Futuristic Criminal Investigations-Part XXIII

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Specializing In Forensic
 Child Sexual Abuse Investigations

By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc

 The AP reported in the Yahoo.news today that a sex offender, 36-year-old Victor Gaston of Reidsville plead guilty to one count of using social media as a sex offender. Gaston was sentenced to five and a half years for using social media to contact his victim, despite there being a no contact order with the victim. Gatson used Facebook to pursue the victim before Gatson was arrested. According to state prison records, Gatson served two years for taking incident liberties with a child. After serving the two years, Gatson registered as a sex offender in 2003.

So how rampant are sex offenders praying on a social media to reach out and contact children i.e. those under the age of 18 years old? Two Attorneys who represent two individuals, Christian Martin Johnson and Lester Gerard Packingham, hired the two attorneys to fight the law that states sex offenders can’t communicate on social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and so forth.

The two lawyers contend that the North Carolina 2008 state law is unconstitutional. Of the 75 sex offenders charged in the state last year, eight were caught maintaining accounts on Facebook and MySpace. The lawyer representing Packingham stated, “The law keeps her client from communicating with friends and promoting his business on the social network.”
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So the above scenarios raise a major question, “Are sex offenders allowed on Facebook?” The answer is “no.” Under the user agreement, specifically: Specifically: Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, 4. Registration and Account Security, Item 6, reflects: You will not use Facebook if you are a convicted sex offender.” Facebook goes a step further and provides a method for notifying them of convicted sex offenders on their site.

Some people would ask why is it necessary to have policies, procedures and protocols which monitor and bars sexual predators from obtaining access into a social media environment. The answer seems common sensical. Since the sexual offender is there to establish relationships with young adults who have no idea of the intent of the sexual offender, the organization who produces the social networking forum must establish behavior by all individuals who obtain access into the website.

Child Sexual Abuse
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The future holds many restrictions for those requesting voluntary access whose sole purpose is to establish a relationship with a young adult for sexual gratification. The new video networking applications such as Skype and Tango have brought reasons to police the Internet. This policing consists of more than trying to monitor sexual offenders who obtain access of the social video networking applications.

This fall television night time series have developed some interesting shows surrounded by video communication; digital video and audio recordings and so forth; Person of Interest is one such show. No longer is there privacy for young adults who are attempting to conceal their relationships with their family, friends, peers, and so forth in a video digital communication forum.

The future has much in store for those who continue to use the social networking applications and tools. The current social networking applications and tools are just the beginning in how others communicate. By the year 2020 the video/audio social networking applications will be so sophisticated that the applications will be like a billboard where the individuals talking not only can see the person they are talking to, but they will be able to have real life meetings where powerpoints will be the center theme. Of course there is social networking which allows this to happen already, but by 2020 the communication world will be cemented into networking for so many reasons. The telephone will be obsolete or what we know as the current usage of telephone will have changed significantly.

Sexual offenders will no longer be allowed to disguise their identity. For too long sexual offenders have misidentified themselves as young boys and girls. The social networking doesn’t require that video use be the main use. Instead posting is the most utilized method of communication. The future holds many opportunities for young adults to ask for video verification of who they are posting with is in fact who they say they are.

The demands by the users of Facebook are complex and Facebook is trying to address these requests. One of the requests is to separate a drinking party where pictures were taken where the user doesn’t want all of their friends to see the posts and/or pictures i.e. their parents.  Facebook is trying to devise a method where there are multiple lists the user can post to without the other users friends and relatives being allowed to see specific events.
With more than 133 million users in the U.S., Facebook has achieved market saturation of over 50 percent of all Internet users in the country. YouTube, MySpace, and Twitter round out the top four. More than 75 percent of U.S. residents have access to the Internet, so these figures are even more impressive when placed into context.
Trends & Future Growth
According to Search Engine Watch, “Around the world the amount of time spent online is increasing exponentially, especially among cell phone users. A recent study by Strategy Analytics indicates that the number of people using their cell phones to access the Internet has quadrupled in the last four years. A large portion of that increased online time is spent on social networking.  According to data collected by Universal Mccann International Social Media Research, much of the new content available on the Internet is being produced in the Asian region, with the largest community of bloggers in the world located in China and Japan.”
 Tomorrow, I will continue to review and examine the forensics future of the criminal investigative world. There are so many things happening in the criminal investigative world. The method in which child sexual abuse allegations are being handled is ever growing. There is a new breed of law enforcement investigators who need the proper training and education in how to properly conduct a child sexual abuse investigation.

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