Saturday, March 24, 2007

Ultionis: MySpace & Crime

a wonderful blog that explains the status of myspace safety and the need to understand the issues and not panic.Ultionis: MySpace & Crime

Thursday, March 22, 2007 does it work?

also, check out our new cyberbullying video. it's on
also, visit

U.S. Judge Blocks 1998 Online Porn Law - International Business Times -

U.S. Judge Blocks 1998 Online Porn Law - International Business Times -

COPA was knocked down, once again. I suspect this time for the full count.
Over the years various child protection groups sought a law that would toughen the regulations on sexually explicit images that are available with adult age verification.

It sounds like a law would make sense. But, they can't work without infringing on the privacy rights of adults.

When constitutional rights are impacted, the law requires a balancing of equities. Is there a less infringing method of getting from here to there?

In the case of pornography online, filtering works very well. There are also other ways of dealing with this problem, such as the .xxx proposal that would use age verifications.

This law was adopted in a batch of child protection laws in Fall 1998. It is often confused with COPPA (adopted the same day and which is alive and well on children's privacy issues).

Now, before every side gets up in arms, we need to remember that this law was enjoined from the moment it was enacted. It has never been in effect and isn't being relied on to protect kids. We have lots of ways to do that.

So, as a child protection advocate I was tell everything that this is a tempest in a teapot. We can start teaching parents how to install filters, and perhaps get some inexpenseive programs out there for them to us. AOL offers their parental controls without charge now, and Vista has built in controls as well.

They would be much more effective than a law in this area. we already can't enforce the laws we have that are constitutional. We can't put a dent in child pornography. Marketing of porn to kids has to be stopped. Fraud in search engine indexing that goes beyond the existing misleading domain laws needs to be addressed.

Porn is something that our kids shouldn't be exposed to. But, we at have lots of ways to keep that from happening.

so, don't worry about this decision. Just work to help learn about ways you can, as a parent, keep your kids safe.

visit for our parenting online booklet.
we have it in spanish as well. free printables.

learn about porn and ways to stop it from our video The 4Ps - privacy, predators, porn and piracy, available for free on and from

my 2 cents.

Flip...a new teen social network designed to get teens to create messaging

I have recently started using some new technologies. Some are and related. Others are just fun things I stumbled across.

This is one of my new favorites. Designed by the Conde Nast people for teen girls. (Conde Nast publishes, among other print publications, Teen Vogue.)

It uses the Flex technologies created by Adobe/Macromedia and helps encourage lots of creativity. We'll be trying to harness some of that creativity by channeling it into the creation of public awareness messaging, designed by the teen users.

While nothing online that is interactive is totally safe, this one does it better than just about everyone else.

The secret, as I have always said, and all other parents and teachers know, is to keep young people engaged in something fun and meaningful to them. The busier they are doing good things, the less likely they are to act out, get into trouble and take risks.

If you are a teen girl, have a teen daughter or teach teen girls, you may want to check it out. Then stand back and see what happens. I suspect we will all be pleasantly surprised at how the Web 2.0 technology and model can get teens engaged, especially if someone is watching. I can assure you, the good people at Conde Nast and are watching, and listening and empowering.

my 2 cents.


Monday, March 19, 2007

Technology News: Viruses & Malware: MySpace Bug Alerts Could Trigger Mischief

Technology News: Viruses & Malware: MySpace Bug Alerts Could Trigger MischiefYou don't run the world's oldest and largest cybersafety gorup without knowing a few hackers. But there is a difference between "hackers" and "Hackers." The term "hacker" had traditionally stood for network security and design experts. They were the ones who built the Internet, not the ones who destroys it.

Vint Cerf, the father of the Internet and creator of TCP/IP (the code that created the Internet), proudly defines himself as a "hacker." But in his case, it's a capital "H" hacker. He builds, and doesn't destroy.

Many others using the term "Hacker" have been involved in protecting kids online. The former group, Ethical Hackers Against Pedophilia, broke the first commercial child porn ring (what later became known as "Landslide"). Without their dogged determination to "follow the money" and find those behind this site, thousands would have escaped the police and countless children would be exploited in the process as well.

Did they break the law? Not to my knowledge.

Now some "hackers" have announced that they will publish security bugs on a public website. These are bugs they found on myspace. It's not surprising that myspace has bugs. It grew out of a tiny concept to one of the most popular sites ever published. It may not always scale. But it's not a financial institution, or a banking site, or an insurance company site, or paypal, or a healthcare site. It's a social network. No one should be posting anything there that "parents, principals, predators and the police" shouldn't or couldn't safely see.

so, will there be bugs? I'm sure there will be. Few sites are security bug free.

But is publishing them on a website the way to go? Only if you want to be famous anonymously. Otherwise, if they are serious about fixing security bugs, let me know. I'll introduce you to the right people at myspace. And perhaps you'll bec ome famous for finding bugs on a huge and very popular site and protecting people, instead of potentially putting them at risk.

my 2 cents.

Our Piracy Video

Music and Movie Downloads...

Music and Movie Downloads...
Piracy is more than Yo, Ho, Ho! and Rides in Disneyworld!

All of our young people are wired and wireless, every day, from everywhere. That means they are very good at using the technologies. They are also very good at abusing them.

With all of the MP3 players, iPods and other video and audio-capable devices they are looking for songs and videos and movies to fill them. And with devices that can hold 25,000 and more songs and twenty movies, buying them isn't a viable option, at least for young people. (Do the math, $.99 times 25,000.)

So, what do they do? They do the obvious, using the easiest and cheapest route. They steal music and movies by downloading them illegally from the Internet or from other users, using peer-to-peer software, like Limewire and others.

Sometimes they know they are stealing, sometimes they don't. They may or may not have understood the consequences. They may not realize the difference between being able to download something and being permitted to. They may think that no one can figure out who they are, or what they are doing. But the law doesn't distinguish between those who steal knowing it's illegal and those who steal without knowing it's against the law. The consequences are the same.

In addition, illegal music downloading has destroyed retailers and the business model for the music industry, as we knew it. It threatens to do the same for the motion picture industry, and perhaps the computer software and gaming industries as well.

And, simply speaking, it's wrong.

And parents may find themselves on the losing side of a lawsuit, with the college tuition savings being spent on penalties paid to the industry groups instead of the college their kids hope to attend.

The settlements typically fall between $3000 and $6000 for music piracy, and more for motion picture piracy.

About a year ago, I flew to Wisconsin to hold a presentation on Internet safety and piracy risks for middle schoolers. The real star of that event was a 13-year old boy, named Benjamin. Ben was a soft-spoken gentle respectful young man. He was also scared to death. It wasn't his fear of public speaking that created this, but rather it was his fear of the consequences of his actions from the year before. You see, Benjamin had downloaded four motion pictures which were new releases. He never watched any of them, and one of them wouldn't play at all. But shortly after he downloaded them (having learned how to do that from his older sibling), his beloved grandfather (who looked like he was right out of the "Waltons") was sued for $600,000.

His grandfather was confused about the allegations of the lawsuit. How could he be sued for doing something he didn't even know you could do? Downloading movies? He could barely turn the computer on! So, he ignored the pleadings.

Ben, wanting to be honest with his grandfather (who was raising him), confessed. His grandfather, although disappointed, thought that this was all a big mistake. Clearly everyone was doing this (at least by downloading music). What was the big fuss about? He even called the number on the correspondence and spoke with someone in the offices of the MPAA counsel. They told him he had to pay a hefty settlement amount to avoid the lawsuit and possible damages of $600,000 ($150,000 per motion picture). He explained that he couldn't pay $600, and asked for something more reasonable. When nothing better was offered, he hung up, somehow thinking it was resolved or would go away.

But it didn't go away. (Legal proceedings don't go away very easily.) Sadly, a default judgment (when you don't show up in court, or don't answer the complaint, you lose "by default.") was entered against him. When the action was filed to enforce the judgment, he luckily found legal counsel. His counsel contacted the MPAA, and through caring and creative lawyering, worked out a deal that involved Benjamin explaining the consequences of downloading movies illegally and how his actions could have cost his grandfather everything he had.

The MPAA agreed, conditioned on their getting an expert they trusted to conduct the presentation. The lawyer said that she wanted a particular expert that she trusted. Luckily for Benjamin, I was the one each side had in mind.

So, standing by my side, Ben (tears in his eyes) talked about what had happened to him and why it doesn't pay to download a movie illegally.

That's one story.

But there are others.

A young student from an honors high school in New York was sued for downloading music, several years ago. Her family didn't have very much money, and the settlement amount was about $2000. When the story got out, many others offered to pay the settlement, but her mother refused. Expecting this young teen to become headline news for doing something to change the world, or for her accomplishments as a professional when she grew up, it was shocking to find her famous for stealing music online.

Now, I know that not many people are terribly sympathetic about the music industry's concerns with kids downloading music. For some reason, they tell me that they are more sympathetic about the motion picture industry's concerns about motion picture piracy.
But whether you think Justin Timberlake has enough money that he won't miss your teen's $.99 for the purchase of his track online, or think the music should be free, or that the music industry is greedy or whatever people tell me the reason is that they continue to download or permit their kids to download, it doesn't matter. It's wrong and it's illegal.

And they can and are getting caught.

I'd like to hear from you about this. Do you, as parents, care if your kids are stealing media online? Are you worried only about the possible lawsuits and damages you may have to pay? Why or why not?

One of our teenangels chapters (in Westchester Cty, NY) recently conducted a small survey of fellow teens to find out what they thought about piracy.

What we learned surprised us.

Check out their powerpoint at, and read what they have to say about what they learned right here on their blog.

my 2 cents.

Parry Aftab

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Wired Moms, Parry's new project to get moms wired and help them protect all kids online, especially their own.

want to join? visit

Piracy - More than a ride in Disneyworld.

With the giants Google and Viacom battling it out on piracy issues, I thought I'd share our video on piracy...


Dateline's To Catch A Predator - Chris Hansen's new book

Chris Hansen's new book comes out tomorrow. At his book launch on Monday, the room was filled with those featured in his book.

They included extraordinary teens. One group of teens work to keep the memory of their 13 year old friend alive, after she was murdered by someone she met online. Another group (my Teenangels) teach others how to stay safe and be smart online.

The group also included law enforcement officers, from Seattle, Ohio and Virginia, sharing their invesitgations, lives and motives.

They included others you may have not expected. When the show airs, no one thinks about the spouse who received a phone call warning them that their husband was caught in the Dateline sting and will be appearing to huge ratings on national TV. What happens when the cameras stop rolling? Who are these collateral victims? Chris will introduce them to you.

It talks about MySpace and new technologies and how we need to make sure that we don't throw the Internet out with the MySpace bathwater.

And in one chapter, it tells you about me. Perhaps in more granular detail that I would have wanted. But it shares why I do what I do.

This book is real, meaningful and fascinating.

After reading it, I had decided not to write another book for parents on Internet safety. This one does it well enough that I won't have to.

Thanks Chris. Thanks Laura. Thanks to all involved, especially those willing to strip away the makeup and walls we wear and put in place, to share your story and hopefully help keep kids a bit safer because of it.

My 2 cents.

Billion-dollar battle: Viacom vs. YouTube | Chicago Tribune

Billion-dollar battle: Viacom vs. YouTube Chicago Tribune

"But what is clear is that many YouTube users who often post clips from TV shows, movies and sporting events have few reservations about violating a copyright."Kids don't really care about copyrights," said Parry Aftab, an Internet privacy attorney. "To them, the Internet is another TiVo or on-demand video channel."A lot of kids think if you really weren't allowed to [upload protected content to YouTube], you wouldn't be able to. If everyone else is putting this stuff up on YouTube, it must be OK."Aftab helped Amanda Cimini, a 16-year-old in New York, survey about 100 classmates about copyright issues. The survey, which focused on music downloads, found that 73 percent of students used a file-sharing site to illegally download music, even though 86 percent knew it was illegal.The students were so willing to download illegally because only 3 percent said they knew someone who had been caught, the survey found.Asked about YouTube, Cimini said her classmates "are probably not aware that uploading a video could" violate a copyright."

Amanda is one of our teenangels ( and as her independent research project, with another one of our teenangels, surveyed young people and their attitudes about downloading music.

The one surprise was that they were not aware of the consequences, having forgotten the number of young people who were sued by the music and motion picture industry.

Perhaps we need to tell that story more...

but I also suspect that the best move for Viacom and for Google is to look for a special approach, something innovative, something that will help promote the legal use of content and still allow the posting of some content to promote it.

I stand, as always, along with my volunteers and teenangels, willing to help.

You can view our anti-piracy video at


9th Circuit decision on Frederick, the off campus school disciplinary case now before the US Supreme Ct

the decision being appealed.

Breif for the US Supreme Ct case dealing with off campus school authority

I expect that for the first time since the Vietnam War protest case, Tinker, the US Supreme Ct will help guide schools on what they can and can't do with off campus school. Having a big impact on myspace bashing sites and cyberbullying, this is the case to watch. This brief was filed by those opposing an expansive reading of the school's authority.

I'll try and find the other briefs.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Yale Daily News - Bill would restrict kids’ MySpace profiles

Yale Daily News - Bill would restrict kids’ MySpace profiles
I am concerned that well-intentioned laws, developed by well-intentioned public officials are missing the mark. I have offered and continue to offer my help and the help of our other experts at in identifying safety measures and tools and best practices, as well as educational efforts, all designed to keep young people safer online.

General Blumenthal, I'm here to help. But I don't think requiring authentication of minors and parental consent is the answer, nor do I think it could work.

Let's work together to help frame something that will.


Thursday, March 08, 2007

Connecticut Bill Would Force MySpace Age Check: Top News Stories at

Connecticut Bill Would Force MySpace Age Check: Top News Stories at
While well-intentioned, I know of no way that social networks can verify ages, or confirm that they are dealing with the custodial parents, and not jeopardize the safety and privacy of kids.

We need to address these concerns and come up with ways to make it work.

This isn't it.

News & Politics - Turkey ruling blocks access to

News & Politics
A Turkish court ruled that access to Google's should be blocked because of content posted about Turkish leaders. This may become a growing trend, as some Australian schools are now banned from allowing access to the site.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

N.J.: Sex Offender Internet Use Targeted -

N.J.: Sex Offender Internet Use Targeted - As more and more lawmakers try and regulate cyberabuse, the likelihood of their going too far, and violating constitutional protections, increases. The new NJ bills contain some good protections and some that are not so good. I find it sad that the state where I was born, reside and operate from forgets that I am here.

The best approach is to reach out to community, advocacy and expert groups before the bill is proposed so we can all work together ot make the Internet safer, effectively.