Paedophilia used as an excuse to snoop on internet users – again

Once again those who wish to impose the “Surveillance Society” upon us are trying to do so by exploiting public fears about online paedophilia.

Members of the European Parliament are being asked to sign a written declaration that will, ostensibly, “set up a European early warning system for paedophiles and sex offenders”. In reality, it will extend the Data Retention Directive to search engines.

The campaign website set up to promote this initiative shows a picture of a frightened child and, inexplicably, has the URL smile29.eu. I’m quite sure most of us don’t find any humour in paedophilia or the abuse of civil liberties.

The Data Retention Directive is a controversial directive that requires EU members to store citizens’ telecommunications data so that it can be used by police and security services. This new written declaration would extend the Data Retention Directive to cover web searches – e.g. what we type into Google every day.

MEP Cecilia Wikström has written a letter to her colleagues explaining how she was misled into signing the declaration. The declaration does not explicitly refer to data retention and only refers to the Data Retention Directive using its opaque formal reference (2006/24/EC).

The written declaration contains clauses such as,

…the internet also allows paedophiles and sex offenders to enjoy freedom of action, putting them on the same footing as honest citizens and making it difficult for the authorities to trace them”

So is the implication that “honest citizens” now to be subjected to scrutiny designed to monitor paedophiles?

This is a cynical attempt to exploit politicians’ understandable desire to prevent paedophiles plying their vile trade. Unfortunately, the reality is that it’ll provide yet more monitoring of honest citizens, further undermining their online civil liberties.

There is no evidence presented that paedophiles are using Google to find child pornography. In fact, the likelihood is that they use private bulletin boards and peer-to-peer file sharing networks. I’d do some more research into this, but I really think it would be ill-advised of me to type “distribution of child pornography” into Google, don’t you?

By Andrew Tait