(From The Los Angeles Times, Dec. 25, 1987/Page 47, Part I) THERE'S AN X-RATED SIDE TO HOM
(From The Los Angeles Times, Dec. 25, 1987/Page 47, Part I)
THERE'S AN X-RATED SIDE TO HOME COMPUTERS, PARENTS WARNED
(From Associated Press)
That personal computer your kid got for Christmas may be more
educational than you think. Animated nudes, sexy bulletin boards and
files filled with dirty jokes are now accessable to most PC's.
"If parents are going to have a child use a $1,000 computer,
they have to know what it's being used for," said UCLA communications
law professor Dan Brenner. "If parents let their children use a
computer and modem without supervision, it's not a lot different from
allowing them to watch cable TV or the VCR."
In recent years more sexually oriented materials have been
showing up for home computers--some on floppy disks with X-rated
artwork and games, and others accessed by phone lines from electronic
Usually operated by computer aficionados out of their homes, the
boards can provide off-color jokes, adult pictures, formats for
trading sexual messages and dating services. All this, just by
dialing up the right numbers.
Computers also are used by pedophiles, adults with sexual
interest in children, said Robert Showers, executive director of the
Justice Department's national obscenity enforcement unit. "The
computer was the one device that was coming up and they linked onto
it," he said.
While declining to mention specific cases, Showers said
pedophiles now use floppy disks and electronic bulletin boards to
send messages and pictures with child pornography from computer to
"You can actually reproduce a picture on the computer. You can
produce the child pornography and send it from one computer terminal
to the other," Showers said. "I think law enforcement is just
beginning to get the intelligence information on the use of computers
in child pornography."
Many computer porn materials do not exploit children, but bring
content already available by telephone, magazines, movies or videos
into the high-tech age.
"A lot of people meet each other through it," said Devin Woods,
who runs the Affection Connection, a computer bulletin board in the
San Fernando Valley. "I've got a long distance love affair going
between Chatsworth, Calif., and Melbourne, Fla., with two people
who've never met each other."
Besides a message board where long distance lovers can leave
notes for each other, the Affection Connection offers games, computer
utilities, listings of computer equipment for sale and sexually
"Some [pictures] are X-rated and some are clean," Woods said.
"I don't do that stuff. People send them to me."
The computer art is created by electronically scanning magazine
photos and be generating original drawings, some of them animated.
They are sent to computer bulletin boards via phone lines to be
included for viewing and future use.
Adult materials carry warning messages and Woods said he phones
potential users before allowing access to ensure that they are older
than 18. Some bulletin boards offer a free look around the system to
help computer buffs decide whether they want to pay the access
In a random test fro the Associated Press, the Adult
Entertainment Directory of another Southern California bulletin board
was accessed by simply dialing the board from a computer modem. No
verification of age was required for a free look at the contents,
although the directory carried an "Adults Only" warning.
The directory listed more than 50 features with names like
"Cucumber," "F-Word," "Intersex," "Orgy," "Nudepics," "Porno,"
"Xpics" and "Slave." Other names are too graphic to mention.
Once a feature was chosen for the AP random test, nude stills,
animated pictures of couples making love, files of crude jokes, adult
games and a nude picture of an actress appeared on the computer
screen. From there, they could be printed out on paper or moved to
storage on floppy disks for future playback.
Computer pornography programs are also available from mail-order
software outlets. Some outlets warn purchasers that they must be
over 18 to order adult materials.
Pornographic software includes comic strip-type stories that
start with a still drawing, then move to animated pictures of people
having sex with animals or performing unusual sexual acts with each
Sextex is a New York-based electronic bulletin board system that
a brochure says offers "Eroticomm party line," an "Open X-Change" for
erotic stories, a Sexshop/Personals service to sell and swap
merchandise and "X-mail to exchange lusty messages."
Computer pornography is so new that legal issures, such as how
computer communication is covered by First Amendment protections of
free speech and press, have yet to be resolved, legal experts say.
In November, President Reagan proposed legislation "making
illegal the computerized network that child molesters and collectors
of child pornography have developed."
"Technology generally outstrips the law. When technology moves
faster, the law tries to catch up with it," Showers said.
"Looking at it as classic freedom of speech, people do have the
right to look at what they want in the privacy of their home," said
UCLA's Brenner. But he notes that "criminal activity is not
protected, no matter where it happens."
Brenner does see a "copyright issue" in computer copying of nude
magazine photgraphs and said that computer porn purveyors must make a
"good-faith effort" to bar under-age users.
In early December, the Federal Communications Commission began
an enforcement actioon against two Los Angeles "dial-a-porn" services
for allegedly not taking precautions to keep pornographic telephone
messages from children.
But it is not clear if the same rules apply to the telephone
lines used for computer communication. Greg Vogt, a FCC enforcement
official, said computer bulletin boards may not fall under the
agency's jurisdiction because the signal is altered by a device, such
as a computer program.
"We haven't had to rule on it," said FCC special counsel Anne
Siegel, referring to rules on telephone-computer pornography. The
law "has focused on traditional dial-a-porn messages. The statute
would arguably apply whether it's telephone or electronic bulletin
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank