Borders Conference - Rethinking the Line: The Canada-U.S. Border / Child Pornography on the Internet Session
- Detective-Sergeant Frank Goldschmidt (Panellist) - Ontario Provincial Police, Project “P”
- Jacquelyn Nelson
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the group for inviting me to Vancouver. It is very beneficial to be able to share some of our pros and cons of what we are doing with a group like this. My normal presentation is some 2 to 3 hours, so I've really done a lot of chopping to squeeze it down to 15 minutes.
I have been with the OPP for almost 21 years now. I've been with the pornography unit for almost 10 years. This unit has been around since 1975. Prior to 1993, the mandate was solely focused on investigating the distribution, making, importing, and sale of obscene material. Prior to 1993, before the child pornography legislation came into effect, child pornography fell under the obscenity section of the Criminal Code. When the new child pornography legislation was passed in 1993, our mandate changed. Now we solely investigate the distribution, making, and importing of child pornography within the province of Ontario. To give you some idea, prior to 1993, and prior to the Internet booming the way it is right now, it was very uncommon for us to investigate more than one or two child pornography cases in one year. Since then it has doubled, doubled, and doubled as the years went by. In a moment I will give you some figures.
Our unit has grown from a miniscule two officers in 1991, and now there are 14 of us. We are overwhelmed with the amount of child pornography that is available mainly now through the Internet. The OPP has taken the initiative to try and combat this problem, and as a result they have doubled the size of the unit in the last 4 years. We do assist other agencies in the province of Ontario as well as across Canada in investigating child pornography cases, mainly because this is all we do and we are kind of updated on a daily basis as to what is child pornography and what is not child pornography, and the most useful way to investigate these types of crimes. We have been considered the lead agency in Canada for investigating child pornography and as a result we get calls from all across the country for assistance. A number of us have been qualified in the courts as experts, not only in the identification of child pornography, but also in the forensic identification of computers.
Our unit is involved in fairly aggressive enforcement. We try to do proactive policing, but as a result of all the incoming cases that we receive from other police agencies in the province and other countries, our proactive policing is somewhat limited. To give you an idea, one of the guys in the unit and myself were on the Internet one evening in the Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channels, and within a 3 to 4 hour period we identified 44 persons within the province of Ontario who were involved in the distribution, making, importing, or sale of child pornography. People often wonder how we are able to identify where the individuals are right up front. Well it's kind of one of our little trade secrets that I think I'll just keep under my hat for now.
The priority of our unit is to investigate child pornography. There is an overwhelming amount of child pornography on the Internet and it appears that the offenders are now a little bit braver, now that they can distribute child pornography over the Internet, rather than in person. They seem to feel a sense of security and anonymity because they are not really talking face-to-face like they used to, like when they would meet me in a seedy establishment. Whereas, now over the Internet, they feel quite free to talk about their preferences and how much material that they have. The computer and the Internet have allowed for individuals to store large amounts of material on their systems, as well as to trade large amounts of material in a very short period of time.
Now to give you some indication on the amount of work that we are doing. In 1997 we completed 83 investigations and laid 105 charges involving 20 people. To date, in the year 2000, we have completed some 117 investigations, laid 101 charges involving 20 people. Quite often individuals question that 20 seems like such a low number. But our priority is not only to prosecute the offenders, it is also to identify the victims. In a number of cases we have been successful in identifying the victims of the paedophiles. In one case that we did in a small southern community in Ontario, one paedophile resulted in us interviewing almost 1,000 victims that this person had terrorized in about a 30-year period. This is not the type of investigation you can complete in a 1 or 2-month period, this investigation took 13 months.
The Internet has provided the perfect tool for paedophiles to distribute their collections and it has basically become a borderless crime. The Internet has been used by paedophiles to lure children from across the U.S./Canadian border, and vice versa. It still shocks me to hear, when these luring offences take place, that there are parents that are actually allowing their 12 and 13-year-old children to go to malls and street corners to meet individuals that they've met on the Internet. Quite often our officers pose as children or parents who have children, who are willing to offer their children for sex. There have been a number of cases where we've actually met these individuals in wired hotel rooms and more or less let them 'say their peace' before we come through the door and arrest these guys.
We currently execute warrants to obtain Internet service protocol information. As Wayne has previously mentioned, a lot of the ISPs only keep their logs for a very short period of time. There's actually one ISP in Toronto, which at the stroke of midnight, wipes out all the information on their logs and they basically start all over again. Quite often if we're receiving information, such as through CISC who receive the information from other different countries, quite often there's a time issue there. The information is very time sensitive due to the fact that a lot of the log information is deleted. So when we get an investigation into the office, whether it comes from inside or outside the country, our first task is to determine how old the information is. Then we have to get a hold of the ISP right away so that they can hold onto their log information. One of the problems that we are running into is that there are certain Canadian-based ISPs that store all their information in the U.S. The one that comes to mind in particular is Rogers. So when we go to execute a search warrant at their corporate offices in Toronto, the information is actually not at that location. They are putting protocol in place where they can get in touch with their offices in the U.S., retrieve the information that we're asking for, then when we come down and execute the search warrant, we get the information from a Canadian address. To this point in time it hasn't become an issue in the courts, but some sharp lawyer might come up with that some day.
I do agree with Wayne that there should be some sort of provincial and state regulations for ISPs, and that the mandatory storage time for log information should be much longer. We maintain a backlog of some 35 to 40 child pornography investigations at any given time. One of the other things we review when the information first comes in, is whether or not there's a child that's being victimized at the time. If there's not, unfortunately the case falls down to the bottom of the pile. If there is a child being victimized it becomes our number one priority. Sometimes we may not get to an investigation for some six to nine months.
Some of the other areas on the Internet that we are having problems with because of the volume are the newsgroups and the web sites. We are spending most of our time in the IRC channels. I would like to give you a sense of some of the problems that we have had in the retrieval of information. There's one case in particular where we were working on an individual, a 21-year-old young man, who was no doubt living off the proceeds of his crime. He was making in excess of $40,000 U.S. per month. He offered a web site on the Internet that not only offered adult material, obscene material, but also had this link off to the side that offered a vast amount of child pornography. To make a long story short, we completed the warrants, we completed our investigation, executed the warrants and found out the information was not actually stored on his premises. He actually operated the web site from his premises and stored all the information in New Jersey. We had coordinated an effort with the U.S. Customs office, I don't know if we ended with a Customs officer that wasn't overly ambitious, but we were never able to retrieve the information to properly prosecute this individual in Canada. As a result, all the charges were withdrawn. The American authorities also told us that, although there was a large amount of illegal material on this web site, there was a large amount of legal material as well and they would not be able to shut the system down. The way we operate right now, although there are really no concrete guidelines, when we go to execute search warrants we just shut the whole thing right down.
Currently, we receive and send information and other child pornography investigations that we uncover in Canada, to the U.S. Customs attaché office in Ottawa and to CISC. That system appears to be working at this point in time, but I can see there being problems there, as well, with the volume of information that is going back and forth.
Another area that I think Wayne has touched on is the transmission of illegal materials. At this point in time we do not in any circumstances send child pornography across the Internet to win the confidence of the individual that we are working on. If it's an fserve (file server) or an FTP (file transmission protocol) site, and the individual is not sitting at his terminal, sometimes we are able to send a picture of a car or a corrupted file just in order to be able to obtain the credits so that we can download information off this individual's system. Now there are certain paedophiles and individuals who are getting wiser when they are corresponding with us and asking us for information up front. It's just like the old drug trade, when you used to buy drugs off an individual, it would be “you show me some first, before I show you some of mine.” When dealing with an fserver you can get away with sending (uploading) corrupted files and that sort of thing.
The courts in Ontario have determined what is child pornography, but one of the things we are waiting for now is what is the Supreme Court of Canada going to say? I do know that across Canada itself, there are certain inconsistencies on what certain people think is and is not child pornography. As a result of only doing child pornography cases in Ontario, we have done a number of test cases that we've brought to the courts in Ontario, and they've clearly defined what is and is not child pornography. This leads me to another thing. Something that we should try and work towards is an international definition of what is and is not child pornography. Then maybe gear that up into a system, such as what Wayne was talking about, where you would have a central registry indicating what is and is not child pornography.
I've basically touched on a lot of the highlights of what I would discuss in my regular 2 to 3 hour presentation, so I think at this point I will close for now. Thanks.
I think a very important issue you raised was the idea of an international definition of child pornography…
Our next presenter is Andrew Oosterbaan. Andrew is from the United States Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Child Exploitation and Obscenities Section, where he is the Deputy Chief for Litigation. Andrew handles all criminal litigation for the section including investigations and prosecutions nationwide involving child pornography, child exploitation, child sexual abuse, trafficking of women and children for sexual purposes, obscenity, child support enforcement, and international parental abduction. He is also involved in developing and coordinating multi-district investigations and initiatives. Additionally, Andrew manages the section's training program for prosecutors and law enforcement agents throughout the United States. Andrew…
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