The CyberTipline can be accessed at http://www.cybertipline.com or by calling 1-800-THE LOST (1-800-843-5678). The CyberTipline represents the Department of Justice's effort to crack down on misleading domain names as required by the Prosecutorial Remedies and Tools Against the Exploitation of Children Today Act (the "PROTECT Act") enacted on April 30, 2003.
Among other things, the PROTECT Act created a new federal law that makes it a crime to knowingly use a misleading domain name on the Internet with the intent to deceive a minor into viewing material that is harmful to minors on the Internet. This crime carries a penalty of up to four years in prison and/or a fine. An offender might commit this crime, for example, by using a domain name that features the name of a popular childrens cartoon character, purposefully misspelled, and leads to a website featuring materials harmful to minors. The new law also makes it a crime to use a misleading domain name on the Internet with the intent to deceive any person into viewing obscenity, which carries a penalty of up to two years imprisonment and/or a fine.
"The Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children are taking this step today to protect children from dangerous and inappropriate experiences on the Internet," said Attorney General John Ashcroft in a press release. "Now, alert and concerned parents can help law enforcement identify and dismantle these misleading Internet sites that are set up to lure their children into viewing obscene materials."
"This new feature will allow the public to take an even more active role in helping law enforcement clean up the Internet and protect our children," said Assistant Attorney General Christopher A. Wray of the Criminal Division.
"Though the Internet is full of educational and fun experiences for kids, there are individuals who misuse the Web to prey upon childrens vulnerabilities," stated NCMEC President Ernie Allen. "We now have the means to combat this threat to kids, and with the publics help the CyberTipline will be even more effective as a bridge between law enforcement and concerned citizens."
The Department of Justice continues to prosecute violators of the Truth In Domain Names provisions of the PROTECT Act. In February 2004, John Zuccarini was sentenced by a federal judge in Manhattan to 30 months in prison on charges that he created and used misleading domain names on the Internet to deceive minors into logging on to pornographic websites. Those domain names included close misspelling of domains names that are popular with children, such as "www.dinseyland.com," (a variation on Disney Lands website) and "www.bobthebiulder.com," and "www.teltubbies.com" (variations on the websites for "Bob the Builder" and "Teletubbies").
The CyberTipline also provides members of the public a means to report child exploitation crimes, including the trafficking of child pornography, online enticement of children, child prostitution, child sex tourism, non-family child sexual molestation, and obscenity sent to children. Since its inception in March 1998 through April 2004, the CyberTipline has processed more than 230,000 reports of child exploitation crimes, a large number of which have been sufficient to refer to law enforcement for investigation.
[Source: U.S. Department of Justice]