Community Self-Policing Is the Way to Tackle Internet Child Porn

The Independent (London, England), December 15, 2008 | Go to article overview
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Community Self-Policing Is the Way to Tackle Internet Child Porn


What's the best way to fight child pornography and other illegal forms of child abuse on the internet? The British model focuses on the establishment of a democratically self-regulatory body called the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), a community hotline to flag inappropriate content. In Australia, in contrast, the government has introduced a trial net filtering system designed from above to stop adults downloading child porn.

Both models are under attack by internet activists. On 4 December, IWF put Wikipedia on its blacklist after the user- generated encyclopedia added the naked image of a young girl on the cover of a 1976 album called Virgin Killer by the German heavy metal band Scorpions, because it contravened the 1978 Protection of Children Act. As many large British ISPs (internet service providers) rely on the IWF list to flag illegal online content, this resulted in those ISPs blocking access to the article - but also stopping UK Wikipedians being able to edit the site. The end result was uproar within the hardline Wikipedia editorial community. Then, five days later, IWF reversed its decision and took Wikipedia's Virgin Killer entry off its list because, it said, the controversy had created unnaturally large public interest in the prepubescent image on the cover of the CD.

In Australia, many internet users are up in arms over the 10,000 sites included in the government's mandatory filter of inappropriate sources of information. The trial of this highly undemocratic "cybersafety plan" has proved so unpopular that it has led to 85,000 people signing an online petition against its implementation, as well as a series of nationwide Facebook-organised mass protests.

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Community Self-Policing Is the Way to Tackle Internet Child Porn
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