Dedicated strategies needed to crack down on child porn

Because of the increasing use of computers, the police are more likely to encounter Internet child pornography crimes (Big increase in child porn webpages hosted in S'pore; Nov 6).

Such crimes are unlike what the police usually handle, as the images are produced and stored in another country and could be part of an international ring.

Strategies to deal with the problem, such as dedicated teams, must be developed.

The police must acquire technical knowledge and expertise in this area and establish links with other agencies and jurisdictions to share information and coordinate their activities.

Efforts should be prioritised and concentrated on the most serious offences, like those involving the abuse of children and the production of images.

Perhaps the police could cross-reference lists of Internet child pornography users with sex offender registries.

The Internet Service Providers are crucial partners and can play a greater role in controlling child pornography.

They should be made legally responsible for website content. Such legislation could be introduced in Parliament.

Internet Service Providers often exercise very little control over verifying the identities of those who open Internet accounts.

Accounts may be opened using false names and addresses, making it difficult to trace those who engage in illegal activity.

Encryption is the biggest technological problem facing the police. We should develop code-breaking software to rein this in.

Many areas of the Internet are also not accessible via the usual search engines. Investigators need to be skilled at conducting sophisticated searches of the "hidden Net".

Public awareness must be raised. The police can have a hotline for the public to call if they have information on child pornography.

Computer technicians and system administrators could monitor Internet use on the computers they oversee and work with the police if they discover any offences.

Francis Cheng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 08, 2017, with the headline 'Dedicated strategies needed to crack down on child porn'. Print Edition | Subscribe