Thursday, January 22, 2009

Legal experts warn kids on cell phone pictures; prosecutors get aggressive


Today (Jan 22), the NBC Today (during the 10 AM EST hour) show featured Parry Aftab, an attorney from Wiredsaftey, talking about the legally and socially dangerous practice of “sexting” among teenagers. Minor-aged girls take legally inappropriate photos and send them by cell phone to boys. In both Ohio and Pennsylvania recently, district attorneys have prosecuted senders and/or receivers for transmitting or possessing child pornography and threatened to place them on registered sex offender lists.

I’ll add that this kind of prosecution seems like an abuse of the concept, an issue that John Stossel has covered on ABC 20/20 in his “give me a break” series.

Nevertheless, teens and parents have to be aware of the possibility of this kind of prosecution. In Cleveland, a judge sentenced teens to probation if they would lecture others on the dangers of the practice.

Parry Aftab’s blog is here.

The Today show reminded viewers that cell phones have much weaker filtering and minor protection than do Internet sites, but that cell phone photos are easily uploaded to the Internet and can stay there forever, to be found by colleges and employers, a “reputation defense” problem often previously discussed on these blogs (including yesterday on the Dr. Phil show).

I see that I have an earlier posting on this problem on October 10, 2008 on my COPA blog (see my Profile).

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