Deleting child pornography

The law against child prostitution and child pornography bans posting the posting of child pornography images on the Internet. In 2009, the police took action in more than 500 child pornography cases on the Internet, twice the corresponding figure for 2008.

According to the Internet Hotline Center, an organization working in collaboration with the National Police Agency, in 2009 there were some 4,400 cases in which child pornography images were posted, about 2.2 times more than in 2008. In December, the IHC asked site or server operators to remove 90 images; of those, 23 of them remained as of early June.

Child pornography images can spread easily on the Net because they can be copied easily. They can remain semi-permanently, tormenting victims for many years. In addition, people possessing child porn cannot be punished in Japan.

To cope with the spread of child pornography images on the Internet, a working group of nine ministries and agencies, including the NPA and the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry, has proposed blocking Internet access to child pornography images as soon as they are detected. Under the proposal, if the NPA or the IHC finds child pornography images, they would provide relevant information to a body that would compile a list of Net addresses for problematic sites. The body would give the list to Net service providers, which would then block access to such images.

Child pornography sites with servers located abroad would also be subject to this measure. Ordinary police action against child pornography sites takes time because the police have to collect evidence and identify suspects. Compared with this, Net access blocking can be done in a short time and its effect will be great.

Blocking Net access could infringe on constitutionally guaranteed rights of freedom of expression and secrecy of communication. The type of technology for access blocking — whether to block access to specific files or to sites themselves — must be discussed. Criteria for compiling lists of problematic Web sites must leave no room for arbitrariness and ensure impartiality.

The Japan Times ONLINE June 28, 2010

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