July 05, 2007 |
News of online crime crosses my screen every day as I am sure it does yours. It seems everyone is touched by this most negative aspect of our Web culture. These events transgress not only our digital existence, but the much more vulnerable physical one as well. The most heinous of these crimes, at least those we should consider so, are crimes against children. If we do not do anything about any other issue we are confronted with, protecting the absolutely most precious and vulnerable segment of the human race has to be at the forefront.
Fighting for Children
Parents Against Predators Act (PAPA) has risen out of the tenacious efforts of Blogger Power and a score of other caring and influential blogs have joined PAPA in seeing that this act is passed into law. Some time back I wrote a short piece about the power for good this Web 2.0 blogging phenomenon could and should exert. Children and their wellbeing transcend all other considerations in my view. The numbers and types of crimes exacted on essentially the meaning for our existence is astounding. We have to stand up, we have to finally say what we are for and what we are against!
Reasons for the Unreasonable
No matter what your ideology, political persuasion, interests or socio-economic status – no matter what demographic you reside in, as a human being you have to stand up and speak eventually. The High School dance we have experienced in Web 2.0 will inevitably force this eventuality. Playing the wallflower never got anyone a dance and it is about time we stand for more than entertainment and business. Children are us people! All that will remain of us, the world of tomorrow and the memory of what we did or did not do reside in the heart and mind of every child. East choices are disappearing in every sector of our societies. Certainly reasonable legislation by reasonable people is one of the cornerstones of a healthy society. What could be more reasonable than protecting the innocent?
Numbers for the Number People
PAPA may just be the most important story I ever write about. I am an engineer, so numbers have often appealed to me, but the number 1 is usually the most significant numeral in building anything, and just 1 child harmed can be an event that overshadows any other human consideration. How is this so? Imagine this 1 child is your son or daughter, or your niece or nephew; perhaps even the next door neighbor's child or a friend of yours. One can truly be of impact when it touches your very being, so sit for a moment and imagine a tear running down, not your neighbor's face or some distant relative's, but yours. Here are some numbers that have affected many of us.
1 in 7 – The number of children having received unwanted sexual solicitation on the Web
100,000 – The number of them “missing” from the database
106,000 – Gov. Schwarzenegger's task force's number of registered offenders in CA
100,000 – U.S. Customs Service estimate of sites offering child pornography
600,000 – The number of convicted sex offenders in the U.S. national registry
$1,000,000,000 – Top estimate of revenue from these types of sites
$12,000,000,000 – Estimated revenue for the child pornography business worldwide
Which number is most indicative? I know seven kids, I wonder if they have been solicited? There is a problem; it is not a little problem but something far more dastardly and ugly than a myriad of other issues. $12 billion for ruining the lives of children seems almost inconceivable.
What is PAPA?
PAPA will federally mandate that all websites providing electronic communication to minors will have their auto-responders cross referenced against the National Sex Offender Registry. Listed individuals trying to subscribe will be prohibited from entering sites where children congregate. PAPA is currently being reviewed by members of Congress in both chambers. The act needs the support of the people before Congress will take action. PAPA is decidedly not a political football. It will only become political if the politicians make it so. If every blogger on Web 2.0 posts their support for something so elemental to our humanity, and if their readers take the obvious steps to help enact this legislation, then it won't be political at all – but simply enacted.
I can just hear the detractors and the people who ARE the ones who make things political now. Yes, this does set a kind of precedent. No, I do not want our freedom to be infringed or to have the government monitoring our every move. My question for these people is: “What are you prepared to do then?” PAPA is doing the only thing that can be done, making it unlawful for sites to admit registered sex offenders.
Will this stop child pornography? Most certainly not, but it will reduce the opportunity for some children to either be exposed to unsolicited pornography and more significantly reduce the opportunity for one of these predators to prey on a child.
Not caring is not an option in my opinion, for what is the purpose of being here if we are careless? I would like to thank my friend Mihaela Lica for bringing this to our attention, for like you I was absorbed in the tech news of the day and would have missed it. We appreciate all of you, and we know you will act appropriately on this matter. In 50 years no one will remember what an iPhone was or that Google had most of the market even, but they will remember if Web 2.0 acted on social issues or just muttered our ill content.