Date: January 19, 2018
“whenever a new measure to censor the Internet is proposed, it will be justified as being targeted at the online activities of either terrorists, or pedophiles. This justification is used so often, because it’s so effective. Nobody wants to be heard speaking up for the rights of either of these hated and feared groups.
Indeed, in order to stave off the threat of broader censorship, free speech activists are sometimes first in line to argue for the censorship of extremist material. It says a lot that the new Chair of the Internet Watch Foundation, which facilitates ISP-level blocking of child abuse imagery online, is the former head of free speech group Article 19.
So it was that Twitter’s suspension of the accounts of non-offending pedophiles last month flew under the radar for most Internet activists and free speech advocates. Although non-offending pedophiles strongly oppose child abuse imagery and adult-child sex, activists were no more inclined to defend them against Twitter’s actions than they were to defend the Nazis and alt-right hate groups whose accounts Twitter also purged.
But there’s one group that does stand against Twitter’s suspension of the accounts of these prominent online pedophiles —and it’s not who you might expect. It’s child protection workers, who together with more than twenty international clinical and forensic psychologists, sexologists, sociologists and other experts, this week sent an open letter to Twitter stating:
In our professional opinions, terminating the accounts of non-offending, anti-contact MAPs [Minor-Attracted Persons] is likely to result in the opposite effect of that which Twitter may expect or intend. Rather than reducing the incidence of child sexual abuse, if anything it increases the risk that some pedophiles will be unable to obtain the peer or professional support that they may need in order to avoid offending behaviour. It is also likely to increase the stigma and isolation associated with pedophilia and thereby increase the likelihood of some MAPs acting on their sexual feelings.”