An Illinois man who was a registered sex offender was indicted on new child pornography charges after exchanging photos with an undercover agent on the Kik Messenger App. Kik has gained notoriety for being a den of child pornography enthusiasts exchanging photos. The app provides the user with total anonymity from other users, but the terms of service stipulate that individuals cannot exchange illegal material using the site’s infrastructure.
The app itself is not nefarious. It was created by college students at the University of Waterloo as a free, anonymous messaging app. The app allows you to create group chats, upload videos, pictures, and files. The group chat feature is where most of the child pornography issues can be found. The only thing you need to use the app is an email address. You then have a username and a handle which is used by other members to find you.
While uploading child pornography to the site violates its terms of service, Kik does not moderate these group chats, so it is left to law enforcement to ensure crimes are not being committed.
Kik’s Guide for Parents
Kik has a guide for parents. If you catch your child using the app to share explicit images, Kik recommends that you delete the images and warn all parties of the legal consequences. It does not, however, recommend contacting law enforcement. If a child is the recipient of a sexually explicit photo, Kik recommends you simply do not respond because the other user will get “bored” and find someone else to spam. At the bottom of the page, the parental guide finally recommends reporting the incident to law enforcement. So, first you are told to delete the images. Then you are told to go to law enforcement. Makes sense, right? No, not at all. You are getting rid of the evidence.
How Should Parents Deal With Illegal Conduct on Kik?
If your teen feels comfortable enough to discuss an explicit or exploitative action that was taken against them by an internet predator, you should act immediately on that intelligence. It shows that you care and trust your child and will have their best interests at heart no matter what. That means going to law enforcement with the information. While Kik may not help you track down a perpetrator, they are forced to act on court orders and warrants for information. You have no power to force them to turn over anything. Law enforcement does. Then it becomes a matter of tracking down the suspect through details on the app, tracing their IP address, or enticing them to meet with the teen and setting up a sting.
Everyone has a job to do. A criminal defense attorney’s job is to ensure a client does not get overcharged and is fairly dealt with under the law. A parent’s job is to protect their children from potential sexual abuse. As a parent, you should go to law enforcement.
Talk to a Chicago Child Pornography Lawyer Today
David Freidberg represents the interests of those charged with sex crimes in Illinois. We have decades of experience managing criminal sexual assault and child pornography charges. Call today to schedule an appointment and we can begin preparing your defense immediately.