Assistant US Attorney Charles Gross tells 24 hour news 8 that James S. Allen used the file sharing software WinMX to connect with others across the country and around the world.
Individuals connected with the child porn ring were arrested in Michigan, Florida, Tennessee, Nevada, Arizona, and Illinois, as well as Canada The UK and Australia.
Dr. Paul Leidig is the Director of the School of Computing at Grand Valley State University. Leidig says sharing information with others over the Internet, or peer-to-peer networking, is not hard to do. One simply installs the software, and it links you to others with the same software.
However the sharing of much of the information, such as copyrighted music, is illegal. For those not wanting to get caught, software makers hide files to stay a step ahead of law enforcement.
"A cat and mouse game is a good way to describe it," Leidig says.
WinMX is currently shut down amid litigation filed by the Recording Industry Association of America, but Leidig says there are still ways to use it. "They popped back up in some illegal or rogue sites that hackers say 'Let's run it without the server that's shut down.'"
But the biggest danger, Leidig says, is that file sharing programs give potential criminals easy access to your personal information.
"In essence what you are doing is you're telling everybody else on that network, 'Here's my computer.' Very similar to telling everybody, 'By the way, here's the address to my house. The back door is open.'"
Allen was arrested last week and made his initial court appearance Monday in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids.
Wednesday's news conference will be held at the U.S. Attorneys Office in Chicago to reveal further details of the investigation.
Allen is expected to make his next court appearance in district court on Thursday.