The Internet: A Power for Good and Evil

INTRODUCTION

Though the internet has made it easier for us to connect with others, it is also used to exploit and abuse children. We must call for all abusers and enablers of online crimes against children to be held accountable and face justice.

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Everything that is morally neutral in itself can be beautiful and an object of wonder. The internet, in which millions of computers and devices are linked together, is a tool of communication. However, it is deplorably and disgustingly abused and used for crimes of the worst kind.

It is widely used to sexually exploit, hurt, harm and abuse, seduce, groom, and hurt children, women, and men. The criminals exploit and bully the vulnerable and post hate speech, sexually abusive material, and pornography on websites and platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

Criminals use it to defraud, scam, steal, extort, shame, and threaten people. Most human trafficking is done by encrypted messages and conversations via internet connections. And it continues on an even greater scale.

 

CHILDREN SEXUALLY EXPLOITED ONLINE

The worst form of internet abuse is when corrupt people use it to transmit live images of heinous crimes committed against children. This is known as online sexual exploitation of children. It is the live-streaming of sexual abuse through a phone connected to the internet.

Live images of this abuse are viewed on computers or phones by depraved customers in different countries paying large sums of money. Most are from rich developed nations. Internet Server Providers (ISPs) facilitate the transmission and should be compelled to install blocking software on their server computers as they are required in the Philippines under Republic Act 11930.  Enforcing this is difficult.

Many pedophiles and child abuse traffickers save these images of child abuse and copy them. They then post them as for sale on websites and other platforms. The child relives their exploitation as terrible images of their abuse continuously circulate and are passed through the internet to other customers. The cycle of abuse is never-ending.

The parents or relatives of child victims who allow it tell themselves and others that it does no harm; customers are only looking, not touching the naked children. Child sex shows are obscene acts done to the child. Children are made to do indescribable sex acts that make one shrink in total disgust.

This crime against helpless children is not to be taken lightly. It must never be tolerated or ignored. Everyone is challenged to stand against it, report abuse, and demand greater law enforcement.

 

A MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR BUSINESS

This multi-billion dollar child sex business has victims as young as three-years-old. These immoral abusers form a great wave of demand for live streaming sex shows. Their customers, mostly males, search for messages and images of young women who post images of themselves in alluring poses on platforms like Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter, offering themselves sexually.

The pedophiles contact these women and offer them large sums of money to recruit children to be abused online. Some teenagers who are abused as children later end up in the streets. Some become human traffickers, luring other children to participate in live sex shows on the internet. All they need is a mobile phone and they can buy an hour of internet time.

Some children sell themselves years later online after being abused as children. They see no other future. The images of child pornography available online desensitizes adults who abuse children without remorse or conscience.

Child abusers will get a long jail sentence to life in prison in some countries if they are caught and convicted. This is very rare as online sexual abuse is a secret crime committed in a private room without witnesses.

Payment for videos of child abuse is also facilitated via the internet through international money transfer services. The paying customer is also committing a criminal act. Physical acts of child abuse are frequently reported and abusers are brought to trial. The abused children are protected, healed, and empowered at the Preda Foundation homes, for example. There is an average of 18 abusers being sentenced for life per year.

Interpol and other foreign police forces have specialized police units searching for abusive shows and are tracking them to their source. Local police are supposed to rescue the victims and arrest the suspects. This very seldom succeeds.

Online child abusers frequently visit the country where the internet live show is done. They even visit the family of the sexually abused children. They can even quickly leave without detection and escape if ever suspected.

When foreign law enforcement officers raid a suspected customer of child sex shows in developed countries like the US or Australia, they find hundreds of other child abusers connected to each other and sharing over the internet images of child abuse. In Germany, 30,000 suspected abusers were discovered on one network during a police raid.

Yet, the internet is also a power for great good. Family and friends are in constant contact; they can meet up and talk virtually through a video link. The world economy depends on the internet. Meetings are held live and vast amounts of information are shared.

 

INTERNET MISSIONARIES FOR TRUTH AND JUSTICE

We can all be “Internet Missionaries” as advocates of truth and justice. We can use the internet to share messages of hope, encouragement, truth, and freedom with thousands of people instantly by posting the messages on social media platforms, websites, and through live streaming.  There is also the dark side of the internet that law enforcers are struggling to police that does great harm.

Major international communications corporations are Internet Server Providers (ISPs) and all are interconnected worldwide through the internet. Images flash in seconds from one continent to another such as the crime of child abuse online in the Philippines, to a customer abroad.  All telecommunication corporations and the platforms that transmit these images of child abuse must be held responsible.

However, the insidious thing is that platforms hosting the images posted on the internet are protected by law. The Communications Decency Act 1996, section 230 states that the corporation and the platforms like Facebook, Google, and Twitter are not to be held liable for what a third party posts on their platforms. They have impunity.

They, unlike newspapers, magazines, radio, or television, are not liable for what others post on their platforms. They are not publishers in the mind of the legislators but this is being challenged. Platform owners must monitor and remove all offensive and illegal content that would endanger minors. Since the content is massive, they fail to obey the law and enjoy impunity.

This crime of live-online child abuse is extremely difficult to detect but with high-tech Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology, detection and blocking can be done if there is a will to do it. Major telecommunication corporations in most countries say they are not obliged by law to install detection or blocking software. However, in the Philippines, they are obliged to block content.

The Philippine Child Protection Law, RA 11930—the Anti Online Sexual Abuse or Exploitation of Children (OSAEC) and Anti-Child Sexual Abuse or Exploitation Materials (CSAEM) Act mandates that ISPs must install blocking software. Allegedly, ISPs continue to refuse to obey this law citing many objections to it. Blocking such software will slow their servers and they will lose money.

Telecommunication corporations are more powerful than the government it seems, and they are usually big campaign donors that get their friends elected. They can “capture” the government regulatory commissions by getting their friends appointed there.

The child victims lose all trust, respect and hope in adults and parents after being sexually exploited. This breaks the bond between parents and children. The child may never trust an adult again.

Jesus of Nazareth made it very clear that such loss of a child’s trust in adults due to an abuser is a terrible crime. The perpetrator needs to be brought to accountability and the child victims need justice. Jesus said in Matthew 18:7, “If anyone should cause any one of these little ones to lose faith in me, it would be better for that person to have a large mill stone tied around his neck and he be drowned in the deep sea”.  He gave dignity and rights to children when He said “Whoever welcomes in my name one such child as this welcomes me”.

 

NEEDED: ONLINE DEFENDERS OF CHILDREN

That’s not a call for the death penalty. It is a descriptive statement of the grievousness of a crime against children. Each abuser must be held accountable. No denial, no cover-up, no impunity is acceptable; each abuser must repent and face justice.

Everyone must be a defender of children—report abuse and get help. We all must demand accountability from telecommunication corporations and persuade them to protect children.

Everyone is expected to protect children and encourage civil society and governments to implement laws to protect children and make the internet safe for all.

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