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back to article Europe questions move to block child sex abuse images

Members of the European Parliament have cast doubt on plans to move to community-wide blocking of child sexual abuse images. The Civil Liberties Committee questioned whether such blocking would be effective and whether different legal traditions across Europe would make such blocking impossible. Alexander Alvaro (Alliance of …

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Silver badge

Before this can work

We will need a EU wide definition of a child.

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I dont want to sound like a Daily Mail reader

but why is this so hard?

The majority stance is that CP is an abhorrent activity that must be stopped at all costs. Thats a unity on opinion, why not a unity on policy?

You're hosting CP on servers in our country - Immediate De-Rez.

I'm ill-educated on matters of law from across the globe, but if they can get definition and punishment for other crimes, then why not this?

madness.

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OK, what is a child and what is CP?

The definition will be different across different EU states, from the UK where a picture of your own child on the beach could get you into hot water to some places where having sex with a 12 year old is OK. The definition of child pornography in the UK includes anything which looks like it is supposed to depict a child sexually including, but not limited to, cartoons and photographs of strategically shaved adults.

Then there are countries where you can't censor everything you feel like with no good reason.

Perhaps Europe should do what Australia are in the process of doing and ban everything that might seem like it alludes to something which could, in the most depraved of minds, be construed as something that hints at child pornography?

Or, perhaps, things should be left roughly as they are, with each country looking after its own blocking, and the police forces across Europe could try and find the abusers and target them.

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Anonymous Coward

well one of the main reasons

Is what constitutes a child in different nations, UK it's under 16 for actual sex, 18 for porn, (I only know the for porn rule in the UK)

However AOC varies from 13 in Spain to 19 in Turkey and Malta, with the majority set at 14 and 15, various other laws revolve around ageas of parties involved, marriage, homosexuality, etc... Remember a great number of nations built their laws around the fact that having sex was geared towards having children and you can't have children until you've entered pubety. There fore there is nothing unatural about wanting to have sex with someone who is capable of reproducing.

There is of course a general condemnation of prepubescent abuse, which makes perfect sense.

Also the on going arguement of what effect blocking has, does it increase risk of non-actives offending or increase the chance. What exactly would the crime be? What benefit is there in such things, etc, etc, etc.

Also for me I'd prefer there to be more global alignment in tracking and prosecuting those creating the original images, as until the people are caught they can continue to abuse children. IMO blocking CP simply brushes the problem under the carpet and allows the masses to feel good that they're "doing something" whilst not doing anything at all.

The national interest in child welfare is easily seen in our lack of willingness to provide funding and support to social services and youth schemes, whilst sinking vast sums of money into policing and new systems. The new systems making it very offputting for an average person to want to invest energy in creating services for children. It's shown that a small amount of money in an area spent in engaging children and teenagers leads to a marked reduction in trouble and increase in attainment. But it doesn't win the same headlines that policing does.

Brush the troubles under the carpet and hope they go away whilst nabbing some low hanging fruit is the policy of Britain and its people.

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@Guido Esperanto

The problem is that there's far too much hysteria about this, particularly in Anglo-Saxon countries. Wanting to tackle genuine child abuse is one thing, but then arresting parents because they take a photo of their children playing at bathtime, or a school kid because he has a topless photo of his 17-year old girlfriend on his mobile phone, is a quite barmy overreaction in my opinion, and risks bringing the whole system into disrepute.

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Anonymous Coward

The majority stance?

Unlikely. Most if not all of us will probably agree that sexually abusing children is a pretty bad no-no. What to do about it is something else entirely.

For one, the "at all costs" bit would justify imprisonment or extermination of the entire male population. Come to think of it, there's been cases of wimmins abusing children too innit? Can't be too cautious, let's do the same to them. Nobody left to care for the children? What a pity, but at least there's nobody left to make child porn!

I'm quite sure there's very few people who would go quite that far.

Before you complain that's over the top: Yes, yes it is. But that's what "at all costs" implies: No holds barred, everything is fair game, anything goes, including throwing sanity right out the window. Which is what generally happens when moral panics get a hold on the politicians, as happened with the child porn scare.

You said "at all costs". If you don't want to go quite that far then don't say you want to. Otherwise you indeed run the risk of sounding like a daily fail reader.

And blocking is a bad idea anyway. Even forgetting that even an EU wide block wouldn't be able to block everything. There would always be false positives and false negatives even before people got smart and found ways around it--as happens all the time in China and elsewhere. Sweeping the evidence under the rug isn't quite the same as punishing past or current abuse or even preventing future abuse. So you have to ask yourself: What is it that we really want or do not want? What do we want to focus our efforts on? Finding perpetrators of actual abuse or harass people for mere possession of pervy pictures?

There are so many much better things than introducing EU-wide blocklist red tape that you can do. Things that will actually help prevent abuse and help abused children get over it and punish offenders and prevent them from doing it again that it's really quite a shame that people opt for the lazy censorship cop-out. Especially since the damage done by imposing censorhip --it attracts more censorship, proposals for that have already surfaced in fact-- is a direct attack on our liberties and with that a clear attack on democracy.

So what is it that you really want? Do you want quick feel-good papering-over, or would you rather go the long, hard, arduous way of going after the actual abusing-of-kids?

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Anonymous Coward

Re Rolf Howarth

Or a 15 year old girl who has a topless photo of herself on her phone

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Anonymous Coward

errata on AOC

I don't know how I did it but i said Turkey and Malta had an aoc of 19, I ment 18.

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good points

I cringed at the "all costs" part, because while in principle, thats exactly what I want, however as you succinctly put, to what end does "at all costs" go to?.

I believe aim should be taken directly at the source of the material.(the abusers).

I also believe that servers in a jurisdiction where CP is defined should be able to be shutdown, without the quagmire of law that seems to make this difficult (if original article is to be believed), Therefore reducing a network of material.

I do agree with the blocking standpoint. It achieves nothing.

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Anonymous Coward

Not very principled, this German MEP.

They're usually better at cencorship and privacy issues.

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Anonymous Coward

John, care to back up that claim?

"Apart from the occasional hoo-hah for blocking Wikipedia it does a reasonable job."

Does it? How do we know? Because there's no big fat outcry? Not everyone's as big as wikipedia, you know. Are there any numbers or whatnot to _show_ that it works as intended, to quantify its inevitable false positives and negatives, and so on, just so that we can assess how it does its job and whether that would be "reasonable"?

Quite apart from the principle of employing censorship to sweep problems under the instead of helping to catch child abusers. Not to mention that hiding the evidence itself is a crime. But I digress. Your assertion needs some solid foundation to stand on. Please do explain.

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FAIL

No it doesn't do a "reasonable job"

Far from it. Right now it's wreaking havoc with many sites such as Rapidshare, Megaupload etc on a number of ISPs (O2 and Be for example). It filters all traffic to a suspect site through a single proxy, triggering their fair-use limits and also in some cases, triggering the "too many failed login attempt" error for paid-up users.

It's a farcical system with little or no police control, no judicial review or elected officials, yet somehow has a grip on the majority of our ISPs, albeit with "good intentions".

And all this while ignoring the fact that it won't be touching the darker sides of the web and is only protecting casual users from accidental viewing - something which isn't illegal anyway AFAIK.

Child abuse is a horrific crime, but attempting to solve it by hiding it away is really not going to fix the problem.

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Silver badge

And surely that is the point innit?

The real crime is abusing children.

Although I would have to wonder at the sanity of someone that wants to see these images, if all child abuse were to be stopped tomorrow, would there really be any issue with the possession of child abuse images from that point on? Probably not.

Chasing the viewers of this material is avoiding the real problem of the abuse itself.

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Silver badge
Boffin

So what is a child?

Given the widespread disparity about definitions of when someone ceases to be a child (age of consent? Age of voting? Age of marriage?) let alone the nonsense we have in the UK about whether someone simply *looks* like a child or that child porn is anything that shows someone under 18 (unless it's a picture owned by someone who is in "an enduring relationship" with a 16 to 18 year old) trying to harmonise this across the EU is going to be a tricky job!

Then, of course, there's the small matter of the nonsense of being able to block *ANYTHING* on the internet...

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Anonymous Coward

and what if

And what if it's a drawing? That might be a child under 18?

The laws for the most part are a nonsense.

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Coat

Nonsense?

They should be talking nonce-sense.

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Anonymous Coward

Now we've demonstrated how hard it is to define "child"...

...please can we define "abuse".

After that we can define "block".

Hopefully by that point everybody will have forgotten the idiotic idea that spawned this discussion in the first place.

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Gold badge
Happy

Re: Now we've <etc>.

You forgot the fun bit: Can we please define "sex".

Actually, just forming the steering committee for that one should be an interesting enough exercise....

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FAIL

Block and Abuse

BLOCK = what they have in place of a head full or brains.

ABUSE = what they're trying to do to the rest of us.

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WTF?

Reasonable job? Really?

"Apart from the occasional hoo-hah for blocking Wikipedia it does a reasonable job."

Reasonable?

Does it take the websites offline?

Does it identify the victims?

Does it identify the abusers?

Does it arrest and prosecute the abusers?

Does it stop anyone who has a modicum of technical knowledge that can work around the block?

Reasonable job? Really?

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Silver badge

Reasonable job

In fact, the Internet Witch Finders do perform a reasonable job - that is they do something that does not affect absolute majority of web users yet at the same time it mostly takes away the argument that the state needs to control, censor, firewall the internets which is waved by the "won't somebody think of the chindrenz" brigade.

Whether or not IWF has any effect on the pedofils' rings we don't know, but that is irrelevant - they defuse the control freaks and in that we should appreciate their contribution.

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Anonymous Coward

Can't really fault your logic there.

For sheer cynical practicality alone. Except that I still don't agree with it. For if one bunch of morally panicked control freaks gets their filter, what argument have you left to deny others the same? Be it to "guard" against "terrorism", "extremism", "inciting crime", "possibly infringing other people's privacy", or whatever. Takedown this, filter that, whatever man, just do it.

In that respect it's maybe not such a bad idea to read up on the salem witch trials or generally on the hows and whys of witchhunting. If I wanted a witchhunt it'd be against moral panickers.

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FAIL

Duplicity

Now suppose the EU wanted to ban all video games portraying reennactments of gratuitous violence. 99% Reg Readers would be wholeheartedly against it. Everyone would be seeing "I;d never dream of harming anyone in real life, it's just a cathartic (keyword!!) tool I use to release my pent-up anger". They'd be describing this move as draconian, reactionary, DailyMailesque... Well, actually violent videos games are a multi-billion pound industry and are actively promoted by very powerful lobbies and viral marketing. Killing people is obviously wrong as is child abuse (i.e. where children are actually aware of any harm being done).

However, here many Reg Readers can't wait to jump on the bandwaggon and support Draconian measures wide open to interpretation that could potentially criminalise millions of Europeans.

What constitutes kiddie porn? Is it a perfectly innocent image of naked chid in a bath tub with partially visible genitalia (and how do we define erotic). Is it a dressed child sucking a lollipop? What the hell is it. Let kids be kids and let's desexualise nudity... What the hell is wrong with our society. Virtual death and destruction is ok (actually supercool), but nudity is somehow evil. Consistency please....

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Anonymous Coward

I think

I think you'll find far more complex and constructive argument on the registers comment page then most other places on line, and there isn't anywhere near as much band wagon jumping as there is on most places.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: I think

Maybe, but you should see the stuff that gets rejected.

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Silver badge
Boffin

but, but, but

we can't, you rejected it!

seriously though, that is a good point, Sarah, we have a tendency to assume the quality of post attempts due to the quailty of sucessful posts, but being a moderated forum, that is not a safe assumption.

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Anonymous Coward

Aw Sarah.

You tease!

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Definitions of child porn:

Guy whacking off to pictures of some kids: VICTIMLESS NON-CRIME FASCIST THOUGHT POLICE 1984!!!

Guy whacking off to pictures of *your* kids: BURN DIE KILL DESTROY EVISCERATE!!!

Carry on...

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Silver badge
Alert

I still cannot follow the logic behind "re-victimisation of the child"

The abuse takes place at the time the photographs/images are taken.

Whether one one one hundred thousand views occur subsequently, usually without the knowledge of the victim, how is she/he re-victimised.

This sounds more like a mantra that the Internet Watch Foundation repeats ad nauseum.

Better to have Dirty Old Men, glued to some screen, touching themselves than some innocent victim.

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Anonymous Coward

if it were that easy.

Personally, I can only watch the same movie, like Behind the Green Door, a few times in a row before it just gets boring.

I agree that watching a video, that was originally recorded on 8mm, and then transferred to BetaMax, then onto VHS cannot cause the original ?victim? any more anguish. On the other hand, anyone who pays for it, either by semi-untraceable check-card, or by page-views of ads on a website sustains the market for the existing, and new, material.

So, you're right, and then again, you're wrong. Welcome to the real world.

Besides, if everyone was good, most of governement would be unnecessary.

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Anonymous Coward

Personally

I think that a nation that forces children as young as six to care for seriously unwell parents is a nation guilty of mass child abuse. Even if they're willing to do it, it isn't right, and we should have the facilities to enable such families to be able to function without requiring young children to clean their parents and take them too the toilet and medicate them.

That's state supported abuse, and I'd wager a lot more common than sexual abuse.

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WTF?

1%?

"less than 1% of all child sexual abuse images known to the IWF are hosted in the UK"

WTF? I'd assume it is 0%... with the occasional rise above that representing the gap between them being notified and the police arriving to get it removed and any gather evidence left by the perv.

Or are they seriously telling us that there is known CP that is hosted in the UK that they cannot get removed?

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FAIL

Less than 1%

" less than 1% of all child sexual abuse images known to the IWF are hosted in the UK. "

and IWF probably knows about less than 1% of CSA images. We have no way of knowing of course, but blocking web sites is pointless because they just pop up again under a different domain and IP address, and are harder to identify. It's like trying to catch a jellyfish with a pair of coal tongs.

Anyway I've never accidentally stumbled on a CSA image while browsing (and I've never deliberately looked for one either) so what's the problem? It makes me wonder what these people who report CSA sites to IWF are doing. Instead of blocking the sites we should be monitoring access to them to pick up the abusers.

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Bronze badge

Not just the age

It's not just the age element of child porn definitions which is a problem,

Different countries have different views on what sorts of images are porn. The UK view seems to include mere nudity. Other countries don't.

Incidentally, I don't see anything wrong in keeping non-adults out of the porn business, but using the child porn hammer as the tool to do this is wide open to ridicule.

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Thumb Up

Defeat the machines

Make underware with baco foil in it. It will reflect the xrays and make you have very bright knickers on the machine

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Flame

huh???

"there might be issues with getting the US and Russia to remove sites hosted internally."

Ummm... sorry, that is illegal in the U.S. - it is a completely bogus argument.

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Boffin

It comes back the definition problem

Sure "child pornography" is illegal in the US. But it might not be defined the same way. US law uses a fairly strict definition, it pretty much has to show a sex act (though courts have expanded that a bit through creative reading). Whereas I gather UK's definition of an "indecent image" is somewhat broader and more subjective. So what the IWF calls a child abuse image, wouldn't necessarily be illegal here.

You remember the Wikipedia incident, right?

Then there's the whole cartoon porn thing, though I don't think IWF bothers with that either.

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FAIL

The IWF should change it's policies

I'm against the blocking that the IWF does, it's useless and not needed and far too easy for the people who would like to view such images to get around and only causes problems for regular users.

Why should I have to use a proxy or VPN and mess around trying to find one which hasn't already been used to access a file host just because the IWF decides to block it? It should report the images for removal itself which would get them removed far faster if it really cared about these indecent images.

Instead most of the UK is subjected to this censorship which is frequently highly inconvenient and oppressive.

I'm against child exploitation in any form but what the IWF does is totally useless IMO.

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It's all in the context ...

AIUI, back in Roman times, what we would call a young girl today, would be expected to be married by about 13 years old, and with children as soon as biologically possible. Much older than that and she'd be considered an old maid ! I imagine there are still places where the custom is still not that much different to that.

Of course there were practical reasons, when life expectancy is only into the thirties, everything has to happen a lot younger.

But ignoring that, even today there are vast differences in what is permissible/custom. It ranges from countries where nudity is considered normal and no-one bats an eyelid at people (including children) on (say) a beach totally naked to countries where women are not allowed to show even their face to anyone but their husband.

Given the gulf between those two extremes, I think watching the debate over where to draw the line could involve large quantities of popcorn !

I too think that in this country we have pandered to the collective idiots who keep quoting the "at any cost" and "not once ever again" demands - ignorant of what that actually implies as amply pointed out above. And as pointed out many times already, such is the way all men (what of the women ?) are painted as all pedophiles who just haven't been caught yet, various clubs etc are now finding it harder than ever to get volunteers. So what harm does that do to children ? How much harm is done to them by not letting them "play out" like we used to as youngsters ?

And what of history ? The famous Manneken Pis would (I'm fairly certain) be illegal in this country now - yet it is considered a historic piece of art.

Similarly, I was in our local function rooms (council owned and run) recently, and found myself considering the ornate plasterwork which would also fall foul of current law due to the depictions of very young children - totally devoid of any clothes, clearly posed, and clearly showing off their gender. I'm fairly certain that if it was suggested that these old plaster decorations should be ripped out and the local council prosecuted, there would (quite rightly) be an uproar.

Though having said that, our local council ordered a chiming clock to be silenced after a few hundred years after one woman moved into the town and complained about the noise. Needless to say, she was a completely lone voice but "the law is the law" and the statutory nuisance was order to be abated in spite of the very significant and vocal support for the status quo.

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