This Is Sex?

Policing the porn superhighway.

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  1. At first glance there's a lot of sex on the Internet. Or, not at first glance—nobody can find anything on the Internet at first glance. But if you have time on your hands, if you're comfortable with computing, and if you have an unflagging curiosity about sex—in other words, if you're a teen-ager—you may think you've suddenly landed in pornography heaven. Nude pictures! Foul language! Weird bathroom humor! No wonder the Christian Coalition thinks the Internet is turning into a red-light district. There's even a "Red Light District" World Wide Web page.

    So we explore. Some sites make you promise to be a grown-up. (O.K.: you promise.) You try "Girls," a link leading to a computer at the University of Bordeaux, France. The message flashes back: Document Contains No Data. "Girls" at Funet, Finland, seems to offer lots of pictures (Dolly Parton! Ivana Trump!)—Connect Timed Out. "Girls," courtesy of Liberac University of Technology, Czech Republic, does finally, with painful slowness, deliver itself of a 112,696-byte image of Madchen Amick. You could watch it spread across your screen, pixel by tantalizing pixel, but instead you go have lunch during the download, and when you return, there she is—in black-and-white and wearing clothes.

    These pictures, by the way, are obviously scanned from magazines. And magazines are the ideal medium for them. Clearly the battle cry of the on-line voyeur is "Host Contacted—Waiting for Reply."

    With old Internet technology, retrieving and viewing...