KIMEP Law School LLM Course
2, Abaya Ave., Almaty, 050010, the Republic of Kazakhstan
Republic of Kazakhstan,
Abstract. The reason for writing this article was the trend of offenses using the Internet for unlawful purposes by the criminal element against minors. It is a modern challenge to the whole society and everyone understands that it is necessary to find optimal solutions to this problem. The author of the article conducted a brief study of the current online control options available in the casnet, and whether or not content on the web today needs to be filtered to prevent the commission of lewd sexual acts against minors with the use of the casnet.
Keywords: Internet, information security, criminal offense, sexual integrity of children, social network, cybercrime, information user
The need to ensure the safety of the information space in Kazakhstan is an objective reality, in a special order to ensure the safety of minors and young children. Modern children have access to the Internet and there are pros and cons. A lot of useful and necessary for the development of the child programs are used online. However, many resources represent a real danger to the children’s psyche. A few years ago, children began to use the network at school age, today they are four to five years old and younger. However still many parents do not know how to use a network, as their children know how to do it .
According to the results of surveys conducted among parents, first of all parents are afraid of acquaintance of their children with «dangerous» people online. In the second place, parents fear that their child may see information online that they should not look at or know because of their age. And these fears are justified. More than 30% of children under the age of 16 went to websites about sex, drugs, suicide methods. Not to mention the problem of hacking and various types of fraud. Often parents say that children randomly click on a pop-up window and get to pages with «non-childish games for adults» . .
Criminal offences against the person stipulated by Chapter 1 of the Special Part of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan include: rape (Art. 120), violent acts of a sexual nature (Art. 121), sexual intercourse, or rape. ), sexual intercourse or other actions of a sexual nature with a person under 16 years of age (art. 122), coercion to sexual intercourse, sodomy, lesbianism or other actions of a sexual nature (art. 123), corruption of minors (art. 124) and occupy a stable specific weight in the structure of crime .
According to the analytical information provided by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Kazakhstan published by kazinform June 1, 2022 according to official statistics the biggest number of criminal offences against juveniles was registered in Almaty region: 87 cases — 8.7% more than one year before. Turkestan (76 cases, minus 20.8% for the year) and Karaganda (74 cases, minus 10.8%) regions were also among the three anti-leaders. The least number of such criminal offenses were recorded in Kyzylorda region — only 21 cases, 19.2% less than a year earlier. The largest increase in the number of criminal offences against minors was observed in Pavlodar province (41.7%, to 34 cases), the largest decrease was in Zhambyl province (52.3% for the year, to 52 cases). In terms of chapters of the Criminal Code, 57.3% of offences against minors were criminal offences against the person: 442 cases. Their number decreased by 16.8% over the year. Most of the crimes in this area involved the use of sexual acts against minors: 319 crimes, compared to 402 the year before. These offenses accounted for 72.2% of criminal offenses against the person and 41.3% of all offenses in the sector. There were 120 crimes of sexual intercourse or other acts of a sexual nature, 90 crimes of rape, 68 crimes of violent acts of a sexual nature, 40 crimes of corrupting minors and one crime of coercion to sexual intercourse, sodomy, lesbianism or other acts of a sexual nature.
Of the 101 crimes against the sexual inviolability of minors, 53 were committed by close relatives (stepfathers, fathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers) and in three cases by teacher-teachers. Convictions were handed down in 40 cases, including four cases of gang rape of minors. Thirty-nine cases are still pending. All in all, 48 perpetrators of violence against minors were convicted. That is, the proportion of such offences was 72.2% of criminal offences against the person and 41.3% of all offences in the sector .
Obviously, the figures speak for themselves, and despite the observed decrease in the proportion of offenses against the sexual inviolability of minors, the figures are still very high. A large number of devices of all kinds are in every home. The main users are teenagers and children. In Europe, more than 65% of children use the network several hours a day .
Children audience in Kazakhstan does not lag behind in this issue and often teenagers simply can’t be switched to study, the child is completely absorbed by the Internet. There are proven facts of involvement of children in distribution of pornography, prostitution. More than 80% of children every day go to social networks and communicate with each other using not only a personal computer, but also a cell phone. And only 3% of parents know what their child is doing online. Therefore it is important that users in any social network should have an option to complain to moderators or providers about undesirable content and report any unacceptable incidents in the network .
According to the results of the study of judicial practice, it was found that schoolchildren in computer science class had access to information of extremist content, portals with tips on how to commit a crime were available, children could view erotic sites or read instructions on how to make an explosive device .
Therefore the topic of safety on the Web is a «hot topic» and the solutions must be commensurate with the scale of the problems, including enshrining in law various measures of protection against illegal content and bringing providers and creators of social networks and Internet companies to criminal liability.
It is premature and incorrect to conclude that the problem has been solved, given the fact that crime is exploring new possibilities for committing crimes, including the World Wide Web, where there is the possibility of escaping punishment.
1 The Internet as a threat to the normal development of children
Many lawyers argue that committing indecent acts via the Internet is characterized by a low level of public danger, since this crime is committed without the use of violence, this problem is still relevant due to the fact that in any case, it is a sexual offence and has an extremely negative impact on the unformed psyche of a child. Numerous studies have found that sexual abuse of children contributes to the development of mental disorders and illnesses, personality development disorders, and the inability to build healthy family relationships in the future.
Criminal offences of a sexual nature against minors with the use of a network represent a serious threat to the normal psychological and moral development of children, which necessitates the protection of these individuals from such abuse. The introduction of effective mechanisms to identify and prevent the corruption of minors through the world wide web will protect the younger generation from premature sexual activity and its negative consequences. According to the author, the commission of sexual offenses has become possible through the Internet .
In this aspect we are not talking about real physiological sexual acts, but about «virtual», but this is no less dangerous, because the offender corrupts the children’s psyche. Often such actions are a prerequisite for committing crimes in real life (enticement into prostitution, human trafficking, kidnapping, production and distribution of pornographic materials). Today, for the non-contact corrupting of teenagers, abusers most often use such electronic channels of information transfer as social networks, e-mail, mobile applications such as WhatsApp or Viber, dating sites, forums and chat rooms .
The commission of indecent acts against minors via the Internet is almost always preceded by the establishment of confidential contact with a person under the age of eighteen. Such actions of the perpetrator, which, in fact, are preparations for the commission of a crime, in foreign literature are called «cybergrooming» .
Let us consider in more detail the way of committing the corruption of minors using the Internet. Commitment of these actions is possible when the offender and the victim communicate in social networks, dating sites, Internet communications.
The offender who wants to meet minors (minors), as a rule, searches for the victim in social networks, and then sends an e-mail asking for friendship. The accounts can contain both truthful information about the perpetrator’s identity and be fictitious, under the pseudonym of a non-existent minor. Over time, when the offender and the victim begin to be friends online, correspond, exchange news, the person plans to start molesting the minor, trying to gain the trust, gain the respect and favor of the victim. Subsequently, when this intermediate goal is achieved, the offender begins to talk about sexual topics, asks about the intimate life of the teenager, may send photos of his own naked body or genitals and asks the minor to send him pictures of himself in the nude. If the offender and the victim then continue to communicate on the World Wide Web, they may switch from dating sites to networks that support audio and video communication. It is with the use of these means that the most traumatic cases of the molestation of minors are connected.
Assessing the degree of public danger of committing indecent acts against children through a network, we should refer to the statement of A.D. Oberemchenko, who in his study noted that «conversations on intimate topics or exchange of explicit photo and video images are characterized by a relatively low level of public danger». .
But, on the other hand, it is necessary to take into account the specifics of information and telecommunications networks, as this tool:
¾ allows the offender to act anonymously, creating a necessary image in front of the teenager;
¾ allows communication with a large number of underage persons at once;
¾ is cross-border (the action does not take place within the boundaries of a certain territory, which seriously complicates the search for victims);
¾ ensures high latency of committed criminal actions.
¾ All of the above circumstances, of course, complicate the process of identifying, suppressing and prosecuting persons for committing crimes against the sexual inviolability of minors using the network .
As the author Araylym Murat says in his work «Protection of sexual inviolability of minors — a priority» published on the website of the General Prosecutor’s Office of Kazakhstan Many researchers have analyzed such changes and came to the conclusion that the legislator is focused only on the most rapid counteraction to the emerging risks. However, the availability of preventive measures today is an objective necessity. It is much more effective to use measures to control and prevent this type of crime, not focusing only on already committed acts .
Free access to the registration of an account in the social network, the creation of an untrue fake page, and often using a non-existent cell phone number or by connecting malicious programs to use non-existent phone numbers of individuals who are not aware of the illegal use of his phone number and other technical possibilities which the «criminal» Internet provides today — all this allows to register an account, get acquainted with the teenager and influence him psychologically. If an adult sees such messages, he or she can understand what is going on, but children do not. Under the mask of a «new» friend is a pedophile and a lecher, who makes an appointment with a child.
Often the offender appeals to the child’s «adulthood» by writing a message «you are already an adult and you can show me some intimate parts of the body», asking to take pictures of intimate parts of the body and send them to his «new» friend. Many criminals start blackmailing the child by threatening to send such photos to everyone they know on the Internet and to the children’s parents. The child is afraid of the consequences of what has happened and is ready to comply with the blackmailer’s demands. The child is ready to go to a meeting and bring money for not disclosing what happened. As a rule, the criminal uses all methods of persuasion, from tough love and friendship to direct threats.
Thus, according to the materials of the criminal case instituted against L.A. Popovich on June 29, 2000. — being a minor, but having reached the age of criminal responsibility (14 years old) at the moment of committing a criminal offense under art. 122 part 1 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan. 1 article of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan, it follows that Popovich L.A. had sexual relations with the minor Koltsova Y. V. on 10.03.2004 on the territory of the Bukhar-Zhyrau Boulevard in Bostandyk district of Almaty. At the time of committing this criminal offense Koltsova Y. V. was thirteen years old, that is, she was a minor under the age of fourteen. According to the common law, the victim belongs to the age group of underage children.
The facts of the case: on 14.10.2017 at about 17:00 Popovich L.A., 29.06.2000, is at the address: Almaty city, in the back of Bukhar-Zhyrau Boulevard where he had sexual relations with the minor Koltsova Y.V., born on 10.03.2004. On 14.10.2017 this fact was registered in the EDRR under Art. 122 part. 1 OF THE CRIMINAL CODE OF THE REPUBLIC OF KAZAKHSTAN. During the pre-trial investigation found that on October 08, 2017, about 20:00 hours, L.A. Popovich, born in June 29, 2000, being at home, met in the social network «VKontakte» «VK» with Koltsova Y.V., who was registered under the pseudonym Anna Lee. After acquaintance, correspondence began, in which L.A. Popovich wrote to the victim that he would «corrupt her for himself» «make her his debauchery» and many other messages of extremely lewd content on sexual topics.
Given the victim’s age, sexual intercourse with such a minor is strictly prohibited by law. Otherwise, the perpetrator will face criminal penalties, regardless of the victim’s own will and desire. An adolescent may not yet be fully aware of the nature and degree of danger of the actions committed against him or her. All sexual activity with children is forbidden. It is impossible to avoid responsibility and punishment even if a minor consents to sexual intercourse with him and says «yes, I agree, let’s do it. A minor is untouchable regardless of the voluntariness of the acts being committed. It is wrong and inadmissible to apply the notion of «mutual consent» to the criminal actions of L.A. Popovich.
According to the materials of the case, the investigation established that Popovich L.A. wrote to the victim messages of explicitly sexual nature, using language aimed at corrupting and morally abusing the victim. Further, Popovich L.A. invited the victim to Bukhar-Zhyrau Boulevard, where he committed a sexual act with a minor.
During the trial in the Specialized Inter-district Juvenile Court of Almaty, the persons involved in the process familiarized themselves with the case materials containing copies of messages of intimate sexual nature sent to the victim. There were enough of these messages to conclude that the defendant repeatedly used measures to demoralize and corrupt the victim in a harsh manner. The victim’s mother learned of the incident by accident, as the girl began undressing at home and the mother noticed that the child was missing underwear under her pants. When asked «where are your underwear?» the girl started crying and told her mother what happened to her. This incident says one thing: parents are poorly aware of the risks of high technology for children.
Parents cannot exercise control and here it is necessary to apply technical capabilities to prevent such offenses.
Another example was a criminal case against a resident of Almaty, 48 years old, who registered in social networks under the name of «Friend» and began to get acquainted with schoolgirls. The «friend» entered into correspondence and sent videos with recordings of sexual scenes and offered to meet girls under 15 years old. One of the schoolgirls reported to her parents about the strange messages she regularly received. The parents went to law enforcement agencies and thanks to this, the lecher was able to find and bring to justice. As it was established by the investigation, the «Friend» molested at least 6 girls under the age of 15. It is impossible to say exactly how many such «Friends» are hiding behind anonymous social networking screens. The Internet is limitless and, unfortunately, not transparent.
The production and sale of pornographic pictures with little children is a «lucrative business» online. Children are tricked into taking part in making pornographic videos and photos. These videos and photos are then sold on the black market to adults. Often such people have severe mental illnesses and pose a danger to society.
Scientific, technical and organizational substantiation of the studied problems of cybercrime against minors requires immediate solutions and actions, since a huge number of minors are already openly and uncontrollably using the Internet, where asocial criminal elements have already developed schemes to deceive children, including pedophiles and lechers — often people with severe mental illnesses. Many cases are known in which criminals have used IT technologies to commit criminal offenses against the normal moral and physical development of a person .
Creating online protection for your child is possible today. Software has been developed to monitor the pages visited and content content, and any parent can install such software on their child’s phone or computer. For example, software products such as: Kaspersky Safe Kids, «children’s browser» such as Gogul, Angry Duck, Dr.Web, SkyDNS, Microsoft Family Safety, Kids Place for Android, KidLogger, KidShell — are already used by parents all over the world today. Each program has instructions on how best to install and use it. On the platform mail.ru created an option «Safe children’s mail», where, if desired, each parent can register a child and create a personal account for him.
To improve information literacy of adults, resources were created:
1) https://www.aktiv-company.ru_»Child, Internet and Parents. How to Avoid Traps, Benefit and Stay Friends?»
2) https://www.yandex.ru_Исследование «Threats on the Internet and dangerous sites» by Yandex;
3) https://kids.kaspersky.ru/Проект «Kaspersky Lab» — «Protection of children»;
4) https://families.google.com/intl/ru/familylink/Помогите child to get used to the world of modern technology.
With threats on the Internet you need to act in different ways. On the one hand, observe your child what sites he/she visits, and in what social networks he/she is registered. Some parents also prefer to register in the very social networks, where the teenager most often spends time, and become his friend, which means he can see all his friends online. Many parents explain to their children that the virtual world should be treated just as well as the real world. And you should not tell every person you know online where he lives and where his parents work. It is also unnecessary to tell all of your «friends» your address. It is desirable to control the behavior of the child online, and this will be done not to limit too much freedom of the child, on the contrary, it is necessary to build with your child friendly relations so he himself said that he is interested in looking on the Internet. On the other hand it is necessary for schoolchildren to know what threats can be encountered on the Internet. For such purposes, part of the time in computer science classes at school is allocated for the study of all the opportunities and threats on the Web. For example, gadget manufacturers in China have decided to install facial recognition software to limit Internet access to minors. The Chinese company Tencent announced the launch of the project «Alliance for Child Protection». .
According to it, Tencent will cooperate with a number of gadget manufacturers and electronic game companies, which include Samsung, Huawei Technologies, Vivo, OPPO and Xiaomi. The manufacturers have developed new features for electronics and impose restrictions on account creation so that children and teenagers can’t sit on the Internet for long periods of time.
Meanwhile, Tencent has also begun testing facial recognition systems to monitor minors’ use of accounts .
Technology, according to experts, will allow parents and teachers to know how children use the Internet and how much time they spend online.
Many children tend to use digital technology, but it is not possible to completely isolate them from the influence of gadgets. The issue is to help them learn about different types of digital content products, including electronic games, in a moderate, rational and appropriate way.
State authorities have issued orders to the largest Internet platforms to eliminate all possible risks associated with minors’ exposure to virtual space. Already today, services in China have banned the posting of content online showing children the «worship of money» and «extravagant pleasures,» also prohibited speculation on suffering and ugliness. Children under the age of 16 are simply not allowed to appear in any videos. Internet sites are required to moderate user comments, removing inappropriate content, including any profanity or language related to violence or humiliation of a child. Videos with inappropriate content — from erotic to horror and violent scenes — are completely prohibited by law. Platform owners are obliged to purge them of child and «adult» pornography and suicidal content, as well as «vulgar» videos. Cyberhooliganism and violence are being combated, and any uncultured behavior online is being suppressed. The country is actively engaged in combating child Internet addiction. These are just some of the measures taken by the Chinese government to combat the harmful effects of the Internet. Many well-known Chinese platforms such as Sina Weibo, Tencent QQ, Taobao and others have been prosecuted and fined for distributing banned content .
Accounts of Internet lawbreakers have been blocked and deleted. A system has been developed and implemented that requires the user to pre-register with personal data and biometric information. Thus, if a teenager will indicate a false age for example of 60 years old when registering — the system won’t let him finish the account registration procedure as the biometric information won’t let him cheat the system. China has long had a «curfew» for children playing online games at inappropriate times.
In Russia, a free phone line «Children Online» was organized. Mainly this line is called by parents of children who have been bullied or cyber bullied online. Every third child aged 11-16 at least once came across masochistic sites, portals devoted to drugs, suicide methods or viewed pages with extremist content. These figures indicate one thing — the Internet is not yet sufficiently controlled and is a real threat to children.
L.L. Efimova, Foreign Experience of Information Security of Children. Internet and Mobile Telephony in her paper «Foreign Experience of Information Security of Children. Internet and mobile telephony» says that:
«Safe Internet Centers (SICs) of three types have been established throughout Europe to raise the awareness of citizens in European countries about the rules of safe use of the Internet:
- awareness centers — distribute informational materials, companies and information meetings with children, parents, caregivers and teachers to raise awareness of potential online risks for children and ways to stay safe online;
- helplines — provide personalized counseling to children, parents, and teachers on how to stay safe online;
- hotlines — receive reports about illegal content found on the Internet .
For example, since the end of 2007 Internet service providers have been using the «Clean Line» site blocking system, and on February 10, 2009, the Year of Safer Internet in Russia was declared, within the framework of which the following activities took place
- The Friendly Runet Foundation hotline for receiving reports of child pornography on the Internet;
- Safe Internet Center in Russia, containing materials on Internet threats, memos, videos, research, statistics, a counseling and psychological assistance section, and a hotline for gathering information on illegal content and helping to shut it down, as well as special thematic projects;
- Children Online helpline to provide psychological help and information support to children and teenagers facing danger or a negative situation while using the Internet or mobile communications; the helpline also provided counseling to parents and teachers on the safe use of the Internet and mobile communications by children.
Already today, various services have been developed and implemented to monitor the pages visited. A «safe search» option uses filters against inappropriate content and has been launched on many platforms. Renowned antivirus manufacturers have introduced «parent programs,» when such a program is activated, it automatically checks content and blocks malicious pages. Many software manufacturers have united in the «Safe Internet League».
However, the full safety of the platform still cannot be guaranteed. If controls are in place at home, and a child cannot see pages of erotic content, then at school it is quite possible. And such incidents, unfortunately, have occurred. Filtering systems were installed on computers at school, but children bypassed these programs. All of the measures that have been described above are no doubt important. But, the key issue is parental attention to children. Every parent will find a way to keep their child safe if they are willing to take the time to do so. Often it happens that parents themselves negligently allow a risky situation to arise for their children. These are of course dysfunctional families and here the role of the state to help and support children in difficult situations is important. Fixing the key principles of the network for children as users — should be enshrined in law.
The commission of violent acts of a sexual nature against minors, including cyberbullying, is a real threat to all countries and is a global problem. Without a doubt, Kazakhstan intends to mop up the Internet from its detrimental influence on the younger generation.
Access to the net allows children to gain new opportunities in learning and skill development, but the existing harms also need to be known. This category of threats includes violence, sexual exploitation, bullying and blackmail, among others. According to Kaspersky Lab, 43% of elementary school children already have social media accounts. More than 50% of children receive «friend requests» from strangers, of which 34% are adults.
Despite the fact that to date the level of safety of online users has increased significantly, but it is premature to say that all threats have been eliminated.
At the level of educational work in schools of Kazakhstan the events are regularly held, such as:
- thematic ruler «Safe Internet»;
- issue and distribute thematic preventive booklets, leaflets, information leaflets: «Safe Internet, «Internet — in my life»;
- Organization of a round table «Safe Internet»;
- an exhibition of drawings on the topic: «Safe Internet»;
- a class hour on protection against the negative impact of social networks that are harmful to health. (1-11th grade);
- strengthening parental control over children’s actions on the Internet and social networks (on the school website);
- book exhibition «A book instead of the Internet»;
- a flash mob on the theme «The real world is better than the virtual one»;
- conducting surveys among schoolchildren on how many hours a day they spend at computers and smartphones;
- conducting psychological survey, psychological trainings with children;
- preparation of final information about the national information campaign «Safe Internet».
The Committee for the Protection of Children’s Rights of the Ministry of Education and Science has also been established in Kazakhstan, as well as the representative offices of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). In addition, companies such as Bilim Media Group, Microsoft, Kaspersky Lab and TSarCo are working to protect the Internet space of Kazakhstan. The Committee for the Protection of Children’s Rights of the Ministry of Education and Science is working on the introduction of the concepts of «bullying» and «cyberbullying» into legislation.
Tsarka, a major provider of cybersecurity services in Central Asia, has launched a school for teenagers aged 13 to 18 that teaches the basics of information security. The portal contains educational videos for children, comics about phishing threats and safe use of the Internet and social networks, and guidelines for parents on how to keep a child safe online.
In addition to the services already in operation, Beeline and partners created a working group to develop and coordinate common actions to protect children on the Internet.
Educational cartoons and educational TikTok in two languages Kazakh and Russian were launched. Cartoon characters face various unpleasant situations online and learn proper safe behavior on the Internet.
Beeline Kazakhstan organized a discussion on children’s safety online and announced the official launch of a social project aimed at informing and teaching children how to behave properly in the digital world. Representatives of the Committee for the Protection of Children’s Rights of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) representative office in Kazakhstan, Bilim (Bilimland.kz) Media Group, Microsoft, Kaspersky Lab and CARKA companies took part in the discussion.
The Center for Analysis and Investigation of Cyberattacks (CARCA) is actively involved in investigating online crimes, such as the distribution of child pornography. Employees of CARCA find the IP address from which unwanted content is being downloaded from a torrent tracker and then pass on information about the sender to law enforcement agencies.
By protecting the younger generation from the very bad stuff on the Internet, while increasing access to the very good stuff that can be gleaned from it, each of us can help tip the scales in favor of the latter forever.
In conclusion, it is important to say that it is the issues of a «safe» Internet that are coming to the forefront today. All adults understand that schoolchildren are at risk of Internet «threats». The topic itself is fairly new and in many ways have to «move by feel», but concrete steps to create a safe network for children have already been made in Kazakhstan. Taking into account the transboundary nature of the Internet it is important to work and make initiatives to create a «safe» Internet and support at the state level the work on international exchange of experience and international interaction in the field of ensuring the right of Internet users to safety.
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