• Child-abuse survivors oppose EU censorwall

    Mar 26 2010, 4:54

    Boing Boing reports that German child-abuse survivors are speaking out against a proposal of the European Council to block sites that depict the absuse of children:

    A recently leaked European Council proposal seeks to create a “Great Firewall of Europe,” instituted to block sites that depict the abuse of children. As with other censorwalls, it’s unlikely that this will performed as intended, since paedophiles will circumvent it with proxies, or by using P2P or email or private websites to trade illegal material. But the creation of a continent-wide network censorship scheme is likely to cause new problems, inviting authorities to shoehorn ever-greater slices of the net into the “illegal” category — this has already happened in Australia and other countries that have built Chinese-style censorship regimes.

    One of the most nuanced and important challenges to the EC proposal has come from MOGiS e.V, a German organization of child-abuse survivors. They’ve issued a statement condemning the proposal on several grounds: first, that censorship is unlikely to attain its stated goals and will create new harms, and second (and most importantly), that the EC should be turning its attention to making it easier for EU member-states and other nations to actually shut down sites that host images depicting the abuse of children.

    Christian Bahls, a spokesperson for the group, says, “Blocking just hides the problem and actually lowers the police’s incentive to become active. Also, going after the servers means a small chance of catching the people that put it there in the first place. Images of child abuse are outlawed all over the world. There is a global consensus that this imagery is illegal and should not be distributed (see the 193 Interpol members or the 117 signatories to the ‘Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography‘).”

    Read more here. ┬áThere are important lessons here for Senator Conroy and the Australian Government’s proposal to introduce mandatory ISP level filtering: namely, that such a policy won’t actually stop criminals from trading in child sexual abuse images, and that the focus should be on law enforcement tracking down these sites, shutting them down and prosecuting the individuals involved.