Technology Makes More People Criminals

Posted February 13, 2009 in Criminal Law by

The last few years the pace at which new technologies have emerged and transformed our lives is breathtaking.  These technologies have made it easier to stay connected with others, to call for help in an emergency, to find information on just about anything within seconds.  There is a dark side, though.  These technologies have also made it easier to engage in criminal activity, sometimes accidentally and often naively. 

For several years the entertainment industry has been waging a war on copyright infringement in the form of illegal downloading of music, movies, and television and the illegal posting online of books and other materials.  The battle has played out in courts all over the country and most consumers have probably seen or heard ads reminding them that such activities are illegal and do have a negative impact on the industry and the artists.

There are other forms of criminal activity that are emerging that are less well-known.  One of these is sexting.  Sexting is the sending of erotic messages and images via cell phones to other phones or the internet.  This might sound distasteful, but some may wonder where the illegal part of it comes in.  As it turns out, the vast majority of those engaged in sexting are minors.

Kids of all ages the world over are taking nude or semi-nude pictures of themselves and texting them to others.  Many consider this to be a form of teasing or a prank.  The law sees it differently.  It’s called child pornography and a lot of kids are suddenly finding themselves being charged with just that.

Kids often show a lack of foresight to their actions.  Most of the time the consequences to impulsive behavior aren’t life changing.  However, for those kids getting caught sending or receiving these pictures, entire lives will be altered and harmed.  Conviction of a sex-related offense is something that will haunt them the rest of their lives and drastically affect what they can do with their futures.

So, how do you protect yourself and those you love from this and other dangerous activities?  There are a few things to keep in mind.

1.  Be aware.  Don’t indiscriminately open picture attachments sent to you.  Also, monitor your child’s cell phone and internet usage so you know who they are talking with and what is being discussed.

2.  Talk to your family about the dangers of sexting and other illegal criminal activities.  Remind them that messages that they intend to be private can be easily forwarded either by accident or by an angry ex-boyfriend or girlfriend.

3.  If necessary, remove cell phone privileges and get your child psychological help if they are engaged in sexting.

4.  If your child is accused of a crime, seek legal help immediately.

Technology is a wonderful thing, but like all tools, in the wrong hands it can lead to trouble.  Make sure you examine the activities you’re involved in critically to determine if there may be an unforeseen criminal component to what you’re doing.  Think before you text.

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