Tagging the Child Smut Trade

Article excerpt

The overwhelming majority of Americans want to close the door on adults who exploit children sexually. That strong public pressure helps justify two new actions that should help curb this perverse practice.

* The first action is a set of Justice Department regulations that went into effect Thursday and which require pornographers and porn distributors to keep records of their performers' ages and identities.

These rules expand existing laws designed to protect children from being used in the production of pornography. They require that sexually explicit materials display labels indicating that the producers maintain private records proving the age of a sex- industry performer and his or her identity. The labels must accompany photos, images, or movies. They apply to Internet porn sites as well. This will justifiably require owners to be able to verify and record the age and identity of anyone who appears in an explicit image on their website.

The Free Speech Association, a trade association for the adult entertainment industry, has already filed a lawsuit challenging the regulations on two fronts. It claims recordkeeping should only apply to producers of sexually explicit material, not to the distributors. And it claims the privacy of workers in the sex industry will be compromised. Clearly, having available these detailed records expands the tools of prosecutors seeking criminal charges against child pornographers. …