An advantage of being abroad is having access to a wide range of TV stations from Latin America. I’ve been watching news reports from the excellent TV Chile about the rise of sexting amongst urban teenagers in emerging economies. While it is difficult to filter out the moral panic prevalent in such stories, it seems clear that there is a problem at the heart of the report. Nowadays kids and teenagers carry a veritable multimedia lab in their pockets, which serves as constant temptation to snap, send and upload content, be it innocent or not.
I was interested by the comments made by the Chilean cyber-crimes division. They were complaining about the lack of legislation dealing with sexting, and commented that they were powerless to stop it from happening. What a curious comment! What type of legislation could ever be enacted that would be able to stifle such practices? Let’s analyse the phenomenon. If some teenager makes a video of themselves engaged in sexual poses, or takes a picture of a friend or partner, and then distributes it through SMS messaging, how would you define a criminal type? I can see there being a case for criminalising such practice if an adult was involved, but could there be legislation that criminalises the practice amongst teenagers? What would be the trigger anyway? Unauthorised uploading of content? Illegal copying? Obscene distribution?
If we consider this to be a growing problem, the solution may be to make sure that teenagers are aware that whatever they do in an electronic format is only one forward away from public distribution. Today’s youth is technologically sophisticated, but suffer from a complete lack of privacy awareness. Perhaps privacy is truly dead, one of those things that old-timers get worked-up about.
Gosh, writing this made me feel old and obsolete. I’ll just go and drink my prune juice.