How Laws Against Child Pornography Protect Criminals

12. May, 2013

IMPORTANT: This article is about the short-term possession of images with naked children on them, not about the production, rape or abuse of children. It’s about the collateral damage created by founding legislation on (perceived) morality rather than evidence or common sense.

In his blog post “Three Reasons Possession Of Child Porn Must Be Re-Legalized In The Coming Decade” and the follow-up “Child porn laws aren’t as bad as you think. They’re much, much worse”, Rick Falkvinge offers his point of view why the current legislation regarding possession of child porn in many countries are hurting the victims and protecting the criminals. While I don’t share all his views, I agree with him that the current law hurts more than it helps.

Imagine you talk a walk in the park. You come around a corner and you see someone raping a child. What do you do? You could use your smart phone, make a picture (evidence) and call the police.

Bad idea. If you do this, you’ll go to jail. Why? Because you just produced and distributed child porn.

Let’s take this one step further. Imagine you wear Google Glasses. The moment you notice what’s in front of you, you’re already a criminal. The only way to avoid going to jail in this situation would be to delete all and any evidence that you have ever been there. Probably not what you want. Think about it: To avoid going to jail, you must not collect any evidence that could be used to convict the molester.

Why? Because in a mindless haste to close any loopholes in the laws, they were formulated in such a way that possession of pictures on which children are naked OR abused (whatever that actually means), no matter the circumstances, is punishable with at least a few years of prison. Translation: Even if the judge thinks that you’re 100% innocent, he still has to send you to prison because the law doesn’t give him any leeway.

You might be wondering why I don’t link to the second article by Rick. Simple: The article contains two images which are, under current law, child pornography. If you read the second article, you might commit a crime in some countries. I suggest to consult a lawyer before going there. Even by opening the article in your browser without ever reading it, you’re guilty of producing child porn because your browser downloaded a copy of the images onto your hard disk – that’s what the law says. Again, in some countries, the laws against child abuse do not give the judges any leeway in the verdict, no matter how silly, insane or stupid it would be to apply them in a certain situation.

Interesting situation, isn’t it? To know whether it’s legally safe to go a place on the web, you must not know anything that might there. Ignorance is no excuse in law. Moreover, even court lets you go, your reputation will be shot.

Rumor has it the second image is a very famous picture from the Vietnam war; it shows children fleeing after a Napalm bombing. You can probably buy a copy in your local poster shop. And yes, you have probably seen this image before. I saw it in school, I think. Today, it might get our teacher into jail for showing child pornography to minors. Wikipedia has an article under “Vietnam war” which also contains the image; don’t read that article or you might end up in jail – that’s why I didn’t add a link. On the COPINE Scale, this image would probably be a 10 meaning or a 5 on the SAP scale – if that was found on your computer, the punishment would be in the top range of what the law allows.

If you live in a country where there are strict laws against such images (see links below), you should make sure that your pre-adult children don’t make pictures of themselves in the nude. That’s production of child pornography. If they copy the images on their own mobile phone, computer, laptop, that’s distribution. If anyone ever finds out, they will go to jail for several years. Again, the laws have been formulated in such a way that common sense can’t interfere.

If you live in such a country (like the USA, Sweden or Germany), now would be a good time to make up your mind if that is actually what you wanted.

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Nintendo’s “Paedophile” Game “Dead or Alive Dimensions”

1. June, 2011

If you asked me a week ago, I’d say that “Nintendo” and “Paedophile” are opposites. Nintendo makes family games: Colorful, loud, funny.

Then came two things that also seem unrelated: Sweden and “Dead or Alive: Dimensions

Sweden recently tightened its laws again child abuse. Good.

Nintendo released the 3DS handheld game console. Good.

Nintendo released the game “Dead or Alive: Dimensions” for the 3DS. So what?

Well, the main characters of the game are (according to the manual) 16 and 17 years old. No problem so far.

If you switch to the free camera mode, you can look under their (short) skirts. And suddenly, the game might classify as child pornography.

Something similar happened to a poor professor for Art, who is a renown expert for Manga translation. In a long trial, he was found guilty of possessing child pornography by a Swedish court. Translation: He had some Japanese Mangas on his PC.

The publisher he was working for has kicked the man out after the court sentence but it didn’t kick out the comics. Understandable. It’s immoral to work with a pedophile. It’s not immoral to make money from his work …

Well, to avoid getting bad press, Nintendo’s published decided to fly low and withdrew the game.

My comment: If you’ve followed my blog, you know that I have a sound opinion on child abuse and rape. But my opinion isn’t based on FUD. Instead, it’s based on knowledge and facts.

So I find this troubling. Is a story about child abuse the same as actual bruises? Is a painting about rape the same as real rape? If so, please turn yourself in because I’m sure you have some high quality printings of ancient “adult” artwork, or maybe something printed in the 1960s which contains explicit adverts.

Where to draw the line? If there is no reliable criteria, then there is no way to use such a rule in court. It would always be unjust.

So the problem isn’t Nintendo but the unjust new laws in Sweden.

Unfortunately, there is little to be gained to fight such stupid laws. Parents will object for no good reason but their own insecurities. And it’s laws like this which make the problem worse for everyone. Pedophiles are afraid to seek professional help before something happens. They put more pressure on their victims to keep quiet after the rape. Victims fear even greater humiliation.

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Hunting The Innocent

21. February, 2011
child abuse

Image by Southworth Sailor via Flickr

How would you like if the government told thousands of people that you’re a pedophile?

Not much? Well, the “war” against child abuse just caused a little bit of collateral damage: Visitors of 84’000 domains got a warning that they tried to visit a site which is “… affiliated with creating, distributing, and/or storing child pornography.”

Oops. Imagine you spent years to create a reputation and it’s destroyed like that. That’s the reason why the law starts with the presumption of innocence. If you start from the viewpoint of “guilty,” too many innocent bystanders get harmed.

Which is what’s wrong with the current situation, no matter if it’s child abuse or war. The thought “no one is truly innocent” directly leads to the conclusion: “It doesn’t matter how many people we hurt, as long as at least one of them is guilty of something.” It’s an excuse for excessive abuse of power.

Justice means to find a balance between the abstract, idealistic demands of a law on paper and the actual, real-life situations. Bypassing justice is always unjust.

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