Politics 80X: Politics of the Internet

CHILD MOLESATION

Does the Internet Place Children at Risk?

The San Jose Mercury News [22 March 1998] discusses how fear of child molestation has become an element in debate about the Internet. "Now, the chilling picture of child molestation has become one of the definining images in a number of long-standing Internet policy battles in Washington. Top law enforcement officials and key lawmakers recently have cited the specter of an Internet packed with childd molesters as they urge support for proposals to regulate on-line sexual conduct, expand law enforcement powers in cybserspace and restrict data-scrambling technology known as encryption."

They quote Shay Bilchik, administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice in the US Department of Justice:

"In cybserpace, children are just one mouse click away . . . from potential victimization. Cyberspace has become the new schoolyard."

FBI director Freeh says: "The encryption issue is an issue we need to resolve in a rational way. We do have subject using encryption to attack children on the Internet."

A Vanderbilt University professor, Donna Hoffman, thought the issue exaggerated. She said: "There is stuff out there, but as a percentage of the total, it is very small, especially as the Internet grows as a commercial medium."