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Thursday, February 26, 1998 Published at 16:20 GMT



UK

Crackdown on Internet porn
image: [ Child pornogrpahy on the Internet is a growing problem. ]
Child pornogrpahy on the Internet is a growing problem.

Scotland Yard is considering prosecuting companies which provide Internet services but fail to filter out illegal pornography.

The police say a small number of companies still provide access to Websites with material about sex with animals and children.

There are an estimated 70,000 pornography sites on the Internet and more are added each day.

The police are concerned about specific discussion forums, known as news groups, which are used by paedophiles to exchange photographs and videos. The police want these news groups banned.


[ image: Supt Martin Jauch says firms should not allow people to get access to the material]
Supt Martin Jauch says firms should not allow people to get access to the material
Superintendent Martin Jauch of the Metropolitan Police said: "Those news groups we are talking about are consistently full of child pornography.

"They only exist to transfer or to make available child pornography. That is against the law.

"I do not believe there can be any justification for any organisation making that type of material available to its customers."

Demon Internet is one of the few British companies that does not block any news groups.

The company says it is not a censor and that banning news groups is futile.


[ image: Cliff Stanford of Demon Internet says a ban is futile]
Cliff Stanford of Demon Internet says a ban is futile
Cliff Stanford of Demon Internet said: "It doesn't work. It is not news groups that are causing the problem. It is news articles.

"There is a very small amount of illegal material on the Internet. There is a very small problem.

"By deleting the news groups where people expect to find it, this material disappears into all sorts of other news groups," he said.

A voluntary body called Internet Watch was set up by the government and industry two years ago to tackle the problem.

It helps to remove a small amount of child pornography but many child protection groups believe a specialised police unit is still needed.


[ image: Companies supplying Internet services may have to filter out pornography or face prosecution]
Companies supplying Internet services may have to filter out pornography or face prosecution
Nigel Williams of ChildNet said: "The real concern is stopping the exploitation of children and stopping that exploitation being made worse by allowing more and more people to see it.

"They may be lured into becoming addicted to that sort of material and then more children may be abused as a result."

At the centre of the debate is the Obscene Publications Act which was meant to apply to magazines and books.

The police are now considering whether they can prosecute Internet companies providing access to child pornography under the 40-year-old Act.


 





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