Kazaa, Others Pledge to Fight Internet Child Porn
SOURCEWASHINGTON (Reuters) - Internet "peer to peer" system operators pledged on Tuesday to help prosecutors track down pedophiles, while others said they should be held liable for the illegal pornography available over their networks.
Peer-to-peer networks such as Kazaa, already battling charges that they facilitate widespread copyright abuse, have recently drawn criticism from family groups and prosecutors who say child pornography is readily available on their systems.
Kazaa vice president Alan Morris told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee (news - web sites) that while his company cannot control users' behavior, it would be happy to help prosecutors track down child pornographers and is trying to improve content filters and other family-friendly features.
A trade group representing Grokster, LimeWire and several other peer-to-peer operators similarly pledged its cooperation.
Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch encouraged them to clean up their act before Congress is forced to step in.
"Help us help you, or you're going to be under constant attack and ultimately we'll have to do some things that would be very detrimental for your business," the Utah Republican told Kazaa vice president Alan Morris.
Millions of Internet users swap music, movies, pornography and other files directly from each others' hard drives, bypassing the central server computers that underpin much of the Internet.
Anti-pornography activists and some lawmakers say these services allow users to easily disseminate illegal child pornography, and that users who search for kid-friendly terms like "Pokemon" frequently turn up sexually explicit material.
A New York state district attorney who recently charged 12 Kazaa users with distribution of child pornography told the committee that the system owners should be held liable, an idea echoed by California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
Others said better federal and state cooperation could help track down pedophiles, while Morris suggested that users could turn to an "integrity filter" meant to screen out corrupted files to drum such material out of the system.
One official with the Justice Department noted that child pornography was hardly uncommon in other areas of the Internet as pedophiles use chat rooms, e-mail and Web sites to communicate and trade material. No new laws are needed as investigators can usually discover where the material is originating, he said.
"It's a target-rich environment," said Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Malcolm.