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Responsibility or permissiveness on the Internet

 

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Popularization of the Internet all over the world, including Kazakhstan, undoubtedly creates new possibilities and makes many day-to-day operations more convenient, which explains the high level of penetration of the Internet in the country. However, one should not forget that there is also a reverse side of the Internet coin and it provides new opportunities for criminal activity.

 

 

 

Crimes are generally committed under the presence of a number of factors:

  • There is an opportunity to commit crime
  • There is a criminal with enough motivation
  • There is no enough control or there are no other obstacles to committing a crime.

 

In this sense Internet provides a perfect environment, because it provides countless opportunities, provides unrestrained access for motivated criminals and, very importantly, the cyberspace provides a level of anonymity that did not exist before. In addition, Internet is characterized by the lack of coordinated and effective regulation. That is why perpetrators, who target underage children, actively use internet to achieve their goals.

 

Computerization of the country and grooving popularity of the Internet in the Republic of Kazakhstan resulted in younger generation having access to the computer from a very early age and consequently access to the web. Electronic libraries, music, video, online games and social networks are among the resources that may be interested to children and adolescents. Some on the popular Kazakhstani and international internet resources provide statistics which help to estimate the level of involvement of children before the age of 17 into the usage of internet resources.

 

Audience of some popular Kazakhstani web sites may currently reach 5.5 million unique users per month. According to preliminary estimates, users between the age 12 and 17 years old make up 7% to 10% of the total audience. It has to be mentioned that Russian and other foreign social networks, including “My World”, “Odnoklassniki” and “Facebook” are much more popular on the territory of Kazakhstan that their local counterparts. That is why it can be assumed that the number of underage Kazakhstani users of these networks is well above 500 thousand people. Therefore due to the increasing interest towards social networks, both local and foreign, the question of safe Internet becomes more important.  

 

According to the data provided by the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the number of crimes directed at underage individuals, has increased in the past several years. For example, in 2010 5 945 crimes directed at children have been committed in Kazakhstan. In 2011 this number reached 8 896  and in 2012 there has been an insignificant decrease and the number of such crimes reached 8 886. In addition to increase of registered crimes, there is been a rise in the number of sex crime directed at individuals before the age of 16. In 2012 there is been an increase of such crimes by 1.5 times.

 

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Figure 1- Number of crimes directed at underage individuals in 2010-2012

 

This statistics most likely does not reflect the actual state of things. Victims of the abuse, including those who are underage, often refuse to report an abuse due to the number of factors. Those include personal influence that perpetrators have on their victims and the fact that report to the police does not always lead to capture of the criminal. Internet become an environment where criminals who target children feel safe and secure. They use Internet in order to produce and exchange child pornography, search for children, who can become victims of abuse and to communicate with people who have similar sexual preferences.

 

In 2011 “Internet Watch Foundation” found 12 966 resources that contained illegal materials related to sexual abuse of children. These materials have been kept on 1 595 domains in 39 countries of the world. 86% of them have been kept on .com, .ru, .ps, .net and .org domains. 67% of resources contained depictions of sexual intercourse between an adult and a child, including rape and torture. Nowadays Internet plays an important part in the increase of the number of sex crimes against underage individuals.

Community action

 

The threat of crimes committed by means of modern technologies creates a growing demand for strategies of prevention and control, particularly when it comes to internet-exploitation of children. These strategies are directed at reduction of number of possibilities for committing such crimes, increase of detection risk and reduction of probable profit. 

 

 

Owners of foreign social networks actively work and play an important part in protection of children against sex crimes in the countries, where the issue of internet crimes, including the distribution of child pornography, has been moved to the forefront. 

 

For example administration of YouTube website defines its attitude towards meterials that contain child pornography. The rules clearly state that all child abuse related illegal content shall be reported to the relevant law-enforcement bodies and shall be deleted immediately. In addition, administration encourages all users to report illegal content immediately (Figure 2).

 

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Figure 2– Extract from YouTube website “Terms and conditions”

 

Facebook social network prohibits registering accounts for children under the age of 13. Similarly to YouTube Facebook openly declares its cooperation with law-enforcement bodies. If necessary the administration can forward the information which helps to respond to emergencies, including the risk of infliction of harm, prevention of suicide and recovering of missing children (Figure 3). 

 

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Figure 3- Extract from Facebook website “Terms and conditions”

 

 

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Figure 4- Extract from Facebook website “Terms and conditions”

 

 

Despite the fact that international community has moved to the forefront the issue of protection of children, the owners of popular Kazakhstani and some Russian websites do not seen to be eager to control the published content.

 

 

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Figure 5- Extract from “Terms and conditions” of popular Kazakhstani website

 

Owners of two popular Russian social networking sites, in their terms and conditions prohibit to post illegal content on the website, but at the same time they do not bear responsibility for any content, published by the users. Despite the fact that international community have moved the issue of protection of minors to the forefront, the owners of popular social networking websites are not eager to get involved in this. Generally, administration simply states that they bear no responsibility for the content. 

 

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Figure 6- Extract from “Terms and conditions” of popular Kazakhstani website

 

 

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Figure 7- Extract from “Terms and conditions” of popular Kazakhstani website

 

In the current situation the owners and administrators of popular internet resources should realize how important it is to take responsibility for publication of illegal content and take action to prevent its distribution. It is important to provide thorough monitoring of the content in order to be able to discover and delete the illegal one. In addition, social networks and popular websites should become the initiators of active cooperation between themselves and law enforcement bodies, as it is done in a numbers of foreign countries. Young generation intakes information from electronic resources very fast and that is why popular internet resources are able to promote the action against illegal content and for safe behavior practices. Everything listed above demonstrates that currently the situation is not in it best stage of development. Users are largely left on their own. Websites admins do not think twice about the security of the users in the popularity race. They prefer to step back and do nothing even though they have opportunities and resources for fighting production and distribution of child pornography.

 

Author of the article : Chernyavskaya A.