Most Feared Internet Crimes

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Most Feared Internet Crimes

Child Pornography

Statistical table

By: Pew Research Center

Date: February 2001

Source: The Pew Internet & American Life Project Survey. 〈〉

About the Author: The Pew Research Center is an initiative of the Pew Charitable Trusts, and is charged with informing the public, press, and policy makers on important issues and trends.


During the last few decades, there has been great worldwide concern about child pornography, pedophilia, and related issues. A related aspect of these issues concern ways in which children can be kept safe, since their innocence and naivety can make them unfortunate targets of such crimes. Increasing access to new technology, like video and camera phones, may complicate the problem. Most experts state that instances of child pornography have increased since the advent of the Internet.

The Internet has grown explosively since its inception and now permeates nearly every sphere of modern human activity, including communications, entertainment, news, banking, business, research, and commerce. However, the uses of the Internet have not been without controversy. It has opened up novel means for online crimes like fraud, hacking, and identity theft. In addition, it has provided a new avenue for classic crimes like stealing and swindling, and has given legal authorities worldwide a new subject of concern—cyber-crime. The most unsavory use of the Internet is as a channel for peddling all forms of pornography, including child pornography.

Various reports suggest an increase in online pedophiles who assume that the virtual nature of their crime protects them from detection and prosecution. Some studies link an increase in sex-crimes and crimes of pedophilia to an increase in child pornography on the Internet. New technologies, including Internet-enabled cellular phones, may also give predators increased access to children.



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According to the Pew Center, the internet is an entity through which many worries fester for Americans. In fact, the Pew Center study on American's "Most Feared Internet Crimes" lists "child pornography" as the most feared out of eight categories listed. Other feared Internet crimes include organized terrorism, credit card theft, and computer viruses.

Child pornography is a serious issue worldwide. In January 2004, a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) report blamed the Internet for the rise in incidents relating to child pornography. According to the report, there was a 1,500 percent rise in such incidents in the United Kingdom since 1988.

Various other sources point out that the global scale of child pornography is massive. These sources suggest that nearly fifty-five percent of the pornographic material originates in the United States, while about twenty-three percent originates in Russia.

The apparent increase in the incidence of child pornography offenses has been linked to the relative ease of distribution and access to these materials on the Internet. Surveys conducted in 2003 suggested that child pornography accounted for nearly twenty-four percent of Internet images searches. Dealing with child pornography has become a priority for police and law enforcement agencies.

The U.S. Congress passed the Child Pornography Prevention Act in 1996. The act stiffened fines and jail time for those convicted of producing and distributing pornographic materials depicting children. The act also criminalized the receipt of child pornography via email or Internet download. A later amendment broadened the definition of child pornography to include computer-generated images. However, the Supreme Court struck down the amendment as unconstitutional asserting that animated or computer-generated images do not involve or injure an actual child.

Canada and Britain, like the United States, prohibit mere possession, accessing, or downloading of child pornography. Britain maintains a ban on simulated and computer-generated pornographic images depicting children. In the early twenty-first century, a number of members of Parliament issued an appeal to Internet service providers in the United Kingdom to block child pornography web sites. They urged the government to enact a law compelling these companies to spell out their policies on this issue. It remains to be seen whether such measures will reduce the incidence of child pornography offenses.


Web sites

BBC News. "Extent of Child Net Porn Revealed." 〈〉 (accessed January 14, 2006).

BBC News. "Porn Ring 'Was Real Child Abuse'.' 〈〉 (accessed January 14, 2006).

Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties. "Regulation of Child Pornography on the Internet." 〈〉 (accessed January 14, 2006).

LegalDay. "Operation Ore." 〈〉 (accessed January 14, 2006).

RCMP Gazette. "Just the Facts." 〈〉 (accessed January 14, 2006).

The Register. "Net Blamed for Massive Increase in Child Porn." 〈〉 (accessed January 14, 2006).

U.K. Home Office. "Internet Crime." 〈〉 (accessed January 14, 2006).

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Most Feared Internet Crimes

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