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Monday, March 29, 2010

After the abuse scandals, EU takes action on child pornography.

Kindesmissbrauch: „Dunkle Ecken des Internets aufrauemen“ - Europaeische Union - Politik - FAZ.NET

Article from Commissioner Cecilia Malmström

One of the of the central concerns of home affairs is to ensure the safety of individuals and to defend his fundamental rights and freedoms. Many people are rightly concerned that governments could take action in the interest of safety with over-regulation in response to various types of threats - from terrorism to cyber-hate speech -.
The European Union has been at the forefront, despite the current threats in our globalized world, of anchoring individual rights and freedoms in our political architecture. One of the greatest achievements of the Lisbon Treaty is the fact that the ECHR is now an integral part of EU law. Therefore, we must always carefully examine the legislation as to how it affects the freedom and security of our citizens.
The way forward belongs to member states
Against abominable child pornographic images, which are still circulating on the Internet, we need to take further action. The Commission shall submit a draft directive on this Monday, which should clear away at least within the European Union the dark corners of the Internet and criminal images of child abuse.
Firstly, the lives of innocent children are at stake. Hiden behind the images on the Internet is the worldwide fate of abused children. Child abuse is an extremely serious crime. Therefore, we must - even if many of the pictures originate beyond the EU borders, do all we can to protect innocent children.
Secondly, it is a sad reality that today a large number of images in circulation show child abuse. If we do not act, then the potential users of such web sites, viewing such images over time could possibly see them as normal.
Thirdly, we must act at European level in order to close the loopholes that are inevitable if each Member State on its own tries to block access to these sites, which are usually located in third countries.
The Commission proposes to follow the example of some Member States where this is already happening and to introduce national mechanisms to block access to child pornography. Member states should decide for themselves how they can best achieve this goal You could, for example, encourage internet service providers to develop voluntary codes of conduct and guidelines in order to deny users access to child pornography websites. Or empower the competent police and judicial authorities in law to demand internet service providers to block the use of such sites.
No substitute for the removal of the source
The proposals also contain important safeguards to ensure that legislation is not too frivolous, and the purposes for which it applied. Thus, for example, access will only be prevented if demonstrably illegal child abuse images is made publicly accessible. Users will then be informed why their access is denied. In addition, the content providers will have the ability to appeal against unjust decisions which are in their opinion unjust.
When it comes to regulation of the Internet, citizens' initiatives raise the question of the right to freedom of expression. Images of child abuse may not be considered under any circumstances to be a legitimate expression. When children are humiliated, this is a clear violation of their fundamental rights. Europe must therefore commit themselves with all their strength to the protection of children.
Of course, the access lock is no substitute for the obligation of States to take action to remove child pornography images at the source - even though we are all aware of the practical difficulties of implementation and the provider is physically in most cases outside EU jurisdiction.
The Commission has made many efforts, resolutely combat this threat to our society and its fundamental rights. Now it is at the European Parliament and the Member States to decide on the approach of the European Union.
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