Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Ebay: Child Pornography Made Easy

Today I read the March 25-31st Economist article on whistleblowers. The common tactic of organizations when facing negative information often isn’t changing but rather a strategy which either discredits the person giving the information or hides the problem. This reminded me of my six month battle with ebay.co.uk regarding the sale of child pornography.

I used to sell hard to find, legal and licensed gay and lesbian DVD’s on eBay. Over time, I began to notice certain other sellers DVD’s selling on ebay.co.uk, always on a 1 or 3 day auction, selling for enormous prices ($150 was not uncommon). I had never heard of these films. When I researched these titles I found they were films which were illegal in the UK due to the exploitive nature of using very young children filmed naked extensively in sexual or arousing situations; or films of children having sex as young as 11. The sellers were almost always “private” sellers with “private” listing so you couldn’t see what the seller had previously sold or who it went to. Literally “Here today, gone tomorrow” in terms of evidence. I reported this to eBay. The items were not pulled.

As a powerseller, I had a direct phone line and called, speaking to a supervisor there. I was told that eBay were not sure whether the films broke policy, or were even illegal. This is eBay's policy: Any images of nude children, including any vintage images. Recognizing that images of nude children often raise legal concerns, eBay has made a policy decision that it will not permit the listing of any item that depicts nude minors (under 18 years of age). Listings of such material, even if described as nude "teens", "children", "youngsters" or "nudist" are not permitted.

This was odd since I gave them links which talked about the “extensive nudity” of children 13 and under in these films (“like all of Kostenyuk’s Foreign Documentaries – “ Cool Dudes ” contains footage shot in the uninhibited European style of full frontal nudity during shower and locker scenes.”).

After two days of waiting I called the police, reported suspected child pornography according to the 1994 amendments ("it is an offence for a person (a) to take, or permit to be taken or to make, any indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs of a child; (b) to distribute or show such indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs"), gave them the item numbers and the eBay “powerseller” phone number. The items were pulled within an hour.

On eBay, there is no phone line for law enforcement; they should email regarding illegal activities and replies will be sent. I was told in Jan. 2006 by a Cardiff police officer that getting reply or evidence from eBay can take up to a year.

Checking back regarding the pulled items I was told by an eBay representative that they couldn’t tell me more due to privacy but that they report all suspected illegal activity to the police including DVD piracy (I later talked to an Police Officer at the London Met who told me that in their knowledge ebay.co.uk had NEVER contacted them regarding ANY suspected illegal activity)

Over the next several months I repeatedly asked, and begged ebay.co.uk representatives to take simple precautions to stop the repeated selling of DVD’s which were not only illegal in the UK, clear examples of child pornography but also went against their own policies. Simply adding the distributor (such as Baikal or Pojkart) and titles to their monitoring bots would make a huge difference.

I emailed eBay several internet links showing distributor websites and boy-lover forums which had direct links to ebay.co.uk as the place to obtain out-of-print films of young naked boys. I assume that lawyers talked because the links disappeared, yet the films, continued to sell regularly on ebay.co.uk.

Meanwhile, in the US, two different mothers stumbled onto Baikal films on Amazon.com. One mother was looking for a gymnastic video for her 7 year old and was somewhat disturbed by a film “Gym Boys” which was positively reviewed for those who “love boys” and the clear descriptions of how many minutes of nudity and shower scenes there were. Starting a blogging campaign she managed to get Amazon.com to...pull the reviews. (Yes the solution of a film about gym boys that is too disturbing to show to boys interested in gymnastics is to stop listing how much nudity and radiant boy shots there are). Continuing her campaign she convinced Amazon to stop selling Baikal films, in the US (where they are currently legal), and to petition to get amendments to the child pornography laws to close this loophole.

Under negative pressure Baikal closed their “naturalist boy” review site Moviebizz. In the last month, they also changed their old review system in which they gave the film a number of “thumbs up” depending on how much nudity and explicit sexual content in contained (see it here) to a “critics review” system (see here) and changed the “HOT” rating on a film from how sexual it was to “how well it sells” (hmmmm…..)

Their legal policy page has had a major upgrade from the original which used to read that they couldn’t answer whether the film was legal as so many countries had so many different laws. Also they wouldn’t answer emails of “Is this legal” because if “you are that paranoid perhaps you have other issues that should be dealt with and should pass on this website.” Now their legal page emphasizes that they are not pornography by the laws of US and CANADA and then goes on to generally say how awful pornography is and imply that their films are likely not illegal in many other countries. Yet, even on BoyLoverNet, these films are well known to both fall under the legal classification of “Child Pornography” in the UK yet be available on ebay.co.uk.

While Baikal and other distributors have cleaned up the open sexual exuberance in the naked bodies of 10-14 year olds they continue, against ebay.co.uk policy and UK law to be sold on ebay.co.uk; netting a profit of fees for ebay.co.uk, a profit for the seller and giving the buyer a satisfying evening watching naked boys cavorting in showers, wrestling and sweating. Perhaps the reason they continue to be sold is that while ebay.co.uk has spent millions of dollars in advertising last year, the number of individuals employed by ebay.co.uk to monitor ebay.co.uk for illegal goods including child pornography is exactly the same as the year before: Zero.

Here are several films, which are illegal to sell or buy in Britain but are currently (and unless ebay changes, will always be) available on ebay.co.uk: (click on the titles to see the sale on ebay, found after searching a few minutes)

Trading Punches & High Spirited Boys by Baikal and Pojkart: “42 minutes of absolutely fabulous colorized action that captures a group of boys ranging in ages from early pre-teens to young teens and on through a few older teens… the boys stop “ Trading Punches ” long enough to head for the local spa and sauna where they all spend a wonderful afternoon relaxing, showering for the spa pool and sauna room and having a ball being boys and not boxers. Like other Baikal and Naturist Films, Director Igor Kostenyuk captures the boys in their full natural glory with the same unabashed casualness that the Europeans are noted for in their unashamed respect for the disrobed human body”
High Spirited Boys - water fight nudist fun with children including Oskar, who has been appearing naked in Pojkart films since the age of 8


Genesis Children: The Genesis Children - the film - is an extended excuse to see pubescent and prepubescent boys naked. That's it. What story there is - is there only for the auspice of saying that there is a story. Since it is illegal to promote, film, distribute children having sex, the producers and director of this film have done the next best thing: a vast array of naked boys parade about performing various tasks..Unless you really are into young boys, you'll find this film a bore”

There are many Canadian sellers of these films. They may be legal to sell (though against eBay policy) but are illegal to buy from the UK. But since the only one who could monitor this is ebay, there appears to be no worry.

Cool Dudes by Baikal: (“Participants are between 11 and 13 years of age” Baikal films) "like all of Kostenyuk’s Foreign Documentaries – “ Cool Dudes ” contains footage shot in the uninhibited European style of full frontal nudity during shower and locker scenes."

I don’t see a fine line between child pornography and films that are filmed and rated by the distributors for the amount of sexual content/nudity (an unconvincing “all actors are 18” is stuck on the “explicit sexual content and nudity” films, especially as IMB actor listings and the distributor own review pages say otherwise). This is particularly true when their publicity and review arm, Moviebizz had a special link for films with actors “14 and under.” We are not talking about random nudist images but a specific industry dedicated to and appreciated by adult-child lovers (including The Association for acceptance of adult-child love relationships’ OK Magazine: notice the article on Pojkart).

So ebay.co.uk, ebay.ca, ebay.com please take some time out of counting your blood money and if you aren’t interested in monitoring and enforcing your own policies regarding child nudity, can you at least monitor the sale of films of sexual exploitation of children to countries where they are illegal?

Ebay: Buy Everything You Want (genuine online ad)

11 comments:

Simon Logan said...

I think you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned that Ebay get a cut of every auction on their site so for them to remove listings means removing potential income and this is what it comes down to.

I know what you mean though about people or organisations realising that they don't have to actually CHANGE what they do, they only have to make it LOOK as if they have changed. To have a spurious statements about "how awful child porn is" on a website featuring videos of pre-teen boys in showers is just the same as Ebay saying they will stop the sale of any items like this in a press release or public statement, then not really doing anything about it.

Exactly the same thing happens on so many other levels, right up to the Government. How about Bush standing up and saying that the rebuilding effort in New Orleans will be like "nothing ever seen before" then using the program as a way to line cronies' pockets and get rid of black neighbourhoods? Or Blair saying that we need more choice in our healthcare market (apparently choice is what matters, not getting the treatments that you need..) and then okaying the merger of some of the biggest private medical firms that there are?

The common thread? Money. Well ... power, really and money as a means to it. PR is is nothing more than funded lying and it's far easier for someone to just pay a PR firm to make it LOOK like they are addressing issues rather than actually doing anything about them.

Fair play to you for doing what you could. At least PR can be used in a form of cultural jujitsu in that a small amount of focused pressure on a large organisation (anti-PR as it were) can end up using their own corporate might against them - not the bigger they are the harder they fall but the bigger they are the more money/power they are apt to lose.

The smart companies and organisations realise they can survive if they follow the people. But the people need to get smart and realise that they can lead the companies...

Hugo said...

Of course, when the content isn't explicitly sexual,the fear has been that parents could be hauled off to jail for taking pictures of their five year-old naked in the tub. I'm not saying that's a realistic concern, mind you.

I also think of the very respected work of Jock Sturges and Sally Mann, whose photos have attracted attention from pedophiles -- but also won high praise for their delicate, sensitive, and ultimately profoundly respectful portrayals of young adolescents and children.

I agree with you that these videos are problematic, but I worry about the "slippery slope" when we move from criminalizing the depiction of children in sexual acts to the depiction of nude children running around.

Elizabeth McClung said...

I also ask myself, "Am I over-reacting here?" since one of my favorite Canadian films is Leolo, which shows a young boy coming of age and has a skinny-dipping scene. I also support the right of gay/lesbian film makers to show gay coming of age experiences but WITHIN the age of consent.

That is my major problem with distributors like Baikal and Europa Sun - these children are often below the age of sexual consent for any country in the world, and while perhaps not actually showing sexual acts, the idea of calling it "artistic" wasn't convincing when women were holding greek urns to sell nude postcards in the 1920's, and it is isn't very convincing today (unless you are a subscriber to the "art" magazine \penthouse) - What market for 6 or more films every year with extensive nudity of boys down to age 8 could there be? Are they hundred of thousands of young nudist boys asking thier mothers to please get them some DVD's that reflect thier interests? As disturbing as that last image was, I think not.

Ebay policy which is against naked cherubs is simple overprotection (but since they don't enforce it...) but in the case of these and other films; they are illegal in Britian. And what type of organization is it that knows something is illegal, is exploitive of children and makes money off of it anyway?

Anonymous said...

Anyone who thinks that naturist films are evil spits in the face of God. Any hatred or fear of the human body is an extreme disprespect of God the creator. Children are beautiful but are only sexual if you sexualize them. At very least, the government has no right intruding itself into the historical American custom of skinny dipping. Boys did it in public even in the very religious Victorian era! If you don't like the human body, mind your own business like any healthy adult does.

What's next? Do we ban old Disney movies showing nine-year-old skinny dipping behinds? Do we ban old sepia photos from American Heritage Magazine showing men and boys skinny dipping at the local, PUBLIC swimin' hole?

Anyone who thinks that naturist films are sexual and therefore evil needs professional counseling.

Santi said...

It is astonishing how paranoid people got about the alleged paedophile epidemic. Citizens of countries as the USA, Canada or UK, that maintain in daily basis the propaganda line "we live in freedom" are quite eager to destroy that freedom, something surprising indeed.

Few intelligent voices have dared to fight this nonsense. Take for example this Debbie Nathan's article http://www.villagevoice.com/news/0321,nathan,44228,1.html which denounces all the witch hunt -related idiocy.

Those boys were not harmed by those films. Do some people masturbate while watching them? So? What is the problem? Zoophiles might buy the equivalent dog shows videos for the same purposes.

So?

And before answering, make a whole analysis and think of this "so" carefully. I am not implying you are a bad person or that you have spurious interests in the field as that Perverted Justice (http://www.perverted-justice.com/ ) group. But you have to think twice if you are wasting your brain power in following the current trendy hysteria and fulfilling the hidden agendas of people that thrive on fear promotion.

Santi

Richard Conrad said...

As a naturist myself, I encounter this sort of xenophobic prejudice much more than I care to admit. We don't wear clothes !when not in the general public! How is that offensive? How does that make us deviants? It doesn't.
Remember, just because someone doesn't conform to "societal norms", doesn't mean that they're wicked. Societal norm says that a family should consist of a mother, father and kids. Does that mean that homosexuals are wicked? No, it simply means that they're different in a very insignificant way (to the functioning of society).
The same is true of naturists. When will you realize that nudity, in and of itself, is not sexual until you sexualize it?
Someone asked if there are a bunch of young naturists asking mommy to buy these movies - indirectly, that's exactly the case. All children - even those raised by naturists - take comfort in seeing a show or movie that shows them that they're not alone. I buy these movies for my family to be able to see that other people (not just us and the few families who happen to vacation at the exact same time as us) also have fun in a naturist setting. Since I have 2 daughters, I try to avoid the ones with only boys, but my 3 sons enjoy the ones with "no girls allowed".
I take pictures of our vacations. Should my family photo album be confiscated by the authorities?
To even compare naturist videos to child pornography is no different than the evangelical fanatics who say all gays are wicked sinners who live only for lustful worldy carnage.

Anonymous said...

Whoa. Reading this post, I could just hear the stamp of the Puritans with the pitch-forks... I have to agree with the previous post - who do these films harm? You could conceivably argue that children might grow up to regret their appearance in naturist films, but by that logic children should be prevented from ever appearing on-screen. Moreover, trying to demolish the boundary between naturalist films and child pornography is pernicious, because it obscures the real reasons why child pornography is immoral and illegal. It is *not* just a matter of censorship or attempting to prevent a prurient (but essentially harmless) interest in the bodies of young boys.,

Elizabeth McClung said...

You can call it whatever you want but "naturalist" films of 8-10 year old boys running around naked or having the lighting highlighting the sweaty sheen on their bodies IS ILLEGAL in the UK - if you are in the UK. And while I guess four or five of you are innocent naturalists who are outraged because you apparently have your head so far up somewhere the light of day doesn't shine in - the reason this DVD's can sell of over $100 each isn't because of the fabulously weathly naturalist community; it is the same reason THIS particular post gets more hits historically than any other 5 put together, it is the same reason links to THIS post are put on pedophile threads, and have been for over a year - and it is the same reason this "naturalist" films used to get a "hot" and rating where the more "Sexual" it was the higher the rating - because the vast majority of people viewing thess films like to wack off while watching young boys naked - you can call it "nature" you can call it "puritan thinking" - the police and psychologists call it something else.

This post is listed on wilkapedia as a resource for finding naked boy films (I didn't put it there) - if you think that intense interest is done from the desire of underage boys to watch their friends naked - what a wonderful world you life in; but it is not THIS world.

allenhill2002 said...

Frankly, I think the answer to this "question" is fairly obvious if you care to put your personal opinions aside and think objectively. (However, I haven't watched any of those videos, but I did watch the trailer and look at the free pictures to the one I going to talk about.)

This is the one that I think is the most obvious. "Boy Fights XX: Late Night Party (2009)"
With a name like that it's pretty obvious what audience it's targeting. Seriously, the "XX" says it all. If you try to deny that you are either HORRIBLY naive, or you are flat out lying. However, after watching the trailer I can tell you that there is nothing sexual about it. It appears (I use this word because trailers CAN be misleading) to be just a couple of boys having fun wrestling and playing around while naked. Now I'm not attracted to young boys, so this doesn't turn me on. But I bet it would turn on a man, or woman who IS. I also know that there would be PLENTY of little girls who would get a kick out of this video. The INTENT of the video seems to be to give some pedophiles (I hate that misleading word) something to masturbate to.

Regardless, if you wonder whether this should be illegal you need to ask yourself this. Were any little boys harmed in the filming of this video? Were they forced to do things they didn't want to? Is this video being distributed without their consent (which I think is more important that the parents, which is also still important)?

It appears that the answer to all three of those questions is NO!!! Therefore, I don't think there is anything wrong with it. It's not like it's child porn. It's close, but it is NOT porn. Child porn is bad because MOST of the time the child is either FORCED or COERCED into participating. They also would probably NOT like that experience to be videotaped and distributed. Sex is a very personal experience and virtually EVERYONE would prefer if it wasn't taped and distributed (when it includes themselves).

I hope that sheds some light on the issue and helps broaden peoples viewpoints. If you actually care, check out this VERY good book called "Harmful to Minors."

Anywho, short and dry, the video is legal, and obviously intended to provide "spank material" for over 90% of the interested audience. That's why it's able to be sold for so much money. The important think is that it's not harmful to the boys (although I doubt they were told that a lot of older guys who watch it are masturbating to them). Do I think it's disgusting? Kind of, but I don't think there is necessarily anything wrong with it. I would much rather these pedophiles buy this than force themselves onto little boys, OR force little boys to do stuff to them. ALSO, I would much rather they buy this, and support this industry then to buy videos where adults are having sex with young boys.

Elizabeth McClung said...

AllenHill: as one of the deeply though out comments, I have to say that I am in general in agreement - I am very happy that you watched some of it. Yes, for those not sexualizing young boys it isn't very sexy, it is young boys (except there are productions where young boys do have sex with men - not as easy to obtain, also sold on ebay). My main original objections were that

a) In the country in question the video was illegal; in every country even the US where it is legal under 'artistic practice' provision it is NOT allowed in the rules of ebay to sell such items - ebay policy clearly states no selling of naked images of minors. Yet, ebay makes good money off of thier 17% cut and goes to great lengths to protect such people. Ebay was not cooperating with the police to stop an illegal practice, for which the country had decided WAS illegal. Illegal is illegal, I live in a country now where some very odd things are illegal, yet I must abide by those rulings, or appeal them. Ebay should not consider itself above the law, nor should assist others to do so as well.

b) The same types of shots and lighting are used in other movies that sexualize older men and women as sex objects. So it is clear that this is a sexualized film (even if the producer finally stopped after articles about them the rating of films on 'how sexual' and 'how sexy' rating, many of the distributors still do). So it is a sex film, which means that these children ARE being objectified. And I am against the turning or objectification of children into sexual objects. I am sure that most males, would not want to find out THEY much less their children, in being told they were going to do a 'soccer' film are instead going to be the sexual dreams of wanking material for those attracted to underage children (known as pedophilia). Also, some child actors are retained, if popular and at a young age, DO star in sexual acts, filmed in the country where the lowest age is allowed. Again, THOSE films are illegal - but without training a child to be a sexualized object before a camera at 8 or 9 or 10, you can't get a good performance at 12 or 13.

c) The trafficking in images of naked children has not slowed down the amount of active pedophiles, much in the same way rape and other violent crimes have not dropped off regardless of the availability of videos depicting such. If there WAS a corresponding drop in rates of incest, of child sexual abuse, I would be for a limited form of this. However as RAAIN, and other incest and child sexual abuse organizations will attest, since the internet, the amount of active, hands on sexual use and abuse has skyrocketed. It seems that Uncle Bob, after watching three hours a day of naked boys, or naked boys in sexual poses is NOT actually released of all sexual urges but instead want to know if his nephew wants a special treat, or maybe like to go on a camp out with him. Certainly the Catholic Church records on trying all variations to limit known pedophiles all showed to be in vain. Am I saying that if there are say 100 people who have the sexual attraction of pedophelia, that all 100 will abuse, rape or commit incest (the majority by FAR, like 98-99% of pedophile sexual activity is NOT done by strangers)? No, but instead of 10 studies indicate there are morely likely to be 20. The trafficking, selling and auctioning of children, abducted from countries for importation to the US (Yes, the US imports more slaves, particularly sex slaves and drugs than any other country per capita, perhaps even overall). Go where the money is! A film which is based on a book of research into this is called Traffick.

d) as one of millions of people in North America alone who was a product of child sexual abuse, it bothers me to see profiteering done - I would love to meet the 10% of buyers of that film who aren't interested in masturbating, but just like a good film of naked underage children. Am I biased. Yes. Are more children at risk today than when I was abused. Yes. Should ebay make money off it? Should dealers be allowed in countries where it IS ILLEGAL be allowed to make money off it? I believe no. I believe that is a form of the sex trade and that the staff at ebay and the names of the sellers and buyers and credit cards can and should be taken in. Have I bought items which I thought were art books and turned out to be books about 'my little lover' and about having sex with underage children? Yes. They were bought off ebay. I reported the sellers, the sellers are still selling. I got a refund. Oh joy.

Rev. Mary said...

THANK YOU MS. McCLUNG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

IN MY ESTIMATION, ANY TIME AN INNOCENT CHILD'S BODY IS PHOTOGRAPHED WITH THE INTENT TO SELL DVD'S AND ATTRACT INDIVIDUAL'S TO IT A NUDIST RESORT WHO ADVOCATE FOR "THE ACCEPTANCE OF ADULT-CHILD LOVE RELATIONSHIPS" . . . ALL INNOCENCE HAS BEEN LOST.

THUS, THERE REMAINS LITTLE CREDITABILITY WITH THE INSTITUTION WHICH PROSTITUTES INNOCENT CHILDREN, EITHER FOR SEXUAL GRATIFICATION AND/OR FINANCIAL GAIN.