02 July 2008

Internet -- The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

There is no doubting that the Internet is a powerful tool. There is also no doubting that once something gets posted online it is almost impossible to retrieve. So, if what is posted is embarrassing then it is likely to remain an embarrassment for the rest of your natural life.

It is not only the Internet that is a powerful tool in this age of technology, but the increasing sophistication of mobile phones to include cameras and streaming video means that just about anyone can be a conduit for news. This sort of takes citizen journalism to a whole new level.

When the Internet and increased sophistication of technology is combined with the increasing levels of sexualization of children, then we have a scenario for real trouble. This is highlighted in a Victorian case that has now involved the FBI.

A teenage girl, and only just a teenager at 13, has taken some sexually explicit photos of herself and sent them to her 17-year old boyfriend. Now, I am not quite sure what a 17-year old wants to be going out with a 13-year old for in the first place, but he was.

The whole story might have ended there but for the intervention of another 13-year old who happened to acquire the self-portrait images of the other girl and decided to create a fake MySpace account and post the pictures there.

Now the news are reporting the girl who took the photos as the victim. However, if the photos were taken voluntarily is she still a victim. In the eyes of the law, yes. The 17-year old should have known the law and steered well clear. This might be cut and dried in terms of interpreting the prevailing provisions but it might not be so cut and dried once the full story emerges (then again maybe it will).

The complaint was made by the "victim" and the police became involved. It is unclear as to whether the complaint was about the 17-year old boyfriend or the 13-year old that created the MySpace account and posted the happy snappy self-portraits.

The 13-year old that created the fake MySpace account was cautioned, which is nothing more than a lecture and a slap on the wrist.

The boyfriend on the other hand is in a whole different world of hurt having been charged with the sexual penetration of a child under 16 and procuring child pornography.

My views are clear on kiddie porn and a quick squiz through my postings here are elsewhere highlight that. Simply, kiddie porn is not on at any time. But, how are we as a community to deal with images of minors taken by the minors themselves and then posted by those minors on the Internet?

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