Judgment Call: Law On Child Porn Stirs Debate - InformationWeek
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8/3/2001
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Stephanie Stahl
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Judgment Call: Law On Child Porn Stirs Debate

In the magazine business, the days fly by with interviews, stories, tight deadlines, creative artwork, and tough decisions. Each week, we must decide what story is the most relevant, has the most impact, is the most newsworthy, and, ultimately, is the most important to our 440,000 readers. It's a decision that often promotes healthy debate among the editors. This week's debate wasn't on which story to run on the cover, but rather which cover image would be most appropriate. We had a number of photos and illustrations to choose from. What we ultimately decided to use came with a fair amount of hand-wringing because the subject of the story, child pornography, is disturbing. It's something we'd all like to eradicate. Of course, the image we used is in no way associated with any pornographic material. Rather, it's simply an innocent photo of a child model. Our intent is not to exploit the situation, but rather to show that it could be difficult to judge whether a picture is or isn't pornographic upon first glance. It's a job that more than 4,200 of our subscribers--IT employees in South Carolina--will have to add to their list of responsibilities. Is it fair to make them accountable? You'll find more on this discussion in this week's cover story ("You Be The Judge") and in Bob Evans' Business Technology column ("Big Brother Lives In South Carolina").

Also this week, we tackle the tough issue of ROI. In a soft economy, companies are finding it necessary to justify every penny spent. That's forcing business-technology managers to revisit tried-and-true metrics or to find new approaches to prove the validity of IT projects. The quest to balance capital investment with business needs is causing some companies to decide what's more important: a cost-reduction project or a revenue-generating project. Which is more important to you?

A few weeks ago in this column, I noted that (thankfully) we hadn't heard of any major security threats in a few weeks. I should have kept my mouth shut. Along came Code Red, a malicious worm that has infected hundreds of thousands of Internet servers and has cost more than $1 billion to clean up. Security experts are wondering what's next. Also up for discussion is just how much security-software vendors should disclose about such threats. In the interest of full disclosure, some may be releasing too many details and making a hacker's job even easier (see stories, "Code Red: Are You Ready For The Next Attack" and "Full Disclosure.")

See what others are saying about these topics and tell us what you think. Log on to informationweek.com/forum/ stephaniestahl.

STEPHANIE STAHL
Editor
sstahl@cmp.com

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