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Europe Approves New Rules to Block and Remove Internet Child Abuse Images

Posted: 28th Oct, 2011 By: MarkJ
european union flagThe European Parliament (EP) has finally approved a European Commission (EC) proposal for a new Directive that will combat child sexual abuse online by working with broadband ISPs and web hosts to help remove and or block websites that carry related material.

The new Directive requires Member States to ensure the prompt removal of web pages containing or disseminating child pornography hosted in their territory. Member States will also be asked to "do their best" to co-operate with third countries (e.g. USA and others) to obtain the removal of such pages if hosted outside the EU.

Europe has also called upon Member States to block related web pages "for internet users in their territory", although the word "may" is used and suggests that such restrictions will not be enforced (voluntary). Most of the big UK consumer broadband ISPs already do this through the Internet Watch Foundation ( IWF ).

Any measure to block access to web pages will also have to follow transparent procedures and provide adequate safeguards. Web blocking is of course incredibly easy to circumvent but few could object to its use in the context of helping to stamp out child abuse imagery.

Cecilia Malmström, European Commissioner for Home Affairs, said:

"The Commission made it clear one year ago that the EU will not tolerate children being used as objects to satisfy the sexual desire of criminals, or traded as commodities. I am extremely pleased that the European Parliament and the Council have lent their support to this proposal.

With this directive we can make a difference. We are making it easier to prosecute and prevent crimes against children, and we are strengthening the protection of victims. I am confident that this new EU legislation will make a real difference in protecting children from these horrible crimes."

It's expected that EU Member States will now formalise the political agreement and adopt the Directive "shortly" (i.e. before the end of 2011). Member States will then have two years to transpose the new rules into their national laws.
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