An untold number of Department of Defense (DOD) employees and contractors have subscriptions to child pornography websites, and the problem is apparently so pervasive it requires new technical solutions to address it.
So far, authorities have only looked into about 20 percent of these cases. But already, they’ve found “several” individuals “using their government devices to download or share said pornographic material.”
“The notion that the Department of Defense’s network and Pentagon-issued computers may be used to view, create, or circulate such horrifying images is a shameful disgrace, and one we must fight head on,” Abigail Spanberger (D-Virginia) said in a statement on Tuesday as she and co-sponsor Mark Meadows (R-N. Carolina) introduced the End National Defense Network Abuse (END Network Abuse) Act in the House.
Last year, an investigation by the National Criminal Justice Training Program found DOD computers were among the top networks nationwide for peer-to-peer sharing of pornographic images of minors. DOD’s network ranked 19th out of 2,891 computer networks studied.
Hundreds of government employees were also implicated as part of ICE’s 2006 “Operation Flicker” – which identified over 5,000 individuals who had used credit cards or PayPal to buy child porn, or subscribe to websites that offered the material. Of those, ICE identified 264 DoD employees or contractors who had purchased child pornography online.
Nine of them had “Top Secret Sensitive Compartmentalized Information” security clearances, while 76 of them held clearances of Secret or higher.
Here’s the kicker: Of those 264 DoD suspects, just 52 were investigated by the Pentagon’s Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS),
To prevent such widespread abuse going forward, the “End National Defense Network Abuse Act” would “crack down on this activity by upgrading the training and technical capacity of military criminal investigative organizations to confront the misuse of DoD computers, facilities, and equipment,” according to a press release. It would also arrange for DOD authorities to work more closely with civilian law enforcement on these cases.
Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) have introduced similar legislation in the Senate. According to The Hill, “A spokesperson for Spanberger told The Hill that while there are no set dates in either the House or Senate for marking up the bill, the sponsors are trying to pass it “both as individual bills and as amendments” to other legislative packages.”
Aside from raising awareness, however, the bills don’t appear to offer specific remedies to halt the child porn epidemic at the Pentagon.