Sunday, August 11, 2013

incarcerate or educate?

 Two different approaches to child pornography on the Internet:
...Microsoft announced that it planned to implement a new mechanism to fight child pornography by creating a pop-up warning when someone searches for illegal images of child porn on Bing, The Guardian reports. However, Google, which owns the largest share of online search traffic, has decided not to include the new program in its search engine. 
“Child abuse imagery is illegal and we have a zero tolerance policy to it," a Google spokesperson said in an email in The Huffington Post on Tuesday. "We use purpose-built technology and work with child safety organizations like the Internet Watch Foundation to find, remove and report it, because we never want this material to appear in our search results. We are working with experts on effective ways to deter anyone tempted to look for this sickening material.”
The Most Boring Radical has related thoughts:
Certainly if we were interested in actually deterring these crimes–if we believed that these were serious criminal problems and we needed people to stop engaging in them–that’s what we’d do. We’d have commercials running during sporting events warning men of the penalties they can face for engaging in these kinds of online behaviors; we’d have health classes in school cover the legal dangers of online sexual activity; we’d put warnings up before people entered certain websites, reminding them of the penalties in their state of engaging in certain activities. 
But, we aren’t doing that. Why? Because these are crimes the police are interested in creating, not deterring. If we actually believed that scores of guys in their 20s and 30s and 40s were meeting horny teen girls in adult chat rooms and meeting up with them for sex, you can be sure that we’d have campaigns designed to deter such behavior. But, it’s not happening (probably mainly because actual 15yo girls who really want sex with older guys don’t need to resort to skeezy chat rooms to find it, and aren’t doing so). There is nothing to deter. There is, however, money to be gained from creating the crime and arresting people for it.
Money to be made. That's about right. More money is made from the investigation, prosecution, and incarceration of child porn users than child pornography producers ever dreamed of making.

It costs taxpayers about $27,000 per year to incarcerate someone. At a time when government needs to spend less, it makes sense to educate people about the penalties for downloading child porn if that will keep them from committing a crime. Those penalties are not well known. 

People do not expect the penalties for looking at pictures to be greater than the penalties for molesting a child. 

People do not know that simply looking at an image online leaves a copy on the hard drive. 

People do not know that the law makes no distinction between intentional and accidental downloading or between images that have been viewed or not viewed. 

People do not know that curiosity can result in years and years in prison.

If a warning about the penalties would keep someone from clicking that link--from looking at child porn--wouldn't we all want that? 

3 comments:

LizaMoore said...

Good for Microsoft. I think that's a great idea. I'm not sure about running ads about child porn being illegal. We don't have ads saying murder is illegal. I don't know about that.

Margaret Moon said...

The Internet and the pornography that is available there are relatively new. Murder was expressly forbidden over 2000 years ago. (See Exodus 20,any Bible)
To murder a human being you must actually have contact with that person, you don't have contact when you look at a picture. When you murder someone it is clear that you have done that person and injury. Many people still believe that looking at an image, no matter how shocking, does not do the person in the image an injury.
Child pornography is readily available on the Internet. You don't have to do much, if anything, to acquire it. It's already there. That gives the impression that looking at it is not harming anyone.
Many educated people are shocked when they are told that the sentences for looking at the easily available child porn is actually often longer than for actually molesting a child. Many men, usually family members, receive NO prison time for molesting their own daughter, granddaughter, or niece. They do not appear on the public sex offender registry either because it is believed this would cause the victim further injury. I, personally, think the public should be aware of the inequities in sentencing and how persons who only view child porn are being used to support the Prison Industry.

Margaret Moon said...

I did forget to mention that in my part of the country using a cell phone while driving, unless it is "hands-free," is illegal. There have been announcements on television advising this. There have also been frequent messages stating the fines imposed for breaking this law flashing on the Amber Alert signs on the freeway. The same signs also periodically remind drivers that neglecting to buckle up their seatbelt will result in a ticket and a hefty fine. There are even signs on our highways telling us the punishment for not slowing down for construction zones (doubled) and not moving over for highway workers.
We have had ads advising the public that "driving under the influence" is illegal and that smoking in public places is illegal. Why don't we have announcements that looking at images that are all over the Internet can ruin your life?!?