Date: February 02, 2004
By Natalie Pona
Rapidly progressing technology is supercharging cyberspace sex crime, experts say.
"Crime had been going on even before the age of the Internet," said Pierre Attallah, consultant for Winnipeg-based Pallix Internet Security Inc. "It's just the public's awareness and the technology's accessibility that is causing problems."
Criminals are creating new offences -- such as the online posting of pictures secretly snapped from under women's skirts -- as quickly as computer capabilities advance, Attallah said.
There is no sign of a slowdown, he said.
"You're going to see more of it. It's going to increase. The technology is getting smaller and smaller and better all the time," Attallah said.
'HOLD INDUSTRY ACCOUNTABLE'
Roz Prober, president of the child advocacy group Beyond Borders, said companies selling computer equipment should also be responsible for preventing its illegal use.
"The people who make the money in an industry should be held accountable. They should come up with the solutions to protect children," she said.
But Attallah said it is the police and lawmakers who are responsible for protecting the public.
"That's like saying we should put the responsibility on the manufacturers of guns for making sure their products are used properly," he said.
From cellphones equipped with cameras to webcams enabling live footage from public washrooms, Attallah said the biggest problem for potential victims is laws that leave police paralysed.
"Technological crimes are evolving at a far greater rate than police can keep up with," he said.
Attallah said pinhole cameras -- tiny devices capable of feeding live images to the Internet -- are the greatest concern for security experts.
"They are extremely difficult to detect."
Pallix Internet Security Inc. sells a radio frequency detector which senses the presence of cameras, such as the pinhole device. The gadgets cost $175.
"I've been selling quite a few of them," Attallah said.
Progress in digital recording and editing equipment has created problems for sex crimes investigators, said Dr. Al Cooper, a California psychiatrist. Cooper said people accused of making kiddie porn have been known to insist children weren't involved in the production of the material.
"Some of the cases have been argued that with the digital technology, they can come up with pictures where the child's head is digitally imposed on an adult's body," he said.
Staff Sgt. Boyd Campbell, of the Integrated Child Exploitation unit and Winnipeg sex crimes division, said the growing might of computers -- such as larger hard drives and faster downloading speed -- have made it easier for pedophiles to access online child porn movies, some more than an hour long.
"And when we first started doing this they could only get them 40 seconds to a minute in length," he said.
But consumers aren't powerless against the barrage of sexual spam, Attallah said. Internet service providers have the capability to block unsolicited e-mails.
"If it's coming to your computer, it's too late," he said. "You should complain or switch servers."
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