May 20 2020
The social distancing factor of Covid has caused a spike in kiddie porn investigations and cases. With more and more people in “islolation” there has been a spike in the viewing of pornography and Internet chat and contact. To the extent that there is an increase in the viewing of regular pornography, there has also been an increase in the viewing and sharing of child pornography. Here is an interesting question. Are various law enforcement agencies posting “links” to child pornography sites to create cases? Law enforcement is prohibited from transmitting child pornography (the images themselves), but is there a prohibition against police agencies posting “links” to sites that have child pornography to create cases and arrests? As a child pornography defense lawyer, I am beginning to see a suspicious pattern emerge in some of the investigations. In the perfect world, this should never happen, but we don’t live in a perfect world and not all law enforcement officers play by the rules.
I have also seen an increase on cases involving smart phones. Everyone thinks of child porn as being a computer type crime, but, smart phones are computers. With applications like “Snapchat” an image can be transmitted to a person who is not even remotely looking for or asking for child pornography. Teenagers are particularly vulnerable to this type of accidental receipt of child pornography. Also, on sites like Omegle, illegal videos can be created and sent and the recipient may accidentally get something he or she never intended to receive.
What do you do if you receive a video or image you never intended to get? Some people think that if you hit delete, it is not deleted. If you take your computer somewhere to get it reformatted or “cleaned” you run the risk of being reported as a suspect yourself. Accidentally getting something on your computer creates a huge problem in how to effectively destroy or delete an image you absolutely do not want. Some of the “cleaning” programs may or may not work.
The best thing to do is to take steps so you will never even accidently get something illegal. Stay away from peer to peer file sharing sites. Only open emails from friends and people you know and trust. Never, no never engage in chat on any site with anyone that even remotely hints they are underage. Never send a picture of your privates (a dick pic) to anyone. Nothing on the Internet is real, and you may think you are chatting with an adult on a dating site, but it may in fact be a 15 year old and you may find yourself getting arrested for transmitting a image harmful to a minor.
The Internet investigations are actually on the increase. These are cases the police can investigate and prosecute without ever leaving their offices. The bottom line is the best way to not get arrested is to not commit a crime. Never chat with anyone underage for any reason. Never send a sexually explicit image over the Internet to anyone. This is particularly true if you are using “Grinder” or one of the other gay dating sites. The cops are trolling Grinder looking for men to entrap with bait and switch tactics. They will post as an adult, claim at first to be 19, and then after contact, claim to be 14 or 15. Never use Grinder to hookup with anyone underage.
In the meantime, Stay safe, stay well and continue with social distancing.