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EU plan to block web child porn sparks German opposition

DDP/The Local · 30 Mar 2010, 09:03

Published: 30 Mar 2010 09:03 GMT+02:00

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European Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström has advocated site blocking, but German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said she hopes to convince the EU to erase such sites instead.

Blocking sites is ineffective against child pornography, Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger told daily Hamburger Abendblatt, explaining that instead it leads to a “huge breach of trust” with internet users.

Both the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) and the environmentalist Greens have said they support the pro-business Free Democratic minister's course. Meanwhile her party’s coalition partner, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) have said they support Malmström’s position.

“Internet blocking is technically ineffective and doesn’t work,” SPD deputy party leader Olaf Scholz told daily Frankfurter Rundschau, adding that this had already been proven in Germany.

Green party internet expert Konstantin von Notz told the paper: “Perpetrators can get around blocks within seconds.”

But CDU parliamentary group leader Wolfgang Bosbach disagreed, telling the paper that Malmström’s plan would create a unified standard to fight the problem and would present no danger to users.

“What is forbidden offline must also be banned online,” he told the paper.

In November President Horst Köhler refused to sign a controversial law to block child pornography on the internet following criticism that it would block access to other innocent sites, and therefore amounted to censorship that could breach Germany’s constitution.

Story continues below…

The law was written under the previous “grand coalition” government between Angela Merkel’s CDU and the SPD and was pushed by then CDU Family Minister Ursula von der Leyen.

Merkel’s party and their new partners in government, the FDP – who opposed the measure – agreed during coalition negotiations not to put the law into practice.

But because it had already been passed by both houses of the German parliament, it could not simply be dropped. Köhler’s refusal to sign it means it is now effectively stalled until the new government finds a constitutional way to kill it.

DDP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

11:30 March 30, 2010 by Beynch
While unpalatable indeed, child pornography is a scourge and should be fought. My concern is that if we ban this, what else may government, down the road, consider unpalatable and thus ban? Freedom of expression includes expressing that which may be considered offensibe by some. Aren't we embarking on a dangerous path if we ban this?
12:41 March 30, 2010 by michael4096
@Beynch - that is exactly germany's position according to the article. Blocking sites = censorship = bad

However, an international purge against sites would rely on an international agreement that child porn is bad which, by itself, cannot easily creep into other areas in the way simple national blocking can.

As for using the death penalty - if it had ever proved to be effective anywhere else it might be worthwhile considering. But, all it actually does is ensure you never have to say sorry when you get it wrong.
13:29 March 30, 2010 by Beynch
@michael409. I don't think I said anything about `death penalty` in this context. However, now that you mention it, it is my opinion that the death penalty does have a place in modern society. It is not only a matter of whether its is `effective`. I believe that there are instances where society's `need for revenge` is a valid concept in a democracy, however sparingly used. Here in the US, for example, capital punishment is used so sparingly, that for all intents and purposes it is not used. On average I think we execute one person per year in the entire US.
13:54 March 30, 2010 by Danish Omer Zuberi
Child porn sites should be banned and harsh punishments should be metted out to persons behind this filthy business. Every person knows how much pain and agony the childn porn is causing in shape of abductions and trafficking, drug abuse, and abuse to human dignity. German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger in seeking to erase such sites. CDU leader Wolfgang Bosbach has put it aptly ¦quot;What is forbidden offline must also be banned online.¦quot; Let us hope other nations too take serious steps in eliminating the dehumanisation of the child.
15:57 March 30, 2010 by michael4096
@Beynch - you are correct. Apologies. It was the post above yours that suggested the death penalty.

I don't believe that there is any room in civilized society for revenge and certainly not for capital punishment as revenge. Revenge was introduced into how-to books of thousands of years ago, e.g. the bible, as a recommendation for ensuring that others left you and your family in peace. In today's world it isn't needed because society takes on that job. Revenge didn't work that well anyway, quickly degenerating to tit-for-tat violence and vendettas that lived longer that the original participants but I guess there were few other possibilities in those days.
17:02 March 30, 2010 by farkle242

Although it pales in comparison to China for example, the US actually executes on average 58 people per year. In the last 10 years the lowest year was 2008 with 37 executions. The year 2000 saw the highest in that period at 85.

"Punishment" should never be used as revenge. It's only purpose is to be utilized as a tool to eliminate a threat to society. I don't think killing a criminal does much more than kill the criminal. However, housing certain criminals is pointless since they cannot be taught and they cannot be released into society because of the threat they represent. The community at that time must decide what to do with them. House them until they die naturally or save money and terminate them. Of late it has come to light that a number of prisoners have been wrongly incarcerated or executed. Improper incarceration can be corrected to some degree. Wrongful execution cannot. But again, it is up to the community to decide what it can and cannot live with. Our governments are given far too much control. Criminals should be judged and dealt with by their peers not government.
21:24 March 30, 2010 by Beynch
@farkle242: I'm unable to argue with our numbers other than to say that every execution here in the US is usually surrounded by plenty of media hoopla. I can not even recall when I last saw a news report of an execution, not even in Texas or Virginia, the two states with the most, and thus your 58 per year seems, anecdotally, be completely out-of-whack. I personally disagree witn you that there is no room for "societal revenge" in some cases. I think your last sentence - "dealt with by their peers" - effectively confirms this. Certainly, child pornography, does not warrant the death penalty.
00:17 March 31, 2010 by harris13
I think that before you start selling wild horse rides , we might had better catch the wild horses first. I think that the sites should remain open. Give them full opportunity to use the siyes. Monitor the sites and locate them for extinction. We here in America have what you call roach motels. In catching roaces it is very effective. It is based upon the same theory as I have mentioned. They come to the hotel or trap and get caught. We use the sites as bait. The media is only made alert as to the arrest, not the websites used as bait. Simple yes?
01:12 March 31, 2010 by Prufrock2010
The United States is the only country in the industrialized western world that still employs the death penalty. Undisputed credible research in the US has shown that capital punishment is not a deterrent to capital crime. Child pornography, heinous as it is, is not a capital crime. It should be punished to the full extent of the law, and the law should be expanded to provide greater penalties. Death is not one of them, unless we all want to become Singapore.
03:44 March 31, 2010 by farkle242

I researched it from here:


There are various methods of searching the database. All I did was change the year and search by detail to get the number of executions per year. I collected the numbers for the years 2000-2009 and then did the math.

There is indeed a lot of hoopla surrounding certain executions but the majority go on without so much as a peep. Regarding Texas, there have been four executions since the beginning of the year. Here's an article about the first one:


BTW: I am "here" in the US too. I'd like it to be one a year but in the US there are currently 3300 people on death row awaiting execution.

'Dealt with by their peers' supports two thoughts. One is to remove government from decision making as much as possible and secondly to allow the people to take responsibility for the mode of punishment. It's far too easy to let someone else do the dirty work.

There's too much convenience in the US these days.
16:33 March 31, 2010 by michael4096
I think that the sites should remain open.
The technique of leaving sites, called "honey pots", open to catch visitors is quite common and most experienced hackers can spot the ones targeted at them a mile away. I'm sure that we have some law enforcement agencies watching sites today to catch subscribers to kiddie porn sites.

However, subscribing to this stuff is only a crime because it funds people making it - it's the contributors that we really need to catch and I'm not sure how effective honey pots are there.
01:29 April 1, 2010 by Logic Guy
Well, according to the article, everyone sees Child Porn as being unacceptable. There are simpliy philosopical differences

as to how to deal with it.

Government is a balancing act. It has to determine how far to extend authority. When a concept or way of life creates a disturbance in society, then obviously the government must act, in an effort to protect all citizens.

A government is responsible for providing 4 things:

1) Preservation

2) Prosperity

3) Safety

4) Stability
08:15 April 23, 2010 by Jeddy
If child porn is a crime, like every other crime, resources of the police are required to investigate, find those allegedly responsible and take them to court. It is up to the court to decide their guilt or innocence. The police is not authorised to judge such people. Making child porn an offence requires more investigations, more proof. There other crimes as well, no crime can take priority over another, if it did would stretch the resources of the police and the courts too far.

So many things have to be decriminalised in order that crimes such as murder, theft and fraud are dealt with. In the USA those who download porn are prosecuted, whereas the people who make it are are not arrested.

Catching the buyer and not the manufacturer does not prevent child porn to continue, Children will not be saved because a few people are unable to view it..

Child porn is a part of a greater problem. The children in it are from very poor families or do not have any families to speak of. The are homeless as they have nowhere to go. When prostitution cannot be eradicated, how can children of prostitutes not turn the same as their mothers? Child porn is an indoor activity not something being depicted outside where the world can see.
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