As consumers in Taiwan rush to join the rest of the world in enjoying the convenience of online shopping, one Taipei City Councilor yesterday questioned the limits of such convenience, lashing out at the availability of child pornography for sale on the Internet.
With recent developments in Internet technology allowing secure, encrypted transactions, online purchases can be be made with little more than a mouse click and a credit card number.
New Party City Councilor Chung Hsiao-ping (
"What they do to these children really makes you sick to the stomach and boil over with anger. These people should be apprehended and brought to justice," Chung told reporters yesterday.
According to the city's Child and Youth Sexual Transaction Prevention Act (
"The punishments are simply too lenient," Chung said.
"Since there is still a long way to go before the current legislation is changed, I think it's not a bad idea to form a civilian assassination squad to carry out the task."
To investigate just how easy it is to buy pornographic products, Chung said he recently sent an e-mail order to a local company which markets CDs for just NT$300 each. The shipment arrived in three days via express delivery from Changhua County.
"It's amazing how fast they responded, and how they even dared to send the products to my office address -- which specifically stated Taipei City Council," he said. "I'm sure if Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (
Following his efforts last December to expose the obscene act of filming adult women in public restrooms and then selling compact discs containing such material over the Web, Chung said he was stunned to see online vendors this time boasting of featuring underage teenage girls aged between nine and 15.
"I suspect there may be drugs and illegal human peddling involved," he said. Chung presented several other peddlers' Web site addresses to Chang Chiang-liang (張江良), a major-colonel in the municipal police department's organized crime squad, hoping further investigations and possible arrests would soon follow.
But Chung said it is difficult to trace and even harder to nail the culprits.
"In this case, the Web site address is registered in Chicago, the e-mail address for orders belongs to a Canadian service company, and the cash collected upon product delivery by the mailmen goes to a fake company's postal account.
Insufficient staff, equipment and budgets, coupled with a limited knowledge about new kinds of crimes are to blame, Chung said, adding that "cyber crimes" currently rank lowest among the categories of crimes being solved.
According to Chung, the number of reported Internet-related crimes in 1998 totaled 36, 12 of which concerned pornography, and three of which violated the Child and Youth Sexual Transaction Prevention Act.
This year, the number of Net crimes recorded as of April had reached 12, eight of which were associated with pornography.
The city government did not set up its computer crime squad until November 1998, and the workload since then has been too heavy for its seven staff members to handle, Chung said. "Besides, they have other jobs to take care of," he said.
However, 66 more recruits are on the way, and will undergo training in June, after which they will be assigned to the city's 14 police precincts.
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