New damning statistics from the Internet Service Providers Association of Ireland (ISPAI) have shown that, in 2014, the amount of online material relating to sexual abuse of children rose by 148pc.
The association launched its Hotline.ie report, which analysed online illegal content between January and December 2014, Hotline’s role is to provide an anonymous reporting service to internet users who accidentally uncover illegal content on the internet, particularly content relating to the sexual abuse of children.
In total, 4,863 reports were processed in 2014, with 335 cases being confirmed as material relating to the abuse of children sexually, which is almost twice as many as recorded in 2013, which saw 2,568 reports made to Hotline.ie.
Of the 335 cases, nine were traceable to within Ireland while 222 were forwarded to INHOPE – the International Network of Internet Hotlines – in various legal jurisdictions across 45 countries.
Meanwhile, 21 were forwarded to the legal authorities of countries outside the INHOPE network.
Growth in reports of IP masking
Since establishing Hotline.ie in 1999, 2014 marks the highest number of reports received in one year, marking a jump of 97pc above the average of the previous seven years.
One of the major findings of the report, according to the ISPAI, is the growing number of those reported in 2014 that were using IP masking software, particularly those using Tor and the suffix .onion.
Speaking of the findings, chief executive of the ISPAI and manager of Hotline.ie, Paul Durrant, said they are fortunate to even be able to process this number of reports.
“Had we not made a sizeable investment starting in mid-2013 to redevelop our Hotline.ie systems to better automate the workflow, we would have been totally overwhelmed by this unexpected increase in reporting,” he said.
Internet crime image via Shutterstock