Cybergrooming is the targeted response of children on the Internet with the aim of initiating sexual contacts. Cybergrooming is punishable under Section 176(4)(3) of the Criminal Code. According to this provision, anyone who influences a child by means of writings(section 11(3) of the Criminal Code) or by means of information or communication technology in order to (a) to cause the child to engage in sexual acts on or in front of the perpetrator or a third person, or to have the perpetrator or a third person engage in sexual acts on or in front of the child; or to b) to commit an act pursuant to Section 184b (1) No. 3 of the Criminal Code or Section 184b(3) of the Criminal Code.

However, the risk of children becoming victims of cybergrooming has continued to increase in recent years. Digitalization is advancing and the use of digital services is also widespread among children. It is true that the offence is very broad and, given the dangers to children in the digital world, already criminalises an early act of preparation. However, it does not work if the perpetrator only believes that he is acting on a child, but actually communicates with an adult, for example. This is because the second half of Section 176(6) of the German Criminal Code expressly states that attempted cybergrooming is not a punishable offense. This also applies to the above-mentioned cases of unfit trial, in which the perpetrator acts on a “sham child”. The amendments proposed in the draft bill would also criminalize the “sham child” constellation.

The current draft of the amendment can be found here.

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