SAVING CHILDREN FROM CYBER PORNOGRAPHY

In order to make the Internet safer for children and families in Pakistan, we need to set up a dedicated Cyber Taskforce to serve the country with the very best and updated Internet safety information.

SIRAJ A. KHAN, Senior Cyber Crime Consultant, Sindh
Mar 12 - 18, 2007

The Internet has revolutionized our lives and has transformed the way we live, work, conduct business and communicate with others. While this life-changing technology offers us unlimited worldwide access to information and instant communication, it has also opened up new avenues for sexual predators to seek out unsuspecting children, as well as providing a global platform for the distribution of hardcore sexually-explicit material that is harmful to our youth.

The Internet pornography industry has a 12 billion dollar market. Furthermore, child pornography has become a multi-billion dollar commercial enterprise and is one of the fastest growing industries on the Internet. And 90% of youth receiving sexual solicitations are teenagers between 13 to 17 years.

I believe that parents are the first line of defense in protecting children against the online dangers. However, Internet safety is a shared responsibility between the public, the Internet industry, and the legal community. Parents, policy-makers, Internet industry executives and even the media must play a crucial role in the efforts to keep our children safe while online.

An effort to make the Internet safer for children and families in Pakistan, we need a dedicated Cyber Taskforce to serve the country with the very best and updated Internet safety information as well as one-stop shop for all the Internet safety needs, resources and latest research regarding Internet safety.

Few statistics are being provided here which should be an eye opener for all. These statistics are compiled mostly by UN and also cover the SAARC countries.

INTERNET PORNOGRAPHY

Two in five Internet users worldwide visited an adult site in August 2006, according to tracking by comScore Media Metrix.

87% of university students polled have virtual sex mainly using Instant Messenger, webcam, and telephone.

According to comScore Media Metrix, there were 63.4 million unique visitors to adult websites in December 2006, reaching 47.2% of the Internet audience.

By the end of 2006, there were 520 million pages of pornography, and it is believed that the majority of these websites are owned by less than 50 companies

The pornography industry generates $12 billion dollars in annual revenue - larger than the combined annual revenues of ABC, NBC, and CBS. Of that, the Internet pornography industry generates $4.5 billion dollars in annual revenue. (Pornography Statistics, Family Safe Media).

The largest group of viewers of Internet porn is children between 12 and 17 years

According to comScore Media Metrix, Internet users viewed over 15 billion pages of adult content in August 2006, and spent an average of 14.6 minutes per day viewing adult content online.

CHILD PORNOGRAPHY

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children revealed in its June 2006 study that 40% of arrested child pornography possessors had both sexually victimized children and were in possession of child pornography (also known as "dual offenders"). Both crimes were discovered in the same investigation. Another 15% were "dual offenders" who tried to victimize children by soliciting undercover investigators who posed as minors online. Overall 36% of "dual offenders" showed or gave child pornography to identified victims or undercover investigators posing as minors online.

Of those arrested only in the U.S. for the possession of child pornography, 83% had images involving children between ages 6 and 12; 39% had images involving children between ages 3 and 5; and 19% had images of infants and toddlers under age 3.

According to a National Children's Homes worldwide report, the number of Internet child pornography images has increased 1500% since 2000.

Approximately 20% of all Internet pornography involves children.

Child pornography has become a $3.5 billion annual industry.

More than 20,000 images of child pornography are posted on the Internet every week (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children).

More babies and toddlers are appearing on the net and the abuse is getting worse. It is more torturous and sadistic than it was before. The typical age of children is between 6 and 12, but the profile is getting younger (Prof. Max Taylor, Combating Paedophile Information Networks in Europe, March 2006).

CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

A New Zealand Internal Affairs study suggests that there is an association between viewing child pornography and committing child sexual abuse (New Zealand's Department of Internal Affairs. Internet Traders of Child Pornography).

A study of The American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that one in six men reported being sexually abused as children. Almost 40 percent of the perpetrators were female (Long-Term Consequences of Childhood Sexual Abuse by Gender of Victim

One in four women reported childhood sexual abuse and in most cases perpetrated by males (Long-Term Consequences of Childhood Sexual Abuse by Gender of Victim.

MOBILE PORNOGRAPHY

In 2007, worldwide revenue from mobile phone pornography is expected to rise to $3 billion and could grow to three times the number or more in a few years (Bryan-Low, Cassel and Pringle, David. "Sex Cells: Wireless Operators Find That Racy Cellphone Video Drives Surge in Broadband Use" - The Wall Street Journal.

According to a technology research firm IDC, by the end of 2006 approximately 41 million (5 to 19 years old) had wireless phones.

Adult content on mobile telephones and other portable devices is anticipated to hit $2 billion in worldwide revenues during 2006, according to market research firm Juniper Research. (Juniper Research, "Adult to Mobile: Personal Services," February 2006).

The Juniper report said a 50 percent hike in mobile porn revenues for 2006 over 2004 is likeliest to come from Europe and the Asia-Pacific regions, but by 2009 the world mobile porn market could well enough hit $3.1 billion. (Juniper Research, Adult to Mobile: Personal Services).

ONLINE SEXUAL PREDATORS

Internet pedophiles are increasingly adopting counter-intelligence techniques to protect themselves from being traced (UN National Criminal Intelligence Service).

Forty percent of people charged with child pornography also sexually abuse children, police say. But finding the predators and identifying the victims are daunting tasks (Reuters, 2006).

One in five children who use computer chatrooms have been approached over the Internet by pedophiles. (Detective Chief Superintendent Keith Akerman, Telegraph.co.uk January 2006).

13 million youth use Instant Messaging.

YOUTH

50 percent of high school students "talk" in chatrooms or use instant messaging (IM) with Internet strangers (Market Wire. November 6, 2006).

49 percent of high school students have posted personal information on their Web pages -- such as name, age, or address -- that could assist a stranger to identify or locate them (Market Wire. November 6, 2006).

20 percent of students in middle school as well as high school admit that they have met face-to-face with someone they first met on the Internet (Market Wire. November 6, 2006).

38 percent of high school students sometimes hide their online activities from their parents (Market Wire. November 6, 2006).

65 percent of high school students admit to unsafe, inappropriate, or illegal activities online (Market Wire. November 6, 2006).

The risks to children, particularly teenagers, in cyberspace include exposure to unwanted exposure to sexual material (1 in 3 youths) and harassment -- threatening or other offensive behavior directed at them (1 in 11 youths).

Approximately 1 in 7 (13%) were solicited in 2006, compared to approximately 1 in 5 (19%) in 2000; however, aggressive solicitations, in which solicitors made or attempted to make offline contact with youth, did not decline. Four percent of youth Internet users received aggressive solicitations - a proportion similar to the 3% who received aggressive solicitations in 2000.

Six percent of all youth Internet users in 2006 said online solicitors asked them for nude or sexually explicit photographs of themselves .

More than three-quarters of the unwanted exposures (79%) happened at home. Nine percent happened at school, 5% happened at friends' homes, and 5% happened in other places, including libraries.

About four million teens (19%) of 12 to 17 years age who use the Internet-have created some sort of blog, according to a November 2006 Pew Internet Life Project study.

In a survey conducted by the Intelligence Group, Dateline, questioned 500 teenagers ages 14-18, about their computer habits. When asked if someone they've met online has wanted to meet them in person, 58 percent said "yes" and 29 percent said they've had a "scary" experience online ("Most Teens Say They've Met Strangers Online," MSNBC Interactive, April 26, 2006).

The prime media concern for parents has shifted from television to the Internet, with 85 percent of parents saying that it posed the greatest risk to their children among all forms of media

80% of parents worry about predators in their kids' Internet use.

76% of parents say they would like to make the Internet a safer place for kids.

83% of parents say there is no excuse for not knowing enough about the Internet to protect your kids or teens.

88% of parents think it's more important to know what their kids are doing online than to respect their kids' privacy.

Half of teens (13 to 18 years) often communicate through the Internet with someone they have not met in person.

"40% of teenage girls polled by the Girl Scout Research Institute said they had been sexually harassed in a chatroom. Only 7%, however, told their mothers or fathers about the harassment because they were worried that their parents would ban them from going online." - Girl Scout Research Institute, 2006.

"86% of the girls polled said they could chat online without their parents' knowledge, 57% could read their parents' e-mail, and 54% could conduct a cyber relationship." - Girl Scout Research Institute, 2006.

Nearly one-third (31%) of 8 to 18 years have a computer in their bedroom, and one in five (20%) have an Internet connection there. - The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation Study, March 2006.

Three in four (74%) young people have a home Internet connection (31% have high-speed access). Nearly one-third (31%) have a computer in their bedroom, and one in five (20%) have an Internet connection there. In a typical day, about half of young people (48%) go online from home, 20% from school, and 16% from someplace else. (17th November, 2006).

Among the 96% of young people who have ever gone online, 65% say they go online most often from home, 14% from school, 7% from a friend's house, and 2% from a library or other location. - The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation Study, March 2006.

One in 10 young people (13%) reports having a handheld device that connects to the Internet. - The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation Study, March 2006.

The most common recreational activities young people engage in on the computer are playing games and communicating through instant messaging.

Nine out of 10 children aged between 8 and 16 years have viewed pornography on the Internet. In most cases, the sex sites were accessed unintentionally when a child, often in the process of doing homework, used a seemingly innocent sounding word to search for information or pictures. - London School of Economics, January 2006.

Email:Siraj_khan@hotmail.com