By Michele Goodwin
A recent spate of arrests in New York emphasizes the potentially dangerous connection between technology and sex crimes. In a landmark police bust, authorities tracked down and arrested more than seventy people in the New York City area who were trading child pornography. Among those arrested were a rabbi, police chief, nurse, architect, and nanny. Police infiltrated chat rooms where traffickers made available images of children engaged in sex acts with each other and adults.
What is the role of technology in the arrests and distribution of these images? While technology helped officers track down child pornography traffickers, the internet also facilitated the trading of those harmful, illegal images of children. On line chat rooms and other social network spaces provide for the broad-spread, easy distribution of child pornography.
Importantly, the children whose images are trafficked are re-victimized each time their images are shared, bought, and sold. The frequency at which this can occur is intensified over electronic media, opening a horrific floodgate as demonstrated in the New York arrests where thousands of obscene, pornographic images of children were collected from dozens of confiscated laptops. Clearly, solutions to this problem must necessarily emphasize examining technology’s unwelcome dark side.