Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Columnist pans prosecutions of teens for cell phone images


On April Fools Day, 2009, Ruth Marcus has a column on p A21 of the Washington Post, “Keeping kids from one byte too many,” link here. Marcus makes light of the prosecutions in a number of states for teenage cell phone “sexting” and now notes that a federal judge has blocked a teen “topless” cell phone incident in Pennsylvania that could have marked three girls, presumably for life. (I’m not sure which incident). However, she writes, a Florida state appeals court has upheld c.p. charges against a 16 year old girl and her 17 year old boyfriend, maintaining the state interest in “protecting minors.” I fail to see how this is protecting minors.

In fact, it seems that on a state level there are a lot of prosecutors who see political opportunism in going down paths that seem intellectually flaws. On my Internet safety blog, I’ve already covered the problem of prosecutions for c.p. placed on unprotected work computers by viruses, when the prosecutors failed to look at whether the employers (in one case, a school district) had even bothered to properly protect its work computers. That’s something to bear in mind especially today, as supposedly Conflicker activates.

Marcus also goes on to discuss the idea of friending one’s own kids on Facebook or Myspace. Does that “protect” them?

ABC Nightline has a video (2009/04/01) on the sexting issue here. A Pennsylvania DA agreed to drop charges if the kids would go to a five-week class on the dangers of sexting, but apparently the federal judge ruled that they could not be required to go.

The ACLU maintains that child pornography laws are designed to protect minors from other adults, but not to protect minors directly from their own actions. A girl's mother said that her daughter had done nothing wrong and should not have to go to the class, and a federal judge agreed.

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