Computer Crime Research Center


Tough new measures to fight child porn

Date: September 26, 2004
Source: IOL
By: Kashiefa Ajam

Large corporate companies could be prosecuted if any of their staff were caught with child pornography in their emails or attachment folders thought to have been deleted.

The Film and Publications Act, which will soon be amended, will see perpetrators face up to 30 years in prison. The amendments are:

- That the maximum jail term for producing, distributing and possessing child pornography has been raised from five to 30 years;

- That Internet service providers will face criminal prosecution if they fail to block access to child porn sites after members of the public or the police have informed them of their existence; and

- That people who repair computers will be held criminally liable if they do not report clients whose computer hard drives contain child porn. The same applies to photography on films sent in for developing and printing.

The acting chief executive of the Film and Publications Board Iyavar Chetty recently told a Sunday newspaper that the production, possession and distribution of child pornography would now be three separate offences.

Protect your children online now!

"The courts will now be able to sentence per count rather than treat production, possession and distribution as one offence," Chetty said.

IT and Internet lawyer Gerrit van Gaalen said large companies who provided e-mail and Internet to their staff had a responsibility to educate them about how their systems work.

"If a staff member received unsolicited child porn in their emails and deleted the message but not the attachment, the individual as well as the company can be prosecuted. The same goes for private email and Internet users.

"When people receive emails containing child porn, they must delete the message as well as the attachment, because if someone were to report it to the authorities, the fact that the e-mail had been deleted will mean nothing."

Van Gaalen said there would be no excuse for ignorance in a court of law as a company had to ensure that its IT divisions demonstrated to staff exactly how e-mails and attachments should be deleted from their systems.

Chetty also said that Internet service providers would not necessarily have to monitor their clients but when they received information about a child porn site, they were obliged to block access to the site and report it to authorities.

M-Web's regulatory director Richard Heath said it had been assisting government for the past two years to formulate the legislation.

He said, however, it was not company policy to monitor their subscribers' movements "because of privacy issues".

"But if we find out about something unlawful such as child porn, then we will report them," he said.

Julie-Anne Doyle, head of consumer products at Tiscali SA, said the company offered a content filtering solution, called WebFilter, free of charge to all its subscribers.

"This effectively empowers each individual to manage and control access to harmful or undesirable Web-based content from their computer," Doyle said.

Tiscali product manager Grant Mcculloch said WebFilter had been on the market for more than two years and had proven to be "very effective".

"We have not yet had a problem with (WebFilter) in the five months we have been offering it to our subscribers. The programme is user-friendly and we have also written a comprehensive and easy-to-read help file to make it even easier to understand," said Mcculloch.

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