The European Commission had originally sought to make such blocking an obligation for the member states. But the view – expressed by the Greens, Liberals, many Socialists and some MEPs from the centre-right European People’s Party – that such mandatory blocking was futile, or even counter-productive, prevailed in the end. The adopted text now leaves it up to the member states to decide whether to block access to child pornography.
The new legislation also criminalises child sex tourism and online ‘grooming’ – seeking online friendships with children with the goal of sexually abusing them.
This will be the first time that all 27 member states will have laws specifically banning these practices.
The minimum sentences stipulated in the new legislation are three years in prison for producers of child pornography, and one year for consumers. Forcing children into sexual acts will be punishable by at least ten years in prison.
The new rules also allow member states from banning convicted offenders from working with children, for example, as teachers. Such bans may be temporary or permanent.