Reporting of internet child pornography on the rise


29 Mar 2007

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Reports from the Irish public about child pornography on the internet which was confirmed as illegal increased by 10.6pc in 2006. However, none of the material reported was traced to sources in Ireland, enabling the country to retain its ‘clean record’ for seven years.

Hotline.ie, an organisation set up and run by the Irish Internet Service Providers Association, said that throughout the calendar year 2006 it received 2,677 reports about suspected illegal content on the internet, a 12pc increase on the 2,039 reports received in 2005.

Of the 2,677 reports received, 423 were confirmed by the Hotline as sources on the internet of illegal child pornography. This is a 10.6pc on the 388 confirmed cases in 2005.

In every case the Hotline traced the content as located or sent from outside this country. Ireland’s “clean record” is confirmed by the 26 other INHOPE-affiliated hotlines around the world who found that no illegal material reported to them was located in this country.

“This ‘clean record’ has now been maintained for seven years,” said Paul Durrant, general manager of the ISPAI. “However, there is no room for complacency. It is vital we continue to demonstrate to the world that Irish internet facilities are not a good place for criminals and paedophiles to harbour illegal content.”

The report provides some data that suggests that growth in the amount of child pornography which can be openly encountered on the internet may be slowing down. This is based on rates of expected reporting relative to the percentage of reports confirmed by the Hotline as referring to child pornography.

The amount of spam email advertising suspected content was reported far less frequently in 2006 than it was the previous year, down from 50pc of reports to 35pc of reports.

“Given the masses of spam generally being experienced today this decline is remarkable,” said Durrant. “Spam is the way organised criminals promote their child pornography pay sites. If hotlines are to find and disrupt these pay sites, it is imperative that the public report the spam that leads to them.

“While it is understandable that people are increasingly ignoring and deleting spam, if anyone spots a spam in their inbox with a subject line that implies child pornography for sale, please report it before deleting it”.

Hotline.ie was set up in 1999 to combat child pornography and also accepts reports of other illegal content such as incitement to racial hatred and internet fraud schemes.

“Making the internet a safer environment for children is in all our interests,” said Durrant. “Children must not be dissuaded from using the internet for safety reasons as they must master its use as a modern life skill.

“Playing our part through global co-operation and by keeping illegal content away from Irish internet facilities contributes to this goal,” Durrant concluded. “Our excellent record is also very positive for business and attracting e-commerce-based organisations to locate in this country.”

By John Kennedy