Knoxville, TENN. (WVLT-TV)- Every second of every day, thousands of child pornography images are traveling around the world. Swapped and traded inside of a network that, because its online, is practically invisible. The internet crimes against children unit, or ICAC, operates inside of a simple, undisclosed, building in Knoxville. It's behind those closed doors where investigators regularly enter these dark online communities that share child porn, and try to find the ones connected to East Tennessee.
The ICAC unit gave Volunteer TV access to its operations center, to see how investigators track child porn images to and from our area. Within seconds of entering an internet chat room called "child sex slave," the investigator found someone claiming to be a 53 year old man interested in chatting with girls, or parents of young girls, that would want or allow them to be in a real life relationship with an older man.
Our internet crimes officer, whom we aren't identifying to protect his undercover work, says it's a carefully worded request, that means one thing. "We've got an individual here, probably in the United States, that's looking for sex with a minor. He's trying to find a parent that may have already groomed a minor. Some child that's already been victimized. That might be somebody we would deal with."
Backed by a mountain of child predator data and tons of technology, ICAC is able to learn where the illegal images are being sent and received. All known child porn pictures and videos are then cataloged and tagged, and followed across the world wide web.
Richard Lambert is the head of the FBI in Knoxville, and says his office is working on about 75 cases of child porn in East Tennessee. "We're not talking about nude pictures of 14 year old girls, we're talking about graphic material depicting sex with infants and toddlers. Sadomasichism, bondage, that just seems to get worse each year."
The fight against child porn is pretty much a technology turf war. Each side trying to stay one step ahead of the other in a battle that can easily reach around the globe, into your child's computer, and their life.