German cabinet backs new law against child porn

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BERLIN (Reuters) - The German cabinet backed a new draft law Wednesday that would make it harder to access child pornography online and easier to prosecute those who use it.

The bill will oblige Internet providers to block access to child porn sites by installing a “stop” sign when people try to enter them, the German ministries for justice, families and the economy said in a joint news conference.

“This is an important, decisive signal demonstrating our determination to fight child pornography,” Economy Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg told reporters.

Critics of the law, which is due to come into effect before a federal election in September, say the blocks can easily be circumvented and fail to address the root of the problem.

The ministers responsible conceded it would not deter persistent users, but said that blocking access was highly effective as a preventative measure, pointing to the success of similar laws passed in Scandinavia and elsewhere.

In Germany, up to 450,000 attempts to access child porn could be prevented each year this way, Guttenberg told Wednesday’s edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily.

Data privacy activists have voiced concern the law could be used by authorities to create logs of internet users’ activity.

Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries said data would not be saved and that investigations against users of child porn would only be possible in “real time,” i.e. when they access sites.

Reporting by Jacob Comenetz; Editing by Jon Boyle