The Internet has brought with it immense contributions to our society. In the educational, economic and social areas much has been gained through easier researching, faster financial transacting and near limitless communication.
However, its darker side is now evident. The CCI Wednesday Magazine recently exposed the alarming growth of child pornography at the coast. This crime has continued unabated in our midst due to the fact that as a country we are ill-prepared to combat cyber crime.
Child pornography is defined as a visual depiction of any kind, whether made or produced by electronic or other means that depicts a child or minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct.
This reprehensible crime is increasingly ensnaring more minors who are under 18 years of age. These are legally recognized children who find themselves in the clutches of online sexual predators.
It is important to realize that the lives of children featured in these illegal productions are forever altered, not only by the molestation but by the permanent record of the abuse.
It is hard to detect child pornography due to the anonymity found in the internet. The distribution of exploitative images of children is conducted through home-computer technology.
This technology has revolutionized the distribution of these images by increasing the ease and decreasing the cost of production and distribution especially across international borders.
Computer technology has transformed this once fringe activity into a booming and sophisticated global cottage industry.
People who produce, distribute and possess child porn images are usually multiple offenders who usually sexually victimize children.
Apprehending these sexual predators is difficult and needs a radical realignment from our law enforcement agencies.
Applying traditional investigation techniques to combat child pornography will not dent this nefarious crime. Online sexual predation demands skilled digital investigation where undercover investigators can pose online as minors and identify the offenders who are victimizing innocent Kenyan children.
Financial resources should be allocated to setting up a High-Tech Crime Unit within the Kenyan Police Force. This unit should be mandated with the task of ferreting out online sexual cartels that have taken root in our country.
Funds are required to finance computer forensic labs, train officers, purchase software and hardware equipment, logistics and finance legislation that curbs child pornography.
Global liaison is an area that also presents a challenge to child pornography investigations and would be an area of urgent concern for a local cyber-crime unit. Trans-national sexual predation has emerged as a mounting problem due to the global nature of the internet.
While international child sexual predation is by no means a uniquely modern phenomenon, the global nature of cyberspace significantly enhances the ability of child sexual offenders to commit crimes in Kenya which will affect individuals in a variety of other countries.