencies are involved in combating child pornography: the U.S.
Attorneys Offices and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The 94
U.S. Attorneys Offices can prosecute federal child exploitation-related cases; the Office of
Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention funds the Internet Crimes Against Children
Task Force Program, which encourages multijurisdictional and multiagency responses to
crimes against children involving the Internet.

Page 8                                                                         GAO-03-1115T
                            networks. The center also investigates leads from Internet service
                            providers via the Exploited Child Unit’s CyberTipline II.

                       • The U.S. Secret Service does not investigate child pornography cases on
                         peer-to-peer networks; however, it does provide forensic and technical
                         support to NCMEC, as well as to state and local agencies involved in
                         cases of missing and exploited children.

Peer-to-Peer           Child pornography is easily shared and accessed through peer-to-peer file-
                       sharing programs. Our analysis of 1,286 titles and file names identified
Applications Provide   through KaZaA searches on 12 keywords22 showed that 543 (about 42
Easy Access to Child   percent) of the images had titles and file names associated with child
                       pornography images.23 Of the remaining files, 34 percent were classified as
Pornography            adult pornography, and 24 percent as nonpornographic (see fig. 1). No files
                       were downloaded for this analysis.

                        The 12 keywords were provided by the Cybersmuggling Center as examples known to be
                       associated with child pornography on the Internet.
                        We categorized a file as child pornography if one keyword indicating a minor and one word
                       with a sexual connotation occurred in either the title or file name. Files with sexual
                       connotation in title or name but without age indicators were classified as adult pornography.

                       Page 9                                                                        GAO-03-1115T
Figure 1: Classification of 1,286 Titles and File Names of Images Identified in KaZaA

The ease of access to child pornography files was further documented by
retrieval and analysis of image files, performed on our behalf by the
Customs CyberSmuggling Center. Using 3 of the 12 keywords that we used
to document the availability of child pornography files, a CyberSmuggling
Center analyst used KaZaA to search, identify, and download 305 files,
including files containing multiple images and duplicates. The analyst was
able to download 341 images from the 305 files identified through the
KaZaA search.

The CyberSmuggling Center analysis of the 341 downloaded images
showed that 149 (about 44 percent) of the downloaded images contained
child pornography (see fig. 2). The center classified the remaining images
as child erotica (13 percent), adult pornography (29 percent), or
nonpornographic (14 percent).

Page 10                                                                 GAO-03-1115T
Figure 2: Classification of 341 Images Downloaded through KaZaA

Note: GAO analysis of data provided by the Customs CyberSmuggling Center.

These results are consistent with the observations of NCMEC, which has
stated that peer-to-peer technology is increasingly popular for the
dissemination of child pornography. However, it is not the most prominent
source for child pornography. As shown in table 3, since 1998, most of the
child pornography referred by the public to the CyberTipline was found on
Internet Web sites. Since 1998, the center has received over 76,000 reports
of child pornography, of which 77 percent concerned Web sites, and only
1 percent concerned peer-to-peer networks. Web site referrals have grown
from about 1,400 in 1998 to over 26,000 in 2002—or about a nineteenfold
increase. NCMEC did not track peer-to-peer referrals until 2001. In 2002,
peer-to-peer referrals increased more than fourfold, from 156 to 757,
reflecting the increased popularity of file-sharing programs.

Page 11                                                                     GAO-03-1115T
                          Table 3: NCMEC CyberTipline Referrals to Law Enforcement Agencies, Fiscal Years

                                                                                                              Number of tips
                          Technology                                                     1998           1999         2000       2001     2002
                          Web sites                                                     1,393          3,830       10,629      18,052   26,759
                          E-mail                                                           117            165         120       1,128    6,245
                          Peer-to-peer                                                         -               -         -       156      757
                          Usenet newsgroups & bulletin                                     531            987         731        990      993
                          Unknown                                                            90           258         260        430      612
                          Chat rooms                                                       155            256         176        125      234
                          Instant Messaging                                                  27               47       50         80       53
                          File Transfer Protocol                                             25               26       58         64       23
                          Total                                                         2,338          5,569       12,024      21,025   35,676
                          Source: Exploited Child Unit, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Juvenile Users of Peer-   Juvenile users of peer-to-peer networks face a significant risk of
                          inadvertent exposure to pornography when searching and downloading
to-Peer Applications      images. In a search using innocuous keywords likely to be used by
May Be Inadvertently      juveniles searching peer-to-peer networks (such as names of popular
                          singers, actors, and cartoon characters), almost half the images
Exposed to                downloaded were classified as adult or cartoon pornography. Juvenile
Pornography               users may also be inadvertently exposed to child pornography through
                          such searches, but the risk of such exposure is smaller than that of
                          exposure to pornography in general.

                          To document the risk of inadvertent exposure of juvenile users to
                          pornography, the Customs CyberSmuggling Center performed KaZaA
                          searches using innocuous keywords likely to be used by juveniles. The
                          center image searches used three keywords representing the names of a
                          popular female singer, child actors, and a cartoon character. A center
                          analyst performed the search, retrieval, and analysis of the images. These
                          searches produced 157 files, some of which were duplicates. From these
                          157 files, the analyst was able to download 177 images..

                          Figure 3 shows our analysis of the CyberSmuggling Center’s classification
                          of the 177 downloaded images. We determined that 61 images contained
                          adult pornography (34 percent), 24 images consisted of cartoon

                          Page 12                                                                                                 GAO-03-1115T
                         pornography (14 percent), 13 images contained child erotica (7 percent),
                         and 2 images (1 percent) contained child pornography. The remaining 77
                         images were classified as nonpornographic.

                         Figure 3: Classification of 177 Images of a Popular Singer, Child Actors, and a
                         Cartoon Character Downloaded through KaZaA

Federal Law              Because law enforcement agencies do not track the resources dedicated to
                         specific technologies used to access and download child pornography on
Enforcement Agencies     the Internet, we were unable to quantify the resources devoted to
Are Beginning to Focus   investigations concerning peer-to-peer networks. These agencies
                         (including the FBI, CEOS, and Customs) do devote significant resources to
Resources on Child       combating child exploitation and child pornography in general. Law
Pornography on Peer-     enforcement officials told us, however, that as tips concerning child
to-Peer Networks         pornography on the peer-to-peer networks increase, they are beginning to
                         focus more law enforcement resources on this issue. Table 4 shows the
                         levels of funding related to child pornography issues that the primary
                         organizations reported for fiscal year 2002, as well as a description of their
                         efforts regarding peer-to-peer networks in particular.

                         Page 13                                                                GAO-03-1115T
Table 4: Resources Related to Combating Child Pornography on Peer-to-Peer Networks in 2002

Organization                   Resources a                                                 Efforts regarding peer-to-peer networks
National Center for   $12 million to act as national resource center and                   NCMEC referred 913 tips concerning peer-to-peer
Missing and Exploited clearinghouse for missing and exploited children                     networks to law enforcement agencies.
Children              $10 million for law enforcement training
                      $3.3 million for the Exploited Child Unit and the
                      $916,000 allocated to combat child pornography
Federal Bureau of              $38.2 million and 228 agents and support personnel for According to FBI officials, they have efforts under way
Investigation                  Innocent Images Unit                                   to work with some of the peer-to-peer companies to
                                                                                      solicit their cooperation in dealing with the issue of child
Justice Criminal               $4.38 million and 28 personnel allocated to combating       The High Tech Investigative Unit deals with
Division, Child                child exploitation and obscenity offenses                   investigating any Internet medium that distributes child
Exploitation and                                                                           pornography, including peer-to-peer networks.
Obscenity Section
U.S. Customs Service $15.6 million (over 144,000 hours) allocated to                       The center is beginning to actively monitor peer-to-peer
CyberSmuggling       combating child exploitation and obscenity offenses b                 networks for child pornography, devoting one half-time
Center                                                                                     investigator to this effort. As of December 16, 2002, the
                                                                                           center had sent 21 peer-to-peer investigative leads to
                                                                                           field offices for follow-up.
Source: GAO and agencies mentioned.
                                                       Dollar amounts are approximate.
                                                       Customs was unable to separate the staff hours devoted or funds obligated to combating child
                                                      pornography from those dedicated to combating child exploitation in general.

                                                      An important new resource to facilitate the identification of the victims of
                                                      child pornographers is the National Child Victim Identification Program,
                                                      run by the CyberSmuggling Center. This resource is a consolidated
                                                      information system containing seized images that is designed to allow law
                                                      enforcement officials to quickly identify and combat the current abuse of
                                                      children associated with the production of child pornography. The system’s
                                                      database is being populated with all known and unique child pornographic
                                                      images obtained from national and international law enforcement sources
                                                      and from CyberTipline reports filed with NCMEC. It will initially hold over
                                                      100,000 images collected by federal law enforcement agencies from various
                                                      sources, including old child pornography magazines.24 According to
                                                      Customs officials, this information will help, among other things, to
                                                      determine whether actual children were used to produce child

                                                       According to federal law enforcement agencies, most of the child pornography published
                                                      before 1970 has been digitized and made widely available on the Internet.

                                                      Page 14                                                                             GAO-03-1115T
                  pornography images by matching them with images of children from
                  magazines published before modern imaging technology was invented.
                  Such evidence can be used to counter the assertion that only virtual
                  children appear in certain images.

                  The system, which became operational in January 2003,25 is housed at the
                  Customs CyberSmuggling Center and can be accessed remotely in “read
                  only” format by the FBI, CEOS, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and

                  In summary, Mr. Chairman, our work shows that child pornography as well
                  as adult pornography is widely available and accessible on peer-to-peer
                  networks. Even more disturbing, we found that peer-to-peer searches using
                  seemingly innocent terms that clearly would be of interest to children
                  produced a high proportion of pornographic material, including child
                  pornography. The increase in reports of child pornography on peer-to-peer
                  networks suggests that this problem is increasing. As a result, it will be
                  important for law enforcement agencies to follow through on their plans to
                  devote more resources to this technology and continue their efforts to
                  develop effective strategies for addressing this problem.

                  Mr. Chairman, this concludes my statement. I would be pleased to answer
                  any questions that you or other Members of the Committee may have at this

Contact and       If you should have any questions about this testimony, please contact me at
                  (202) 512-6240 or by E-mail at koontzl@gao.gov. Key contributors to this
Acknowledgments   testimony were Barbara S. Collier, Mirko Dolak, James M. Lager, Neelaxi V.
                  Lakhmani, James R. Sweetman, Jr., and Jessie Thomas.

                     One million dollars has already been spent on the system, with an additional $5 million
                  needed for additional hardware, the expansion of the image database, and access for all
                  involved agencies. The 10-year lifecycle cost of the system is estimated to be $23 million.

                  Page 15                                                                        GAO-03-1115T
Attachment I

How File Sharing Works on Peer-to-Peer
Networks                                                                                                      AtachmenIt

               Peer-to-peer file-sharing programs represent a major change in the way
               Internet users find and exchange information. Under the traditional
               Internet client/server model, access to information and services is
               accomplished by interaction between clients—users who request
               services—and servers—providers of services, usually Web sites or portals.
               Unlike this traditional model, the peer-to-peer model enables consenting
               users—or peers—to directly interact and share information with each
               other, without the intervention of a server. A common characteristic of
               peer-to-peer programs is that they build virtual networks with their own
               mechanisms for routing message traffic.1

               The ability of peer-to-peer networks to provide services and connect users
               directly has resulted in a large number2 of powerful applications built
               around this model.3 These range from the SETI@home network (where
               users share the computing power of their computers to search for
               extraterrestrial life) to the popular KaZaA file-sharing program (used to
               share music and other files).

               As shown in figure 4,4 there are two main models of peer-to-peer networks:
               (1) the centralized model, in which a central server or broker directs traffic
               between individual registered users, and (2) the decentralized model,
               based on the Gnutella5 network, in which individuals find each other and
               interact directly.

                Matei Ripenau, Ian Foster, and Adriana Iamnitchi, “Mapping the Gnutella Network:
               Properties of Large Scale Peer-to-Peer Systems and Implication for System Design,” IEEE
               Internet Computing, vol. 6, no. 1 (January–February 2002).
                 Zeropaid.com, a file-sharing portal, lists 88 different peer-to-peer file-sharing programs
               available for download. (http://www.zeropaid.com/php/filesharing.php)
                 Geoffrey Fox and Shrideep Pallickara, “Peer-to-Peer Interactions in Web Brokering
               Systems,” Ubiquity, vol. 3, no. 15 (May 28–June 3, 2002) (published by Association of
               Computer Machinery). (http://www.acm.org/ubiquity/views/g_fox_2.html)
                Illustration adapted by Lt. Col. Mark Bontrager from original by Bob Knighten, “Peer-to-
               Peer Computing,” briefing to Peer-to-Peer Working Groups (August 24, 2000), in Mark D.
               Bontrager, Peering into the Future: Peer-to-Peer Technology as a Model for Distributed
               Joint Battlespace Intelligence Dissemination and Operational Tasking, Thesis, School of
               Advanced Airpower Studies, Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama (June 2001).

               Page 16                                                                          GAO-03-1115T
                                Attachment I
                                How File Sharing Works on Peer-to-Peer

Figure 4: Peer-to-Peer Models

                                As shown in figure 4, in the centralized model, a central server/broker
                                maintains directories of shared files stored on the computers of registered
                                users. When Bob submits a request for a particular file, the server/broker
                                creates a list of files matching the search request by checking it against its
                                database of files belonging to users currently connected to the network.
                                The broker then displays that list to Bob, who can then select the desired
                                file from the list and open a direct link with Alice’s computer, which
                                currently has the file. The download of the actual file takes place directly
                                from Alice to Bob.

                                This broker model was used by Napster, the original peer-to-peer network,
                                facilitating mass sharing of material by combining the file names held by
                                thousands of users into a searchable directory that enabled users to

                                 According to LimeWire LLC, the developer of a popular file-sharing program, Gnutella was
                                originally designed by Nullsoft, a subsidiary of America Online. The development of the
                                Gnutella protocol was halted by AOL management shortly after the protocol was made
                                available to the public. Using downloads, programmers reverse-engineered the software and
                                created their own Gnutella software packages. (http://www.limewire.com/index.jsp/p2p)

                                Page 17                                                                    GAO-03-1115T
Attachment I
How File Sharing Works on Peer-to-Peer

connect with each other and download MP3 encoded music files. Because
much of this material was copyrighted, Napster as the broker of these
exchanges was vulnerable to legal challenges,6 which eventually led to its
demise in September 2002.

In contrast to Napster, most current-generation peer-to-peer networks are
decentralized. Because they do not depend on the server/broker that was
the central feature of the Napster service, these networks are less
vulnerable to litigation from copyright owners, as pointed out by Gartner.7

In the decentralized model, no brokers keep track of users and their files.
To share files using the decentralized model, Ted starts with a networked
computer equipped with a Gnutella file-sharing program such KaZaA or
BearShare. Ted connects to Carol, Carol to Bob, Bob to Alice, and so on.
Once Ted’s computer has announced that it is “alive” to the various
members of the peer network, it can search the contents of the shared
directories of the peer network members. The search request is sent to all
members of the network, starting with Carol; members will in turn send the
request to the computers to which they are connected, and so forth. If one
of the computers in the peer network (say, for example, Alice’s) has a file
that matches the request, it transmits the file information (name, size, type,
etc.) back through all the computers in the pathway towards Ted, where a
list of files matching the search request appears on Ted’s computer through
the file-sharing program. Ted can then open a connection with Alice and
download the file directly from Alice’s computer.8

The file-sharing networks that result from the use of peer-to-peer
technology are both extensive and complex. Figure 5 shows a map or
topology of a Gnutella network whose connections were mapped by a
network visualization tool.9 The map, created in December 2000, shows
1,026 nodes (computers connected to more than one computer) and 3,752
edges (computers on the edge of the network connected to a single

A&M Records v. Napster, 114 F.Supp.2d 896 (N.D. Cal. 2000).
Lydia Leong, “RIAA vs.Verizon, Implications for ISPs,” Gartner (Oct. 24, 2002).
 LimeWire, Modern Peer-to-Peer File Sharing over the Internet.
 Mihajlo A. Jovanovic, Fred S. Annexstein, and Kenneth A. Berman, Scalability Issues in
Large Peer-to-Peer Networks: A Case Study of Gnutella, University of Cincinnati Technical
Report (2001). (http://www.ececs.uc.edu/~mjovanov/Research/paper.html)

Page 18                                                                      GAO-03-1115T
                                           Attachment I
                                           How File Sharing Works on Peer-to-Peer

                                           computer). This map is a snapshot showing a network in existence at a
                                           given moment; these networks change constantly as users join and depart

Figure 5: Topology of a Gnutella Network

                                           Page 19                                                     GAO-03-1115T
           Attachment I
           How File Sharing Works on Peer-to-Peer

           One of the key features of many peer-to-peer technologies is their use of a
           virtual name space (VNS). A VNS dynamically associates user-created
           names with the Internet address of whatever Internet-connected computer
           users happen to be using when they log on.10 The VNS facilitates point-to-
           point interaction between individuals, because it removes the need for
           users and their computers to know the addresses and locations of other
           users; the VNS can, to certain extent, preserve users’ anonymity and
           provide information on whether a user is or is not connected to the Internet
           at a given moment. Peer-to-peer users thus may appear to be anonymous;
           they are not, however. Law enforcement agents may identify users’ Internet
           addresses during the file-sharing process and obtain, under a court order,
           their identities from their Internet service providers.

            S. Hayward and R. Batchelder, “Peer-to-Peer: Something Old, Something New,” Gartner
           (Apr. 10, 2001).

(310381)   Page 20                                                                  GAO-03-1115T
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