Anti child pornography campaign scores success

A police officer in Geneva surfs the web for illegal sites Keystone Archive

Swiss federal police say a majority of local internet service providers (ISPs) have voluntarily agreed to block access to child pornography websites.

This content was published on January 29, 2007 - 12:07

On Monday, the police said that the participating ISPs accounted for 80 per cent of all internet users in the country.

The request for providers to block access on a voluntary basis was made last July by crime prevention specialists, the Federal Police Office and the Swiss Child Protection Association.

It is part of a larger campaign, "Stop child pornography on the internet", launched in 2005.

Martin Boess, head of the Swiss Crime Prevention Centre, said illegal websites are placed in a filter, and a warning appears in a pop-up window on the screen of anyone clicking on the site in order to enter his or her credit card number.

The warning tells the user that they are on an illegal site and provides information about the legal ramifications of accessing child pornography.

Ahead of the launch of the campaign, around 1,200 websites were blocked.

However, Boess admitted, the filter cannot prevent email exchanges of pornographic pictures.

It is not forbidden to view child pornography on the internet in Switzerland but it is illegal to download, possess and distribute it.

Tougher legislation

The Swiss Senate came out in support last year of a parliamentary motion demanding tougher legislation against online child pornography.

The motion called for those who voluntarily view pornographic images of children to be brought to justice. Only internet users who stumble inadvertently upon material, for example via a pop-up advertisement, would be free from prosecution.

It is estimated that the proceeds of child pornography and child prostitution worldwide amount to more than $20 billion (SFr25 billion) a year.

According to Unicef, there are 14 million child pornography websites on the internet.

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Key facts

Swiss law does not forbid the viewing of child pornography on the internet but punishes the downloading of images with up to one year in prison and/or a fine.
It is illegal to be in possession of child pornography and the sale of pornographic images of children can result in a prison sentence of up to three years.

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