A form of hysteria has gripped society about the dangers of the Internet largely because the medium is so new to our culture, says McMaster University computer science professor David Jones.
Jones also heads Electronic Frontier Canada, an organization devoted to freedom in cyberspace.
"Eighty per cent of people have no meaningful interaction with the Internet", he says. "For the majority of Canadians, the only knowledge they have is from the media."
There are too many media reports of pedophiles on the Net and too little mention of the wealth of beneficial information it makes available, he says.
RCMP Corp. Michael Duncan says the Internet is "still a fairly safe place to be". He says less than 1 per cent of 11,000 discussion forums or newsgroups contain sexually explicit material.
However, the head of the OPP's Project Pornography unit, Det. Sgt. Bob Matthews, disagrees. He says police need better tools to fight the problem.