This is a translation of a blog post I published in Swedish on April 13. The answer to the question is expected next week.
Some six weeks ago, I met EU Commissioner Cecilia Malmström in a Swedish radio debate on Internet censorship [transcript in English]. Ms. Malmström is Commissioner for Freedom, Security, and Justice. She has recently presented a proposal for the introduction of censorship on the Internet, in order to combat the spread of child pornography.
In the debate, she made a number of quite remarkable statements.
According to Ms. Malmström, countries like the US, Ukraine and Russia are hosts to a large number of sites that openly spread pictures of sexual abuse of children, and the only way to stop this is to introduce blocking on the Internet.
The Swedish Pirate Party does not share this view. We think that if there are sites like that, they should be closed by the police, and the people behind them should be tracked down and put in prison. In the event that such sites are found, trying to filter them using censorship lists would just be sweeping the problem under the rug.
But is it really true what Ms. Malmström said, that the police in countries like the US can’t be bothered to take action against this kind of criminal sites, and just allow them to continue operating without interference? If that is the case it would be quite remarkable, to say the least.
To bring clarity to the issue I have submitted a written question to the EU Commission. I have a right to do this as a Member of the European Parliament, and the Commission has to respond within 6 weeks.
This is the question:
Lack of international cooperation and real action in shutting down sites with child pornography
The Commission has proposed a new directive for blocking of web sites with child pornography.
Commissioner Malmström has said in the Swedish Radio on April 7 that there are lots of studies indicating that the sites that have been shut down have subsequently been resurrected ”several times a day on the new hosting company that is not accessible to the police”. Could the Commission provide the references to substantiate this claim?
Also, according to worrying information provided by Commissioner Malmström’s office at her blog, “A check of the internet by hotlines in 35 countries recently found 144 web sites in the USA, Russia, Ukraine and other countries. One year later, a majority of the sites were still operating.”
1. How have the governments of the USA, Russia and Ukraine responded to these very severe allegations of failure to address this serious criminal activity?
2. Does the Commissioner believe that the governments of the United States and Ukraine are guilty under the Council of Europe Cybercrime Convention of aiding and abetting the crime of child sexual abuse due to their alleged inaction? If not, why not?
3. Can the Commissioner provide information regarding the number and nature of communications that have been sent by her to the governments of the USA, Russia and Ukraine since she took office specifically aimed at bringing an end to those countries’ alleged inaction with regard to known child abuse websites?
4. Can the Commission explain how such a state of affairs is possible when both the United States and Ukraine have ratified the Cybercrime Convention?
5. Assuming that the Commission has undertaken an analysis of actions taken in relation to each of the websites in question, can the Commissioner provide a breakdown of the problems that have lead to the sites remaining online (inadequate national legislation, inadequate policing resources, failure of EU authorities to pass on reports, etc?)
The deadline for the Commission to answer a written question is 6 weeks, so hopefully the answer should appear next week.
It will be very interesting to see what Ms. Malmström answers.
Previous articles in English on Ms. Malmström’s Internet Censorship Directive: