Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Child Porn

1074 words

Usually our minister of the interior, Mr Schäuble, is Germany’s proto-fascist spokesperson who wants to reintroduce the Überwachungsstaat this country enjoyed in various decades of the twentieth century. But his colleague - and fellow christian ‘democrat’ - Mrs von der Leyen - is starting to outdo him.

As the mister for family affairs, it’s not just her job to make sure families get a good deal for the tax money everybody pays, she also considers ‘protecting the children’ part of her job. And in what must be a big intellectual effort for people of her class she figured out that child pornography is in some sense related to children. Well done, Mrs von der Leyen, that’s great work!

Now, a smart person, particularly one in a position of political power in government of a very rich country, may be inclined to say that child pornography involves the abuse of children and use their power to prevent that abuse and bring the people responsible for it to court. With there being no (apparent) arguments in favour of child abuse nor of filming and selling it, that would be a fight that’s easy to get support for and one that could improve the lives of the victims.

Even child pornography coming from abroad could possibly be tackled this way once you take into account that Germany is rich and could possibly bully poorer countries into helping to find and sue the perpetrators and that all countries richer than Germany are so proud of their ‘morals’ that they’d probably be keen to help anyway, if you serve the issue to them in the right way.

Of course doing all that would not have an immediate effect and require careful work by our politicians and their bureaucrats. Naturally, Mrs von der Leyen’s love for (other people’s) kids does not go that far. Her choice of action was to convince (bully?) a bunch of German internet providers into a deal that blocks ‘bad’ servers. Of course this doesn’t change anything as far as the existence and distribution of child pornography is concerned, but apparently she doesn’t care that much.

There are two issues here. The first is that the technique they want to use is downright idiotic: Resolve the DNS names of the ‘bad’ servers differently and tell people off for trying to access them. I’ll give you five seconds to list three ways around that.

After politicians were told - and presumably they have to be told because they can’t be bothered to learn about an issue before creating rules about it that affect millions of people - that this ‘block’ is rather ineffective, they started saying that they mainly want to remind ‘casual’ consumers of child pornography that they’re about to do something illegal.

Admittedly my opinion of people is pretty low, but please give them a little credit. I have visited many web sites in the past fifteen years. And a few times a combination of unfortunate search terms led me to pages which may be considered tasteless or at least stupid. This didn’t do any harm and I probably gained a bit of knowledge about the meaning of some words during that.

While, I, as a single person, may not be statistically relevant, I never reached a site whose content was related to child pornography. And neither has anyone I know. As such I consider it highly unlikely that you run into such a page ‘by accident’.

Rather, it seems, that people who visit those sites and view more than one page of them want to take a look at them. So, presumably, they made the effort to find out their URL and surf there. All that while knowing that it is illegal to watch (well, I think it’s actually only illegal to store it around here which is why the police recommend that you clear you browser cache in case you ‘accidentally’ run into some) the very images they came for. The question I ask here is how many of those people would be considered ‘casual’ visitors who need a ‘reminder’ that they almost did something illegal.

In short, I seriously doubt that these methods will have any effect on the consumption of child pornography.

Which brings me to the second issue: The fact that this kind of ‘filtering’ is a form of censorship and comes without checks and balances.

From what transpired so far, there will be a special list of sites which will be blocked. Assuming (benefit-of-the-doubt-wise) that our executive are actually able to create a reasonably comprehensive list of sites, you obviously wouldn’t want the list to be public as that would amount to a state-sponsored child pornography catalogue. Apart from the fact that this list will become public at some stage - meaning that Mrs von der Leyen turned my tax money straight into a tool for child pornography users - this raises the issue of who controls what is on the list. Without public scrutiny, it seems pretty attractive to put other sites on the list as well, whether for politics or directly for profit. Even small ‘glitches’ in handling those lists could ‘unfortunately’ remove sites from the net for a while. As everybody complaining about this could easily be tainted with a child pornography stigma, this would seem like an excellent first step to censorship.

Going the stupidity-trumps-evil way I have to assume that Mrs von der Leyen is just too stupid to see this, rather than wanting to create a fully fledged censorship state (which probably isn’t too far from her conservative heart, either), but I would certainly prefer no censorship infrastructure being in our local networks. Just as I would prefer Mrs von der Leyen using my tax money to bring the people earning money with child pornography to court. But she prefers to waste my money on something useless and ensure that child pornography businesses can prosper.

A final point on this is the complete lack of accountability. It seems totally unclear how much child pornography is distributed on the internet today. So it seems - conveniently - impossible to measure whether or not the activism of Mrs von der Leyen and her internet provider friends will have any effect.

Bonus links: Martin linking to a horrible ‘news’ interview where the news-tool questions freedom of speech, CCC in taz, Interview in Die Zeit, Titanic, point-by-point deconstruction of the government’s ‘arguments’.

April 18, 2009, 13:58

Tagged as germany, politics.


Comment by Stefan: User icon

Nice summary, too bad Mrs von der Leyen obviously isn’t interested in logical reasoning but rather prefers to pose in front of the press with big stop signs.

April 18, 2009, 18:18

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