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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

A thumbs up to Microsoft

The software giant may have its various detractors and personally I envy Mr. Gates his ingenuity (moreso than his money, although I wouldn't turn down the latter), but in recent years, I've gained a respect for Gates given his and his wife's generous contributions to U.S. schools and a world health initiative via their foundation. I haven't heard of too many multi-billion dollar organizations putting funds toward the prevention of HIV infection in developing countries. Very laudable.

Now I read that Microsoft is training Cambodians and other Asians to combat pedophiles who use the Internet to exploit children in their countries. Asian countries have long been the target of globe-trotting pedophiles who travel the ends of the earth to indulge their sickness. Cities like Bangkok are rife with sex slavers who traffic in children, some as young as six or seven. Lax law enforcement and extreme poverty put many of these children in harm's way, and not much has been done by the world community to stem the trafficking nor the tourism predicated on these children's exploitation.

Presently, Microsoft, working in conjunction with British intelligence, is running a two-week seminar in Cambodia, where they are training Cambodian, Thai and Indonesian law enforcement officials and humanitarian workers on Internet basics, as well as tracing sex offenders on the Internet and network security.

"We recognize it is our responsibility to make cyberspace safe for all users, particularly children," said Katharine Bostick, Microsoft's senior director of legal and corporate affairs in Asia.

Although most children in these countries do not have access to the Internet, their abusers use Internet resources to plan their sex trips and to interact with one another in choosing their victims.

Hopefully, this seminar will be one of many steps that Microsoft takes to combat the child sex trade. But it's going to take more than Microsoft's efforts to truly make a difference. Network providers and ISPs need to be less hands off and monitor closely for child pornography on their sites. I'm all for freedom of speech protection from the government, but when it comes to the safety of children, I don't give a damn about the First Amendment rights of pedophiles.

Right now, there are 33,000 child sex workers in Cambodia alone. This is a miniscule percentage of the number of children being abused worldwide.

Only a global effort will stem this awful tide in child exploitation. At least Microsoft is getting off to a good start. Hopefully, other companies will follow their lead.

Addendum: Yahoo to shut chats promoting adult-child sex - Good for them.

Sharon Cullars Coffee Talk at 10/11/2005 08:58:00 AM Permanent Link     | | Home


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