WASHINGTON - FBI Director Robert Mueller was blunt in his comments on April 23 during a House Judiciary Committee hearing when asked about issues of computer crime and child pornography on the Internet.
"We're losing," he said.
Mueller said almost every imaginable crime has gravitated to the Internet, which he said can expand certain crimes.
"That's certainly true with child pornography," he said.
The FBI and the Justice Department have held meetings with major Internet service providers to discuss expanding data retention to go after child pornographers and those who provide the images on the Internet.
"I do believe that records retention would be of assistance in terms of addressing these problems," Mueller said.
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, child pornography is a $20 billion-a-year black-market industry that has been proliferating on the Internet.
Joan Irvine, executive director of the Association for Sites Against Child Pornography, said that while the dollar amount might be hard to pinpoint, there's no disputing ASACP-collected data that shows 90 percent of all commercial child-pornography sites are distributed by organized crime syndicates in Eastern Bloc countries.
"Another 5 percent come from Japan, and the remaining 5 percent comes from the rest of the world," she said.
That data, Irvine said, has been validated by several organizations.
Irvine noted that efforts have been made to stop the flow of money related to child pornography. In 2006, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, major banks, credit card companies and ISPs created the Financial Coalition Against Child Pornography to stop the flow of money among websites and child pornographers.
"If they can't make any money on this, they will find something else to sell," Irvine said.
In his testimony, ABC News reported, Mueller said the FBI has 270 agents working on the Innocent Images program, a multiagency international operation to fight the spread of child pornography and the online sexual exploitation of children. There are law enforcement officers from 21 countries working with the task force and training center in Maryland to track down child predators, he said.
According to the FBI, the program has grown from 113 cases in 1996 to more than 2,400 cases in 2007 and has resulted in the convictions of more than 6,800 child predators.
But, Mueller said during the hearing, the number of agents is insufficient to combat the problem and more funding and resources are needed.
"We need to grow the task forces within the United States and develop the relationships with similar task forces overseas," he said.