Net Sex III
(hennhaus: Hard Baud)

Originally published 11/18/1996

Net Sex III

Eighteen thousand pictures.

It’s doubtful that a gallery or even a museum would care to collect 18,000 examples of a given theme, and yet a man in Kirkland Lake did: most — if not all of it — downloaded from, or traded over, the Internet. The theme was child pornography, and this last column about sex on the ‘Net will touch on this, and how to monitor and protect your children when they go online.

Why anyone would be interested in children in a prurient fashion cannot be answered here; such is the domain of psychiatrists, police, and other professionals. Abusers nonetheless exist, and — as the Kirkland Lake case attests — both they, and child pornography, are indisputably online.

Such is not news to netizens; they’ve been discussing the situation for years. A look at the Usenet newsgroup list will show some obviously illegal subject titles, and responsible Internet news providers filter their content, thus making it unavailable. A problem exists, however, in the practice of ‘cross-posting’: users posting to more than one newsgroup at a time — occasionally entirely inappropriate groups. Unfortunately, there’s little protection against this.

A pedophile cannot easily attract potential victims through newsgroups. ‘Spam’ addresses and phone numbers are unlikely to be imbedded in such postings due to their illegal nature; doing so would equate to raising billboards to policing authorities. Why such matter is nonetheless posted seems to escape logic; there’s no discernable gain to the poster.

Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is a section of the Web which, unlike newsgroups, can be used by child predators. By ‘chatting’ over the keyboard, an abuser can gain the confidence — and possibly personal information about — victims to be.

So: How can parents protect their children from the darker side and potential dangers of the ‘Net, while still permitting them access to its benefits? A good place to start would be to view the brochure, ‘Child Safety on the Information Highway’. Its address is below.

It’s good practice to be present while your child is online, but this isn’t always convenient or possible. The ROM BIOSes of some IBM-compatible machines offer the option of a boot-up password: The computer won’t operate if the correct password isn’t entered. It’s possible to accomplish this, or deny access to certain programs, through some operating systems as well.

Another — somewhat more expensive — option exists, allowing relatively safe online use. Online blocker and filter programs, such as Cyber Patrol, Surfwatch, Net Nanny and CYBERsitter (addresses below) filter out, or prevent, access to objectionable material, sites and chat arenas. Their prices range from US$20.00 to US$50.00, and all but Surfwatch allow you to download demonstration versions from the ‘Net so you can determine the extent of their efficacy before deciding whether or not to purchase them.

Full Internet access in itself can be costly, but before balking at the cost of a blocker program, consider this: 18,000 pictures.

Child Safety on the Information Highway: http://www.missingkids.org/information_superhighway.html

Cyber Patrol v3.1: http://www.microsys.com/cyber/default.htm

Spyglass Surfwatch: http://www.spyglass.com/products/surfwatch/index.html

Net Nanny v2.1: http://www.netnanny.com/netnanny/home.html

CYBERsitter v2.1: http://www.solidoak.com/cysitter.htm

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Copyright © 1996, 2006 by John Rudzinski. Note the date the column was originally published; any links contained therein are probably outdated.
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Related reading:

MySpace 4 Parents: Learn How To Protect Your Child In MySpace The Dark Side of the Internet: Protecting Yourself and Your Family from Online Criminals The Internet and Your Kids DVD: Healthy Habits for a Safe Online Home