WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) – At least once a month. This is how often the Marathon County Sheriff’s Office arrests someone for sharing child pornography images or videos. This is the result of advice from the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. These arrests and possible charges are occurring due to statewide partnerships with cyber police.
The Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force helps local departments meet the challenge of catching those who view child sexual abuse images. Policing cyberspace is a challenge for law enforcement because few cases start and end in the same jurisdiction.
“The case is really spread out but the victim is across the country or vice versa,” Capt. Jeffrey Stefonek said.
The ICAC is a national organization that works with regional and local partners. There are 310 affiliates in Wisconsin and six of them are in Marathon County, including the Marathon County Sheriff’s Office. The organizations involved in the ICAC collaborate and solve online crimes against children.
“If there are any known files that contain child pornography or anything else illegal, NCMEC maintains a database,” Capt Stefonek said.
The “National Center for Missing and Exploited Children” often receives these files from ICAC affiliate members across the United States.
“There is a feedback loop, if we have a case here in Marathon County where someone is arrested for child pornography and prosecuted, we send everything associated with that case to NCMEC,” said Captain Stefonek.
Captain Stefonek described the codes in NCMEC’s database as a fingerprint. This is a unique numeric identifier that a computer program can look up.
Once they scan the database, they use the IP address or social media account holder information to track the provenance and sharing of the file.
“If these files are shared elsewhere on the internet and matched against NCMEC’s database, they will come to light and there could be new charges for anyone who has these illegal files,” Capt Stefonek said.
This way it does not continue to spread.
“The victim in our county is re-victimized every time it is shared or viewed,” Capt. Stefonek said.
If the crime did not occur in their jurisdiction, Marathon County may forward it to another ICAC affiliate, wherever located in the United States, so they can investigate and possibly bring a case. lawsuit.
Capt. Stefonek says that while the ICAC helps many victims in our community, it’s often a long process because the sheriff’s office must have a court order to access information like the IP address.
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