The whole debate about child porn and child porn laws has really bothered me because some key issues are being missed.
The Conservatives believe that the current law has one major loophole. Sexually explicit material involving persons under the age 18 is acceptable if it is deemed to have artistic merit. To many Canadians this might seem like a huge loophole because for them, a lot of what passes for art these days is just smut. However, crafting a law that clamps down on child porn but can’t be used to remove Romeo and Juliet from our high school libraries isn’t easy.
I believe the strength of the rhetoric coming from Harper on this issue is disingenuous. The long gun registry is the result of an understandable but irrational reaction to the tragic murders of several women. In the wake of a tragedy it is very easy to react with new laws or programs that do very little to address the heart of the problem. If we focus all our outrage over child exploitation on one law we will miss the real heart of the problem.
What I don’t understand is the idea that child porn leads to the exploitation of children, but adult porn doesn’t lead to the exploitation of women. I don’t think we as a society are willing to face the fact that the multi-billion dollar a year porn industry has a tremendous impact on our social well being.
I think the government should have strong child porn laws, but this is not going to fix the problem. Going after Internet Service Providers isn’t going to solve the problem either. I host websites and I couldn’t tell you if someone is hosting porn on their site because I don’t check every file on my server. If the police told me someone was distributing porn from their site I would certain co-operate. These measures are only a small piece of the whole phenomenon.
Child porn is an underground phenomenon. I imagine that most of it is distributed through closed peer-to-peer file sharing networks not unlike Kazaa or Morpheus. Most of this stuff is not on public web/ftp sites that you can block. Like many underground file sharing networks you need to know someone to get in. In this scenario the files are hosted on private machines, not webservers. You can’t block this traffic because IP addresses on home machines are constantly changing. Unless you pulled a “Big Brother” and monitored everyone’s traffic you wouldn’t even see it happening.