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By Ellen Wulfhorst WASHINGTON, April 25 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Sex traffickers are growing increasingly adept at using sophisticated technological advances to exploit children, especially tools to hide their identity and encrypt data, according to a top FBI specialist.
This has pitted human rights advocates welcoming increased online privacy against authorities voicing concerns that encryption technologies can endanger the public by blocking access to information between traffickers or other criminals.
A survey of more than 1,000 law enforcement officers conducted for the Department of Justice last year found more than a third said the technical sophistication and expertise of sex traffickers had increased in the last five years, Gutfleish said.
In a lively argument on Monday that touched on school websites, chat rooms, and President Donald Trump's Twitter account, the U. Supreme Court took up a challenge to a North Carolina law that bars convicted sex offenders from accessing social networking sites that allow minors to create accounts.
The state argued that similar restrictions that keep those on sex offender registries from hanging around schoolyards and playgrounds are needed for parts of the Internet where children may be vulnerable to contacts leading to sexual abuse."For many years, North Carolina, like other states, had laws prohibiting sex offenders from being at physical places where children congregate—schools, playgrounds, day cares, and parks," said Robert C.
Montgomery, a senior state deputy attorney general, said during the arguments in But David T.
Goldberg, the lawyer representing a sex offender who was convicted of a fresh criminal violation after accessing Facebook, said the state law "reaches vast swaths of core First Amendment activity that is totally unrelated to the government's preventative purpose.""The law does not operate in some sleepy First Amendment quarter," Goldberg said, adding that it "forbids speech on the very platforms on which Americans today are most likely to communicate, to organize for social change, and to petition their government."The case concerns Lester Gerard Packingham, who was 21 years old in 2002 when he pleaded guilty to taking liberties with a 13-year-old."They are keeping up with technology and exploiting it for their purposes, their illegal businesses," Gutfleish told the Thomson Reuters Foundation."They're not opposed to using what's available to them." Traffickers who once recruited victims in person now can use websites, apps, chat rooms and online groups, he said."They cast a much wider net, and there are perhaps an unlimited number of potential victims out there," said Gutfleish, a speaker on Tuesday at Trust Conference/America Forum, a one-day Thomson Reuters Foundation event on the fight against slavery and trafficking.FACTBOX-10 facts about human trafficking that reaches all corners of the earth U. immigration crackdown undermines fight to end human trafficking - expert Transgender sex trafficking survivor hopes her story will help others Traffickers use online means to advertise, Global Positioning Systems in cell phones to track their victims and encrypted messages to communicate with accomplices, he said.A mid-level state appellate court reversed the conviction, holding that the 2008 law was not narrowly tailored to the problem of keeping sex offenders away from children online and that it prohibited them from accessing a wide range of information.