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Daily Archives: April 18, 2009

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 yesterday.
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 in Berlin.
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.

Former Bush officials slam release of torture memos

Two former top Bush officials yesterday slammed President Barack Obama's release of Justice Department memos detailing CIA terror interrogations, saying it would create "timidity and fear" among US spies.
"The release of these opinions was unnecessary as a legal matter, and is unsound as a matter of policy," former CIA director General Michael Hayden and former attorney general Michael Mukasey wrote in an editorial published in The Wall Street Journal.
"Its effect will be to invite the kind of institutional timidity and fear of recrimination that weakened intelligence gathering in the past, and that we came sorely to regret on September 11, 2001."
White House senior adviser David Axelrod countered that Obama's decision to release the memos written by top legal officials in George W. Bush's administration was "a weighty decision."
Obama "thought very long and hard about it, consulted widely, because there were two principles at stake," Axelrod told the Politico news website.
"One is the sanctity of covert operations and keeping faith with the people who do them, and the impact on national security, on the one hand. And the other was the law and his belief in transparency."
Obama consulted officials from the Justice Department, the CIA, the Homeland Security Department and the director of national intelligence, according to Axelrod.
In releasing four partially blacked-out memos detailing the tactics – largely decried as torture by critics – Obama said Thursday that the tactics adopted by the administration of his predecessor "undermine our moral authority and do not make us safer."
But he also pledged not to prosecute operatives who carried out the interrogations because they acted on orders and were defending their country.
Hayden and Mukasey, who both served during Bush's second term, said the release "assures that terrorists are now aware of the absolute limit of what the US government could do to extract information from them, and can supplement their training accordingly and thus diminish the effectiveness of these techniques."
They also argued that the disclosure meant that Obama was making permanent the suspension of the interrogation techniques.
"By allowing this disclosure, President Obama has tied not only his own hands but also the hands of any future administration faced with the prospect of attack," Hayden and Mukasey wrote.
The former officials argued for the use of the techniques, noting that some detainees, including top Al-Qaeda detainee Abu Zubaydah, had voluntarily disclosed information after being submitted to CIA interrogations.
The memos were authored by Jay Bybee and Steven Bradbury, who at the time were lawyers for Bush's Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel.
During his second day in office, Obama signed an executive order banning the use of torture and ordering the closure of all CIA detention centers.