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Web Warning

Here's another alert for families concerned about the Web's dark side. Reps. Henry Waxman (D) of California and Steve Largent (R) of Oklahoma recently released a report on a phenomenon that's evading the filtering software many parents use to shield their children from online pornography.

File-swapping services, known mostly for music trading, are increasingly being used to exchange pornographic images. These services - such as Music City Morpheus, BearShare, and Aimster - are very popular with teens and pre-teens. They work "peer to peer," with individual users trading files. Some screening programs may catch this traffic, but many don't, according to the report.

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The congressmen don't have a legislative fix in mind, but they offer some useful advice for parents, such as making an effort to become familiar with file-swapping programs and recognizing the limits of filtering software. A list of "parental tips" can be found on this website (Acrobat required): pdf/pornp2pparentaltips.pdf.