SafeKids/NetFamilyNews 1/20/06 issue

  • From: Educational CyberPlayGround <admin@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: K12NewsLetters@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 24 Jan 2006 10:08:31 -0500

K12 Newsletters Mailing List
Subscribe - Unsubscribe - Set Preferences

Educational CyberPlayGround Community Mailing Lists
Advertise K12 Newsletters Guidlines


Dear Subscribers:

Teen photos & a police officer's story

The other day I heard from Det. Frank Dannahey of the Rocky Hill,
Conn., Police Department about a tragic teen-blogging (and cell phone
photo-sharing) case he wants parents to know about. "This case is one
of my few that did not get media coverage," he wrote me. "We tried to
keep it low-profile, since both the victim and suspect are minors
(under 16). We also didn?t want to bring the incident to the attention
of students who may not have known about it. My fear was that this
could have some people looking for the photos." Here's what Frank emailed me:

"I am a police detective in Connecticut who has been doing Internet
safety education programs since the late '90s. Boy, have things
changed since then! I do Internet safety talks throughout Connecticut
to students, parents, school staff, and law enforcement. I have also
worked in an undercover capacity to detect online predators who travel
to meet teens. That was truly an eye-opening experience?.

"I recently began to see more and more incidents involving blog sites.
Last year I predicted to parents that cell phones, especially cell
phone cams [picture phones], were going to be the next big problem.
Cell phones are now becoming mini PCs with portability. What a new
challenge for parental supervision!

"At the start of this school year I investigated a case that ? started
my investigation into blog sites as the new threat to teen privacy
issues. Last spring, a 13-year-old girl emailed explicit nude photos
of herself by cell phone cam to her boyfriend. When I say explicit
photos I mean explicit! An acquaintance of this boy had the boy's
password for his email account. If there's one thing I tell students,
it's: '*never* give your passwords to anyone!'

"The boyfriend never deleted the girlfriend's explicit pictures from
his inbox. The acquaintance found the photos of the girlfriend,
downloaded them and in turn showed them to another boy. This boy knew
the girl but did not like the boyfriend. As an act of vengeance, he
took the photos - 13 of them - and created a free Web site and posted
them. The heading of the Web site announced that these photos were of
______ and actually named the boy.

"Some of the girl's photos had her face showing, so identifying her
would not be impossible. To make matters worse, the boy went on his
MySpace site and posted the link for the Web site with the explicit,
and illegal [because they're child pornography], photos. It was not
long before word spread to other students in our local high school
that the Web site existed. Fortunately, a friend of the girl's saw the
photos and notified our police department. The website was taken down
very quickly, but not before the photos were out there for several days.

"The girl in question was devastated and knows that the photos may be
in the hands of someone who may resurface them at a later date. The
persons responsible for this incident were all subsequently
identified. I don?t think that those involved truly knew the
implications for this young girl. In investigating that case, I found
evidence of another girl, slightly older, doing the same type of
thing. I?m just finishing up on that case.

"From that point on," he continued, referring to the first case, "I
was truly amazed at the widespread use of blog sites among teens and
the power, and danger, that these types of sites potentially have. I
am now getting many calls from parents as they discover the abuse the
sites may lead to. We have a large group of young teens and preteens
lying about their ages to establish their own blog sites.

"It was interesting to see Amanda's answer to your interview question
'How much do you share - pretty private stuff? Do you use privacy features in the
sites?' Her answer ­ 'I put a lot in them. When I am angry with
someone, that goes in' ­ does not surprise me. I don't think teens
truly understand the privacy issues.

"When I was doing the undercover assignment, predators would spend
weeks talking to me online [believing Detective Dannahey to be teen]
to understand my likes and dislikes. The goal in the 'grooming'
process is for the predator to fully understand the child. The more
information the predator has, the easier it is to get into that
child's world. Today's blog sites must be a predator's wildest dream.
What took weeks or months [in a grooming process] can now be done in
15 minutes. By that I mean, a predator can now read a teen's blog site
or sites and know literally *everything* about him or her. As a police
detective, I could go on most blog sites and get all the information I
need to determine where that child lives. And that is with sites that
don't list the teen's full name. That scares me.

"I will certainly be using this [13-year-old's] case as a teaching
tool in my [Net safety] programs," Detective Dannahey added, "and I am
rapidly developing new programs focused just on teen blogging."

Learn about the Internet in General
How Parents Keep children Safe on the Interent
Myspace and others like it.

+ = + = + = +

Web News Briefs

1. Child protection law revisited

The big story this week was only a piece of the ongoing saga about
whether the Child Online Protection Act (COPA) of 1998 will ever be
enforced. This week's big news was about Web user privacy ­ that of
all Web users, not just kids. As it gets ready to defend COPA again
before a federal appeals court in Philadelphia, the Bush
administration has been gathering information, among other things, on
how people use search engines and what percentage of search results is
pornography. Months ago the administration subpoenaed several search
companies for data on millions of Web searchers' results, and Google
is the one such service that has completely refused to comply (saying
this would reveal trade secrets and is a form of harassment) - see
this clarifying post at a San Jose Mercury News blog
<>. So
this week the administration asked a federal judge in San Francisco to
force Google to comply, reports CNET
1.html> and major news outlets throughout the US, UK, Romania
(interestingly), and a number of other countries. What all this also
says is that the full-blown trial on COPA that the Supreme Court
required of the Third Circuit Court in Philadelphia when, in 2004, it
again sent the case back down to Philly, is nearing (it'll be next
fall) and the world is watching. The law has been tied up in the
courts ever since early '99, when a federal judge first issued an
injunction against it on constitutional grounds.

The basic COPA question is whether a law or filters protect online
children better (provided the law doesn't violate free-speech rights),
and the Supreme Court required a full trial in Philadelphia so that
filtering's *current* effectiveness could be thoroughly examined. COPA
makes it a crime to publish sexually explicit content for commercial
purposes that's accessible to minors; it requires porn producers to
use age verification or some such technology to block children's
access. So far, courts have ruled that COPA violates the First
Amendment because its wording (i.e. "harmful to minors") is vague. The
Philadelphia federal court's objection: "The judges said that even
portions of a 'collection of Renaissance artwork' could be viewed as
harmful to minors if a prosecutor was sufficiently zealous," according
to a meaty FAQ at CNET on this week's news and COPA

COPA Commission Report
A pdf version of the report is also online
Child Online Protection Act report recommends
voluntary Acceptable Use Policies in schools
rather than government-mandated filtering.

2. Teen exploited in gaming

This is the first report I've seen of predation in the gaming
environment, which just further confirms that wherever kids are,
online predators soon will be too. A 26-year-old man in California has
been accused of grooming a 14-year-old gamer via Xbox Live,
Microsoft's service for real-time game chat (voice and text).
"Microsoft says that the safety and security of Xbox Live users is 'a
top priority' and that it works closely with global law enforcement to
ensure child safety," reports
<>. "Grooming" is
when a pedophile makes contact with a minor and tries to establish an
online relationship with the goal of sexual exploitation. In the
California case, "police say that in November the [14-year-old] gave
[26-year-old Ronnie] Watts his home address and phone number and they
met in a Santa Rosa park, where the molestation allegedly took place."
Eurogamer adds that the new Xbox 360 has a "wide range of parental
controls [that allow] parents to disable Live access entirely on
specified profiles and limit access to games and DVDs based on
particular ratings." The forthcoming Sony Playstation 3 and Nintendo
Revolution will also have parental controls. The Nintendo DS,
available now, "took a different tack when launching Wi-Fi Connection,
the new service that allows DS owners to play online. Players must
swap their 'Friend Code' - a series of digits unique to their DS unit
- offline before they can play together over the Internet, and there
is no way of communicating directly with others," Eurogamer earlier
reported <>. To
understand how grooming works, see pp. 7-8 of the British Home
Office's "Good practice guidance for the moderation of interactive
services for children"

3. DC-area schools: Action on blogs has been the main focus of schools' actions against
student blogging, the Washington Post reports
6011601489.html>, but and have also gotten
school officials' attention. So far, private schools in the
Washington, D.C., area have been the most aggressive: Sidwell Friends
School "prohibited students from using their school email addresses to
register for access to Facebook"; the Barrie School "asked a student
to leave over the misuse of a blog"; and, before the holidays,
Sidwell, Georgetown Day School, and the Madeira School "wrote to
parents to warn them" about Facebook. But area public schools are now
joining ranks, with blog-focused Internet safety meetings for parents.
Examples of blog posts schools want parents to know about, according
to the Post: "an Alexandria girl with an abusive mother confides that
she wants to have a baby, even though it would 'most likely make
everything 5,000 times harder'; a girl from a Fairfax County school
posts photos of herself in a bikini, inviting boys to comment." Page 3
of the Post's article looks at the attraction of these blogging sites
for teenagers. Here's Sports Illustrated's "A Quick [2-pp] Guide to"
index.html>, as in "Sure, there is a lot of posturing on Facebook.
It's the college bar scene [although there is now a Facebook for high
schools], and you want to send out the right vibe."

4. Porn 'revolution' & teen girls

Remember the desktop publishing revolution? "Anybody" could publish
"content" because it could all be done on a personal computer and the
Net? The only problem was, not everybody could actually write -
content *quality* was an issue. But production values are no barrier
where porn is concerned, and of course all the digital-video enabling
tools are in place, so porn is literally everywhere, parents! USATODAY
spells it all out ­ including the part about how there is now no lack
of teen porn stars
-porn-model_x.htm>. "The world of teenage-girl 'models' ? is huge.
Suzy parades around in her underwear, someone takes a lot of photos,
and men pay $10 or $20 or $30 a month to look at them. Creeps me out,
and I don't even have a teenage daughter. These girls have found a
niche and they're all over it. No magazine, porn or otherwise, would
publish photos of 15- and 16-year-old girls, let alone the 10- and
11-year-olds who also have such sites." Teenage boys are not exempt,
of course.

5. Portable poker

Handhelds are becoming quite the grownup gaming devices, with plenty
of adult content now available. Playboy was an early player, now the
World Poker Tour videogame will be available for the PlayStation
Portable March 15, reports
<>. The Game
Boy Advance, Xbox, and PlayStation 2 versions are already out. "Since
the PSP is equipped for wireless gaming, World Poker Tour gamers will
have the ability to connect wirelessly or through the Internet with
other players playing the game on both the PSP and the PlayStation 2,"
according to But PSP players get more: "Gamers who are
able to build their career earnings can unlock custom clothes,
accessories, and invitational events found only in the PSP version.
Players can also create more than 4,000 custom variations of poker."

6. More P2P lawsuits to come

That's the word from IFPI, the London-based, global umbrella for all
music-industry trade associations. Paid music downloads passed the $1
billion mark last year (triple the 2004 figure), but most of those
sales are from people new to the digital-music scene, not
file-sharers, the Financial Times reports
the IFPI as saying. So the organization said it would step up the
lawsuits, though it has reported that "illegal downloading was static,
despite a 26% rise in broadband [Internet] use" in 2005." For
file-sharers in the US (or any country), if the IFPI is saying this,
it's likely that its member organizations, such as the RIAA (Recording
Industry Association of America), will follow suit.

Meanwhile, lawmakers and courts are revisiting copyright laws and ­ in
France and South Korea, anyway ­ protections for file-sharers are in
the works. The distinction between file-sharing for personal use and
doing so for money is being considered. In Korea, personal
file-sharers "will not be accused" under guidelines issued by the
Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office, the Korea Times reports
tm>, while "Internet users who share music files for commercial
purposes will be subject to criminal charges." Net users who encourage
illegal file-sharing "will also be punished," the Times adds. In
France, a new digital copyright-protection bill is being reworked "to
notably enshrine the right of consumers to make private copies of
music and film disks and mete out smaller penalties to small-time
downloaders," Agence France Presse reports
ht-bill.html>. The changes came on the orders of Prime Minister
Dominique de Villepin and follow a surprise effort last month, on the
part of a small group of both ruling-party and opposition members of
Parliament, "to legalise peer-to-peer file-sharing." [Thanks to BNA
Internet Law <> for pointing these stories out.]

7. School news: Via P.A. or iPod?

Edgewater High School in central Florida wants to make tech work for
students. Principal Rob Anderson podcasts his daily announcements, the
Orlando Sentinel reports
and "within a few months, about a dozen teachers will begin
podcasting lectures," as well as taking InterWrite SchoolPads
(wireless keyboards) home to do "virtual tutoring" - "so students at
any computer can get real-time answers. Connected by the school's
network, they'll converse by instant message or email," reports the
Sentinel, indicating that podcasting, blogging, and virtual tutoring,
which started at the university level, are now "creeping into
elementary and secondary schools across the country." Edgewater High
School has a science, technology and computer magnet program. Across
the country, here's the Arizona Republic on the technologies teachers
are testing ­ iPods, handheld computers, and blogs ­ and how it's working

8. AOL issues a patch

Yes, you read that right ­ AOL, not Microsoft. "America Online today
released a free software update to plug what experts are calling a
'critical' security flaw in software used by millions of people to
surf the Web," reports Washington Post PC security writer Brian Krebs
tml>, adding that "the problem affects AOL version 8.0, AOL version
8.0+, and AOL version 9.0 Classic." The good news, Brian says in an
update to that reports, is that users who log on to AOL at least once
a month probably automatically got the patch. But if you want to be
sure, go to Brian's post for instructions on how get the patch. In a
separate special report, Brian also looks at how Microsoft is doing
with its patching process
6011400218.html>. The one-word verdict? "Better." He explains why.

9. MySpace: Parents, parent company

To a lot of MySpace's 43 million members and some 660,000
member-artists, the presence of parents can put a real damper on
things. That would go for parent companies as well, most likely.
Reuters reports
_3-6027973.html> that MySpacers are nervous that News Corp.'s
acquisition of MySpace last year will make it more like News Corp.'s
space (after all, the company, "one of the most powerful news
conglomerates on the planet," as Reuters put it, did pay $580 million
for it). Co-founder Chris DeWolfe, now "making the rounds of News
Corp.'s European territories," is trying to assuage those concerns.
Clearly, the social-networking/blogging site has growth plans. It'll
be interesting to see if that growth has an adverse affect on
MySpace's atmosphere and regulars, since its ambience is supposedly a
cross between a virtual bar, MTV, and "an online version of a
teenager's bedroom, a place where the walls are papered
with posters and photographs, the music is loud, and grownups are an
alien species," as the New York Times put it last fall

10. Teen tech expectations: Study

Did we parents not know this? Teenagers are "completely comfortable
with rapid technological change," MIT found in a survey of Americans'
attitudes toward innovation
ews_view&newsId=20060111005169&newsLang=en>. Among the findings, 33%
of US teens predict the demise of gasoline-powered cars by 2015, 26%
expect CDs to be obsolete by then, and 22% say desktop computers will
be out of the picture. They're also optimistic about invention and
innovation being able to solve global problems like hunger, disease,
pollution, and needs for energy and clean water. However, Merton
Flemings, head of the Lemelson-MIT program that conducted the survey,
that he "wonders whether enough of today's teens are in position to
invent such solutions, noting that engineering was teens' third-most
attractive career choice, picked by 14% as the field
that most interested them ? and just 4% of girls. Only 9% of all teens
said they were leaning toward science." Teen respondents' top two
career picks were the arts and medicine (each got 17%).

Anne Collier
Net Family News <> and
The Online Safety Project <>

Copyright statements to be included when reproducing
annotations from K12 Newsletter

The single phrase below is the copyright notice to be used when reproducing any portion of this report, in any format:

K12 Newsletter copyright



Other related posts:

  • » SafeKids/NetFamilyNews 1/20/06 issue