Protecting our children means vigilance

Today’s children and teens spend more and more time on the net, on instant messengers, publishing personal information on blogs and social networking sites. Those who prey on children have always gone where children go to find their next victims – that’s nothing new. And the predators are keeping pace with new technologies to find their victims.

This means that protecting our children today requires parents to be alert to new technologies and to ensure that their children are aware of the dangers.

Registered sex offenders found on MySpace
Thu Oct 19, 2006

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Hundreds of convicted sex offenders have been discovered using the popular Internet website MySpace following an investigation by a US technology magazine, it emerged.

Former computer hacker Kevin Poulsen, a senior editor for Wired, made the discovery after developing a program that cross-referenced people using the phenomenally successful site with registers of sex offenders. Inputting the names of nearly 386,000 sex offenders from 46 states across the United States, Poulsen found thousands of possible matches. Poulsen, who achieved notoriety in the early 1990s for a string of audacious hacks that ultimately earned him jail time, sifted through 7,000 names before discovering 744 sex offenders with profiles on the site.

Wired’s investigation led to the arrest of 39-year-old Andrew Lubrano, a New Yorker now facing his fourth arrest for a sex crime.

Poulsen told AFP the investigation highlighted the flaws in existing security procedures at MySpace, which has an estimated 100 million users. “MySpace have done a lot in terms of security to stop predation. But this clearly shows that they could be doing more,” he told AFP. “Lubrano sent messages to one 14-year-old boy where he addressed him as ‘Sextoy’. It seems like they should be able to come up with a technological solution where they could spot behaviour like that.”

Lubrano was arrested by undercover police officers and eventually charged with the misdemeanor offence of attempting to endanger the welfare of a child.

A statement from MySpace chief security officer Hemanshu Nigam said the website was working to develop software that would identify sex offenders. “We are committed to keeping sex offenders off MySpace and are evaluating all functional and scalable solutions,” the statement said. “In the meantime, we will delete profiles of any convicted sex offender we find on MySpace.”

Meanwhile, on another front, international efforts to attack the growing problem of child pornography on the net continues:

US agents crack down on Internet child pornography 
Wed Oct 18, 2006

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. law enforcement officials on Wednesday said a crackdown on Internet child pornography has resulted in the arrest of 125 people nationwide, including police officers, high school teachers, and a federal border patrol agent. Those arrested are accused of using a commercial Web site to access videos and images of hard-core pornography involving children as young as infants engaged in sexual activities with adults, according to federal officials. The suspects allegedly subscribed to the Web site over a period of two to three months late last year and early this year.

“This case should clearly demonstrate to those pedophiles who believe that the Internet provides them with anonymity that they are clearly mistaken,” said U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie during a press conference in Newark, New Jersey.

Many of the 125 suspects were arrested on Wednesday, including 14 in New Jersey, where “Operation Emissary” was initiated. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement joined with the Justice Department to investigate the use of the Internet to access child pornography.

Besides law enforcement officers, those arrested also included a clinical researcher for a pharmaceutical company, military personnel and a Customs and Border Protection officer, according to officials. They said several suspects have been previously convicted of sex offenses against children or were under investigation in other pornography cases. The charges could bring prison sentences of up to 20 years and large fines.

Federal agents have executed 225 search warrants on personal computers of people who are accused of subscribing to the Web site, according to law enforcement officials.

MySpace, social networks, predators, children, child molesters, pedophiles, sex offenders, child pornography, internet safety

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