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Criminalising Fantasies: The Regulation of Virtual Child Pornography

Conference paper
Authors Marie Eneman
A. Alisdair Gillespie
Bernd Stahl
Published in Proceedings of the 17th European Conference on Information Systems
Publication year 2009
Published at Department of Applied Information Technology (GU)
Language en
Keywords Virtual child pornography, regulation, critical information systems research, emancipation
Subject categories Criminal law, Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified, Children, Technology and social change


Law enforcement agencies are currently concerned with the increasing availability of virtual child pornography. Virtual child pornography refers to computer-generated images where no real child is involved, but which nevertheless raise important ethical and legal issues. There is an ongoing debate whether the possession of virtual child pornography should be criminalised. As this paper will show the criminalisation of such images is a controversial issue with arguments for and against making it a criminal offence. This paper aims to contribute to the debate by offering a definition of virtual child pornography and considering the legal and policy arguments that are put forward as justifications for the regulation of such material. This paper contributes to the theoretical field of critical information systems research by highlighting how the main interest of critical research, namely emancipation can be furthered or hindered by legal developments. We will explore how the idea of emancipation can be applied in the area of virtual child pornography. Furthermore the paper aims to contribute to the debate of this topical issue and thereby support policy developments on a national and international level.

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