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The New Face of Child Pornography

Chapter in book
Authors Marie Eneman
Published in Human Rights in the Digital Age
ISBN 1-90438-531-1
Publisher Cavendish Publishing
Place of publication United Kingdom
Publication year 2005
Published at Department of Applied Information Technology (GU)
Language en
Keywords Child pornography, information technology, human rights, the rights of the child, sexual abuse, privacy, freedom of expression
Subject categories Social Sciences, Law and Society, Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified, Children, Technology and social change


Sexual abuse is one of the most heinous acts to which a child can be subjected. Child pornography, which is the documentation of such an act, is an extension of this abuse causing continuing harm to the victim. Even in cases where the perpetrator is caught, the victim identified and the criminal case successfully prosecuted, the harm to the child involved continues as the documentary material remains accessible and distributable. This chapter takes as its foundation that child pornography is always an infringement of the rights of the child. Even though sexual exploitation of children and child pornography are considered serious social and legal issues in almost every state, the international community’s efforts to protect the rights of children in relation to this problem have not moved ahead in the manner that is needed. In particular, their efforts in relation to information and communications technology (ICT) have been particularly weak. ICT is today the most common medium for dissemination and consumption of child pornography. The advent of ICT has allowed the consumption of child pornography to evolve from a concealed and often expensive activity into something which can be accessed easily, rapidly, anonymously and in many cases at no cost. However, the use of ICT as a medium for the distribution and consumption of child pornography should not simply be seen as an additional channel of communication: the harnessing of digital technologies in relation to child pornography has changed the traditional problem, creating a new, more serious, situation. It will be argued in this chapter that this is due, in part, to the creation of new paedophile communities which have harnessed the power of the technology to give them anonymity, security and community enforcement, but further, this chapter argues, that states are failing to prioritise the rights of the child. By focusing on more media-friendly issues such as freedom of expression and privacy, states are failing to fulfil their moral and legal obligations to protect children.

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