TIME Crime

Former Government Cybersecurity Head Convicted on Child Pornography Charges

The US Department of Health and Human Se
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services building is shown in Washington, D.C., 21 July 2007. Saul Loeb—AFP/Getty Images

He is the sixth person convicted in an ongoing DOJ investigation of three child pornography sites

The former acting head of cybersecurity at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was convicted on child pornography charges in a Nebraska federal court, the Department of Justice said Tuesday.

The former official, Timothy DeFoggi, allegedly expressed interest in the violent rape and murder of children in online exchanges and at one point suggested meeting up with another web user to fulfill such fantasies, the Justice Department said in a statement.

DeFoggi, 56, was convicted of engaging in a child exploitation enterprise, conspiracy to advertise and distribute child pornography, and accessing a computer with intent to view child pornography, according to the DOJ.

He was the sixth person convicted in an ongoing investigation into three child pornography websites, the DOJ said. The administrator of the sites has previously been convicted of engaging in a child exploitation enterprise. According to the Justice Department, DeFoggi registered on the site in March 2012 and was active until it was taken down in December of that year.

It’s unclear if his illegal activity overlapped with his work for the government. In an HHS budget report for Fiscal Year 2014 that was found by the Washington Post, a Tim DeFoggi is identified as head of OS IT Security Operations for the department.

 

TIME

Most Teenagers Believe Porn Is Damaging. Could Sex Ed Be The Answer?

Teen Computer
Getty Images

A new poll of teenagers in Britain shows that many think porn leads to unrealistic or damaging views about sex

The rise of online pornography has long worried researchers, feminists and parents about the toll easy access to graphic images would take on young people.

It turns out, young people are grappling with the same concerns. A poll released on Wednesday by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), a British think tank, asked 500 18-year-olds about their views on pornography and its impact on their lives. The results aren’t pretty.

Most of the teens polled said that “accessing” pornography was common throughout their school years, with many starting around the ages of 13-15. And, according to the poll, a whopping 72 percent of 18-year-olds surveyed believe that pornography leads to unrealistic attitudes about sex, while 70 percent believe that pornography can have a damaging impact on young people’s views of sex or relationships.

Negative feelings about porn and its impact were more pronounced among teenage girls. Nearly 80 percent of the young women polled said that porn puts pressure on girls to look and act a certain way. Meanwhile, only 18 percent of the young men strongly agreed with the statement “pornography encourages society to view women as sex objects,” compared to 37 percent of young women. But the overall majority of teens — 66 percent of women and 49 percent of men — said they believed “it would be easier growing up if pornography was less easy to access for young people.”

“This new polling data shows that pornographic images are pervasive in teenagers’ lives and that young women in particular are acutely conscious of how damaging they can be,” said IPPR associate director, Dalia Ben-Galim, about the poll’s results. “It paints a worrying picture about the way online pornography is shaping the attitudes and behavior of young people.”

So what can we do about this issue? It should be noted that in the U.K., internet providers are now required to block explicit websites as a default — people who want to remove the blocks in order to view porn must opt in. Yet it’s obvious that teens are still finding access to pornography and it’s a cause for concern for many of them.

One way to address the concerns could be found in another question from IPPR’s poll. When asked, the vast majority of the teens polled — 86 percent — said they thought that “sex and relationship advice should be taught in schools.” Now some form of sex ed is already a part of British public school’s curriculum from the age of 11 onwards (though parents do have the right to withdraw their children from parts of the course), but perhaps these courses should be tailored to actually address what teens are seeing in pornography and the way it impacts their lives.

It’s also possible that by age 11, it’s already too late. Miranda Horvath, a psychology professor at Middlesex University in London who has done research on pornography, told the New York Times earlier this year that kids would benefit from some form of sexual education before they actually encounter pornography:

One of our recommendations is that children should be taught about relationships and sex at a young age… If we start teaching kids about equality and respect when they are 5 or 6 years old, by the time they encounter porn in their teens, they will be able to pick out and see the lack of respect and emotion that porn gives us. They’ll be better equipped to deal with what they are being presented with.

According to IPPR’s poll, teenagers are looking for help dealing with the pornography that clearly isn’t going away. It’s just up to educators and policymakers to listen to them.

TIME Google

Google Bans Porn Ads From Search Results

Updated July 2, 4:39 p.m.

Following an earlier announcement of the change, Google has begun banning pornographic ads from its search engine. As of Monday, the company now blocks explicit content from AdWords, the Google ad units that appear above users’ search results and across the Web, according to CNBC. Google now no longer accepts ads that promote “graphic sexual acts with intent to arouse.”

Google first announced the change to its advertising policy back in March. The new policy affects all countries. The company also bans ads promoting underage and non-consensual sexual content, as well prostitution and escort services. However, Google does allow ads for strip clubs and what it terms “adult and sexual dating sites.” The changes will not affect the organic results users see when conducting Google searches.

The search giant has made several moves recently to limit the amount of explicit content on its services. Earlier this year, the company issued new developer guidelines for the Google Play store that banned apps featuring erotic content.

[CNBC]

TIME Sex

The Smut Shaming of Dov Charney and Terry Richardson

Dov Charney American Apparel
Dov Charney, chairman and chief executive officer of American Apparel Inc., stands for a portrait in a company retail store in New York City on July 29, 2010. Keith Bedford—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Fashion giants Dov Charney and Terry Richardson have both been accused of sexual harassment multiple times (and always settled out of court). But are they finally getting their due?

Dov Charney and Terry Richardson are like the weird uncles of the fashion world, complete with ’70s glasses, questionable facial hair and a tendency to strip down when you least expect it.

They have another thing in common: both Charney and Richardson have built their brands on selling sex. As founder and CEO of American Apparel, Charney is especially fond of showing pubic hair and using semi-nude teenage models in his ads, and was known for walking around his factories in his underwear. And Richardson, one of the most famous photographers in fashion, has photographed his own face drenched in semen and is known for getting naked (and becoming erect) during photo shoots with female models (he says it’s to make the models feel more comfortable).

At first, the controversies around their personal behavior brought attention and buzz to their envelope-pushing work. But sex only sells until it stops seeming edgy, and that day may have come for both Charney and Richardson. Ultimately, the sex factor that launched their careers may morph into a smutty reputation that brings them down.

And it would not be entirely surprising. Both Charney and Richardson have been accused of harassing women they work with for years. Both have been named in multiple sexual-harassment lawsuits. In 2008, Charney, 45, was accused of keeping a teenage employee as his “sex slave” (she said he coerced her into performing oral sex by threatening that she would lose her job). He’s also been sued for sexual harassment by multiple other employees and models, but all the lawsuits against him have been dismissed or settled out of court. And Richardson, 48, has been sued at least twice by former models (both lawsuits were settled) and has been accused at least nine times of sexual weirdness during photo shoots. (Requests for comment from Richardson and from American Apparel were not returned.)

We’ve known about these allegations for a long time, and until now, both men seemed to weather the storms of bad press.

But on Wednesday night, the board of American Apparel dismissed Charney amid “ongoing investigation into alleged misconduct.” They didn’t identify a specific case, but an anonymous source told the Los Angeles Times that the “misconduct” involved Charney’s bad behavior with women. In other words, the sexual weirdness that left a bad taste six years ago is completely unpalatable now.

Charney’s story is like a Shakespearean porno — the sex-infused imagery that sold his clothes became the smut that sank his career. It is a sign that times have changed. Behavior that used to be tolerated as the price of working with an eccentric genius is now considered unacceptable. No matter how cool you are, you don’t get a “free pass” if the public concludes you’re taking advantage of women.

Richardson hasn’t been dumped like Charney, but a recent profile in New York magazine shed light on some of his stranger sexual proclivities and how they’ve affected his career — the article was titled “Is Terry Richardson an Artist or a Predator?” Magazines like Vogue and fashion companies like Target Style and H&M have said they have “no future plans” to work with Richardson. A Change.org petition to get big brands to stop employing Richardson has already gained over 34,000 signatures.

And Charney’s antics didn’t seem to be helping his company. American Apparel had been hemorrhaging money in the years since Charney’s lawsuits started, and lost over $396 million since 2009 (the company wasn’t in total free-fall the whole time, but the overall financial picture looked bleak). Yet in the hours after Charney’s dismissal, stock rose 20%.

To be fair, Charney’s leadership wasn’t all bad. His commitment to making all of American Apparel’s clothing in the U.S. and supporting fair wages for workers is certainly admirable. After the tragic collapse of a factory in Bangladesh last year, Charney wrote that “the apparel industry’s relentless and blind pursuit of the lowest possible wages cannot be sustained over time, ethically or fiscally.”

But Charney’s narrative is familiar to any girl who’s found out the hard way that sex sells and sells and sells, until it the moment it doesn’t. Just ask Miley Cyrus when she turns 40 (or, for that matter, Madonna). Where sexual women are slut-shamed, Charney and Richardson are being smut-shamed, as well they should be. Unlike girls who simply express their sexuality, Charney and Richardson are accused of taking advantage of women less powerful than themselves. That’s what’s really shameful.

Women have known for years that sex can have social consequences, unfair as they may be. Maybe men are finally getting a taste of that medicine.

TIME World Cup

This Porn Star Won’t Have Sex Until Italy Returns From the World Cup

"Chiambretti Night" Italian TV Show - February 4, 2012
Rocco Siffredi appears on the Chiambretti Night Italian TV show in Milan on Feb. 4, 2012 Stefania D'Alessandro—Getty Images

Rocco Siffredi says sex really doesn’t compare with the collective orgasm that comes with winning on football's biggest stage

Animals are being trusted with prophecy, and one of Italy’s most popular porn stars is refraining from sex — all in the name of football. Welcome to World Cup 2014!

Italian adult-film star Rocco Siffredi has pledged to refrain from sexual intercourse to support his national team during its stint in Brazil, according to a video published on the porn star’s Facebook fan page.

“Guys, I’ve had thousands of orgasms, but there is one I will never forget. The one I had together with all of you. Do you remember when we won the World Cup in 2006?” said Siffredi in the video. “So for that collective orgasm [to happen again] I am prepared to go without my orgasms.”

Italy is currently competing in the tournament’s Group D and play England in their first match on Saturday evening, local time.

TIME Pornography

Porn May Be Bad for Your Brain, Study Suggests

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Coloured MRI scan of the human head Pasieka—Getty Images

A German study suggests that watching porn may be linked to reduced activity in certain areas of the brain

A new study finds that men who watch a lot of pornography tend to have less gray matter volume as well as less activity in the region of the brain linked to rewards.

The German study, published in JAMA Psychiatry and which analyzed a relatively small sample, provides the first evidence which could lead to establishing a link between pornography consumption and brain size. However, it did not determine whether watching porn leads to the decreased volume and activity, or if people born with certain brain characteristics watch more porn.

The study’s researchers questioned 64 healthy men aged 21 to 45 about their porn watching habits. They also examined how their brains reacted to pornographic images and took images of their brains in order to measure volume.

The results also show that the brain region activated when people view sexual stimuli is less active in men who watch a lot of pornography. It also shows the part of the brain associated with processing rewards is smaller in men who view pornography more often.

TIME

China’s Tinder Plots IPO in the Shadow of Anti-Porn Crackdown

Chinese officials launch a ceremony to d
Chinese officials launch a ceremony to destroy thousands of pornographic books and video materials in Beijing on April 24, 2011. AFP/Getty Images

China's dating app has 120 million user profiles, some of which may be too hot for Beijing

China’s dating app Momo has 120 million users, a possible valuation of $2 billion, and an ongoing flirtation with U.S. banks, eager to get a piece of the action should the company go public on a U.S. stock exchange, but a few of the racier user profiles have investors on edge.

The Wall Street Journal reports that some of the photos could run afoul of China’s widening crackdown on internet pornography. A reporter from state news service Xinhua logged onto the app in a popular bar district of Beijing and reportedly found scantily clad women “wearing bikinis to show off their physiques” and profiles suggestive of escort services. The salacious details may not shock users of dating sites the world over, but in China, the pictures can trigger regulatory crackdowns. Web companies Sina and Sohu.com have seen their publishing licenses revoked for explicit content.

In an email to the Journal, a company spokesperson insisted the company supported the government’s crackdown and would expand its team of internal censors from 60 to 100 employees, saying its commercial interests were “totally incompatible with lewd and sexual content.”

[WSJ]

TIME Transportation

US Airways Investigates How It Accidentally Tweeted a Pornographic Picture to a Customer

AMR-US Airways Washington Focus Opens Airport To New Carriers
A US Airways Group Inc. Embraer SA ERJ-170-100SU plane Bloomberg/Getty Images

The airline answered a complaining customer Monday by tweeting a lewd image

US Airways said Tuesday that it is investigating how the airline, which boasts 475,000 Twitter followers, managed to accidentally tweet out a pornographic image to a unsatisfied customer.

A Twitter user with the alias @ElleRafter was complaining about a flight delay Monday when she received an official response from US Airways that read, ““We welcome feedback, Elle. If your travel is complete, you can detail it here for review and follow-up,” accompanied with a perplexing pornographic image of a women with a plane in between her legs. The tweet was quickly erased and an apology has been retweeted more than 13,000 times in less than a day, but not before the mishap went viral.

A spokesperson for the airline Davien Anderson said that the image had originally be sent to the airline by a different Twitter user. US Airways then went on to capture the tweet and flag it as inappropriate. What’s unclear is how that captured image was then added on to a completely separate tweet. “We deeply regret the mistake and we are currently reviewing our processes to prevent such errors in the future,” he said.

Yahoo reports that the very same image was sent to American Airlines, which is merging with US Airways, earlier Monday.

TIME Pop Culture

The Porn Studies Journal Is a Real Thing — And I Read It

Book
Phil Ashley / Getty Images

With article titles like 'Why Internet Porn Matters,' you can't go wrong

Want your academic journal to get some attention? Just make it free and about porn to bring in the ever-desirable “free porn” readership. Case in point: Porn Studies, the academic quarterly that published its inaugural issue today.

I read through the issue and, for better or for worse, anyone looking for titillation is likely to be disappointed. (Unless what turns you on is sociological analysis, in which case — it’s your lucky day.) Despite the tantalizing nature of its title, it’s dense albeit fascinating academic content, with articles like “People’s pornography: sex and surveillance on the Chinese internet” and “Finding gender through porn performance.”

But the sophistication of the analysis doesn’t mean there’s nothing relevant to the average reader in the journal: porn, it turns out, is at a turning point — at least academically. In the introduction to the journal, Feona Attwood and Clarissa Smith (of Middlesex University, appropriately, and University of Sunderland, both in the UK) explain why they think Porn Studies is needed: it’s gotten a lot easier to study the topic, as pornography has grown more accessible and the media has developed an interest in covering it, but the field is still young. While academics from many fields, from cultural studies to psychology, talk about porn, they sometimes talk around each other. Porn Studies aims, among other goals, to be the place where they figure out how to talk about it and research it.

Porn is becoming an important part of increasing numbers of people’s lives, although what that means to them is something we still know very little about. The ways that porn is produced and distributed have undergone rapid, radical and incremental change, but much of the popular discussion about those changes is still based on guesswork… Academic work has begun to chart these developments and the field has taken on a new urgency and significance given the continued position of pornography at the centre of controversies around media, gender, sexuality and technology. Pornographies, their spread, their imageries, their imaginaries and their consumption always have a high profile, but in the past decade or so interest in pornography has grown exponentially – with a concomitant increase in claims about porn’s effects, both positive and negative.

If Porn Studies succeeds in that goal, research about porn won’t be twisted into click-baiting reports on how porn is destructive — unless the research actually shows that it is.

But that time isn’t here yet. So if what you’re looking for are weird sex facts, here’s one standout: An analysis of the tags used to search for porn online showed there’s something extra-appealing about Danes. Though the researchers found that search terms usually follow predictable clusters in the “porn semantic network” (“spanking” and “latex” go together, as do “upskirts” and “voyeur” — makes sense), some terms work as bridges between interest clusters. One of those terms is “Danish.” The researchers don’t go into why, and we don’t have any guesses either.

Also, there is such a thing as “fair-trade porn” and it’s not a joke; it describes content made with feminist ethics in mind. Also, there are ten distinct ways that consumers use pornography. Who knew?

One paper found, somewhat depressingly, that one of the major reasons users look at porn is because they have nothing better to do. Now, though, that reason is obsolete — anyone can just go read Porn Studies instead.

TIME Crime

Child Porn Bust Nets 14 Arrests

251 children, mostly boys from the U.S., were featured on the members only porn website, according to American officials

U.S. law enforcement authorities said Tuesday they have made 14 arrests in connection with a child porn website that involved 251 children.

Officials said the vast majority of the victims featured on the secret, members-only site were found in 39 U.S. states, Reuters reports. Most of the victims were boys between 13 and 15, though some children involved in the alleged scheme were as young as three years old. At least 23 victims of the 251 identified came from other countries, according to the BBC.

“Never before in the history of this agency have we identified and located this many minor victims in the course of a single child-exploitation investigation,” Daniel Ragsdale, deputy director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said at a news conference.

Eleven of the men charged with operating the site were from Louisiana. Some of the men allegedly posed as women on social networks to when contacting the victims. Jonathan Johnson, 27, is accused of being the website’s main administrator and could face a prison sentence of 20 years to life if convicted.

The website had more than 27,000 subscribers.

Department of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said the situation highlights the urgent need to educate kids about how to use the Internet safely. “The fact is that many other children are still in danger,” Johnson told reporters.

[Reuters]

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