EU wants blocking agreement for child porn websites

Digital liberties groups worried about "mission-creep"

The Council of the European Union agreed on Friday to create a Global Alliance against Child Sexual Abuse Online that envisages blocking websites "where appropriate."

The aim of this alliance is to get political commitment from countries around the world to take action against child sexual abuse online. But the text suggests "facilitating measures to remove or, where appropriate, block websites containing child pornography," causing some digital civil liberties groups to question whether there are sufficient safeguards to prevent the blocking of legitimate content.

"The inclusion of blocking in the text indicates an expectation of failure -- a global alliance could be expected to effectively remove, identify and prosecute such offenses wherever the material was found," said European digital rights group EDRi in a statement.

EDRi says that there is no statistical information showing that blocking provides any particular value in the protection of children and fears that such measures could be the "thin end of the wedge" towards blocking all sorts of Internet content.

Nonetheless the Council expects the Commission to raise the issue with U.S. authorities at a bilateral ministerial meeting in Copenhagen later this month.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

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Jennifer Baker

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