An exploration of the technological behaviours of previously convicted child sexual exploitation material (CSEM) offenders provides a foundation for future applied research into deterrence, investigation, and treatment efforts. This study evaluates the technology choices and transitions of individuals previously convicted of CSEM offenses. Based on their inclusion in two sex offender registries, anonymous survey results (n=78) were collected from English-speaking adults within the United States. CSEM offenders chose technologies based on both utility and perceived risk; peer-to-peer and web-browsers were the most common gateway technologies and showed substantial sustained usage; a substantial minority of users never stored CSEM and only viewed it; most respondents used more than one technology to view CSEM; CSEM offenders used more countermeasures than the public but did not use encryption at higher rates; almost all CSEM consumers started viewing adult SEM first; and countermeasures were used primarily to reduce psychological strain (anxiety).


Balfe, M., Gallagher, B., Masson, H., Balfe, S., Brugha, R., & Hackett, S. (2015). Internet child sex offenders’ concerns about online security and their use of identity protection technologies: a review. Child Abuse Review, 24(6), 427–439.

Bissias, G., Levine, B., Liberatore, M., Lynn, B., Moore, J., Wallach, H., & Wolak, J. (2016). Characterization of contact offenders and child exploitation material trafficking on five peer-to-peer networks. Child Abuse & Neglect, 52, 185–199.

Coibion, O., Gorodnichenko, Y., & Weber, M. (2020). Labor Markets During the COVID-19 Crisis: A Preliminary View (No. 27017). National Bureau of Economic Research. https://doi.org/10.3386/w27017

Heiberger, R. M., Robbins, N. B., & Others. (2014). Design of diverging stacked bar charts for Likert scales and other applications. Journal of Statistical Software, 57(5), 1–32.

Hurley, R., Prusty, S., Soroush, H., Walls, R. J., Albrecht, J., Cecchet, E., Levine, B. N., Liberatore, M., Lynn, B., & Wolak, J. (2013). Measurement and Analysis of Child Pornography Trafficking on P2P Networks. Proceedings of the 22Nd International Conference on World Wide Web, 631–642.

iPhone 6 Plus - Technical Specifications. (2019). https://support.apple.com/kb/sp706?locale=en_US

Krone, T. (2005). International police operations against online child pornography. Australian Institute of Criminology Canberra.

Krone, T., Smith, R. G., Cartwright, J., Hutchings, A., Tomison, A., & Napier, S. (2017). Online child sexual exploitation offenders: A study of Australian law enforcement data. Criminology Research Grants, 77. http://www.criminologyresearchcouncil.gov.au/reports/1617/58-1213-FinalReport.pdf

Lukas, A. (2013). Exploring the Extent to Which the Utilization of Technology Has Facilitated the Increased Possession of Online Child Pornography over Time [Kennesaw State University]. https://digitalcommons.kennesaw.edu/etd/572/

McCarthy, J. A. (2010). Internet sexual activity: A comparison between contact and non-contact child pornography offenders. Journal of Sexual Aggression, 16(2), 181–195.

Mehta, M. D. (2001). Pornography in Usenet: a study of 9,800 randomly selected images. Cyberpsychology & Behavior: The Impact of the Internet, Multimedia and Virtual Reality on Behavior and Society, 4(6), 695–703.

Norris, F. H., & Kaniasty, K. (1992). A longitudinal study of the effects of various crime prevention strategies on criminal victimization, fear of crime, and psychological distress. American Journal of Community Psychology, 20(5), 625–648.

O’Brien, M. D., & Webster, S. D. (2007). The construction and preliminary validation of the Internet Behaviours and Attitudes Questionnaire (IBAQ). Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 19(3), 237–256.

O’Halloran, E., & Quayle, E. (2010). A content analysis of a “boy love” support forum: Revisiting Durkin and Bryant. Journal of Sexual Aggression, 16(1), 71–85.

Online Panels: Get Responses for Surveys & Research | Qualtrics. (n.d.). Qualtrics. Retrieved February 8, 2020, from https://www.qualtrics.com/research-services/online-sample/

Paquette, S., & Cortoni, F. (2019). The Development and Validation of the Cognitions of Internet Sexual Offending (C-ISO) Scale. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 1079063219862281.

Prichard, J., Watters, P. A., & Spiranovic, C. (2011). Internet subcultures and pathways to the use of child pornography. Computer Law & Security Review, 27(6), 585–600.

Steel, C. (2009a). Child pornography in peer-to-peer networks. Child Abuse & Neglect, 33(8), 560–568.

Steel, C. (2009b). Web-based child pornography: Quantification and qualification of demand. International Journal of Digital Crime and Forensics (IJDCF), 1(4), 58–69.

Steel, C. (2014). Digital Child Pornography: A Practical Guide for Investigators. Lily Shiba Press.

Steel, C. (2015). Web-based child pornography: The global impact of deterrence efforts and its consumption on mobile platforms. Child Abuse & Neglect, 44, 150–158.

Steel, C., Newman, E., O’Rourke, S., & Quayle, E. (2020). An integrative review of historical technology and countermeasure usage trends in online child sexual exploitation material offenders. Forensic Science International: Digital Investigation, 33, 300971.

Sutherland, E. H., Cressey, D. R., & Luckenbill, D. F. (1992). Principles of Criminology. AltaMira Press.

Ward, T., & Beech, A. R. (2016). The integrated theory of sexual offending--revised: A multifield perspective. The Wiley Handbook on the Theories, Assessment and Treatment of Sexual Offending, 123–137.

Wolak, J., Finkelhor, D., & Mitchell, K. (2011). Child pornography possessors: trends in offender and case characteristics. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 23(1), 22–42.

Wolak, J., Finkelhor, D., & Mitchell, K. J. (2005). Child-Pornography Possessors Arrested in Internet-Related Crimes: Findings From the National Juvenile Online Victimization Study. https://scholars.unh.edu/ccrc/33/

Wolak, J., Finkelhor, D., & Mitchell, K. J. (2012). Trends in Arrests for Child Pornography Possession: TheThird National Juvenile OnlineVictimization Study (NJOV‐3). https://scholars.unh.edu/ccrc/46/

Wolak, J., Finkelhor, D., Mitchell, K. J., & Jones, L. M. (2011). Arrests for child pornography production: Data at two time points from a national sample of US law enforcement agencies. Child Maltreatment, 16(3), 184–195.

Wolak, J., Liberatore, M., & Levine, B. N. (2014). Measuring a year of child pornography trafficking by U.S. computers on a peer-to-peer network. Child Abuse & Neglect, 38(2), 347–356.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.