Danes Propose New, Tougher Child Porn Laws

Tod Hunter
COPENHAGEN — Danish Justice Minister Lene Espersen has proposed new, tougher laws against child pornography on the Internet, including one plan that punishes surfers for visiting a single child porn website.

Current laws do not forbid a person from looking at child pornography on the web, although it is illegal to download, distribute or purchase such materials. Espersen's proposal has the support of most members of Parliament and the Save the Children organization.

Esperson also is encouraging Denmark to officially ratify a European Council convention dealing with the protection of children against sexual abuse. The convention includes language on child pornography on the Internet and Espersen said Denmark should conform to that language.

"From a European standpoint it's an important step to take," she said in a broadcast interview. "If a person has been surfing child porn on the Internet all day, then that person should be held accountable."

Save the Children Secretary General Mimi Jakobsen supports Espersen's efforts, adding that the organization wants police agents to work directly toward finding and arresting pedophiles, like a newspaper reporter who posed as a 13-year-old on a chat site, leading to the arrest of a high-ranking police officer Monday.

"I think that pedophiles would then think twice about what they're doing," she said. "And just as children don't know who it is they're chatting with — the pedophiles wouldn't know either."

Espersen said her office is working on a plan that will likely address the issue, but would not say when it would be implemented or specifically what it would involve.

According to the National Police, around 2,700 Danes attempt daily to connect to police-blocked websites that contain child pornography. There are more than 9,000 home pages on the National Police "black list."

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