Friday, April 30, 2010

How safe is the Internet?

Many people are not aware of the dangers for adults and children on the internet, ranging from cyberbullies to adults looking for sex with children to viruses and other types of malicious software. The goal of the local telecommunications industry has been mainly focused with getting people online, rather than teaching them how to use the internet safely.

The internet can be a wonderful resource for kids, to research school reports, communicate with teachers and other pupils, and play interactice games. Any kid old enough to type a few words can literally access the world, but that access can also pose hazards. For example, a young boy might go on the internet and do an online search for 'lego'. But with just one missed keystroke, the word 'legs' is entered instead, and the boy may be directed to websites with a focus on legs - some may contain pornographic material.
That is why it is important to be aware of what chidren see and hear on the internet, who they meet, and what they share about themselves online.
A federal law, the childrens online privacy protection act (COPPA) was created to help protect children online. It's designed to keep anyone from obtaining a childs personal information without a parent knowing about it and agreeing to it first.
COPPA requires websites to explain their privacy policies on the site and get parental consent before collecting or using a childs personal information, such as a name, address, phone number, or Social security number. The law also prohibits a site from requiring a child to provide more personal information than necessary to play a game, etc. But it is not just up to these laws, it is also up to the parent to try and monitor their childrens access on the internet. Online protection tools are available to help protect against predators but no option is 100% guaranteed.

Several sites have had talks about security and how to improve it. Facebook has come under fire for not doing enough to protect young people. MySpace, the biggest social networking site on the internet with more than 180 million user profiles, revealed it found 29,000 convicted sex offenders on its Web site.
Facebook, because of the murder of a 17 year old girl and the amount of complaints lodged, may have to give into pressure from the public and install a panic button on the website to help increase security.

Facebook meets UK child protection agency
By Adam Hartley
April 12th
Facebook execs set to meet with UK child protection agency to discuss 'panic buttons' for the website

Facebook execs are set to meet with representatives of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (Ceop) centre in Washington this week to discuss ways of making the online social networking service safer for youngsters.
Ceop's director Jim Gamble said there is an urgent need to discuss the possibility of installing 'panic buttons' on Facebook, following the recent murder 17-year-old student Ashleigh Hall by Peter Chapman, a man she met via the site.
Chapman, 33, has been jailed for at least 35 years for the killing.
Facebook has previously said that it would not install a panic button on its main pages for users, but it looks like it may well re-consider that view.
"If you're going to operate a business that encourages people to frequent your public place so that you can advertise to them, then let's look after them while they're there," said Mr Gamble.
Ceop received 252 complaints about Facebook during the first three months of 2010 – 40 per cent of which were about the potential "grooming" of children'.

There have been people trying to expose these predators, for example, the Trouble Shooters. Last February, the Trouble Shooters posed online as a 13-year-old Houston girl.
They entered several different chat rooms listed on both Yahoo and AOL and it didn't take long for Houston adult men to talk sex with them. Dozens went even further and sent private messages where they talked one on one. Then, some arranged to meet in person.
But instead of finding the young girl they thought they were chatting with online, these men found the Local 2 Trouble Shooters with cameras rolling.
The day after that report, law officers began investigating every man who knocked at the door.

The activites of a predator named Clawson in Texas came to light when Texas Rangers started investigating him, they said they discovered that his past online chatting led him to real sex meetings he had with two girls. Both girls told the Rangers about those sexual encounters.
A grand jury indicted Clawson on two felony child sex charges.
"Obviously, anytime you're dealing with someone who's seeking juveniles, it's satisfaction, due to the arrest was made and that the grand jury saw enough there to indict. So, yes, it's one less individual we have to worry about doing those types of things," said Sgt. David Rainwater, with the Texas Rangers.

Dr. Barbara Levinson counsels sex offenders and she's not surprised that police say they have found real victims because of the Trouble Shooter's investigation.
She said most men who look for underage sex online usually have quite a routine.
"It happens very fast. And the escalation can happen very fast," Levinson said. "They get them to be their friends and then they can get into very sexually explicit talk. And that's also part of the grooming. There remain men on the Internet that have done this over and over again and haven't gotten caught."
As for Clawson, he went before a judge and is free after posting a $20,000 bail.

One final example, from the thousands that exist, of how naive and trusting a young child can be, was the case of Danielle Helms' 14 year old daughter Kristin. She was like so many other teenagers who logged onto social networking sites looking for their friends and looking to make new ones.

Kristin Helms, a star student and athlete, was seduced by a predator nearly twice her age who traveled from Texas to California to have sex with her and when he left, the teen was psychologically crippled.
Kristin Helms eventually revealed her secret to her mother. Danielle Helms recalls her daughter telling her that she didn't mean to fall for him emotionally and saying, "It's not your fault, mom."
And then one day, while her parents were at church, Kristin hanged herself.
"It rips your soul in half, and I will never get that day out of my mind," said Helms. "It is an agonizing thought, the way we saw our baby."
Danielle Helms and her husband called the police when they learned Kristin was being seduced by Kiley Ryan Bowers, who was 27 at the time. They took away her computer, shut down her profile and forbade her to contact Bowers.
But Kristin Helms secretly communicated with Bowers, calling him behind her parents' back and using school computers to contact him.

Using internet communication tools such as social networking, chatrooms, email and instant messaging can put children at potential risk of encountering online predators. The anonymity of the internet means that trust and intimacy can develop quite quickly. Predators take advantage of this anonymity to bulid online relationships with inexperienced young people. Kids feel they are aware of the dangers of predators, but they are actually quite naive about online realtionships.
'Stanger, danger' was the main threat I was warned about growing up, the threat from the outside that crept in, the stranger in the darkened car that lured children in with candy. Now, sadly, parents must concern themselves not only with strangers hiding in public places but must contend with trusted caretakers who abuse children as well as the threat that comes from the internet.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Media Activist

The activist group I am about to set up already has other activists throughout Ireland trying to achieve the same goal. This is another group with the same hopes and aspirations towards solving a major problem in Ireland.

Since 2005 Hare coursing, Fox hunting and Carted Deer Hunting have been banned in the UK. Following this the Green Party Northern Ireland Assembly member Brian Wilson said,

'legislation banning the hunting of wild mammals with dogs already exists in England, Scotland and Wales, so it should be the legislation in Northern Ireland to keep in line with the rest of the UK'.

This was meet with resistance by 5'000 angry sportsmen and woman, who turned out in Waterford to demonstrate against the ban.
And there lies my anger as an activist. A large number of the population are not bothered by these blood sports, they want to keep the sport legal and have no interest in stopping it. There are actually several websites and hotels advertising the sport.

So I'm going to write in detail exactly what these sports entail and maybe by visually imaging the pain and horror bestowed upon these creatures, I may be able to change a small percentage of the populations views.
My account is not entirely biased, I do take into account the practises of farmers and others throughout the country. In saying ban blood sports, for example, fox hunting, we would have to address the subject of pest control on farms. Traps, burning them out, poison and other ways of keeping the numbers of pests down are just as inhumane. Research has shown that traps cause just as much pain as chasing. This is one of the reasons 5,000 people protested in Waterford. They're worried if it is banned, what will be next on the list.

If fox hunting is banned would farmers snaring and other methods increase? Research shows this is not the case. The number killed by hunting is not enough to have any effect on the farming community.

The reason behind the public reluctance to support the ban on hunting stems from the fear of wondering where the protests will end? If this is banned, what next? Will there eventually be a ban on mouse traps? On some farms chickens are killed by being placed in killing cones, where they are turned upside down, their throats are slit and they are left to bleed to death. Some rural butchers still use this method for sheep and pigs. The list of inhumane killing techniques is endless.

The next step after achieving the ban on blood sports will be promoting organic living. Appealing to the government to make this option of living less expensive. Find a more humane way for pest control and the butchering of livestock.

The media in Ireland does not address the subject of blood sports very often. Actually the only time I've seen the issue raised recently was on Frontline RTE. The main sources of information comes from independent organisations, who have set up websites. As for the methods of killing livestock, the media never shows the extent of the suffering some animals will go through. Meat is a huge market, the government would not want to put people off buying it.

In Ireland, we are actually quite fortunate, in that government officials or Garda have not intervened with the public voice as of yet. Not like places, for example, the Anti G8 protests in Genoa, where police destroyed all digital footage and documentation of police brutality at a peaceful march. Our mainstream media may be controlled but so far we have the freedom of speech on Internet links etc. But this is not enough. Many do not have access to these means, so they rely solely on mainstream media to give them all the information they need. This results in most of the public only ever seeing what the government wants them to see.

You could say that it is the reluctance of the public themselves to change their ways, or get involved. Ireland is still trying to keep up and alot of the older generation do not like change.
So this is were I'm appealing to all generations to start voicing their concerns and fighting for what they believe in.

To witness to barbarity of blood sports in Ireland click on the following link.

Witness for yourselves the abusive treatment of foxes, hares and deer in the collection of video footage. But also have a look at the humane alternatives that could be put in place.

A Day on the Hunt
Let me paint a picture of a day on the hunt. The horses are all geared up, the hunters are ready to go and the chase begins. A horse falls at high speed and is injured, it is lead back to the stables to be put down, (a horses broken leg can never be fixed). One hound is shrieking in pain because he jumped onto a barbed wire fence and can't get off. When hounds chase their prey they forget everything else so nine times out of ten they end up injured, it has been known for a hound to go off the edge of a cliff and fall to his death.

Hundreds of hounds have been killed by trains or cars. In England before the ban, eleven hounds were killed by the one train. If the dog is so injured they cannot continue the hunt, the hunters will just shoot them rather than have a vet rehabilitate them.

The hunt continues on, (livestock can sometimes be killed or pet cats and dogs). At this stage the fox is becoming tired. Imagine running for hours with a pack of hungry dogs chasing you. The fox is looking for a hole to escape but the hunters had been out the night before to fill any holes they could find. Even if the fox does out run the hounds, it will probably be too tired to find food. Even if a fox escapes its health will be severally damaged.

The hounds catch up with the fox and each take a bite, tearing into its body and yanking the fox till it rips apart. The process takes longer the less dogs that are on the hunt. Most die from having their guts ripped out.

The hounds cower and whimper at the sight of the whip, so its safe to say that most are whipped in their training. When they are passed six or seven some will be put down and if they are not born with all the attributes of a hunts dog they will be put down. Some huntsmen have admitted putting a dog down due to its colour.

A fox manages to escape down a hole so the huntsmen send a terrier down, this could go on for hours. When the fox is dragged out it is shot or killed with a blow by a spade. There is sometimes a fight in the hole between the fox and the terrier or it has been known for a terrier to get trapped under the earth and people cannot get him out.

So basically I'm looking for support to bring in a legislation banning blood sports.
I will be hosting meetings, putting up posters, interviewing locals for an overall perspective, gathering signatures for petitions, sending out mobile alerts, setting up web pages, putting together advertisements and campaigns and holding demonstrations.

I need you to submit their opinions to media outlets and government officials. I need you to tell all your friends, work colleagues, neighbours and family members to support this action against Blood Sports.

Please also on behalf of send a message to Minister John Gormley stating
'I support the ban on the Ward Union' to


Juris, J. (2008) 'The New Digital Media and Activist Networking within Anti-Corporate Globalisation Movements' in The Anthropology of Globalisation: 352-370.