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Stephanie Stahl
Stephanie Stahl
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Editor's Note: IT Needs To Fight Child Pornography

In a recent story called "Machine Wars" (Jan. 17), we highlighted the problem of automated hacking, where computers subverted by hackers churn out malicious code with such speed that it's nearly impossible to track. Last week, Microsoft issued a whopping 12 security bulletins encompassing 19 vulnerabilities, 14 of which it marked "critical," including a vulnerability that could lead to one of the nastiest computer worms in years. These and other computer security threats are disturbing.

But let me bring your attention to something else running rampant out there in the world of the Internet, something that's far worse than a nasty virus or a system vulnerability, something that law enforcement can barely keep up with: child pornography.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's CyberTipline logged a 39% increase in reports of possession, creation, or distribution of child pornography in 2004, the seventh consecutive year child-pornography incidents have risen since the group set up its 24-hour hot line in 1998.

Our cover story and other online elements are disturbing, but educational. Many readers will be shocked at just how pervasive the problem is. You should be aware. You should be outraged. It's a problem the technology industry can't ignore. Our hats go off to companies actively and aggressively trying to find ways to prevent this heinous business. I asked InformationWeek columnist Parry Aftab, a privacy lawyer who also runs Wired Kids Inc., a nonprofit organization devoted to online consumer safety, how InformationWeek readers can help. First and foremost, she needs volunteers to raise awareness of the situation. Technology equipment and funding also are needed. For more information, go to

Stephanie Stahl

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