Yahoo! shows tougher line on piracy than child porn

Risk of Internet piracy leads to immediate action, while paedophile groups allowed to remain online

Internet piracy is given a higher priority, by Yahoo!, than protecting children online, it emerges this week, as the Internet portal removes 13 chatrooms found to be trading encryption techniques, whilst ignoring hundreds of paedophile groups that it was alerted to six months ago.

An undercover anti-piracy operation revealed thirteen user-created chatrooms on the Yahoo.com site to be providing information on how to circumvent encryption techniques adopted by satellite broadcasters.

"Newsgroups, such as, "how to watch encrypted channels for free," were providing information on how to break into encrypted materials," explains Stuart Palmer, vice president of engineering at encryption software manufacturers, Irdeto Access, who alerted Yahoo! to the problem.

On Tuesday, Irdeto said Yahoo! had now shut the chatrooms down, but did not specify when the material had been taken offline.

More than £200m a year is lost to the illegal activities of media pirates, in Europe alone. The anonymity of the Internet makes it a popular medium for the sale of illegal software and the sharing of encryption techniques with other underground pirates. "This is a crime -- it will hurt broadcasters as well as paying customers, who will ultimately have to pay more for the service, due to piracy," said Palmer.

With the commercial interests of large companies at stake, Irdeto Access claims Yahoo! responded quickly to their request for the offending chatrooms to be removed. "They were very receptive to the issues and responded quickly," commented Palmer.

However, Yahoo! has not been as rapid to respond to complaints about chatrooms used by paedophiles. In October, an investigation by ZDNet News UK reported the presence of chatrooms containing paedophile content to Yahoo!, but the offending rooms still exist on its US servers.

A forthcoming report by the Internet Crime Forum purports that "around 20 percent of [UK] Internet chatroom-using kids have been approached by paedophiles and other undesirables, while online".

Yahoo! has been the subject of close scrutiny by ZDNet News since Net paedophile, Patrick Green, was convicted in October for raping a 13-year-old girl he met in a Yahoo! chatroom. The chatroom, "older men for younger gals" is still running on US servers and is still available in the UK using the instant-messaging client downloaded from Yahoo.com.

Yahoo! declined to comment.

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