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Experts say child porn block may not work

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Photo: DPA
08:30 CET+01:00
The German cabinet meets on Wednesday to discuss a plan to block child pornography websites, but experts warn that the virtual barriers will only stop amatuer web browsers.

Family Minister Ursula von der Leyen, a mother of seven, introduced the plan in January, and has since found strong backing from lawmakers.

“If a large country like Germany expands technical blocks for child pornography sites, it jump starts the rest of Europe,” Europol head Max-Peter Ratzel said, adding that so far only five of the 27 EU countries had created national lists of blocked sites.

Von der Leyen has said she expects all seven of the country's ISP's – which cover 95 percent of the internet market – have signed a binding agreement to block traffic to these sites based on the CIRCAMP system, developed in Norway in 2004.

The system blocks entry to known child pornography sites with a red stop sign graphic and a message. So far nine European countries use the system, among them the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

But many internet industry experts are worried that her goal may not be technically viable.

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Bernhard Rohleder from information technology association Bitkom told broadcaster Deutschlandfunk on Wednesday that while the group welcomed the political initiative, the programme would likely only work against amateur users.

“We can't do anything about that,” he said.

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