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Basically, things that are liable to prosecution in the so-called “offline world” (which means in the real world), are also considered a criminal offense on the Internet. Thus, the Internet is not an unlegislated area at all.

According to the Austrian Penal Code (§ 207a StGB), child sexual abuse material is defined as images showing minors involved in sexual activity. Persons under the age of 18 are minors.

Pornographic material is usually presented in the form of photographs, videos or the like. Other images such as drawings, paintings, comics or montages are grey areas. In these cases it is not instantly possible to verify the authenticity of the images. The decisive factor is that the viewer must have the impression that sexual activity with minors is actually taking place. Text describing sexual activity with children is not criminal in terms of child sexual abuse material but possibly with regard to other legal regulations.

Since 1 January 2012 grooming (initiating sexual contact with minors via the internet) and watching performances involving the sexual abuse of minors (live, via webcam) have been criminal offences.

Another important change to the Austrian Criminal Code regards sexting. Consensual sexting (i.e. a person over the age of 14 sending or forwarding erotic images of their own body) has not been a punishable offence since 1 January 2016 (see section 207a para. 5). It is, however, still an offence if images of this nature are produced under duress or transmitted to a third party.

In Austria, the denial of Nazi crimes as well as the endorsement of National Socialist ideology are punishable offences.

Regarding the fight against national socialism, the following legal regulations below are applied: National Socialist prohibition law, law against the wearing of national socialist regaliaand symbols.

Both regulations clearly point out that discussing the ideology of an illegal organisation in an objective, critical or historical way is legal, but not the approval of its ideas.

In contrast to the Austrian legal situation, other countries like the USA, protect such activities to a certain extent by applying the right of freedom of opinion and speech. There is just no legal basis for any countermeasures in these countries.

Blocking: This means making content inaccessible. The content is still there, but no longer visible to, or accessible for certain Internet users (e.g. within a country or for customers of a particular access provider).

Deleting: The content is removed and no longer stored on the host server. Thus, it is no longer available on the Internet.

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