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The better software typically starts as a filter, blocking the exchange of abusive language and personal contact information such as email addresses, phone numbers and Skype login names.
Still, as the Skout case showed, there are several recent trends that have heightened the concerns of child-safety experts: the rise of smartphones, which are harder for parents to monitor; location-oriented services, which are the darling of Net companies seeking more ad revenue from local businesses; and the rapid proliferation in phone and tablet apps, which don’t always make clear what data they are using and distributing.
A solid system for defending against online predators requires both oversight by trained employees and intelligent software that not only searches for improper communication but also analyzes patterns of behavior, experts said.
Companies can set the software to take many defensive steps automatically, including temporarily silencing those who are breaking rules or banning them permanently.
As a result, many threats are eliminated without human intervention and moderators at the company are notified later.
By some measures, Internet-related sex crimes against children have always been rare and are now falling (as are reports of assaults on minors that do not involve the Net).
Most sex crimes against children are committed by people the children know, rather than strangers.
“There are companies out there that are doing a very good job, working within the confines of what they have available,” said Brooke Donahue, a supervisory special agent with an FBI team devoted to Internet predators and child pornography.
“There are companies out there that are more concerned about profitability.” Two recent incidents are raising new questions about companies’ willingness to invest in safety.
Under a 1998 law known as COPPA, for the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, sites directed at those 12 and under must have verified parental consent before collecting data on children.Tags: Adult Dating, affair dating, sex dating