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Tighter laws

February 18, 2014

There are calls for Germany’s child pornography laws to be tightened in the wake of a scandal involving a former parliamentarian. Many grey areas emerge in defining such materials under current statutes.


Possession of child pornography, and searching for the material on the internet, are punishable with prison sentences of up to two years under German law. The consequences are more severe for those caught producing and distributing pornographic material. But the legal definition of what actually constitutes child pornography is less clear, sometimes posing problems for investigators.

German politicians are calling for child pornography laws to be changed following a scandal involving Social Democrat (SPD) MP Sebastian Edathy. The politician is under investigation for suspected possession of child pornography. In Germany, however, it’s unclear whether he has broken any laws, because the pictures allegedly found on his computer aren’t sexually explicit.

Under the relevant legislation, images only break the law when children are involved in sexual activity. By these standards, footage of naked or scantily-clad children isn't actually illegal. German lawmakers are looking to other countries such as Canada for how child pornography offenses could be more clearly defined and prosecuted.

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