ISPs asked to block child porn sites on the Internet

By EDRi · April 8, 2009

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Deutsch: [ISPs werden aufgefordert, Kinderpornografieseiten im Internet zu sperren |]

In Germany, based on the initiative of the Federal Ministry of Family
Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ), the government has had
discussions for several months now on how to block child pornography sites
hosted on servers outside of the country. The German Government announced on
25 March 2009 a draft law that would cover rights and obligations of
telecommunication media content providers and would include the obligation
to block access to child pornography sites listed by a government agency.

According to BMFSFJ Minister Ursula von der Leyen who has been pushing for
some time for an agreement with big ISPs, “The rights of children carry more
weight than unhindered mass communication.”

However, some members of the German Parliament and Justice Minister Brigitte
Zypries have shown reservations to a contractual solution considering a
regular law should cover the filtering regime as such measures could impact
on fundamental rights of citizens. Policies should be put in place in order
to deal with the liabilities in cases of errors.

The movement is criticised by the industry and non-governmental
organisations, which consider that blocking only makes access more difficult
but is not able to entirely prevent it. The EDRi-member FITUG (Förderverein
Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft) Germany has also warned on the fact
that, until now, blocking has been useless in fighting child pornography and
such measures might lead to blocking sites that have no relation to child
pornography as it has happened in other countries.

Blocking systems exist now in several European countries. The CIRCAMP
system, developed in Norway in 2004, which blocks entry to known child
pornography sites by a red stop sign graphic and a message, is used in nine
European countries among which the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium,
Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

In UK, 95% of the main UK ISPs have already adopted a similar service via
the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF). A system developed by BT, called
Cleanfeed, checks IP addresses against the child pornography blocklist
created by IWF and blocks users from accessing their content.

Malcolm Hutty, president of EuroISPA, representing ISPs from across Europe
at the EU, considers the EU plans to block sites will “increase risks to the
security, resilience and interoperability of the internet” and also stated:
“For technical reasons, blocking simply cannot provide the level of
protection that is necessary, and simple morality demands that we take
strong collective action to get child pornography removed from the Internet,
rather than simply hiding behind national firewalls,” he added.

All the national plans seem to be in line with the new EU proposal to
legally bind all broadband ISPs in Europe to block “access by Internet users
to Internet pages containing or disseminating child pornography.”

With the view to “combating the sexual abuse, sexual exploitation of
children and child pornography”, the proposal for an EU framework decision
on prevention and settlement of conflicts of jurisdiction in criminal
procedures of 20 January 2009 asks that: “Each Member State shall take the
necessary measures to enable the competent judicial or police authorities to
order or similarly obtain the blocking of access by internet users to
internet pages containing or disseminating child pornography, subject to
adequate safeguards.”

Germany Opts For ISP Filtering Of Child Pornography; NGOs Warn Of Unintended
Impact (30.03.2009)

Germany Cracks Down on Child Porn Sites But Critics Want More Action

German Minister Announces Plans for Mandatory Web Filtering (16.01.2009)

Germany to implement obligatory block on child porn sites (16.01.2009) to get power to force ISPs to block child porn (2.04.2009)

EU proposal for a Council Framework Decision on prevention and settlement of
conflicts of jurisdiction in criminal procedures (20.01.2009)

EU Proposal Could Force UK ISPs to Block Child Abuse Sites (2.04.2009)