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Internet Filtering – A legitimate control mechanism of criminal behaviour in the digital society?

Conference contribution
Authors Marie Eneman
Published in Stockholm Criminology Symposium
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Applied Information Technology (GU)
Language en
Keywords Internet filtering, child abusive material, regulation, criminal behaviour
Subject categories Information technology, Law, Criminology


The increased digitalisation of society has significantly affected the circumstances for the distribution and access of child abusive material and constitutes a serious challenge for law enforcement agencies. As a response, law enforcement has developed collaboration with private Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Sweden to control individuals’ distribution and access of child abusive material. Child abusive material, unfortunately still classified as ‘child pornography’ in Swedish legislation, refers to sexually explicit material of children and the production, distribution and possession are criminal offence in Sweden. The effects of digital technology for the production, distribution and access of child abusive material has been recognized in recent years. Digital technology is however dualistic and can be seen as a double-edged sword due to that it could, on the one side be used for criminal (or unwanted) behaviour and on the other side, be used as a powerful disciplinary tool to control such behaviour. Although most people would agree that child abusive material should be regulated through legislation, critical voices have however been raised about technological regulation such as filtering and argue that it is a form of censorship primarily associated with non-democratic states and constitutes serious threats to civil liberties such as freedom of expression and privacy. The Swedish filtering practice is a topical example where technology is used to control individuals’ criminal behaviour and raises important complex and ethical questions. This study uses the Swedish filtering practice in relation to child abusive material as an empirical setting. Following questions is focused: (1) What characterises the filtering practice? (2) Could the practice be seen as effective in preventing and controlling the distribution and access to child abusive material? (3) What challenges could be identified with the use of filtering technology as a regulative mechanism?

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