The discovery earlier this week by Munich police of a series of colour photos on the Internet that show the dismemberment of a human body is sure to fuel debate here over the character and quality of material distributed over the worldwide network. The photo series shows a man and a woman dissecting a male human body using a saw. Text accompanying the photos explains that the victim had previously been shot by the pair, who are now in jail in the US for committing the murder in the early 1980s.
The graphic series of photos was discovered by a Munich police department special task force in charge of investigating illegal online activity. The task force was acting on a tip, a police spokesman says. Munich police found the photos in a usenet group on the Internet and traced the content back to a server in Honolulu, Hawaii. By yesterday morning, however, the photos could no longer be accessed, the spokesman says.
"You know as well as I do that these photos are only one of thousands of disgusting photos out there online," the spokesman says.
Thousands of photos depicting child pornography and violence and dead bodies can be access on the Internet today, the spokesman says.
The same police department in January made news when it searched the Munich office of online service CompuServe as part of an investigation of electronic distribution of child pornography. Following the search, CompuServe caused an uproar by blocking access to hundreds of usenet groups worldwide.
The discovery of the offensive photos is sure to fuel the ongoing debate over how much of Internet content falls into the category of questionable and detestable. Police -- who yesterday faced a crowd of broadcast and print reporters that spilled out on to the sidewalk in front of the Munich department headquarters -- say they have no way of curbing the distribution of such material and are suggesting that access providers take initiative.
"If we, with our limited resources, can identify and find this type of material, access providers surely can find it too and block access to it," says Karl Heinz Moewes, computer expert at the Munich police department, in a radio interview.