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The 7 - Current Events & Politics - Perverted Justice
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Madame Manga
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#1 Posted on 13.11.03 1558.35
Reposted on: 13.11.10 1559.01

This site has a number of 'operatives' who hang out in chatrooms posing as young girls or boys. They are trolling for pedophiles. When they get nibbles, they post the IM logs and other contacts, including screen names and all the info they can dig up. Young-sounding operatives make telephone calls if the guy offers his number. Sometimes they even set up a meeting, and when the unwitting fellow shows up expecting to find a 14-year-old alone at home, they greet him with a local news crew, cameras rolling.

Public shame seems to be their main goal--I don't think they have gotten anyone arrested so far, though of course people have been convicted of sex offenses when an FBI agent impersonated a child online in the same kind of sting.

I've heard plenty of 'vigilantism' arguments about private citizens doing this on their own, but I've just looked at the site, and I admit this works for me on all kinds of levels. Opinions?

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#2 Posted on 13.11.03 1637.30
Reposted on: 13.11.10 1639.28
Good lord, I'm about to read the transcript featuring 'horny_texan_in_co', and judging from his pic it looks like he used to work for the same company I work for now (different business unit, of course).
Big Brother
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#3 Posted on 13.11.03 2014.15
Reposted on: 13.11.10 2014.49
Browsing this site popped a few questions into my head...

Do two wrongs make a right?

Is it all right to lie or misrepresent yourself so long as you/the majority feel your cause is just?

Do the ends justify the means?

Couldn't this lead down a slippery slope where ANY sort of actions are targeted so long as there's a group of vigilantes who find such action "wrong?" Or even just "distasteful?"

How many of you who don't have a problem with this, for example, made a big deal out of the RIAA anonymously hopping onto P2P networks and looking for people to subpoena?

Some police forces already have units that target online predators - at least, here in Silicon Valley, they do. I'd prefer that stuff like this is left to the professionals. If you don't feel there are enough of them, or you don't like the job they're doing, you might want to start writing letters to your state government (and probably offer to pay some higher taxes).

There's also the fact that I'm not a big fan of posting chat transcripts with a bunch of "post-production" - some of you might remember the Chat This! 2.5 fun and games. Better to just present the chat verbatim and let the reader make his mind up - take out the boldface, take out the "smarkish" comments. If it's that obvious, let it stand on its own.

FINALLY, it's only gonna take one nut with a gun - and nothing left to lose after being caught, in his mind - to make this whole process seem like a big mistake. Surely, this applies to any situation, however - even running The W - it's always a risk vs. reward thought process, but I'm not sure if I'm into operating with THEIR ratio.
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#4 Posted on 14.11.03 1445.16
Reposted on: 14.11.10 1447.51
Yeah, I did see this before, definitely a site worthy of discussion. I for one was curious as to the whole legality of it all (Privacy issues) not the moral questions it might invoke.

No two wrongs don't make a right, but if you weigh the two wrongs; Wrong number 1 being an overweight 50 year old man trying to rape a 13 year old girl, and wrong number 2, disclosing the picture and telephone number of the man so a few yahoo's on the Internet can harass him. Well, I see it as a slap on the wrist, at least when considering the alternatives. I would even argue that someone dumb enough to give away there phone number over the Internet 10 minutes after they meet someone deserves as much ridicule as they get.

Theoretically, I don't have many issues with this as I do with other undercover operations such as clandestine officers pressuring high school kids to smoke some weed or cameras hidden under traffic lights. But hey, it's a private entity. Yet, noone can deny it is opening up a can of worms. Aside from legal and safety issues, what if the pervert is living in his parents basement, and they end up with the harassing calls. Does a 20 year old trying to hit on a 15 year old deserve as much "punishment" as a 50 year old? When a 50 year old trying to get with a 20 year old is perfectly acceptable? While it is a noble cause, one which I can support, I think the site turns a blind eyes to these issues. Not that I can think of a clear way to address them without legal powers behind them.

(edited by Nag on 14.11.03 1548)
Madame Manga
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#5 Posted on 14.11.03 1647.51
Reposted on: 14.11.10 1649.39
Point by point, more or less.

Two wrongs? Police officers doing sting operations commit the same "wrong"; i.e., misrepresenting who they are and what they are doing. I am not sure how else anyone could get the goods on internet pedophiles in chatrooms. "Hi, I'm working to track down people who hit on little kids. Would you like to talk to me and incriminate yourself?" If it's a worthy cause to intercept these people, then yes, it's ethical to deceive them and the ends justify the means. Not a big problem for me, obviously.

Any private citizen is already able to "target" any activity he or she sees fit. I recall civilian operations in the last ten or twenty years that involved people armed with bullhorns and spotlights going around and harassing johns and prostitutes in their neighborhoods. I also recall civilians picketing abortion clinics and trying to convince women not to kill their babies. Grass-roots action is just that. Not everyone is going to agree with you or your tactics, but that doesn't mean you must do nothing. However, I will say that I'm for staying within the law while taking action. The PJ site has been careful to do so, as far as I can see.

I don't download stuff from P2P. Can't speak to that one.

Yes, the cops do this sort of thing. There are not enough of them to cover much ground; if there *were* enough of them to monitor every chatroom, we'd be living in a police state. In any case, the fear of the law is much less effective than the fear of being shamed by your peers in public, IMO. If these people get the idea that citizens are patrolling on the Web, they will have an excellent incentive to knock it off.

I agree about the annotated chats. There's a little too much gloating going on--let them speak for themselves.

I wonder if the "one nut with a gun" theory has anything to do with why my local police have been so darn slow to get the Megan's Law sex predator database out where anyone can actually see it. But it's easily available in a lot of jurisdictions other than this one, and sometimes on the Web. I have not yet heard (perhaps someone else has) of anyone being targeted by a lynch mob because of his presence on the list.

I think the best result of publicity for sites like this is education. You would not believe how many supposedly Web-literate people of my generation have NO damn idea who can get to their kids online if they don't monitor them. Parents need to know this stuff, and in general they don't.

Edited to add: If the pervert is living in his parents' basement, maybe a few phone calls would convince them to confiscate his computer and get him into counseling. I have to say I'd rather get a call from a private citizen than from the cops if it was *my* kid doing what he shouldn't.


(edited by Madame Manga on 14.11.03 1757)
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#6 Posted on 14.11.03 1713.17
Reposted on: 14.11.10 1715.13
I have got to say that I don't see anything wrong with what they are doing either. Humiliation is a powerful deterrent, and it is a tool not used nearly enough by society anymore. The best thing about humiliation as a deterrant is that any private citizen can do it, and you are not always letting the government play the moral police.
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#7 Posted on 15.11.03 0346.50
Reposted on: 15.11.10 0353.29
I agree with Pool-Boy that humiliation is an excellent way to make an impact on these people-but that doesn't change the fact that such actions leave things wide open for vigilantism. Which is never a good place to be.
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