The Corner

Online Porn, Ctd.

Yes, I’m trying to up our google hits.

Here’s an email I just got:

Cottle’s plan sounds like a decent idea, but unfortunately it wouldn’t work for several reasons.

1:creation of a special adult section of the internet that smut peddlers would have to register to be on. Do you consider Yahoo! an adult site? If not, then you would be wrong. For quite some time (and possibly still) Yahoo! was one of the biggest hosts of child-porn on the internet. Yahoo! groups stored terrabytes of images of illegal content that was loosely regulated by Yahoo! and much of which still exists today. Yahoo! restructured their groups so you could not search their adult groups database, but the groups still exist and are accessible to anyone who visits one of the web’s most popular websites. Would Yahoo! register for this new domain, or at least put much of the content hosted on their site on that domain? How about Geocities, MSN, Lycos, etc, all of which host adult content in their groups or forums. Highly unlikely.

2: The online zoning would make it easier for parents to filter adult content. This reminds me of the gun control argument that making guns illegal makes it harder for criminals to get guns. It may be true, but if smut peddlers want to target kids to get them hooked early, they are going to find a way. Much in the same way that if criminals want to find a gun illegally, they will find a way.

Possible solutions: Ever wonder how kids find their way to these sites? Why do pop-ups with naked women keep flashing on my PC? Why do I get e-mails asking if I want to see terrible terribly things? If Congress wanted to address this problem they should first address the issue of spyware/adware and Spam. Unwanted solicitation is probably a leading reason for kids finding their way to adult sites. Kids unknowingly install a free screensaver and the next thing they know they are looking at naked people and receiving hundreds of unsolicited adult e-mails every day. Make it illegal to silently install software from the web that doesn’t require the customer’s interaction. When you install a free screensaver, or most any free application for that matter, you’re probably installing Spyware/Adware with it. This software installs silently without any interaction from the end-user, and runs silently in the background on most PCs. The spyware/adware sends usage statistics to spam e-mails who then mail out tons of Spam to that user, and spyware will also create pop-ups with links to adult sites that are very difficult to prevent and remove. If users know that they are installing this software, they are much more likely to answer “no” if prompted “do you want to install this?”. However, most of these apps install themselves while the downloaded program (screensaver, freeware, etc..) installs. Make this illegal, and punish those who break this law, and you’d see a reduction in the amount of Spyware/Adware/Spam almost immediately. By reducing spyware/adware/spam you’re reducing the means by which kids accidentally find their way to these sites.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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