- The Washington Times - Friday, March 14, 2003

Teenagers today have easy access to Internet pornography, and Congress wants to know what can be done about that.

The availability of pornography, including child pornography, has been increased by file-sharing programs, according to testimony yesterday at a House committee hearing.

"I am on the dias today because I'm a congressman," said Rep. Henry A. Waxman, California Democrat and ranking member of the Committee on Government Reform. "But I do not want to speak as a public official. I want to speak as a parent and a grandparent. I want to speak about how difficult it is to raise a child today."

A report from the General Accounting Office discussed yesterday focuses on three issues: the ease of access to child pornography on peer-to-peer networks, the risk of inadvertent exposure by juvenile users of peer-to-peer networks to pornography, and the extent of federal law enforcement resources available for combating child pornography on peer-to-peer networks.

Any teenager who logs onto KaZaA, a popular peer-to-peer Web network, has 6 million pornographic files available to him at any given time, Mr. Waxman said yesterday.

Committee members yesterday witnessed a live demonstration in which the use of innocuous keywords likely to be used by juveniles can quickly lead them to pornographic images. For example, the term "Britney Spears" in a KaZaA search brought a spattering of pornographic results, as did "Olsen twins" and "Pokemon."

Mr. Waxman pointed out that "the most hard-core pornographic videos imaginable" can be downloaded in just a matter of minutes, if a teenager uses a broadband Internet connection.

File-sharing technology became well-known when the music-swapping program Napster raised the hackles of music artists over copyright violations. But similar programs, such as KaZaA, Morpheus, BearShare, and Grokster, allow users to swap all kinds of information, including pornography.

Grokster Chief Executive Officer Daniel Rung testified before the committee about ways to quell Internet porn.

He offered several recommendations including: using "bad word" filters to screen out objectionable material from the search results, or using third-party content-filtering programs, such as Net Nanny and CyberSitter, which also filter or block objectionable material from file-sharing programs.

Mr. Rung strongly encouraged parental involvement with respect to their children's activities online.

"We at Grokster maintain a very clear and open policy in relation to child porn," he said. "We do not want child pornography on Grokster."

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