Technology led to child porn arrests
Last Updated: Friday, March 17, 2006 | 9:08 AM ET
Police explained in greater detail on Thursday how they used technology to track and capture the members of an alleged international child porn ring.
Nine of 27 people facing charges are Canadians, two of them living in Toronto and neighbouring communities, according to police.
- INDEPTH: Child Porn
Officers at the Toronto Police Service's child exploitation unit have been tracking child pornography on the internet for years.
They even helped software giant Microsoft come up with a computer program called the Child Exploitation Tracking System (CETS), which links police forces around the world and quickly finds common elements in their investigations.
"It determines if there is a relationship between an investigation in Toronto in this case and New York, or England or Indonesia," police spokesman Eduardo Dizon said.
Police say CETS was central in helping them bust the alleged child pornography ring and arrest the 27 men in four countries: Canada, the United States, Britain and Australia.
Police used CETS to find the secret internet chat rooms where the men are alleged to have made and traded child pornography. But it was difficult for police to get into those chat rooms.
"To get past those barriers you had to demonstrate your interest in child pornography images by sharing child pornography images that you already opened," Staff Insp. Jane Wilcox said.
Police won't say how they eventually got into the chat room, but it's believed they used the identity of an Edmonton man arrested in January who had already crossed the barriers to become an active member of the group.
Once inside, investigators contacted a chat room member in the United Kingdom. "That person," Wilcox said, "began on-screen real-time abusing his own child. That person was arrested within, I believe, 24 hours."
Analyst Jesse Hirsh says police are still behind, even with the new crime fighting technology.
"It will always be the catch-up for the police," he said, "because the child pornographers are a community, and being a community they share resources. So it's not that a single one of them has to be technically sophisticated."