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Germany

Internet porn legislation challenged

A petition against legislation designed to block harmful websites, such as those dedicated to child pornography, has collected more than 50,000 signatures after being posted online four days ago.

A computer generated picture

Internet censorhip is now under attack

That number is the minimum required by German law for parliament to open hearings on the issue.

The petition is the brainchild of 29-year-old Berlin resident Franziska Heine, in response to a telemedia bill which was approved by the German cabinet last month, but still requires parliamentary approval.

The proposed legislation would require the vast majority of the country's internet service providers to block child pornography sites, as identified by the German Federal Criminal Office (BKA).

Heine claims the bill threatens the fundamental right to freedom of the internet. Her fellow critics claim that lock-outs and blocking of websites are ineffective and can be bypassed. They see the BKA list as a tool for censorship.

German Family Affairs' Minister leads the charge

Germany's Family Affairs' Minister, Ursula von der Leyen

von der Leyen has been a long time advocate of blocking child porn online

German Family Affairs' Minister Ursula von der Leyen has long been an advocate of blocking child pornography on the net. She has previously said the amount of child porn available online has spiralled out of control.

"The numbers are exploding - the distribution of such pictures doubled last year," she said. "Children's souls and bodies are being torn apart by brutal rapes."

Von der Leyen supports having the BKA maintain a list of service providers who provide access to these websites.

Police statistics show an 111 percent increase in Germans viewing child pornography from 2,936 cases recorded in 2006 to 6,206 in 2007.

The petition was placed on the German parliament's website of the Committee on Petitions. Organisors are hoping to reach 100,000 signatures by June 16.

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