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DoD Must Confront Child Porn Issue: Must take steps to prevent access to child porn on PCs

• John Foley
An Inspector General report detailing more than a dozen investigations of suspected child porn at the Department of Defense deserves an aggressive response. The scope of the problem, which extends to DoD computers and networks, warrants a full-scale review of IT policies and processes to block this offensive garbage.

The 94-page IG report, released in response to a Freedom of Information Act filing by the Boston Globe, provides a seldom-seen look into the who, what, where, when, and how of child porn access by employees and contractors of the U.S. military. In several of the cases involved, it appears that more rigorous IT governance might have identified problems earlier or even prevented them. Keep in mind that there's risk associated with this nasty problem -- government systems may be exposed to malware, and the perpetrators are vulnerable to blackmail and threats. 


DoD launched its investigations, most of which took place between 2007 and 2009, in the wake of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) probe, known as Operation Flicker, into child porn Web sites. Combing through the transaction records of those sites, ICE agents turned up the names of 5,000 customers, including those using .mil e-mail addresses or the ZIP codes of military post offices. ICE shared its findings with the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), which launched its own investigation.

In one case, an Oracle employee with top secret clearance and under contract to the National Security Agency was identified as a subscriber to the child porn Web sites under investigation by ICE agents. On the same day that a search warrant was issued for that person's home computer, it appears that he traveled to his office and tampered with work computers. A second search warrant resulted in the discovery of child porn on an office computer and, in March 2008, he was indicted on possession of child porn. (It's unclear from the IG report, which is heavily redacted, if the offices involved were those of NSA, Oracle, or another employer.) The suspect fled and is thought to be hiding in Libya. 


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