Monday, February 05, 2007

Kids and Porn Online- it's far worse than you think!

Kids and Porn Online...It's Far Worse Than You Think
Almost 50% of Young People Between 10 and 17 Have Admitted to Being Exposed to Porn Online According to a Recent Report
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But our polls of thousands and thousands of young people show that 90% of these young people have been exposed to porn online, and the only reason the other 10% haven't is because they have parental controls still installed. Why the discrepancy? The report was conducted from a survey of young people after their parents were asked for their consent, and on the phone. How many young people would admit to porn exposures? It's amazing that as many admitted it as did.
by Parry Aftab, copyright 2007, all rights reserved

Parents need to realize that if their kids are online and unfiltered, most if not all have been exposed to porn.

I recently spoke at a school in Atlanta. It was a very elite private school, with bright and terrific students. I was doing a presentation to 4th graders. My presentations to students are very interactive with lots of questions and answers. I asked them how many had seen "bad stuff" online (which one of the students defined as "naked people"). Almost all of the hands went up.

The parents, standing in the back of the room, gasped and in some cases burst into tears. They were shocked that their 8 year olds had seen these kinds of things. They were devastated to learn that their children hadn't come to them for help. These were caring parents, relatively tech-savvy, well-educated and affluent. If they didn't know, what kind of a chance do less tech-savvy, less educated parents have?

Our kids, all our kids, will have been exposed to some pretty disgusting stuff. The Internet porn is not our parents' tame Playboy magazine. Our children are not prepared for this. Frankly, I don't know many adults who are. So, what do we do?

An Overview of the Porn Problem

Open your e-mail box or conduct a search for anything online and you are likely to run into graphic sexual images or content whether you like it or not. And our children are often more likely to be targeted by pornographic images or messages than we are, because of how they communicate online and how easy they are for the marketers to find.

Most Internet users are unhappy about the continued growth of marketing abuses and questionable advertising practices by many members of the pornography industry. What used to be just an annoyance and considered part of the price of using the Internet is now becoming a more serious problem. It is also becoming one that parents increasingly are insisting something be done to address.[1]

When anyone searches for information online, or mistypes or misspells a domain name (“typo-squatting”), they may find themselves at a pornography site.

When they open their e-mail boxes or instant messaging programs they may find themselves targeted by unscrupulous ads including those for “young teens,” “preteens” and “little girls or boys” sex (often mere fraudulent advertising), or sites promising child pornography and “lolitas.”

They seek images for school reports, using innocent topic names, such as "toys," "japanese dolls," and "american girl" only to encounter pornographic images. Many of these images show graphic sexual activities which can be frightening and hurtful to children and preteens, as well as many teens.

To compound the problem, when they stumble upon a pornography site, they may find themselves locked in an avalanche of new pornography windows, unable to escape without having to shut down their computers (“mousetrapping”).

And sometimes when they type in the URL of their favorite site, they end up at a pornography site instead, either because traffic for that site had been redirected by a pornography site (“hijacking”) or because the siteowner had forgotten to renew their domain name registration (“porn-napping”).

As competition among the pornography sites increases, these marketing abuses increase. Unintended exposure is a serious and growing problem. These marketing abuses and questionable practices currently include:

· Child pornography (real and virtual)
· Sexual exploitation of children (including false advertising of child pornography and use of terms implying child pornography, such as “preteens,” “little boys” and “lolitas”)
· SPAM/SPIM[2]
· Fraudulent headers in promotional e-mails
· Fraudulent or misleading metatags, keywords, descriptions and listings with search engines
· Typo-squatting[3], particularly those intended to attract children
· Misleading domain names or keywords, particularly those intended to attract children
· The use of terms to attract those seeking child pornography
· Intellectual property violations, piracy and counterfeiting
· Browser hijacking/ Mousetrapping
· Slammed home page changes
· Spyware and adware, pop-ups and pop-unders[4]
· Graphic images on the non-subscriber front pages
· Graphic images in unsolicited e-mail and instant messaging links
· Spoofing and phishing practices[5]
· Domain-napping/ Porn-napping[6]
· Criminal re-dialers and similar schemes[7]
· Page-jacking[8]
· Malicious code, criminal intrusions and Trojan horses

To quote so many parents, “something has to be done.” And while some of them may support an eventual total ban on all pornography and some others support an unrestricted right for adults to view pornography, all of them support an immediate solution to the issue of unintended exposure.

What is the solution? It actually has several components.

The first is education- of parents, teachers and the kids themselves. They need to understand how unscrupulous websites can target young people by "tricking them into clicking" and what technologies and tools exist to help block access to these sites and marketing tactics.

The second is creating laws that will fill any loopholes for unscrupulous marketing tactics, where the pornography sites pretend to be kid-friendly sites to draw Internet users of all ages to their site, using metatags, misleading domain names, typos, TLDs designed to confuse users (.com for a favorite .gov sites, for example whitehouse.com) etc.

The third is providing sufficient funding of law enforcement and prosecutorial groups to take on the bad guys and put those who are breaking the laws into jail where they belong.

The fourth is teaching everyone where to report sites they find are violating the law and where to find safe and fun sites for kids.

And fifth is reminding the adult sites that preying on kids is bad business and finding ways to identify those who have adopted responsible marketing and security practices.

Until then, surveys that demonstrate that only 42% of young people between 10 and 17 have been exposed to sexually explicit content online under-estimate the problem by 1/2.

If our kids are online and are not fully filtered, they have been exposed to porn. Sadly, because they are afraid of their parents' reactions, embarrassed and worried that they might have done something wrong, kids won't tell their parents.

So, once again, parents will be the last to know.

[1] The pornography marketing complaints received from parents and children themselves by WiredSafety.org and its family of sites has increased substantially over the last several months. From approximately 30 daily complaints from parents/grandparents and teachers about unintended exposure to online pornography, the number has increased to hundreds a day. Sixty-five percent of these same parents/grandparents have indicated that they either support an adult’s right to access legal pornography or recognize their legal right to do so. They have also, until now, been unhappy with (but haven’t lodged any formal complaints against) the onslaught of online marketing, misleading practices and sexually-graphic images they have encountered. They largely believed that nothing could be done to stop it. That has now changed. Now they are looking for ways to make it stop. More than mere technical tools, they want help, either from their ISPs or the government. They want someone to do something to help prevent their children from being confronted with pornography when searching for innocent sites, playing games and even using their computer in an “always on” environment, when pop-ups will appear on screen unexpectedly.
[2] “SPIM” is the new name for unsolicited bulk instant messages. “Spam” is the e-mail equivalent (no relation to Hormel’s luncheon meat).
[3] When someone, generally a pornographic website operator, registers the common misspellings of a popular site, especially one aimed at children.
[4]“The websites that attract children and teens in droves are the ones most often targeted by some in the porn industry via pesky pop-up ads… A pop-up is an advertisement that comes up when you first click onto a website… Designed to draw your attention to an aspect of the site you're visiting or to sell you a product or service, most are harmless. But as many parents have discovered a large number of pop-ups include offensive photos of sex acts not suitable for young eyes. To see these hardcore pop-ups you usually have to come across a porn site, says Cathy Wing, director of community programming for Media Awareness Network. `Once you stumble on a porn site or go to one purposely it will trigger these,’ she said from her office in Ottawa. Even worse is when sites aimed at teens _ skateboarding, music, video games _ trigger pop-ups with questionable content, Wing said. ‘Tons of these sites that teens like to go to will eventually lead them to porn. That's the problem,’ she said. ‘It's the kind of sites that kids go to that they target.’” The-Cyberfile, Bgt , BY ANGELA PACIENZA, 25 February 2004, The Canadian Press.
[5] Pretending to be another website, often to trick people into providing their financial information and creditcard details for criminal purposes.
[6] WiredKids.org’s teen site, WiredTeens.com was recently grabbed by a pornographic website operator. It previously pointed to the WiredTeens.org main site. WiredSafety’s executive director, cyberlawyer Parry Aftab, is contemplating bringing criminal charges unless the site is returned.
[7] “Modem Hijacking: The Commission has used its training and tools to stop some of the most egregious and technically sophisticated schemes seen on the Internet. For example, the FTC's lawsuit against Verity International, Ltd., was prompted by the influx of hundreds of complaints in the last week of September 2000 through the CRC and logged in Consumer Sentinel. Investigation showed that high charges on consumers' phone lines were being initiated by ‘dialer’ software downloaded from teaser adult web sites. Many line subscribers had no idea why they received bills for these charges. Others discovered that a minor in their household -- or another person who did not have the line subscriber's authorization – accessed the Web sites and downloaded the dialer software. The dialer program allowed users to access the ‘videotext’ adult content without any means of verifying that the user was the line subscriber, or was authorized by the line subscriber to incur charges on the line for such service. Once downloaded and executed, however, the program actually hijacked the consumer's computer modem by surreptitiously disconnecting the modem from the consumer's local Internet Service Provider, dialing a high-priced international long distance call to Madagascar, and reconnecting the consumer's modem to the Internet from some overseas location, opening at an adult web site. The line subscriber -- the consumer responsible for paying phone charges on the line -- then began incurring charges on his or her phone lines for the remote connection to the Internet at the rate of $3.99 per minute.” (Prepared Witness Testimony ,The Committee on Energy and Commerce, W.J. "Billy Tauzin" Chairman, On-line Fraud and Crime: Are Consumers Safe?" Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection , May 23, 2001, Ms. Eileen Harrington, Associate Director of Marketing Practices Bureau of Competition Federal Trade Commission.)
[8] "Pagejacking" and "Mousetrapping": “Earlier, in FTC v. Carlos Pereira d/b/a atariz.com, the Commission attacked a world-wide, high-tech scheme that allegedly ‘pagejacked’ consumers and then ‘mousetrapped’ them at adult pornography sites. ‘Pagejacking’ is making exact copies of someone else's Web page, including the imbedded text that informs search engines about the subject matter of the site. The defendants allegedly made unauthorized copies of 25 million pages from other Web sites, including those of Paine Webber and the Harvard Law Review. The defendants made one change on each copied page that was hidden from view: they inserted a command to ‘redirect’ any surfer coming to the site to another Web site that contained sexually-explicit, adult-oriented material. Internet surfers searching for subjects as innocuous as ‘Oklahoma tornadoes’ or ‘child car seats’ would type those terms into a search engine and the search results would list a variety of related sites, including the bogus, copycat site of the defendants. Surfers assumed from the listings that the defendants' sites contained the information they were seeking and clicked on the listing. The "redirect" command imbedded in the copycat site immediately rerouted the consumer to an adult site hosted by the defendants. Once there, defendants ‘mousetrapped’ consumers by incapacitating their Internet browser's ‘back’ and ‘close’ buttons, so that while they were trying to exit the defendants' site, they were sent to additional adult sites in an unavoidable, seemingly endless loop.” (Id.)

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