Friday, October 17, 2008

A Creative Way to Attack Internet Porn?

First, why would we bother? After all, some might argue, the publication of lewd material goes back to the dawn of time. Why fight what seems to be unstoppable?

Well, just because pornography has been around for a very long time, that doesn't mean that its perverseness and pervasiveness have not changed down through the years. For example, if a resident of my home town, Lake City, Arkansas, had wanted to view live pornographic action a century ago, such a person would have been forced to travel to some seedy part of Memphis (a then-imposing journey of some sixty miles), locate a suitable establishment, and then hope not to be seen while entering or exiting. Today, the same man must invest money and effort into spam-abatement software and procedures in order to AVOID being solicited by purveyors of porn.

Pornography is a negative influence upon our society. It is a blight upon the face of our culture. It is a growing menace to the sexual fulfillment and happiness of the American people.

But how do you stop it? Efforts to create a special TLD (top-level domain) for pornography as well as efforts to combat wanton internet porn have collapsed when confronted with the fact that the Internet does not behave like other commerce in the world. A web site might be hosted from anywhere on the planet, so enacting tough legislation in a particular jurisdiction is entirely ineffective.

I say that an Internet problem deserves an Internet solution. Something creative and distinctively Internetish that stands a chance of prevailing in the war on porn.

What am I proposing? The inspiration for my plan is SETI@home. Participants in the SETI@home program download software onto their computers that, while they are not using their computers, works diligently in the background to download and process radio signals from outer space searching for evidence of intelligence in the universe beyond Earth (think Contact).

Why not have such sleeper programs installed on computers to chew up the bandwidth of porn providers, hitting them in the pocketbook where it hurts? A sufficient number of computers toiling at this task would degrade the user experience of porn customers and force providers to outlay cash for expensive extra bandwidth just to stay afloat. Such programs would continuously browse the free portions of known pornographic sites to place high demand upon their computer resources. It might not be a knockout blow, but at least it would score as a punch.

Of course, one would have to probe the legal niceties delineating SETI@home on the one hand from something like a Distributed Denial of Service attack on the other hand. At some point tending toward the latter, I think such activities could become illegal. And we wouldn't want that.

Also, I suppose that those who have good enough web filtration to keep people from browsing porn for real would also find that their filtration software would block the porn-hacker program, as well.

It may not be workable, but it seems to me that this is a problem crying out for a good solution. It scares me to think of a generation of children (including my own) coming-of-age with the Internet as it now exists.. I'm willing to take responsibility for helping to keep them from pursuing porn, but we ought to find some way to limit the ability of porn to pursue them. For people who take such responsibilities seriously, the viability of the Internet itself may be the thing at stake.

9 comments:

Bob Cleveland said...

Someone ought to figure a way to monitor porn sites, identify users, and publish their names for all the world to see.

That sounds like fun.

Porn Student said...

So many parents don't even bother using filters. They should be encouraged to do so.

Andrew said...

Unique solution...though I think you're right about the illegality of it!

Bart Barber said...

Bob,

That's already been done. God is doing the monitoring and the identifying, and the publication has been promised.

What you're looking for is a way to make it happen a bit more immediately. :-)

Bart Barber said...

Porn Student,

You know, the Mac OS has a pretty sophisticated set of filter rules. Frankly, the problem goes even deeper. In my experience, most people don't even have secure passwords. Their kids know their passwords, and if they don't, they could deduce them within five tries. Under such circumstances (when the kids have administrator privileges on the home computer), no strategy will work.

Bart Barber said...

Andrew,

Of course I'm right about the illegality of it: The only thing I have asserted about the legality or illegality of it is that I don't know whether it is legal or illegal. And I am an expert in the area of whether I know something or not. :-)

Quinn Hooks said...

Solid ideas, Bart. Something has to be done.

Bart Barber said...

Three new items on this topic that I've learned from this article:

1. Somebody has already done something like this.

2. As it turns out, this actually is illegal.

3. The illegality of the matter may be the least of one's worries—the article makes it clear that the online porn industry is intertwined with organized crime and willing and able to have somebody killed for doing this sort of thing. Yikes! <thinking about deleting THIS post for my kids sake!>

Bart Barber said...

As it turns out in the follow-up story, "Deepsy" was an Israeli named Pavel Vladislav.