Is it safe to report illegal pr0n to the FBI?
February 19, 2013 5:50 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to report something to the FBI but I don't know if it would be dangerous to me to do so.

Today I got something in the mail advertising "rare and unusual movies," which was intriguing--I love movies! even rare and unusual ones!--but what they meant was fetish porn, including bestiality.

I've bought porn DVDs before, but it's all been legal and fairly unremarkable (if there's any tendency towards a fetish, it's for muscular men). At any rate I'm not sure why I got on this list. I'd really like off the list, but I don't know if I should contact the company even to tell them in no uncertain terms to take me off the list--would they just add me to the "definitely still at that address" file and sell it to someone else?

Or should I just not say anything to the company and report them to the FBI? That was my first thought, but then if they get busted and the FBI seizes the computers, they'd see my name on their mailing list, even though I haven't bought anything from them. I'm not swimming in money, and I'd be hard-pressed to afford a lawyer if I ever needed one, and my life is fairly boring but I'm also in no rush to be under increased surveillance.

Or should I contact the FBI directly, by name rather than anonymously, and let them know what I got?

posted by anonymous to Law & Government (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Nothing you've indicated would be of interest to the FBI. Just throw it away.
posted by HuronBob at 5:54 PM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Animal pornography isn't illegal under federal criminal law, so the FBI doesn't care about it. Throw it away if you don't want it.
posted by Tanizaki at 6:15 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Unless it's child porn, or snuff films, or anything else super horrible, I would just ignore it.
posted by katypickle at 6:19 PM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Yeah, dude. Unless any of the participants are underage humans and/or being forced to do things against their will and/or being killed, don't bother reporting it - the Feds have other, more sinister fish to fry.
posted by julthumbscrew at 6:47 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

And to answer the question in the title, I was recently at a forensics seminar where a local FBI agent spoke. She said that each office has a couple people dedicated to validating that people accidentally stumbled upon illegal porn (i.e., child porn) so they don't get brought in if the site in question becomes the subject of a bust.
posted by bfranklin at 7:17 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Cruelty to animals is illegal where I live. In my mind, bestiality is much different (read worse) than porn depicting various other kinds of depraved/possibly enjoyable/freaky/fun/bizarre acts - animals cannot consent to sexual activity with humans. To me, that makes it concerning, which is why I'd want to tell someone about it. I'm sure the FBI or police would give you some advice on what to do, even if you decided not to submit a formal report.
posted by analog at 8:14 PM on February 19, 2013 [4 favorites]

My understanding is that bestiality is considered cruelty to animals and gets prosecuted.

I def remember reading about a case where men were invited out regularly to a farm to engage in the practice, someone (the host) was killed or injured by an animal during the act. I'm sure Iread about it because it was reported, investigated, and participants went to jail.

I would report it non-anonymously. I might phone first and get a direct contact to forward the email to.

Thanks for following through on this.
posted by jbenben at 8:58 PM on February 19, 2013

I believe jbenben is thinking of this.
posted by goshling at 9:03 PM on February 19, 2013

Assuming this catalog was unsolicited by you, you haven't done anything wrong; porn itself isn't illegal, as long as it doesn't involve things like child porn, snuff films, etc. I'd go ahead and phone your local FBI office and tell them about it, although they'll probably just tell you thanks but no thanks --- chances are pretty good that they already know about any outfit sending professionally-printed catalogs through the mail.
posted by easily confused at 3:13 AM on February 20, 2013

Cruelty to animals is usually prosecuted under state, not federal, law. Report it to your state Attorney General.
posted by lalala1234 at 5:16 AM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

IANAL. Cruelty to animals may be prosecuted under state law but the ad came in the mail, which could make it a federal issue if there are federal laws against this type of material; you don't know whether the cruelty is occurring in your state or in another. Still, your state AG may be able to advise you if you find it less scary than approaching the FBI.
posted by walla at 6:14 AM on February 20, 2013

Uh, actually, distributing animal cruelty videos is prohibited under the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010. It would likely be of interest to the FBI.

Contacting law enforcement can have unintended consequences that we cannot guess at, but if you were to get in trouble, you are entitled to legal representation, even if you cannot afford it.
posted by *s at 8:33 AM on February 20, 2013

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