Danish police charge 1,000 young people with ‘distribution of child porn’

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More than 1,000 young people in Denmark have been charged with “distribution of child pornography” after sexual content featuring 15-year-olds was circulated online, Danish National Police said in a statement Monday.

The police launched an investigation following a tip-off from Facebook about two videos and a “sexually explicit” image that were being circulated by mostly teenage social media users across Denmark.

“It’s a very big and complex matter that has taken a long time to investigate. Not least because of the large number of those charged,” North Sealand police inspector Lau Thygesen said in a statement.

“We have taken the case very seriously as it has major implications for those involved when such material is spread.”

The majority of those charged shared the video a couple of times, but some did so hundreds of times, police said.

The age of consent is 15 in Denmark, but the law against child pornography still applies to sharing sexual videos or photos of those under 18.

Sexting

Facebook told CNN it has a zero-tolerance of child exploitation images and “non-consensual sharing of intimate images.”

A spokesperson for the tech giant said: “Our systems run in the background and automatically remove and report intimate content involving children to (the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children) in the US, who in turn will review and dispatch the relevant information to the right law enforcement agencies across the globe.”

Last year, Facebook attracted criticism for asking potential victims of revenge porn to preemptively send explicit images of themselves to the social network, allowing Facebook to build a digital profile of the pictures and then prevent them being shared by anyone else.

Many jurisdictions have taken a tough line on the dissemination of explicit images and videos starring people under 18, regardless of the age of those doing the sharing.

In early 2016, three US teens were arrested and accused of involvement in a “sexting” ring that circulated sexually explicit images and videos of other students, sometimes for money. In December, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a brief objecting to the prosecution of a Minnesota 15-year-old for sharing a naked photo of herself.

“Sexting is not without consequences—but all teenagers make mistakes. There are ways for parents, schools, and communities to respond to sexting without criminalizing young people, jeopardizing their futures, and undermining the real pursuit and prosecution of those who exploit children,” the ACLU said at the time.