Gnutella porn surfers exposed

Summary:Zeropaid.com wants to keep Gnutella clean by posting a Wall of Shame -- the IP addresses of those who attempt to download porn files.

Search for child pornography on the Internet, and your IP address just might show up on the Zeropaid.com Wall of Shame.

The music portal Web site is currently playing a trick on those who are looking for pedophilia using the Gnutella file-sharing program. Download one of Zeropaid.com's temptingly named images, and the site logs your time of download, IP address and domain name - and then posts them on a Web site for all to see.

The Wall of Shame went into operation April 27, in part as a reaction to an MSNBC report indicating file-sharing software Gnutella was being used to trade child pornography. The idea is to scare and embarrass would-be pedophiles into avoiding Gnutella, thus cleaning up the service.

"Most people are using Gnutella to download music. Very few people are using it for child porn, and I don't want them on it," said Jorge Gonzalez, founder of Zeropaid.com. He thinks the Wall of Shame might be enough of a deterrent to scare pedophiles into heading elsewhere.

The site was actually created by another Gnutella user, who identified himself to MSNBC as Lexx Nexus. Gonzalez said he approached this user after seeing the Wall of Shame and offered to host it on the Zeropaid.com site.

The site immediately started receiving complaints from users who felt the Wall of Shame violated their rights.

"I have never and will never harm a child or anyone else in any way," wrote one complainer. "However as a citizen of the United States I have every right of downloading those files for whatever the reason is."

And another wrote:

"Who do you think you are? Police, mothers looking for files to report, parents looking into what is bad for their kids, almost ANYONE can get caught in your self righteous bullsh**."

After a few days of operation, Lexx Nexus considered discontinuing the service, but Gonzalez said he insisted on pushing forward.

"I said, 'No what we're doing here is right. Me and my roommate (the co-founder of Zeropaid.com) have agreed the attention the Wall of Shame has brought is for the cause," he said. "If people don't want to come to my site because of this, that's their problem."

Gnutella is hardly six weeks old but has already become the stuff of Internet legend. The software was released by an America Online subsidiary for one day on March 14, then quickly removed. An ad-hoc band of developers has since reverse-engineered the software and is continuing development of it. The program is at its core a simple way of trading files, including pirated copyrighted material, without requiring participants to connect with any central computer. This means that, unlike its music-swap-meet cousin Napster, it's virtually impossible to stop.

Gnutella users can create private networks to swap illegal files like child pornography; once these networks break up, there is virtually no way for law enforcement to trace the activity.

The Wall of Shame only applies to the "main" Gnutella net that users connect to by default.

Topics: Tech Industry

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