Pornography is one of mankind’s most revered, respected, and repulsed pastimes. Adults can use pornography to relieve stress, enhance their sex lives, or simply as a means of entertainment. One of the easiest and most popular ways of obtaining pornographic material is over the Internet. The only downside is that the Internet is accessible to children; therefore, pornography is accessible to children. While adults should have limitless access to Internet porn, minors should be kept away from this concubine.
Usage of Internet pornography grows rapidly every day. It can be accessed easily enough by anyone that wishes to see the material, has a modem, and some times a wishful intent. The material ranges from semi-nude photos to videos of men and women having sexual intercourse with farm animals. Porn is attainable by going to a site that advertises it, or by typing anything remotely perverted in your web browser. The problem with this is that most pornographic sites do not use adult verification systems. Even if they do, the material can still be sampled before users fully journey into the site. This is where the problems lye; because of Internet pornography’s popularity and the growth being so strong it is everywhere and has become hard to adequately control.
It is probable to say that anyone who has been on the net long enough, regardless of age, will come across Internet pornography. Proprietors of Internet pornography are in business to make money, and will do anything to achieve this. They advertise their websites by a variety of ways, one of which is by buying space on a website. With this many problems arise, for anyone who visits these sites become unwilling subjects of Internet porn. The Internet porn industry has little regards for the unknowing victim.
Some advocates of decency have taken up the tremendous workload of taming Internet pornography. Their biggest reason is the endangerment of American children that use the Internet. Children can be endangered in many ways, one of which is being lured by a pedophile and possibly sexually assaulted. A pedophile is an adult with a psychosexual disorder where children stimulate sexual arousal. There is evidence that children who have been sexually victimized are more likely to be troubled adults. Advocates worry about the safety of the American children and wish to eliminate this from happening. A recent example is People v. Barrows, 174 Misc. 2d 367, 664 N.Y.S. 2d 410 (1997): an adult, James Barrows, entered an AOL chat room and seduced what he thought was a thirteen year old girl, who in actuality was an officer of Kings County District Attorney. Barrows had transmitted pictures of under-aged children having sex, engaged in sexually explicit conversations and attempted to lure the child to engage in sexual acts. Barrows was one of the few pedophiles to be caught and brought to justice.
One proposal that was struck down from protecting children is the Communications Decency Act (CDA). Janet Reno, Attorney General of the United States, argued that the CDA was in violation of the U.S. Constitution and laws that would be enacted were clear and undefined. If made into law, the CDA could severely censor the Internet in ways that were never attempted before. It would filter out anything that is deemed obscene and pornographic. Those opposed to the CDA claim because of its ambiguity, the CDA could infringe on American’s Constitutional rights. The CDA proposed that anyone sending material classified as obscene to a minor would be penalized and prosecuted under law. The question in debate is who and what would determine the classification of obscene.
Even if the CDA was passed little that can be done to stop all transmitted obscene material. The Internet has experienced an extraordinary growth. The number of host computers—those that store information and relay communications—increased from about 300 in 1981 to approximately 9,400,000 by the time of the trial in 1996. Roughly 60% of these hosts are located in the United States. About 40 million people used the Internet at the time of trial, a number that expected to mushroom to 200 million by 2000. How can it be possible to regulate all Internet transmissions with user numbers at 200 million?
Another problem that arises is the fact that not all Internet sites can quantifiably prove that the user wishing to browse their domain is of legal age. An annoy-mailer can be used to hide the identity of the user. Some sites require the use of a credit card in order to view its contents, but credit card numbers are easy to obtain. This limitation of proof is being minutely controlled by a number of sites dedicated to helping parents censor what their children see. This might possibly be the first step in what will protect the American children from viewing obscene material. One such site, Mcgruff.com, gives Internet safety tips for parents. It explains to tell children about the Internet, and how to let parents know if there are any materials or persons online that makes a child feel uncomfortable. In addition, never meet with anyone face to face from which they have met off the Internet. Children should be taught about exploitation, pornography, hate literature, excessive violence and other issues that concern them. One way that this can be controlled by using software designed to block offensive materials.
Net Nanny is one type of software that will censor any obscene materials. The program scans the web page for any text that is deemed offensive. After the program finds the site obscene, it will not let the user view the materials. Using such a type of program will protect children only if the site contains such text. Otherwise, the child will be able to view the adult materials.
One possibility, created and passed into law, is encoding the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (http) and File Transfer Protocol (ftp) that would make Internet pornographic sites easier to be censored by software similar to Net Nanny. This would make it easier since the program will not only scan the page the entire site itself. Sites will be censored by a certain code that is relayed to the computer when the Internet navigator tries to enter the site. The computer will send a request and the site will send an answer, or a code that will trigger the software telling it that this is an adult site; thus, children cannot browse the site. It would be a hard task to make every pornographic site adhere to the law; of all pornographic sites in existence, 70% are run from American locals.
While many adults have and will use the Internet to achieve pornographic nirvana, children need to be kept out of its confines. Censoring can only be taken so far before someone’s Constitutional rights are infringed upon. The most practical and effective way to ensure your child’s safety is to talk to them about the hazards of the internet and to monitor who and what they interact with while surfing the web.