He Saw Something Very Disturbing on the Internet—Now What?

Savage Love Letter of the Day

Comments

1

It's worth noting that those may not have been real children at all. The technology behind "deepfakes" is only getting better. We typically think of it being nefariously used for political purposes, but it has many more applications, including creating child pornography.

https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-ai-will-forever-change-create-find-truth-images

Now, I can't say what the legality of that is, nor whether the images the LW saw contained actual exploited children, but there is a decent possibility that they did not. There's also the possibility that they were real children whose images were found on the internet (normal images uploaded by proud, happy parents to Facebook and the like) and were edited.

With current technology, it's much more difficult to tell whether any given image, or even moving video (though this is weaker), is real.

2

Just adding from the technical point of view...

"Another thing to consider: unless you took screengrabs of those popup ads—which I would NOT advise you or anyone else to do (then you're essentially downloading and storing those images on your computer, which is a criminal act)"

Although it isn't your "intent" to download those images, you probably already did. All browsers must download the image to show it to you. If you are using incognito mode or in-private or something like that the file is held in memory (just downloading) until you are done with it, for regular mode it is stored on your hard drive as a cached file (downloading and storing) in case it needs to be re-displayed (it is faster than downloading it again). I don't know if the law would draw a distinction or even if it is possible to "know for sure" that an image in your cache is from a pop up vs a site you visited on purpose.

Screengrabs are not downloaded, but rather just copies of what your screen is already displaying, and in this case I would think a screengrab might even be evidence that you DIDN'T intend to download the file, since it would also probably show that it was a popup. Also I'm not a lawyer and sometimes the law is way out of step with technology. I've certainly seen legal results that were just wrong from a technology perspective.

3

Cached images wouldn't show any intent to download, just that it was displayed on a web page. Taking a screen shot would show intent to save the image. I wouldn't worry about cached images, unless you regularly stumble upon child porn, in which case I would review your viewing habits. But IANAL.

If you could get the URL of the pop up, it might help law enforcement, but it probably isn't worth pursuing. Block pop ups and get a good add blocker so most of that shit doesn't even get to you.

4

Orthogonal to the OP's question, but I gotta say: browsing porn on the internet without an ad-blocker is damn near suicidal behavior these days, and I would strongly recommend to the OP that he nuke his computer down to bedrock, re-install everything from trusted source media, and then never ever ever browse porn again except on Google Chrome with uBlock Origin and EFF PrivacyBadger installed.

I mean, unless you like loaning your CPU out to the Belorussian Mob to mine bitcoin with.

5

Couldn't the LW have held his mouse over the pop-up to get the URL* associated with it and forwarded that? Does that not work on pop-ups? I've been using uBlock Origin so long that I haven't seen one in a long time (and I'm certainly not about to switch it off at work and go LOOKING for them while at work).

*I know the URL is almost certainly going to be masked or have a bunch of crap at the beginning to keep him from getting the actually useful parts, but it's possible, right?

@4: I was not aware the EFF had created such an extension. I'm rocking it now. Thanks for that!

6

Given that NCNTCM was looking at cartoon porn, I suspect those pop-ups were advertising 3D computer-generated porn depicting figures that look like young humans. Such images or videos are still potentially illegal in numerous jurisdictions in the US - so is less-photo-realistic cartoon porn showing characters that appear to be minors (a lot of statutes banning photos and videos of minors in sexual/sexually suggestive poses/behaviors ban media with figures who "are or appear to be" minors, which has been applied to media featuring no actual humans in some cases) - but probably not something NCNTCM needs to worry about reporting.

7

Oh, also, contra Doctor Memory @4, don't use Chrome if you're concerned about security or privacy; it's made by a data-mining company for the sole purpose of mining your data. Use a hardened installation of Firefox with EFF's security tools and NoScript for granular script control.

8

You can get a decent VPN service for about the price of a monthly Netflix subscription. If nothing else, it's a way to keep your service provider from knowing what specifically you're wanking to.

9

I ran into the same situation a few years ago and I copied the link before closing the popup and reported it and the website that the popup came from to the FBI cyber crime reporting website, dunno if anything happened though.

10

@9 Same. Was completely traumatized, but felt like not reporting the suspicious website would be worse. As bad as I already feel about watching any porn at all, at least what I like is consenting adults. After that happened, I still sometimes feel unsafe going online, but thankfully it never happened again. The way I stay safe now is by only watching porn on mainstream sites and I never, never search for random porn anymore. Before the incident, I didn't understand that anyone online could just stumble into the dark web- always thought that criminals would attempt to keep it hidden from public to avoid being caught. Relieved to know I'm not the only one, but at the same time, appalled that so much child porn is out there, that lots of people just accidentally are exposed to thus material. Horrifying.

11

Tragic, and it always makes me feel anxious for my beautiful nine year old granddaughter. I’d like her to learn self defence. Against a grown man, would not be enough.
A sickness, and I can understand the LW feeling nauseous about coming across it.
Sending Love to all who are suffering in California. Hope you’re ok Erica.

12

A popup blocker and an adblocker are must-haves when visiting porn sites (or really, most of the internet). I tend to stick to a single porn site that is relatively trustworthy.

13

@3 actually cached images COULD show intent. Normal use of a porn site in regular browser mode would result in cached images, and that is the intended result. Clearing your cache fixes that up, although you already downloaded the file, if it is a tracked file, well you are at least logged somewhere. Does anyone use regular mode for browsing porn? Probably some.

@8 +1 for vpns, almost a must these days

Ad and Pop up blockers too. I'm always shocked when a site requires that I turn off my ad blocker, such a totally different experience with all the ads, makes the web look like shit.

14

@8 - All participants on a VPN can see your IP address. Weigh that against the likelihood your ISP is spying on you.

15

Darn! I thought this was going to be a Cold Comfort Farm reference!

16

Having trouble believing that something patently illegal is being advertised openly on a site that any federal agent can stumble onto through a Google search.

17

NCMTCM: Get an ad blocker. I haven't seen a pop-up for porn in like a decade - only when trying to watch illegal streams of professional sports outside my market.

Also, if you don't think you did anything wrong, DO NOT REPORT. From a legal standpoint "viewing on the internet" is identical to "downloading", and you've invariably get numerous - likely hundreds or thousands - instances of "child porn" on your computer. Don't risk it. The kids will continue to be bought and sold as long as 3/4ths of the world lives on a $1 a day, you're report - heck, even all americans and EU members report - won't make a dent.

18

Note that that law only applies in Washington State. People have and will in the future be run wild on for what's in their cached images folder.