Police demand tougher powers to fight child porn on web

Police demand tougher powers to fight child porn on web
Photo: DPA

Police are struggling to keep the internet clean of child pornography, with four out of 10 offending sites still accessible in Germany a week after they are posted, media reported Thursday.


The internal Federal Criminal Police (BKA) report for the first half of 2010 has prompted authorities to demand tougher measures allowing them to temporarily block the sites until they can be removed altogether, daily Die Welt reported.

“Child pornography websites remain accessible for too long despite all efforts at deletion,” the report said.

Until sites could be removed, there was “immense user traffic” that led to “a failure of public safety and order,” it said.

The BKA therefore recommended blocking the sites until they could be removed.

BKA president Jörg Ziercke has repeatedly pleaded for the power to block sites, but has come up against the opposition of the Free Democrats, the junior ruling coalition partners who are concerned about broadly-aimed censorship on the web.

Ziercke has argued that removal of sites alone is not enough to combat child pornography as the producers of the material always have copies.

Wolfgang Bosbach, an MP with Angela Merkel’s ruling Christian Democrats (CDU) and chairman of the parliamentary committee for interior affairs, backed Ziercke’s position, saying the CDU was “energetically advocating” internet blocks.

He called on his FDP coalition partners to clarify their position as quickly as possible.

“Criticism of the BKA is no answer,” he said.

But Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, of the FDP, is holding firm to her “removal not blocking” principle, and deemed the BKA partly responsible for the poor results.

“Reliable figures depend also on the BKA’s future manpower resources,” she told the paper. The BKA had only begun to make progress on removing child pornography sites after lengthy preparation work, she added.

Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger and her FDP colleagues have long argued that blocking sites doesn’t do enough to stop users accessing child pornography while also posing the risk that innocent sites will be censored. Censorship is a concern for the party, which ideologically opposes government restrictions.

“It doesn't represent an effective measure in the fight against child pornography and at the same time does great damage to confidence among Internet users,” Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger has said in the past.


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