'Trafficking in human life' - Baby for sale on the Internet

In America few things are sacred -- $60,000 will buy you a baby online, a situation some say justifies policing the Net

An American lawyer has been accused of trying to sell a ten week old baby over the Internet. Tomas Kovacs was charged with grand larceny on Monday after contacting prospective parents using Web adoption sites -- an action described by the Nassau District Attorney's Office as "despicable".

The child's mother, Attilane Torok, has also been charged.

The District Attorney's office said a couple, who have not been identified, sounded the alarm when they realised they were dealing with an illegal adoption. Kovacs was arrested March 28 in a New York hotel after agreeing to sell the baby to the couple for $60,000 (£36,000). William Wallace, Nassau Assistant District Attorney told Reuters: "Essentially what these people were doing was trafficking in human life."

The Nassau DA's office confirmed that in some such cases, prospective parents were allowed to "look after the baby overnight" so a relationship could be formed. Once the parents were convinced the child was what they wanted they would then be asked to hand over the cash.

Dismissing the notion that the Net is morphing into a platform occupied by heinous criminals, Nicholas Lansman, Secretary General of the Internet Service Providers Association told ZDNet UK News: "The Internet is just another medium for crime and it is not necessary to create an issue where there isn't one." He added: "Yes child pornography is bad, yes, illegal adoption on the Internet is bad, but we must not let our emotions be the reason to pass poorly thought out laws regarding the Internet."

Conversely Neil McGhee, customer director at Internet Network Services in London, believes we should look to our emotions and that the case underlines the benefits of Internet tracking. "The Net is trackable. We firmly believe the Internet, particularly in the light of this case, could benefit from appropriate tracking."

Attilane, a 26 year old Hungarian, gave birth to her baby in January in Budapest, and registered the child with an American father thus allowing mother and child to enter the United States legally.

Adoption agencies in the UK confirmed that no such cases existed in Britain. US agencies said such transactions are rare.

The baby has been placed in the custody of US child-protection services.

Tim Kelly and Reuters contributed to this report

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