Child porn conference damns Net

Speakers seek to make possession, as well as distribution, illegal in every nation

The US Department of Justice today called for global laws on the child pornography to be brought in line with UK legislation. Speaking at a conference of representatives from the EU, North America, Eastern Europe and Asia, DoJ deputy chief Thomas Burrows sought a consensus that not only the production and distribution of kiddie porn but its possession should be declared universally illegal.

In Britain, possessing pornography depicting children is already against the law. The three-day conference was called by US Secretary of State Madeline Albright and Austrian Foreign Minister Wolfgang Schuessel to persuade states to form a united front against child pornography on the Net.

"The Internet today is the most dramatic instrument for the abuse and sexual exploitation of children and we have to fight this rising criminality with all measures," said Schuessel.

"The use of the Internet by people wanting to download child pornography has played a large role in stimulating demand for more child pornography and it's this stimulation of demand which leads to more child abuse," added Burrows.

That's may be true, but the conference has yet to state how Internet-derived child pornography can be fought. As Burrows himself said, most child porn is not produced to make money but to exchange for more such material. That makes tracking down producers and possessors rather harder than it might otherwise be.

Burrows also said the global community should ensure there are no legal "safe havens" for child pornography producers. It will be interesting to see what if any sanctions the delegates propose and, more importantly, enact in their own countries, against states that allow such havens to persist. ®

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