Germany bids to block child porn sites
The German government has signed agreements with key Internet service providers to block access to child porn sites, family affairs minister Ursula von der Leyen said on Friday.
Internet users hoping to download child porn will instead be met with a large red "stop" sign, warning of the impact of paedophilia on the victims.
Police will transfer a daily-updated list of roughly 1,500 sites containing illegal material to the service providers, the minister said, adding that she hoped up to 450,000 hits every day could be blocked with this method.
People aiming to access these sites will not have their personal data or IP address recorded.
Von der Leyen stressed that blocking access to these sites "is only a building block in the fight against child pornography."
"Prosecuting the perpetrators... and protecting the victims is still the highest priority," the minister said.
The Internet service providers that signed the deal -- including Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone Deutschland -- represented around 75 percent of the German market.
Other countries including Britain, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea and Sweden have already introduced similar schemes successfully, the ministry said.
Responding to critics who said the measures amounted to censorship of the Internet, the ministry said: "It is not about restricting freedoms... it is about protecting the dignity of individuals and children."
On Thursday, German police said they had smashed an international child porn ring of some 9,000 suspected paedophiles in 92 countries.
Pornographic images of children were transmitted from more than 1,000 connections in Germany to 8,000 IP addresses in countries including Austria, Canada, New Zealand, Switzerland and the United States.
The footage included "images of the most serious sexual abuse, even of toddlers," police in the southwestern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg said.