Interior Minister Faeser wants to protect children

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Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) and Holger Münch, chairman of the Federal Criminal Police. © dpa

Federal Minister of the Interior Faeser makes the fight against sexual abuse his priority in the fight against crime.

Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) sees the fight against child sexual abuse and the distribution of relevant photos and videos as a focus of her tenure. This issue is of particular concern to her, “because they are the most vulnerable victims in society,” Faeser said Monday during a visit to the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) in Wiesbaden. The fight against this type of crime is “top priority for her,” the minister added.

“No perpetrator should feel safe from prosecution,” Faeser stressed. The German Minister supports the European Commission’s efforts to make the provider platforms accountable. However, one must keep the “rule of law balance”. “We must not interfere with encrypted private communications and thus affect many people who have nothing to do with these actions,” Faeser explained.

The European Commission’s proposal was criticized because, according to critics, it could turn into a comprehensive scan of messages in messenger services such as WhatsApp. She does not consider such extensive control of private data to be “compatible with our freedoms”, the minister formulated.

However, Faeser credited the draft from Brussels as “more differentiated than it is often portrayed”. The “rule of law idea” must be preserved, “so that privately protected communications also remain protected”.

The European Commission’s proposal has not yet clarified how the scanning of the messages will technically take place. However, the European Union would have the option of forcing online service providers to search messages for depictions of abuse. According to figures from the European Commission, 85 million images and videos depicting the sexual abuse of children were discovered worldwide in 2021 alone, and the number of unreported cases is high. The corona pandemic has exacerbated the problem. “The current rules, which rely on voluntary disclosure and reporting by companies, do not adequately protect children,” said EU Interior Commissioner Ylva Johansson.

BKA chairman Holger Münch pointed out the increase in “digital and partially anonymous network”. Accordingly, a huge increase in cybercrime can be observed, for example in the field of hate crime, and in particular the portrayal of child sexual abuse. The perpetrators acted “more internationally, more location-independent, more networked and therefore faster”.

Faeser stressed that she no longer talks about “child pornography” because that word downplays the deeds. She is preoccupied with the fight against “horrific sexualized violence against children” and “the spread of these horrific depictions of abuse”.

During her visit to the BKA in Wiesbaden, Faeser also announced that she would make the fight against organized crime and “clan crime” a further focus of her policy. BKA President Münch mentioned drug crime, money laundering and arms trafficking as areas where organized crime is particularly active. In addition, the Federal Criminal Police Office coordinates complex investigations into, for example, politically motivated crime or Islamist terrorism.

Faeser promised to further strengthen BKA in terms of staff and to campaign for additional funds in the budget negotiations. The extensive investigations into cybercrime in particular required sufficient capacity.

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