Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Katie Couric covers the problem of protecting minors online on her own new show

Although I have covered NBC’s series “To Catch a Predator” on my TV blog (“The Unseen Tapes”, Nov. 15. 2009), I’ll out a note about Katie Couric’s episode today “How to catch an online predator” on my COPA blog. The link for the new show is here.

During the show, a Connecticut state police woman (Samantha McCord)  participate in a chat room and nabbed seven people as a decoy.

Several convicts discussed their motives and treatments, as did a clinical psychologist, who noted that only older minors can be targeted online.

One woman accidentally discovered that her husband was accumulating child pornography, and participated in a police sting to nab him.  He was not the man she married.

One older convict claimed that he did not know that he was talking to underage girls, which was a common excuse on the earlier NBC series.

Parry Aftab, attorney, noted that today smart phones and even gameboxes have become targets for criminals seeking children, and that parents must supervise them closely. Aftab mentioned that Section 230 (of the 1996 Telecommunications Act) gives service providers immunity from downstream liability for what users post (although I had thought that was mainly with respect to libel), but most reputable service providers have "terms of service" and will remove inappropriate contact that is flagged by other users and then is reviewed manually after the fact.  
On this particular episode, most of the crime was heterosexual (older men seeking underage girls) as was the case on the NBC series. 

See also Books blog, March 17, 2007, for review of Chris Hansen's book.  

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