This study used data obtained by "RoundUp" software in measuring a year of online child pornography (CP) trafficking by U.S. computers on the Gnutella peer-to-peer (P2P) network.
The study found that 244,920 U.S. computers shared 120,418 unique known CP files on Gnutella during the study year (October 1, 2010 to September 18, 2011). Just over 80 percent of these computers shared fewer than 10 such files during this period or shared files for fewer than 10 days; however, less than 1.0 percent of computers (n=915) made high annual contributions to the number of known CP files available on the network (100 or more files). This means that relatively few users of the P2P network are uploading new CP files into the network. The vast majority of the network users are viewing and automatically circulating on the network CP files supplied to the network by a small percentage of users. If law enforcement investigators arrested the operators of these high-contribution computers and took their files offline, the number of distinct known CP files available in the P2P network could be reduced by a much as 30 percent. This study shows that online CP be systematically obtained and analyzed by investigators to develop reliable knowledge of the scope and characteristics of CP trafficking on P2P networks. Analysis of this data will enable law enforcement agencies to prioritize their resources by targeting the most prolific suppliers of CP files to P2P networks. Although any online venue can be used to transmit or post CP photographs or videos, P2P networks make especially large contributions to the problem because of their worldwide range, public nature, and easy access they provide to child pornography. This article includes a description of the software tool ("RoundUp") used in this study. 2 tables, 2 figures, and 25 references