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Comment Sad But Not Surprising (Score 1) 311

I suspected that something like this would happen. Recent events suggest that several countries are cooperating to censor controversial content which opposes their use of fear-based government.

Last week, an international operation against a pro-paedophile website/forum led to arrests of people in several countries, including the USA, The Netherlands, Chile, New Zealand and Brazil. One of the men was arrested for merely possessing an illegal weapon and drugs. Some people were raided but not arrested, as they hadn't violated any laws. The FBI claimed that the website was a "child pornography ring", however I know a number of people who posted at the forum, who provide information which debunks the claims of the FBI. According to one person, the website had been online for 8 years, with a membership of over 50,000 people. It had apparently not masked its location (a major web host in The Netherlands), so if it was a child pornography ring, it would presumably have been taken offline years ago. Furthermore, an operation against a real child pornography ring with over 50,000 members would have made international headlines.

In a post on another pro-paedophile forum, I suggested that the closure of the pro-paedophile website was an attempt to test the feasibility of international cooperation in online censorship, in cases where evidence of criminality is limited or fabricated. Very few people believe that paedophiles can ever be innocent, so a pro-paedophile website was an easy preliminary target. I suspected then, and even more so now, that Wikileaks is the ultimate target of international online censorship. No government likes criticism or dissent on the internet, and one shouldn't assume that China is the only country who will crush internet-based dissent.

Comment Sexual attraction to children is not uncommon (Score 4, Interesting) 272

I agree with your concerns about children's liberty being restricted in the name of "protecting" them. I also agree with your belief that there are some serious issues which are often ignored by the majority; the hysteria over paedophilia allows significant risks to children to remain undetected or trivialised.

"the effect of 0.00001% of the population having a predilection for children is frankly irrelevant compared to dangers such as traffic accidents, non-sexual abuse, violence and murder"

Actually, the percentage of people who are attracted to children is much higher than that, even if the men who like sexually mature 15 year old girls are not included in the statistics. Despite the widespread occurrence of paedophilia within the general population, most paedophiles refrain from abusing children for several reasons:

  • Most paedophiles have a conscience.
  • Most paedophiles don't want to be arrested and ostracised by their community (although frankly, many of us feel marginalised even though we haven't offended).
  • Most paedophiles have suffered bad childhoods and don't wish to create problems for other children.

I'm not just making assumptions based on the fact that I live responsibly with a paedophilic orientation. I know many other paedophiles who are also responsible people.

I have posted this information previously, but it remains relevant:

From Hall, et al -

"Consistent with previous data (Barbaree & Marshall, 1989; Briere & Runtz, 1989; Fedora et al., 1992; Freund & Watson, 1991), 20 % of the current subjects self-reported pedophilic interest and 26.25 % exhibited penile arousal to pedophilic stimuli that equaled or exceeded arousal to adult stimuli.

[..]

Eighty subjects completed the study. [..] Twenty-six subjects [approximately 33%] exhibited sexual arousal to the child slides that equaled or exceeded their arousal to the adult slides.

[..] ....a sizable minority of men in normal populations who have not molested children may exhibit pedophilic fantasies and arousal. In recent studies, 12 to 32% of community college samples of men reported sexual attraction to children (B &R, 1989, H,G & C. 1990) or exhibited penile response to pedophilic stimuli (B&M, 1989, F et al, 1992, F&L, 1989, F & W, 1989). Thus, arousal to pedophilic stimuli does not necessarily correspond with pedophilic behavior (Hall, 1990; Schouten & Simon, 1992), although there are arguments to the contrary (Quinsey & Laws, 1990)."

From the British Journal of Social Work -

"A self-administer questionnaire was given to a sample of 92 female and 91 male public sector child care workers. Results showed a significantly higher percentage of males (15 per cent) than females (4 per cent) expressed a sexual interest in children."

From Is Pedophilia a Mental Disorder? -

"In a sample of nearly 200 university males, 21% reported some sexual attraction to small children, 9% described sexual fantasies involving children, 5% admitted to having masturbated to sexual fantasies of children, and 7% indicated they might have sex with a child if not caught (Briere & Runtz, 1989). Briere and Runtz remarked that "given the probable social undesirability of such admissions, we may hypothesize that the actual rates were even higher" (p. 71). In another sample with 100 male and 180 female undergraduate students, 22% of males and 3% of females reported sexual attraction to a child (Smiljanich & Briere, 1996).

Laboratory researchers have validated physiologically the self-report studies of nonclinical, nonpedophile identified volunteers. In a sample of 80 "normal" volunteers, over 25% self-reported some pedophilic interest or in the plethysmographic phase exhibited penile arousal to a child that equaled or exceeded arousal to an adult (Hall, Hirschman, & Oliver, 1995). In another study, "normal" men's erections to pictures of pubescent and younger girls averaged 70 and 50%, respectively, of their responses to adult females (Quinsey, Steinman, Bergersen, & Holmes, 1975). In a control group of 66 males recruited from hospital staff and the community, 17% showed a penile response that was pedophilic (Fedora et al., 1992). Freund and Watson (1991), studying community male volunteers in a plethysmography classification study, found that19%were misclassified as having an erotic preference for minors. Freund and Costell (1970) studied 48 young Czech soldiers who were shown slides of children between 4 and 10, both male and female, as well as adolescents and adults, male and female. Penile responsivity to female children, ages 4-10, was intermediate to adolescent and adult females and males in one scoring system. In the other scoring system, all 48 soldiers showed penile response to adult females, as did 40 of 48 to adolescent females, and notably, 28 of 48 showed penile response to the female children age 4-10."

Here is some information collected by a friend (some of which is sourced from studies also quoted above):

"Although one-in-seven men expressed a sexual interest in children, it is likely that a significantly smaller number of men actually sexually abuse children. Empirical evidence indicates that inhibitors are effective in preventing a sexual interest in children becoming actual perpetration. [...] Research suggests the presence of socio-cultural inhibitors in the male population. If someone is fully inhibited from sexually abusing children, no amount of emotional congruence, sexual arousal, or blockage will lead them to abuse children."

~ Mike Freel, in Child Sexual Abuse and the Male Monopoly (British Journal of Social Work)

"The current results suggest that sexual arousal to pedophilic stimuli occurs among a sizable minority of normal men who report no pedophilic behavior and is not necessarily associated with pedophilic behavior."

~ Gordon Hall, et al., in Sexual Arousal and Arousability to Pedophilic Stimuli in a Community Sample of Normal Men (Behavior Therapy)

"Terms such as 'child sexual abuse', 'incest', 'child molestation' and 'pederasty' are not equivalent to pedophilia. Terms that denote sex with minors are criminal actions; pedophilia is the sexual attraction to children. Not all who sexually abuse minors are pedophilic. For example, some who sexually abuse minors may opportunistically select minors simply because they are available. Sex with a minor is not, ipso facto a determination of pedophilia. Also, not all individuals who fulfill the diagnostic criteria for pedophilia actually abuse children."

~ Peter Fagan, et al., in Pedophilia (Journal of the American Medical Association)

"Although the terms are often used interchangeably, a distinction must be made between "sex offender against a minor" and "pedophile." The former refers to a criminal sexual behavior and the latter to an anomalous sexual preference. Many pedophiles never act on their impulses. The DSM-IV (American Psychiatric Association, 1994) defines pedophilia in terms of recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving sexual activity with a prepubescent child or children, and requires that the fantasies, urges, or behaviors cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. It is therefore possible for an individual who meets these criteria to have never engaged in illegal sexual behaviors. At the same time, not all sex offenders against a minor are pedophiles. All mental health professionals acting in an expert witness capacity should know this distinction."

~ Ralph Underwager and Hollida Wakefield, in Coping With Psychiatric and Psychological Testimony (Institute for Psychological Therapies)

Comment Children's charities don't care about children (Score 2, Informative) 434

"My question is, how is it that the "defenders of children" never have a clue about children?"

The "defenders of children" are not really "defenders of children". Many of the larger children's charities are self-promoting organisations who do very little to help children. They plead for donations, but rather than using those donations to protect children, they use the money to pay for advertising and other marketing activities. The extra donations which they receive as a result of those marketing activities can be used to pay for more advertising, and the cycle of growth continues, with the organisations becoming increasingly profitable, without helping children.

Frank Furedi dicussed this issue a few years ago, in an article at Spiked Online.

Comment Define "sexual abuse" (Score 3, Insightful) 434

"Are 1 in 4 children really sexually abused by the Internet?"

If you ask organisations such as the NCMEC - who know that their funding depends on misinformed hysteria over children's safety - one in five children are sexually abused online. The reality is that the NCMEC and similar organisations use bizarre definitions of child abuse, so if a 13 year boy asks a 13 year old girl to show her breasts, the girl is reported to be a "victim of sexual abuse".

Most studies on this topic are remarkably biased (for financial reasons, or because they have been commissioned by governments) and based upon grossly inappropriate methodologies, so that question will probably never be answered. Consider Bennett Haselton's article article about NCMEC "research" as an example of how such data is biased.

Submission + - 'Offensive' Virtual Images of Kids Banned in UK

Brian Ribbon writes: In a country where politics regularly trumps the genuine protection of children, the parliament of the United Kingdom has now criminalised the possession of drawings and cartoons which feature children engaged in (or witnessing) sexual acts. The law is a result of lobbying by various commercialised "charities" who hope to gain publicity through their politicial acitivies, arguing that images of virtual children could incite the commission of contact offences against children, even though research indicates that virtual images reduce the likelihood of viewers molesting children. The new law prohibits any image which "focuses solely or principally on a [virtual] child's genitals or anal region" or depicts any sexual act which involves virtual children or is witnessed by virtual children, and is "pornographic" and "grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character.
Privacy

Submission + - The ISA and Police State UK (telegraph.co.uk)

Brian Ribbon writes: "Using ineffective, feel-good "child protection" legislation to rob citizens of their inherent rights has become a favourite pastime of the British government. A particularly disturbing example is the creation of the "Independent Safeguarding Authority" (ISA), which will be tasked with ensuring that over 11 million adults are "suitable" to have even the smallest amount of contact with children. According to new guidelines summarised by The Telegraph, the ISA will collect and analyse information about the "interests, attitudes, relationships and lifestyle" of individuals, as well as their links with "anti-social peers". People who are considered "unsuitable" to have contact with children will be barred from careers or volunteer positions which involve any kind of contact with people under the age of 18, and those who pursue such a career but refuse to undergo the detailed analysis of their private lives could be prosecuted in a criminal court. The ISA is immune to litigation in relation to mistakes made when barring a person from a career, so anybody who suffers losses from false allegations made by the body will be unable to claim damages. The creation of a body to which 11 million people may be required to submit detailed information about their lives appears to be yet another excuse to monitor and profile millions of individuals. The power to block poeple on the basis of their beliefs is equally disturbing, as it could be an attempt to prevent people from influencing children if their beliefs are deemed to threaten the social order or the authority of the state."

Comment Verizon (Score 1) 343

Verizon may be in violation of the first principle of net neutrality by blocking access to controversial websites and justifying such blocks by falsely alleging that such websites are illegal. In 2006, Slashdot discussed how Verizon terminated its service to Epifora (a host for legal pro-paedophile websites, to whom Verizon provided a backbone). According to a friend who uses Verizon as his home ISP, the company is now blocking access to websites formerly hosted by Epifora (albeit intermittently), sometimes by falsely alleging illegal activites and sometimes through a covert redirect.

One particular website (NSFW but nonetheless legal) which is sometimes inaccessible for Verizon users is LifeLine, which provides support for people who are contemplating suicide or other irrational actions as a result of their attraction to children.

Privacy

Submission + - "Sex" and "Porn" in Childrens' Top (norton.com) 1

Brian Ribbon writes: "While Australia, China, the UK and other subversive states clamber to implement "family friendly" web filters under the guise of protecting children from stumbling across the horrors of pornography, data collected by Symantec suggests that children themselves are busy looking for places where they can find the stuff. The data — collected by Symantec's "OnlineFamily" software, which is installed by parents on their childrens' workstations — indicates that "sex" is the fourth most popular search term amongst children, with "porn" in sixth place and "boobs" at number twenty-eight. The twenty-first most popular search term is "Norton Safety Minder", the application which the OnlineFamily software uses to monitor computer usage and report back to Symantec's servers. While many parents will presumably be horrified at the thought of little Timmy searching for online pornography, their primary concern should be the software's violation of an individual's privacy and the possibility of identity theft resulting from detailed usage information being reported to a foreign server. The evidence published by Symantec actually contradicts the prudish belief that children are offended and corrupted by online pornography."
Censorship

Submission + - The Perverse Politics of Virtual Porn

Brian Ribbon writes: "In 2006, the UK Home Office (which has since devolved many of its powers to the Ministry of Justice) announced plans to criminalise the possession of "non-photographic images of child sexual abuse" (BBC, 2006). The justification for this law was based upon several assumptions, none of which are supported empirically.

The first and most significant claim of ministers, made in the original "consultation on possession of non-photographic visual depictions of child sexual abuse", was that "fantasy images themselves fuel abuse of real children by reinforcing potential abusers' inappropriate feelings towards children" (Home Office, 2007). The Home Office noted "an absence of research into the effects of these images", but proceeded to ask if their proposal was "nevertheless justified".

Upon publishing the "summary of responses and next steps", the Ministry of Justice (2008) was unable to provide any evidence for the claims made in its paper, explaining that it had taken the decision to legislate against computer-generated images on the basis of a public consultation (in which the opinions expressed were far from unanimous) and closed meetings with "interested parties". Those "interested parties" were comprised mostly of charities which have a financial stake in the matter, as well as the Child Exploitation & Online Protection Centre, which receives funding to investigate potential sexual offences committed online and is currently seeking public support for a doubling of its funding.

Evidence-based legislation?

In 2009, the Coroners and Justice Bill — which intends to criminalise the possession of virtual child erotica — was introduced by Jack Straw and Lord Bach. The accompanying research paper (Almandras et al, 2009) cites a report by the Longford Committee (1972) and Ray Wyre's appendix in Tim Tate's (1990) book on child pornography as evidence, however both works discuss photographic pornography rather than computer-generated or drawn imagery.

The Longford Committee's findings were published several years before the "discovery" of child pornography, which was not the subject of public or scientific debate prior to 1975 (Stanley, 1987; O'Donnell & Milner, 2007) and was not subject to legislation until 1977 in the USA or 1978 in the UK. The committee's findings therefore cannot be taken as conclusive evidence with regard to child pornography, nor can they be assumed to be applicable to computer-generated pornography (which was not available at the time). The findings of the committee — as cited in the research paper — are also rather vague. According to the Ministry of Justice, the committee's report stated that "pornography clearly must have some effect" but admitted that "only in very rare cases can a causal connection between pornography and anti-social behaviour be conclusively proved" (Longford Committee, cited by Almandras et al, 2009). The evidence provided by the Longford Committee clearly does not support the beliefs expressed by legislators in proposing the prohibition of virtual child erotica.

Child pornography had been acknowledged and formed part of the criminological discourse when Tate's book was published, however there is no empirical (or even anecdotal) evidence of the existence of computer-generated child pornography prior to the publication of Tate's book. Wyre's argument was based solely upon his experiences in working with sex offenders at the time, and was therefore based upon his observations of how offenders allegedly used photographic child pornography. Even if one discounts the fact that virtual pornography is yet another step away from reality in relation to photographic pornography, the reliability of Wyre's argument remains debatable. One must remember that a correlation may not involve a direct causal link; while many of the contact child sex offenders which Wyre studied may also have used pornography — and may have used it as an excuse for their behaviour — it is quite possible that the contact offenders would have committed a contact offence regardless of their use of pornography. If, as Wyre suggested, a contact child sex offender "will use anything — including child pornography or child erotica" to "make his behaviour seem as normal as possible" (Wyre, cited by Almandras et al, 2009), child erotica is not necessary for the facilitation of contact offending, as the offender would find other ways to justify their behaviour. The government's use of Wyre's work in supporting the proposed legislation is actually a serious misinterpretation (or misuse) of the text and does not justify the ban which is proposed by legislators.

Contrary to the largely irrelevant research cited in the research paper for the proposed legislation, there is a significant body of evidence which suggests that child erotica has a positive effect on the behaviour of people with a sexual interest in children, providing a sexual relief which reduces the likelihood of contact offending. Sheldon & Howitt (2008) found that despite the popular belief that fantasy leads to action, "fantasy deficit may be involved in contact offending against children" as contact offenders are unable to generate mastubatory fantasies without engaging in contact offences. The correlation between liberalisation of pornography laws and a decrease in cases of contact offences is also worthy of note here. A major correlation was observed in Denmark and West Germany (O'Carroll, 2000), while a correlation between an increase in the availability of virtual pornography (including child and rape pornography) and a decrease in contact offending has been observed in Japan (Diamond & Uchiyama, 1999). While the O'Carroll and Diamond & Uchiyama studies only prove a correlation, it is unlikely that the increased availability of child pornography and a decrease in contact offences against children could have a common causal factor, indicating that the legal availability of pornography (both child and adult) reduces the risk of sexually harmful behaviour.

A charitable concern?

Two of the primary campaigners in favour of the prohibition of cartoon child erotica are the NSPCC (a children's charity with statutory powers) and CHIS (a coalition of charities in which the NSPCC is an influential member). In a response to the Scottish consultation on the proposed prohibition of virtual child erotica, CHIS argued that "advances in technology have made it possible to create materials which are entirely artificial but which, in turn, are indistinguishable from photographs or videos of real events" (CHIS, 2008). Such an argument is clearly misleading as a reason for legislating against virtual child erotica, as erotic photo-realistic images of children are already illegal under UK law and possession of such images carries the same maximum sentence as actual photographs (Sentencing Advisory Panel, 2006). It is evident that CHIS was already aware of the illegality of photo-realistic indecent images of children when they responded to the consultation, as they quoted from the relevant law on the same page of their response. It is therefore difficult to interpret the CHIS response as anything other than an attempt to mislead the public, media, and undereducated civil servants.

Before progressing to a further analysis of the children's charities' use of misleading information, it would be careless not to mention that the same manipulative tactics are also being used by politicians. When the Ministry of Justice announced the intention to criminalise virtual child erotica, Justice Minister Maria Eagle issued a press release claiming that "paedophiles could be circumventing the law by using computer technology to manipulate real photographs or videos of abuse into drawings or cartoons" (Eagle, 2008). Regardless of whether or not this is true (there is no evidence for or against the claim), Section 69(3) of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act (2008) criminalised the possession, distribution, showing and making of images derived from indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs of children three weeks prior to Eagle's announcement. In short, the "loophole" which Eagle referred to had already been closed. The implications of her announcement are therefore quite disturbing; either the Justice Minister was unaware of the content of a major bill which had just been enacted, or she was deliberately attempting to mislead and manipulate the media and public into supporting her department's proposals.

Despite the misleading statements of CHIS, the motivations of the NSPCC themselves are of the greatest concern. The NSPCC has a history of using sensationalism, half-truths and deception in its campaigns for donations. In 2007, it emerged that the NSPCC had mailed fake stories of child abuse — presented as genuine accounts — in order to garner donations from concerned members of the public (The Daily Mail, 2007). Prior to this discovery, Sociology professor Frank Furedi (2004) described the NSPCC as "a danger to the nation's children". His article drew attention to the NSPCC's use of expensive marketing companies and misleading statistics to frighten both parents and children into donating to the organisation. Similar concerns were also expressed in an article in the Observer (Rayner, 1999) and by the Social Issues Research Centre (1999).

Of greater concern with regard to the proposed law against virtual child erotica is the NSPCC's conflict of interest in responding to the proposal. Unbeknownst to the general public (and possibly even to legislators), the NSPCC conducts a significant number of sex offender therapy programmes (NSPCC, 2008). The amount of funding which they receive for conducting such programmes has not been disclosed, however intense public fears over child sex offenders and the costs associated with finding staff who are prepared to work with such offenders would suggest that the NSPCC receives significant funding for carrying out this service. Considering the revenue which the NSPCC is likely to generate from providing such services, expecting them to provide objective input on a proposal which will increase the number of people who use those services is highly optimistic.

Another argument proposed by the NSPCC and by other proponents of the legislation is that the availability of cartoon child erotica implies tolerance of child sexual abuse, therefore encouraging paedophiles to act out (Hilton, 2009). The first problem with this argument is that the broad definition of "prohibited images" in the Coroners and Justice Bill includes images which simply focus on certain areas of a child's body and are perceived to be "grossly offensive" or "disgusting" (Coroners and Justice Bill, 2009), even if no sexual activity is depicted. Furthermore, the claim that the availability of cartoon child erotica — even if it depicts sexual abuse — implies a tolerance of child abuse is unfounded and grossly illogical. Firstly, a glance at (legal) discussion boards for paedophiles — such as Boychat.org and Annabelleigh.net — indicates that paedophiles are extremely aware of the negativity of attitudes towards paedophilia per se as well as child sexual abuse. Contrary to the argument of the proponents of the proposed legislation, the fact that child erotica is only legal in cartoon form clearly suggests that society is so opposed to any indication of child abuse that it prohibits material which depicts real children in a potentially sexual manner. By criminalising mere cartoons, the government risks providing additional justification for the (justifiable) belief that much of the crusade against paedophiles is a matter of prudism or playing on people's fears, rather than an attempt to protect children. The prevalence of this belief is clearly problematic for a government whose policies rely heavily on a veiled politics of fear, using the "think of the children" mantra as an excuse for abuses of state power. By providing additional evidence for the belief, the government also challenges any message of the kind which the NSPCC were referring to, as it characterises pornography laws as an attempt to legislate morality rather than a disapproval of child abuse.

One of the original arguments in favour of the prohibition of cartoon child erotica is the belief that contact offenders could use cartoons to "groom" children (The Register, 2007). While this may be true, the act of grooming a child is already a serious criminal offence in the UK. If someone is prepared to violate laws against grooming, committing an offence with intent to commit a sexual offence and attempting sexual activity with a child, they are unlikely to be deterred by laws against the possession of virtual child erotica.

Everyone needs a release

One major concern raised by the proposed prohibition of virtual child erotica is that such a prohibition may encourage some paedophiles to use real child pornography. While viewing or possessing child pornography per se is unlikely to encourage production, the purchase of such material may stimulate production, which must surely be of concern to those who have an interest in protecting children. Criminalising the possession of virtual child erotica will obviously criminalise a legitimate and responsible release for paedophiles' sexual urges. If virtual child erotica were criminalised, the only available releases (other than clothed and non-erotic images of children) would be illegal activities, such as the use of illegal photographs or harmful behaviour involving real children, or the new offence of using virtual child erotica. While the sentence for possessing illegal photographs of children is slightly harsher than the recommended sentence for the proposed crime of possessing "prohibited [virtual] images of children", an offender would be outed as a "paedophile" in both cases, with all of the destructive social and financial effects which that entails. It would therefore be unsurprising if anybody who required a release involving some kind of erotic stimuli depicting children chose illegal photographs, as the consequences would not differ significantly from those which would result from viewing cartoons. The greater issue is with the minority of paedophiles who have no concern for the welfare of children or believe that having sex with children is harmless. In the case of people who avoid sexual contact with children solely as a result of the legal consequences — and who desperately require the release which virtual child erotica provides — the consequences of banning virtual child erotica are a major concern.

Conclusion

Children's charities and legislators are clutching at straws and ignoring the plethora of evidence which indicates that child erotica has a socially positive effect on paedophiles. While the motivations of children's charities are presumably financial, one must ask why the government are so insistent on legislation which will have no benefit to the safety of children or any other person.

A more cynical interpretation of the proposed legislation would be that the government is attempting to tighten its grip on the population. By exploiting the natural concern of protecting children as an excuse for monopolising power within the state, power-hungry legislators are able to increase their ability to further their personal political agenda. While such a belief could be dismissed as a conspiracy theory, one must consider the intentions of someone who chooses a political career; a career which does not provide huge financial rewards for people whose necessary social engineering skills could achieve seven-figure salaries in the private sector. Inevitably, politicians will be motivated to influence and control others.

Many politicians find that arguing for "child protection" laws is an easy way of soliciting votes from a public which is misinformed by the media and manipulative "childrens'" charities. Politicians may also find that they can persuade the public to support controversial legislation by claiming that such legislation is "for the children". Furthermore, any elected politician who disagrees with any legislation which is "for the children", however reasonable their grounds, is liable to lose their position at the next election.

The current political system supports politicians who crusade under the guise of protecting children in order to justify policy types which support their own world view or increase their power over those who they govern. The laws which result from such policies threaten the civil rights of everyone, as they may be used to justify further intrusions into the private lives of citizens. The proposed law against the possession of cartoon and drawn child erotica is one such law, and the effects which it may have should be of significant concern to both civil libertarians and people who genuinely care about children."

Comment Those "charges" are not relevant here (Score 1) 420

Paedophilia is a sexual attraction to pre-pubescent children. There is no offence of "pedophilia" and there is no legal definition. The people who get stung on To Catch a Predator are often charged with crossing state lines to engage in sex with a minor and for attempting to commit the sex offence which they allegedly intended to commit.

Is there no law against harassment in the USA? That would be the most appropriate charge in this case and the maximum sentence would presumably apply.

Comment The Right To Possess Digital Information (Score 2, Insightful) 151

"No person shall be convicted of any criminal or civil offence solely on the basis of the data contained within any digital storage media within their possession and the recording of any of their network addresses upon any other digital storage medium"

I'll be honest about my motivation for making this suggestion; I am appalled by the fact that people are frequently imprisoned for possessing/accessing child pornography which they did not produce, purchase, trade, or solicit. The argument that viewing child pornography creates an increased demand was formulated in a pre-internet era when people who were determined to view child pornography had to either produce, purchase, trade, or otherwise solicit the material in order to view it. In those cases - and in cases where pornography was abusive rather than just offensive to the sensibilites of the time - I believe that prosecution was justified. In the era of the internet, however, people are able to access child pornography without encouraging production, yet many of those people are traced through access logs, then arrested, convicted and imprisoned.

The suggested clause would not prevent the prosecution of people for purchasing child pornography, as card details would be recorded; these details could be coupled with data from the hard drive to secure a conviction. Anyone who trades child pornography could presumably be convicted, as evidence of trading should be available on another person's property. Anyone who solicits child pornography could likely be caught through their dealings with those who produced or distributed such images.

The suggested clause would also stifle attempts to introduce a local equivalent of MediaSentry et al, as such organisations rely heavily on evidence from users' computers and on the logging of the IP addresses of people who download copyrighted media.

Such a clause would also hinder the introduction of victimless criminal offences which are falsely alleged to discourage the commission of harmful crimes; the British and American legislators have begun to introduce such laws to bypass allegations of creating a police state obsessed with the concept of pre-crime. In the UK, for example, it is illegal for a person to possess information which could be useful to terrorists, on the absurd basis that anyone who wishes to view such material intends to engage in terrorist behaviour.

The reality is that the excuses provided for intrusion into peoples' digital lives are generally an excuse for the state to investigate the private lives of anyone who is presumed to wish to challenge the state, or anyone who may offend the electorate which legislators are forced to represent in order to maintain their seats.

Comment Perspective (Score 3, Informative) 662

"The right to fantasize, daydream, and drool over violating people and committing crimes? I'm pretty sure I missed that right when reading the constitution."

The right to breathe isn't in the US Constitution either, but people have the right to do it. Lawmakers decide what people can't legally do, however they don't list everything that a person can legally do. The probable reason for the right to fantasise about crime being absent from the Constitution is that its authors couldn't comprehend the existence of a society where people tried to dictate what others could fantasise about.

"Things that depict abuse."

Violence and other abuses are frequently depicted in video games, on TV, etc. The UK media recently showed images of a baby who had been beaten to death by his parents.

Millions of African children die each year from a lack of food and water, however you seem to be more concerned about people who play video games where depictions of non-existent people are harmed. Please stop trying to dress prudism as a genuine concern for childrens' welfare.

Comment That's Not Correct (Score 5, Interesting) 662

"Those who have those urges towards children may feel prodded seeing the depicted acts to try them in the real world."

Research suggests otherwise. People need a harmless and legal outlet for their urges; for teleiophilic adults, options include sex with another consenting adult or adult pornography for those who can't find a partner. For paedophiles, the already short list of harmless and legal outlets is becoming ever shorter due to the moral crusaders who seek to ban everything which they find offensive. Shotacon/lolicon are one of the few outlets which are still legally available in some countries (although cartoons are quickly being criminalised). If you ban everything which may arouse paedophiles, you'll be left with people who simply ignore the law or people who are dangerously bitter, angry and hostile towards society.

Policy advisors would benefit from actually doing research with responsible paedophiles rather than making assumptions about the effects of certain stimuli. Listening to childrens' charities is a huge mistake, as charities have a motivation to make things worse in order to encourage further donations from naive, shallow citizens.

Comment Do you trust the FTC? (Score 2, Insightful) 224

"from the child-porn-world-needs-more-suicides dept."

Several people who I know have been victims of child porn laws, despite not having paid for or traded anything and having therefore not encouraged or facilitated production. Rather than making assumptions about child pornography, you may consider researching the issue. You should also remember that visiting websites which are alleged to contain illegal images - without loading the images (by disabling images in the browser) - is not illegal and can provide significant insight into the issue.

I'd also suggest a critical consideration of the FTC's statements. The war on child pornography is often used as a cover for wars on slightly more popular content which happens to offend the state. I find it rather bizarre that so many people who are critical of the state tend to believe whatever the state and its subsidiaries says about child porn.

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