Law enforcement in modern culture is so vastly enhanced by technology; it would seem that criminals don’t stand a chance. Unfortunately the same technology that dazzles the business-world has a dark side… it can just as successfully be used for harm.
Parents are aware of the dangers that lurk near or around their children. Parents have security systems installed in their homes, children are almost always in sight, many practically conduct background checks on families who invite their child over to play even for an hour, and, although a parent may consider dropping off a group of teens at a mall, they wouldn’t dream of letting their child roam any mall alone; these are just some of the precautions that the nation has become accustomed to. Amazingly, after taking all of these precautions, parents unwittingly allow the criminal element to sneak right into their home.
“An estimated 10 million children are using the Internet unsupervised. By 2015, approximately 77 million kids will be online. With so many children online, today’s predators can easily find and exploit them. For predators, the Internet is an effective and more anonymous way to seek out and groom children for criminal purposes such as producing and distributing child pornography, contacting and stalking children for the purpose of engaging in sexual acts, and exploiting children for sexual tourism for personal and commercial purposes. This modern-day form of slavery has become a $13 billion per year global industry.”
Human trafficking refers to transportation of persons for forced labor, sexual exploitation or other illicit activities. It is estimated that more than 1 million people are trafficked annually around the world; some experts say it could be double that.
Human trafficking has become a global business that generates huge profits for traffickers and organized criminal groups. Because it’s all hush-hush, getting reliable statistics is challenging.
But still, it remains true that many women and children, especially those from overseas, are lured into trafficking, pornography, or prostitution with the false promise of an economic opportunity-a job, an income, a part in a movie, or even a spouse or a position as a nanny. Job offers are so simple to post online. People desperately searching for employment or even temporary income are vulnerable-sometimes parents have arranged the situation thinking they are sending their child away from a bad situation where the child can excel. Many of those who accept these offers from what appear to be legitimate sources find themselves in situations where their documents are destroyed, they or their families are threatened, or they are bonded by a debt that they have no chance of repaying.
Now, online predators and increase their actions with less effort while remaining concealed. Traditionally people who set their sites on children as prey would have to scope out susceptible kids in public areas-parks, school yards, libraries, or malls. A lot of time needed to be committed to “winning over” these potential victims. This can be attained much faster and easier on the web. Kids generally know to stay away from a stranger (and they have a concept of what a stranger will look like); but the internet allows predators to conceal their identity in such a way that children fighting for their independence from mom and dad find appealing. Children can’t see that the perpetrator isn’t another child and many children are naturally trusting, inquisitive, or independent. These traits have always contributed to the predator’s success; but the information is easier to gather anonymously. Despite lectures at home AND at school, children readily give up personal information in a chat room or on instant messaging that they don’t realize could quickly and easily be traced back to their town… and eventually to them. Physical contact may never occur, but perpetrators have learned to draw the children into service in many ways.
Advancements in home equipment make every home a target and anyone a predator. A predator doesn’t have to be some sleazy rat tucked away in a dark room with a computer. Anyone can set up an online business. College students all over the country do it every day. A minimum amount of technology is needed; the school often provides the rest.
The majority of porn SPAM is sent out with no regard as to who may open the file. A survey completed by the University of New Hampshire specifically for the Crimes Against Children Research Center showed that “one in 5 youth received a sexual approach or solicitation over the Internet in the past year… [and that] one in 4 youth had an unwanted exposure in the past year to pictures of naked people or people having sex.” The goal is to hook children on pornography, get them accustomed to the visuals, and then draw them in to posing themselves. The business of selling child pornography leads to another set of Internet-related business. Many aspects of technology contribute to the success of internet crime; some of these include:
Encrypted websites. Anonymous surfing allows you to look without leaving a trail from your browser, your computer system, your country, IP address, etc. You can accomplish this by entering the address (URL) of the site you wish to go to at the free anonymous surfing proxy site, and that site will retrieve the page for you and present it to you. The site you visit will not receive any information because the proxy will not have transmitted anything to it. People who want to buy porn can cloak themselves.
Web enabled streaming video: With streaming video or streaming media, a Web user does not have to wait to download a large file before seeing the video or hearing the sound. Instead, the media is sent in a continuous stream and is played as it arrives.
Misleading domain names: Such domain names are designed to trick minors into visiting an obscene website. Some examples include whitehouse.com (instead of gov) and hummer.com; these sites explode with pornography when children accidentally click in.
Email address lists: SPAMers frequent chat rooms specifically to gather users’ email addresses (and a bonus is that they can know the specific interests). Many can buy lists legitimately or illegally, gather then from profiles or yellow pages online. Sexual-related or obscene SPAM is then sent to minors as well as adults… but minors are less likely to screen their email before they open and are shocked or intrigued by the pictures.
The topic is sensitive to both sides of the trafficking and smuggling issue: the countries of both the victims and the perpetrators. No country wants either side publicized. This secrecy contributes to the lack of data stored, and the inability to for law enforcement agencies to record patterns and capture criminals. The criminal aspect doesn’t concern itself with this stigma, they share information readily within their circle… gaining great strides on the good guys.