Wed, Jan 17, 2007 - Page 6 News List

EU nations discuss cracking down on violent video games


EU justice and interior ministers were to look at ways to protect children from computer games that glorify violence yesterday.

The issue is up for discussion at the request of EU Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner Franco Frattini, who late last year called for the 27-nation bloc to take measures to curb the sale of violent games to minors.

On Sunday, Frattini called for EU ministers to agree "to share best practices" on how to handle the issue. He previously suggested EU ministers adopt EU-wide labeling rules for such games and create a voluntary code of conduct on interactive games targeted at children.

Such labels could include age restrictions and parental advisory warnings, however EU officials have said it would be left up to national authorities to decide on how tough the measures should be.

Frattini's call to get tough on violent games targeted at children is being backed by Germany, which holds the EU presidency and which put it on Tuesday's agenda for the second and final day of EU meetings here.

Britain, Greece, Finland, Spain and France also back EU coordination on the issue.

Frattini and German ministers are keen to take action after an 18-year-old went on a rampage in a German high school last November, shooting five people before committing suicide.

Authorities blamed his attack on the teenager's love for violent computer games, prompting new calls for games to be restricted or banned.

Retailers in many European nations are currently not forced to restrict the sale of violent games to adults.

Separately the EU ministers will continue their discussions on boosting the flow of cross-border criminal data from national registers.

The EU ministers on Monday backed efforts to give police across the EU access to national databases containing fingerprints, DNA samples and license plate information.

German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who was chairing the meeting of EU ministers in Dresden, said there was "broad consensus" among all 27 EU governments to expand a seven-nation data-sharing pact to include all EU members.

Schaeuble added that the pact could also be used to sign a similar data-sharing accord with the US, as part of efforts to track down terror groups and serious crime suspects.

The existing seven-nation pact, dubbed the Pruem Treaty and signed in May 2005, comprises Germany, Belgium, Spain, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Austria. It allows police direct access to genetic records, fingerprints and traffic offenses across the seven nations.

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