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Dutch courts accused of accidentally spreading child porn

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The Dutch judiciary was on Friday itself facing possible criminal prosecution after it emerged that it had for years inadvertently left the filenames of child pornography on its website.

The scandal erupted after state broadcaster NOS on Thursday reported that some court judgements had not been properly redacted before being published on the rechtspraak.nl website, leaving distinctive filenames visible.

The actual photo and film files could then easily be found on the Internet using a search engine.

NOS informed the judiciary before the report was broadcast and they "decided to review all published judgements", or around 250,000, Council for the Judiciary spokesman Michiel Boer told AFP.

The overarching Council for the Judiciary is part of the judiciary and its responsibilities include the rechtspraak.nl website.

"We found in total around 80 judgements containing filenames, notably with the extensions .jpg, .mpg or .avi," Boer said, adding that all judgements had now been properly redacted.

Redacting "is a job carried out by people, so these are human errors," Boer said.

He stressed that no hyperlinks to actual files were included in the court documents.

"These are files that are often very difficult to find on the Internet," said Boer.

The Netherlands judiciary has published its judgements online since 1999 and the redaction of file names related to child pornography was made mandatory in 2008.

The NOS reported that unredacted judgements dated back at least to 2004.

"This is really a very, very stupid mistake," Socialist MP Sharon Gesthuizen told NOS when the report was broadcast on Thursday night, while Christian Democrat MP Pieter Omtzigt asked whether the government had committed a punishable crime.

Theo Noten of the Dutch branch of the Defence for Children rights group said: "These are criminally publishable acts, so you can imagine that the police or the prosecutor could bring a case against the site for spreading child pornography."

"If an individual had done this, there would have been an enquiry by the public prosecutor, for sure," Noten told AFP.

"The big question is to know what's going to happen in this particular case," he said.

When contacted by AFP, the Justice Ministry said only that the judiciary's website was not its responsibility.

The Council for the Judiciary said that the job of redacting was generally for individual Dutch courts.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130315/dutch-courts-accused-accidentally-spreading-child-porn