Foreword | This paper reports the experience of Queensland police in the investigation of predatory behaviour by men seeking sex with children through online chat rooms.
It reports on the 25 investigations into online grooming completed by the Queensland Police in the period June 2003 and September 2004 under the code name Task Force Argos, and includes a discussion of three successful prosecutions.
If a child enters an online chat room they may encounter an adult person, who may or may not be pretending to be a child, but who is on the lookout for a child to whom they can 'talk dirty', send obscene images, obtain sexually explicit pictures, engage in cybersex or meet for sex offline.
The adult might strike up a conversation which very soon progresses to a sexually explicit topic.
7 letter of agreement with New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, Yahoo General Counsel Michael Callahan acknowledged that "certain individuals, interested in engaging in sexual conduct with minors, have at times entered or even created chat rooms for such purposes.
Yahoo is committed to continue to work with (the) law enforcement community, to minimize, target and take action against such behavior." The agreement is "an affirmative step for Yahoo," Spitzer said at a news conference.
In a statement, spokeswoman Mary Osako said Yahoo will also enhance online users' safety by restricting Yahoo Chat to users 18 and older and removing the Teen category.
New York and Nebraska began their investigations this year after learning that children had unfettered access to adult chat rooms.
Yahoo agreed to prescreen user-created chat room names, to reject names encouraging sexual activity between adults and children and, on finding chat rooms encouraging such activity, to purge them within 24 hours.
It also agreed to develop education materials promoting the safe use of chat rooms.
Computers connected to the internet provide a number of ways to communicate in real time with other people who can be anywhere, including across the room, hallway, road, city, state, country or world.