Sat, Mar 31, 2007 - Page 4 News List

Chatrooms being used for sex trade, legislator alleges

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

A Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator yesterday alleged that instant messenger services provided by Yahoo-Kimo Inc, one of the nation's largest internet portals, has become the nation's largest platform for the sex trade.

"Many believe that Yahoo-Kimo has closed its chat rooms... but it fact, the chat rooms have been resurrected in another form and have become a platform for the sex trade," DPP Legislator Lee Chen-nan (李鎮楠) told a press conference yesterday.

The company replaced its public online chat rooms with more private-oriented chat rooms attached to its instant messenger software because of the abundant exchange of illegal information such as sex advertisements.

Same problems

However, the same problems persist as users can easily join each others chat rooms.

"There's no rating, no control and no categorization in these new chat rooms, people under 18 can easily access them and obtain inappropriate information," Lee said.

Lee showed the press conference screenshots took randomly from one of the Yahoo-Kimo chat rooms, which was filled with phrases hinting sexual exchanges or even giving prices.

Crossing the line

Officials who attended the press conference agreed that some of the information has crossed the line and vowed to increase efforts to combat the issue.

"The words that appeared in the Yahoo-Kimo chat rooms certainly are illegal ? [and] punishable by jail terms of up to five years," Kung Ling-kuo (孔令果) a police officer specializing in Internet crime, said.

"We'll increase our efforts to fight undercover sex-related crimes, especially when underage people may become victims," Kung added.

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