A Call to Action for Bloggers: Add Your Voice to Global Effort to Make the Web Safer for Children

http://rest-cor.org/?reception-homework-help It was hard to know which aspect of the horrific news out of Austria today was the most sickening. Investigators who undoubtedly have seen the most gruesome, repugnant cases of child pornography imaginable, uncovered a Russian Internet site featuring “the worst kind of sexual abuse of children” they had ever seen. Police monitored the site for 24 hours before busting the site – in that time they recorded more than 8,000 visitors to the site from 77 countries.

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page The site featured children, all under the age of 14 and some reportedly much younger, being raped and sexually tortured; their screams plainly audible. Visitors to the site each paid the equivalent of US$89 to view this despicable filth.

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get link I can’t bear to write another word about the incredible godless inhumanity that could inspire either the torturer-pornographers or the site’s thousands of paying customers.

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Instead I turn to a less sensational but even more pervasive threat to our children. Not child pornography per se, but the accessibility of pornography to children. Many “adult” sites entice visitors with lurid, sometimes grotesquely graphic, images without making the slightest effort to keep minors out.

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Often children visit these sites accidentally. And, of course, sometimes they seek them out, letting natural curiosity get the best of them. In any event, the exposure of these images to children eats away at their innocence, an incalculable tragedy in itself. Even worse, exposure to warped, often violent, sexual images by young, impressionable minds almost certainly contributes to the possibility of their deviant behavior later in life. I don’t know how anyone could dispute the assertion that repeated exposure of pornography to children is harmful to them, affecting their perceptions of men and women and relationships later in life.

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The Internet is a wonderful resource for adults and children alike, enriching our understanding of the world and the world’s peoples. The rise of citizen-generated content may help bridge age-old prejudices and hatreds between peoples who simply don’t understand each other. But the preponderance of pornography on the Internet is an embarrassment and the ease at which children can access sexually explicit sites is a travesty.

What can be done about it?

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It’s time for the people who most love the global idea-sharing, peer-connecting amphitheater of simultaneous conversations that is the Internet to help make it safer for our children.

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Yes, bloggers, we’re calling you out.

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In the next few days you are going to hear more about a joint project undertaken by Mihaela “Mig” Lica and myself. (Mig writes passionately about this subject on her site today –  I encourage you to read her post but warn you that she includes details that are sickening.) Regular readers of Force for Good will remember my interview of Mig January 30 on the future of web design. That interview led to an on-going conversation between us. And then Mig asked if I would help her develop and launch this ambitious project.

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What can a German author of a blog on "SEO Web Design and On-line Public Relations” and the American author of this barely-two-month-old blog about "aspirational public relations" hope to accomplish? Nothing less than a global initiative to encourage sites hosting adult content to help keep minors out by adding a simple registration gateway. The registration will stop most children, afraid of getting caught or who landed their accidentally, from going any further.

And we need your help.

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We believe there is great power in the collective outcry of the many, many citizen journalists we hope to join this cause. We will ask governmental agencies for legislation requiring these safeguards. We also will ask corporations to join the effort – those generating revenue through e-commerce have a vested interest in helping to keep their money engine, the worldwide web, responsive to the demands of their customers. And as customers we should demand a safer web for our children.

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This is not about restricting free speech or in preventing legal adult sites from making money. This is only about helping reduce the exposure of pornographic images to children.

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Okay, we know there are some holes in the plan. Operators of adult sites undoubtedly believe that any requirement of identification cuts down on traffic to the site. Ultimately, they don’t make money until visitors provide credit card information — but they are operating on a model built on large numbers of casual visitors viewing limited, but enticing content, and some subset of that population getting hooked enough to pay to see more. Clearly the adult sites don’t want any restrictions of any kind, even those limiting their non-paying visitors, including children.

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So we need your ideas on how best to encourage adult sites to do the right thing to keep children out. These web site operators are not the kind of people who are easily shamed out of bad behavior.

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Mig and I encourage your ideas and welcome your support. More on this project on both our sites in coming days.

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- Jon Harmon

     

Comments

  1. John Cass says:

    This might seem strange, but I am reminded of the campaigns in the west about securing land for redevelopment, today farmers, environmentalists and developers all sit down together to figure out a workable plan. Is there a way to develop your plan so that you don’t get a backlash claiming you are trying to restrict free speech? If you could do that your efforts might be even more effect. Just a thought.

  2. Beaman says:

    Might I suggest some kind of advertising to get people to join this cause. A blog logo/advert which people can put on their websites that will link back to this site, or wherever you have it. Whilst reading this great article I was wishing to add a logo/advert to my own site.
    Good luck with it, I’ll be back.
    Beaman

  3. Jon Harmon says:

    Good ideas. Clearly we need to emphasize that we are not trying restrict free speech. And Mig and I are totally in agreement on the need for a instantly regognizable logo that bloggers can post proudly on their sites — we are reviewing logo proposals right now, Mig has some very talented artists. We’ll make the logo available soon!
    - Jon H.

  4. Mig says:

    Two logos are already available for your review at http://bloggerpower.wordpress.com/artwork/ – We’ve decided to create such a page because everyone is making efforts to help. This blog (http://bloggerpower.wordpress.com/) is still in the development phase, but I think we’ll have a press release as soon as everything is clear.

  5. Ryan Tooley says:

    This is a solid idea that if developed in a positive way will undoubtedly create positive results. With the mis-guided and confused youth present in our great country someone has to take a stand. We need a group of leaders who are ethical to help pave the way.
    Ryan Tooley

  6. Mukkinese says:

    I seem to remember mention of an EU discussion on the classification of site content, similar to film classification.
    The idea was to help filtering software, but it is only one step further to add the requirement that those with an adult classification keep their content behind an age restricted password barrier.

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