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DOGGING is the sexual practice of having sex in public places, especially parks, deliberately taking the chance of being watched.

Giving new meaning to the term "flash mob," the British have invented a new sex craze called "dogging" that mixes sex, exhibitionism, mobs and the Internet.

Dogging combines technology with swinging, cruising and voyeurism. To wit: Crowds big and small watch exhibitionist couples who've met on the Net have sex in cars, and sometimes join in.

Dogging appears to be popular and widespread, attracting heterosexual couples and single men and women of all ages, income brackets and backgrounds. Not surprisingly, however, dogging meets tend to attract more men than women.

Dogging is most often practiced in cars at rural parks, lover's lanes and superstore parking lots. The term dogging has a number of suggested origins, but it probably refers to the "walking the dog" excuse proffered to spouses for an evening's absence.

At the meet, cell phones and text messages are used to confirm meeting places and, crucially, identities. Cameras and videophones are increasingly used to record what goes on.

"Technology is vital and is the main driver (of the dogging phenomenon)," said Richard Byrne, a lecturer at Harper Adams University College in the United Kingdom who produced a survey (PDF) last year that found dogging to be a widespread and growing problem in Britain's country parks.

In addition, cases of sexually transmitted diseases in some districts rose markedly last year, prompting health authorities to post safe-sex warnings on dogging sites, according to the BBC. One dogging group on Yahoo has 22,000 members.

Although dogging has been growing in popularity for the last couple of years, it only reached the mainstream earlier this month when soccer player Stan Collymore, one of Britain's most famous athletes, admitted to attending numerous dogging meets. Naturally, Collymore's confession sparked a storm of tabloid controversy.

"Sex in public feels so right. Honk your horn. It's a dogger's delight," go the lyrics to "Dogging," a new single produced by URockers, a "collective of sexual anarchists born of the Internet," according to the group's site.

Members of the group claim to have met at a dogging meet. The trio are all music professionals, including a nationally known DJ and a high-profile producer who's worked with Kylie Minogue and Robert Plant.