Danish authorities are bringing distribution of child pornography charges against more than 1,000 people who shared a sexually explicit video involving a 15-year-old girl and several underage boys via Facebook.
It’s the biggest police action involving child pornography in Danish history, according to the The Copenhagen Post.
Police report that 1,004 accused offenders range in age from 15 years to people in their twenties. Some 800 are male (Bloomberg).
If found guilty, defendants could face prison sentences and be prohibited from professions involving children.
The case dates to 2015 when Facebook received reports that videos containing sexual material involving people under the age of 18 were being shared, according to The Copenhagen Post and other sources. Facebook referred the matter to U.S. authorities, who notified Danish police via Europol, the European agency for police cooperation.
“It’s a very big and complex case that has taken a long time to investigate, not least because of the large number of people charged,” said Danish police investigator Lau Thygesen (The Copenhagen Post).
Though most of the defendants have shared the video only a couple of times, others have shared it hundreds of times, according to a Danish-language press release issued by Danish police.
Police commissioner Flemming Kjærside of the National Cyber Crime Center said the young people were aware of the potential harm done to people in the video, but may not have known they might be found criminally liable for sharing the video.
Kjærside told Danish television network TV2 that the mass charges are intended to raise awareness that such practices can carry criminal liability.
Danish psychologist Kuno Sørensen believes publicity surrounding the case will have a deterrent effect, and praised police for prioritizing the investigation, according to Danish-language newspaper Politiken.
Sørensen said the investigation has already contributed to changing attitudes toward such videos among Danish youth, and that it’s important to emphasize the seriousness of the case.