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Thursday, Sep. 1, 2011

EDITORIAL

Rampancy of child-porn files

Photos and moving images of sexually abused children are spreading over the Internet. In the first half of 2011, the police unearthed 649 child-porn cases, an increase of 9.1 percent from a year before and either arrested or sent papers to the prosecution on 455 people (a 9.4 percent increase).

The number of victimized children was 310 (a 14.4 percent increase). All the figures are record numbers since statistics started being taken in 2000.

The Internet was used in 359 of the cases. The NPA has ordered prefectural police headquarters across the nation to make efforts to discover groups of child-porn collectors.

Under a step adopted by the government in July 2010, the Internet Hotline Center commissioned by the National Police Agency watches the Internet. When it detects illegal images, it notifies entities that make lists of addresses of illegal images. They then make lists and hand them to Internet providers, which then block access to the addresses.

Major domestic Internet providers set up such entities in March and started blocking access in April. But the problem is that the blocking does not work when file-sharing software is used. Of the 353 cases involving the Internet, 141 used such software — 2.27 times more than during the January-June period of 2010.

Last July, the police searched 33 places across the nation and arrested 18 people, who are suspected of having uploaded child porn images through file-sharing software. Such software enables transmission and receipt of images between personal computers, skipping Internet providers.

In Japan, simply possessing child-porn photos or images is not a crime. A bill proposed by the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito would make such possession a crime.

A bill proposed by the Democratic Party of Japan would only make the repeated purchase of such photos or images a crime, as drafters fear infringement on the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression.

The Diet should consider these bills from the viewpoint of stopping victimization of children.

It must be remembered that digitized child-porn photos and images can exist semi-permanently. The children involved will suffer from the violation of their human rights for many years to come.



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