Friday 20 October 2017

Child porn sites blocked as Irish drive prompts new war on abuse

Google has moved to wipe out links to child pornography from 100,000 search terms on its search engine.
Google has moved to wipe out links to child pornography from 100,000 search terms on its search engine.
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

INTERNET service providers are to begin blocking child pornography websites in a new Irish initiative to combat online child abuse material.

The internet providers will now work with gardai to implement the removal of access to websites hosting child abuse material.

Under the new initiative, gardai will provide new 'blacklists' of websites that they are satisfied contains child abuse imagery.

Internet service providers (ISPs) will then seek to block access to these websites.

Irish internet providers have previously expressed unease at requests to police websites themselves. However, the involvement of the gardai has opened up new avenues of co-operation, with ISPs more comfortable about having a firm legal basis for requests to block websites.

LINKS

The Irish initiative comes as Google yesterday moved to wipe out links to child pornography websites from 100,000 search terms on the internet giant's search engine.

The company has vowed to remove all such links and to place legal warnings for the search results pages of over 13,000 specific queries.

The new initiative, which affects all Google searches conducted in Ireland, is also being undertaken by Microsoft through its Bing web browser.

Google's chief executive said that there was "no quick technical fix" to detecting sexual abuse imagery on the internet.

Eric Schmidt said that computers "cannot reliably distinguish between innocent pictures of kids at bathtime and genuine abuse". Mr Schmidt said that once detected, illegal abuse images would be given "a unique digital fingerprint". This, he said, would enables Google's computers to identify the same illegal pictures whenever they appeared on Google's servers and systems.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the ISP Association of Ireland, which represents internet providers such as Eircom and UPC, said that Irish operators are "keen" to engage in ways of tackling illegal child abuse material.

"In principle we're supportive of any system that enhances the blocking of these kind of websites on an industry-wide basis," said a spokesman for Eircom, Ireland's biggest ISP.

A Department of Justice spokesman added: "New arrangements are about to be implemented whereby the gardai and individual ISPs will co-operate in blocking access to sites containing child pornography.

"The Minister (for Justice) welcomes the evidence of a growing awareness on the part of ISPs and others of the role they have to play in counteracting child pornography on the web."

Under the new plans, gardai will also liaise more closely with Interpol and foreign police forces to root out child abuse websites.

Last summer, Irish anti-child abuse organisation Hotline.ie was involved in an operation that exposed hundreds of illegal cyberlockers containing child abuse material. The organisation is run by the Internet Service Providers Association of Ireland.

Separately, British ISPs have agreed to install new filters aimed at making internet users choose whether or not they can access adult content. The Irish government has declined to request a similar level of filtering among Irish ISPs.

Yesterday, UK Prime Minister David Cameron said that security intelligence agencies such as Britain's GCHQ and America's National Security Agency could be used in the war against child porngraphy.

Irish Independent

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