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Both Second Life and Skype have come in for some bad publicity following media reports exposing pedophile activity on the hugely popular services. Second Life got a kicking from a German TV program called Report Mainz which claimed to have been approached by pedophiles inviting the reporter to attend ‘child pornography meetings’ within the very virtual environment.

Although this might sound like a storm in an avatars teacup, the reporter attended such a virtual meeting and was contacted by dealers in very real child pornography as a result. Second Life is, of course, cooperating with the German authorities in tracking down the culprits and has also introduced a system of age verification for its members. Those who opt not to comply with the age verification process will not, however, be excluded from the mature rated regions of the Second Life environment where pornography is rife, but rather just not have access where the creators have tagged content as being adult in nature. A subtle but important difference. Certainly it’s a good move, but not one that will have any effect on the predatory pedophile using the virtual world for a frighteningly real and evil purpose.

The second media sting came courtesy of the Sunday Times newspaper during a two week investigation of Skype, which it claims has become the preferred method for many pedophiles to locate and groom their young victims. Reporters posing as children between the ages of 10 and 14 were exposed to a bombardment of sexually explicit messages from adult men within the Skype chat sessions. One 50 year old man arranged to meet the ‘girl’ at a railway station, and the Sunday Times witnessed him turning up and greeting the reporter who he thought to be a 14 year old girl. Other men attempted to solicit lewd images and ordered the girls to perform sex acts online. Although the Sunday Times did not identify the men publically, for fear of their safety, it did identify something of a gap in the Skype system when it comes to protecting vulnerable children from predatory pedophiles.

The peer-to-peer nature of Skype makes it very difficult to track down the users, compared to a centrally hosted chat facility for example. Yahoo chat rooms can offer a more secure environment because of this, but also because they implement strict age related restrictions that include communication only with others of the same age group for minors, and a panic button that can be used to alert volunteer ‘navigators’ who patrol the chat rooms when an inappropriate approach causes concern.

Skype’s Chief Security Officer, Kurt Sauer, admitted to the Sunday Times that the investigation raised very practical issues but added that “we have not found a way to address each of the issues.”

As both someone with a professional interest in IT security and a parent of four kids ranging from 7 through to 19, I can suggest something: parental responsibility and common sense. Let’s face it, online services, new communications technology, are not the problem here – the pedophiles are. Nobody is producing TV shows and splashing headlines across the newspapers claiming that something needs to be done about DVDs because they are used to spread child porn, or disposable Pay As You Go mobile phones because they provide the pedophile with an untraceable communications tool, are they? So why pick on Second Life or Skype? Because they are not only easy targets, they will also sell well to parents who don’t understand the technology, who are scared of the technology and who are looking for something, anything, to blame their lack of parenting skills upon.

Education is the key here, and that means both educating your kids not to talk to strangers in the street or to provide the kind of personal detail that would enable a stranger online to know who you are, where you live and otherwise get under your skin. It means taking an interest in what your kids do online, and to an extent join in with them. It means learning what the services they use are, how they work and what they offer. It means talking to your kids about the dangers they could face, and how to best avoid those situations. It means being a parent, a real parent, and not just shrugging your shoulders and passing the buck of blame onto the Internet.

As Editorial Director and Managing Analyst with IT Security Thing I am putting more than two decades of consulting experience into providing opinionated insight regarding the security threat landscape for IT security professionals. As an Editorial Fellow with Dennis Publishing, I bring more than two decades of writing experience across the technology industry into publications such as Alphr, IT Pro and (in good old fashioned print) PC Pro. I also write for SC Magazine UK and Infosecurity, as well as The Times and Sunday Times newspapers. Along the way I have been honoured with a Technology Journalist of the Year award, and three Information Security Journalist of the Year awards. Most humbling, though, was the Enigma Award for 'lifetime contribution to IT security journalism' bestowed on me in 2011.

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Last Post by php4ever
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"Reporters posing as children between the ages of 10 and 14 were exposed to a bombardment of sexually explicit messages from adult men within the Skype chat sessions. One 50 year old man arranged to meet the ‘girl’ at a railway station, and the Sunday Times witnessed him turning up and greeting the reporter who he thought to be a 14 year old girl. Other men attempted to solicit lewd images and ordered the girls to perform sex acts online."

That is really disturbing. If I had a child, (especially a daughter) and someone did that to her... I would probably go crazy Tasmanian Devil-style. Sad thing our justice system would probably have more mercy on the pedophile than on me.

I don't agree with Bill O'Reilly too often, but I really support his initiative to get creepy pedophiles locked up for 35 years on their fist offense. Maybe they'll think twice when balancing a 35 year sentance with acting on some disgusting impulse (or whatever they may call it). The real low-life scumbags that actually molest several times would only get to molest twice under his proposed solution.

Its also nice to see Miss America and these companies contributing to the sting efforts as well, although catching these creeps in the act doesn't really solve the problem where I believe it starts...a lack of values and morals.

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you get life for even being suspected of being a sex offender.
You're put on a registry that's open for all to see, and are an outcast from then on.
Even if you're cleared of all charges, people will still shun you for, they choose to believe you were cleared not because you were innocent but because you had a good lawyer.

It is in fact the only crime that carries an automatic life sentence for even the suspicion...

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Interesting you bring that up...

There are 7 in my city of over 100,000 people. You can find other demographics online supporting why this ratio is so low.

http://www.city-data.com/so/so-Amherst-New-York.html

I looked up the stats from the city where I grew up, a suprising statistic...in theory, one of every 500 people I run into is a sex offender. If that doesn't creep you out I don't know what will. Ironically, this city has the "World's Largest Trailer Park" (and no I'm not joking)...go figure.

http://www.city-data.com/so/so-Lockport-New-York.html

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Blaming skype for sexual predators stalking the kids is like blaming S&W for the murders.
(It is not guns that kill people...)

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heck, like I said most of those people aren't sex offenders at all.

Someone with a grudge filed a complaint against them, which automatically places them on the register with no recourse.
Most of them probably don't even know they're on their because they're never charged with anything nor even questioned by police, but the entry in the register stands for them to come and bite them when they ever apply for a job or anything else where they get subjected to a background check.

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PRISON! LOL, yeah, that will work.

No offense intended (scrap that) offense intended! The United States is 1/20th of the worlds population yet we house 25% (1/4th) of the entire planets total prison population and claim to be the land of the free. We are the most violent nation on earth obsessed with violence, sex and all other forms of evil reminiscent of ancient ROME where people tossed woman and children to lions for entertainment. Sick? Yep and people NEVER change, only ideas and motives change.

The idea behind all this nasty business of pedophiles and child molesters has EVERYTHING to do with society on a whole. Its Business and as long as business is good, children will be victims. I have no respect for such pedophiles and in anger I say the same thing. Jail em after you castrate them. But I'm smart enough to know that it will never ultimately work.

Does anyone even have a clue anymore? The media PUMPS images and ideas into the heads of people making the US the most fearful nation on earth which explains our ideology of violence as an answer to everything.

Here is my FINAL word on the subject. Maybe if the recipe is bad we should look for a new one. Tossing every kind of offender under the sun into prison clearly ISN'T WORKING. If you follow the same bad recipe how can you possibly expect different results. Give it more money? Oh wait, more media coverage or better yet a cop on every corner. NONE of that will work.

To get rid of child molesters and the like is deceptively simple. I can't count how many nations on this planet have little or no sex related crimes like those in the US and other pervert nations. Follow their example? YES! Put media under house arrest for instigating the blood lust in this nation. I'd almost bet the ranch that this nations ideas are what is flawed and we create, encourage and bait monsters so we have monsters to fight. The media is the single largest factor in crime in America PERIOD. Quit advertising, encouraging, brandishing, displaying, and motivating crime.

I'm not a monkey boy that just jumps at the popular beliefs of the time that we lock up everyone, ban everything, legalize this and that and hope it works. Idiots that think that way!

I promise you this, its not working the way YOU want but its working like a well tuned Ferrari the way profiteers want. Justice in America makes a man rich if you play along.

~ Jared

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