Internet file-trading networks Thursday unveiled a new approach to fighting child pornography as they came under a new round of criticism from the U.S. Congress.
As lawmakers decried the ready availability of pornography over the Internet, a group representing several "peer-to-peer" networks said it was working with the FBI to post a "most wanted" list of suspected child-pornography traffickers on their Web sites.
In a letter to the House of Representatives consumer-protection subcommittee, the trade group P2P United said its members would post mug shots of suspects that would link to more information provided by the FBI.
P2P United Executive Director Adam Eisgrau said he hoped the program would be up and running in two to three months.
An FBI official declined to comment on the program.
"Any time we can work with private industry to help us identify people who are using the Internet for child pornography, we are more than open to having talks with them," said Keith Lordeau, a deputy assistant director in the FBI's Cyber Division.
Peer-to-peer networks like Kazaa and Morpheus have been roundly criticized on Capitol Hill for allowing users to freely copy music, movies and other material, a practice the recording industry says has cut into CD sales.
Lawmakers have recently begun to focus on the prevalence of pornography on these networks, saying that children could easily stumble onto explicit material when they use search terms such as "Elmo" and "Snow White," while a search of Web sites is less likely to turn up mislabeled material.
"Children are the only possible target of this false labeling," said Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Joe Pitts, who has introduced a bill that would require peer-to-peer networks to obtain parental permission before installing their software.
State law enforcers are also considering action.
Kazaa has improved its content filters though such filters can not catch deceptively labeled material, said Marty Lafferty, CEO of the Distributed Computing Industry Association, a trade group that represents Kazaa.
P2P United, which represents five other peer-to-peer companies, did not testify at the hearing.