Access blocking

Concerns about access blocking

Below are some arguments traditionally used about Internet access blocking of child sexual abuse material.

CAM = Child (Sexual) Abuse Material

Access blocking does not reduce the amount of CAM present on the Internet

Access blocking does not by itself remove the amount of CAM that is present on the Internet, but it does dramatically reduce the amount of CAM that is accessible and available for most users. By redirecting the traffic to alternative content, the experience for the Internet users will be the same – inaccessible child sexual abuse content. The police must in addition work on investigations into and the deletion of CAM through other channels of policing, but this is often a time consuming and lengthy process.

Access blocking does not identify children of sexual abuse in CAM

Utilizing access blocking will free up resources within the police to work on identifying the victims of child sexual abuse rather than handling recurring reports from the public or NGOs about content being redistributed again and again on commercial web pages. Furthermore, an overview of the material distributed on Web pages may provide important evidence and clues in identification cases and can supplement ongoing investigations.

Access blocking is not foolproof, and it is possible to circumvent for technically skilled Internet users and persistent CAM customers

Access blocking is a purely preventive measure. All or most preventive measures are possible to circumvent for the motivated. Still, circumventing the access blocking takes some technical skill, motivation and determination from the Internet user, who will, upon detection, be a higher value target for the police as it will inhibit a person from using the “accidental and unwilling access” argument if detected by the police.

Access blocking has costs in the form of manpower and ISP/ASP implementation

ISP/ASPs can choose from a variety of technical methods, spanning from very reasonable to very expensive and from effective to the very effective. Wanting to prevent distribution of child sexual abuse material in a network is a cost/efficiency/policy discussion that every ISP/ASP has to take within their own organizations.

Access blocking may be intrusive for some

True, in the same way that all policing is considered intrusive by some.

Access blocking of child sexual abuse material may be a slippery slope that may result in the police/authorities using the system for more than just removing access to child sexual abuse material

There is always a possibility for that. There need to be transparency and control mechanisms in place, such as informing the public that the system is operating, using informatory pages that replace the display of child sexual abuse material and by having complaint possibilities for both Internet users and domain owners, review strategies and removal procedures, and so on.

Access blocking does not work on other protocols, like p2p

This system only works on the http protocol, blocking access to Web pages containing child sexual abuse material. Other police methods and strategies are used on the other protocols.

Access blocking does not arrest anyone or bring them to court

The system protects victims and prevents crimes from being committed, limiting the number of criminals having to be investigated in cases related to commercial child sexual abuse material web pages. By preventing crime and thereby reducing the amount of work for the police, more resources can be put into investigations and subsequent court proceedings.

Access blocking may result in “over blocking” – affecting legal services and material

Any provider of information on the Internet (or otherwise) is responsible for the legality of the content he or she is providing access to. Any legal material that is stored in combination with child sexual abuse material and is affected will be the responsibility of the domain owner.

Access blocking may affect legal services as a result of a mistake by the blocking authority

True, mistakes may happen. Therefore it is imperative that there are validation and review mechanisms in place, in addition to complaint possibilities for Internet users and domain owners.

However, a domain changing the content to completely legal material after being found to contain child abuse material is not considered a mistake and will be re-assessed after this has been detected.

Also, the default page of a domain may appear legal in order to hide the illegal material placed in a more inaccessible location on the domain. The direct address to access the material is then provided to advertisement pages and subscribers of the domain. Blocking access to the whole domain in cases like this is not considered a mistake.

Ultimately, access blocking is preventive, transparent and informative for the public. At the same time, it provides a police presence on the Internet, protects the rights of the victims of child sexual abuse and protects Internet users.


INTERPOL's International Child Sexual Exploitation (ICSE) database

8 steps to identifying victims of child sexual abuse

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