WIRELESS FIDELITY NETWORK: A ‘HEYDAY’ FOR SEXUAL PREDATORS?
Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy has been touting a plan to provide free or affordable wireless fidelity, or WiFi, service to county residents so they can access the Internet anytime, anywhere. But the problem with the proposal, some advocates and law enforcement officials say, is that it makes it easier for child sex offenders to download or distribute child pornography or sexually solicit children online, without being traced. We have great concern because these sexual predators use IP [Internet protocol] addresses to go completely unnoticed, said Laura Ahearn, executive director of Parents for Megan's Law, Right now, for example, [someone] can go into a Starbucks where [they] can disseminate child pornography. Instead of using application service providers such as America Online, which keeps records of websites visited within the past 90 days, they'll go to proxy servers because no logs [of the websites visited] are kept, said Ahearn. Levy said WiFi is no more susceptible than land lines or modem-based Internet services. if you're worried about security, don't use WiFi, he said. Ahearn said she support the county's wireless access plan if the security level is high enough. Ahearn and Austin Berglas, supervisor for the FBI cybercrime squad in the bureau's Manhattan field office, say the best way to prevent these sexual predators from bouncing IP addresses is to establish each user with a user name and password, and set up levels of security that safeguards children while eliminating the anonymity that these sexual predators and pedophiles enjoy.