storage.”67 Distribution has become far less risky and difficult with the Internet and is now a
common component of child pornography offenses.68
The Internet’s current “global, decentralized and borderless” nature allows for a
“potentially infinite and unbreakable communications complex” that law enforcement, thus far, is
unable to break.69 The United States alone has two hundred forty-five million Internet users.70
Millions of individual users consume71 more than fifteen million child sexual abuse images in a
market currently valued between three and twenty billion U.S. dollars annually.72 The child
pornography market is one of the fastest growing businesses on the Internet.73 Currently, 750,000
predators are online at any time.74 Moreover, with the rapid proliferation of Internet usage, the
child pornography market is projected to continue growing exponentially.75
Along with the expansion of the Internet came the development of digital, remote, and
wireless technologies.76 Today, personal devices such as smartphones, tablets, digital recording
devices, and hand-held digital cameras are increasingly affordable, convenient, and widespread,
making the Internet even easier to access from almost any inhabited area.77 Recent studies
reported that by the end of 2013, there were 6.8 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide, which is
nearly the Earth’s population.78 Additionally, in the past decade, Internet access has become more
readily available. As of January 2014, fifty-eight percent of American adults own smartphones,
which gives them access to the Internet from any location with cellular service.79 Many
smartphones contain security that prevents law enforcement from accessing data, making a
smartphone an ideal medium for perpetrators.80
Devices such as smartphones allow offenders to access child pornography images easily
and on-the-go, as well as create and distribute the sex abuse images relatively simply and quickly
from a technological perspective.81 Moreover, whereas historically child pornography was
;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;
67 U.S. SENTENCING COMM’N, supra note 62, at 71.
68 Id. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, “nearly two-thirds of all offenders distribute [sexual abuse] images to others.”
Letter from Anne Gannon, supra note 48.
69 YAMAN AKDENIZ, INTERNET CHILD PORNOGRAPHY AND THE LAW: NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL RESPONSES 2 (2008).
70 CENT. INTELLIGENCE AGENCY, THE WORLD FACTBOOK (2009), available at
71 Many individuals who consume or possess child pornography also distribute child pornography. U.S. DEP’T OF JUSTICE, supra note
65, at 18. One reason is the ability to create “community” relationships and peer groups on the Internet. Id. Often these groups have
initiation processes that require potential members to distribute new child pornography images to the existing members in order to join
the group. Id.
72 Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Sale
of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography: Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights, Including the Right to Development, paras. 44, 80, Human Rights Council, U.N. Doc. A/HRC12/23 (July
13, 2009) (by Najat M’jid Malla) [hereinafter U.N. Special Rapporteur Report].
73 Press Release, Int’l Ctr. for Missing & Exploited Children, The Financial Coalition Against Child Pornography Adds Four Financial
Services Leaders to its Roster (Nov. 1, 2006), available at
74 U.N. Special Rapporteur Report, supra note 72, para. 34.
75 See Edelmann, supra note 64, at 481 (discussing internet growth, and the potential for child abuse image distribution and its
negative effect on investigators of child abuse images).
76 See U.S. SENTENCING COMM’N, supra note 62, at 5.
77 See id. at 5–6.
78INT’L TELECOMM. UNION, MEASURING THE INFORMATION SOCIETY 1 (2013), available at http://www.itu.int/en/ITU-
79 Mobile Technology Fact Sheet, PEW INTERNET (Jan. 14, 2014), http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheets/mobile-technology-fact-sheet/; see DEBORAH MUIR, VIOLENCE AGAINST CHILDREN IN CYBERSPACE 11 (2005), available at
80 Craig Timberg & Greg Miller, FBI Blasts Apple, Google for Locking Police Out of Phones, WASH. POST (Sept. 25, 2014),
http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/2014/09/25/68c4e08e-4344-11e4-9a15-137aa0153527_story.html (noting that
“Apple will become the phone of choice for the pedophile”).
81 ECPAT INT’L, THE USE OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES IN CONNECTION WITH CASES OF CHILD-SEX