Since 2002, Amazon has sold a book entitled, "Understanding Loved Boys and Boy Lovers". Last year, Amazon sold a video game called "RapeLay" in which players stalked and raped a mother and her daughters. Critics of Amazon say scores of videos sold by the company openly feature nude underage girls—which could be in violation of Masha's Law, a federal statute that was introduced by Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and signed into law as part of the Adam Walsh Act of 2007. It increases the civil penalties for creating, distributing, downloading and possessing child pornography on the Internet.
"If postal inspectors can comb through the mail to catch porn, there is no reason why we can't comb through the Internet and these sites the same way" to find objectionable material, says Maureen Flately, child advocate and an advisor on Masha's Law. "If this stuff were on the tables in front of Barnes and Noble, someone would get arrested."
"We found these items within minutes," she says. "Why can't Amazon.com do the same type of searches on the content that they sell? If this were a book about how to blow up an airplane, it would be gone. For these kids, this is like blowing up an airplane with them in it."
CNBC called Amazon.com to ask how they vet the content they sell, but at the time of this article's publication, the company had yet to respond.
A perceived lack of responsiveness is precisely one of the things that has not sat well with child advocates. They are calling for a change in leadership at the company, whose long-standing chief executive officer is e-commerce pioneer Jeff Bezos.
"Amazon's history of blatant disregard and complete inhumanity toward child victims is evidence that Amazon needs serious leadership and policy changes," says Eva Montibello, executive director of Protect Mass Children. "The fact that this book and other unacceptable literature is, or was available through Amazon is totally unacceptable and quite possibly a violation of Marsha’s law for harboring and distributing images of child pornography."
Flately tells CNBC child advocates aren't raising this awareness in order to bring down the company, but rather to help it along in its process of reviewing material that it sells.
"If six moms in New England can find this material within minutes, why can't Amazon? It is in the best interest of their shareholders that they have a process in which to review the content they sell," Flately says.
"One way or another we will do it for them," says Mary Kay Hoal, founder, president and COO of Yoursphere.com, a social networking and Internet safety information site for parents. "It should be the obligation of every digital content and online community provider to abide by a moral and ethical code of conduct that protects children first and puts profit second. If it's not OK to happen to children in the physical world, it shouldn't be okay online. Shame on Amazon."
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