independent

Friday 18 April 2014

Pat Rabbitte is "quite happy" to approach porn debate in Government

Pat Rabbitte

The Minister for Communications announced his support for an agenda to filter access to pornograhy online.

Mr Rabbitte today said he would be "quite happy" to approach the topic of filtering pornography access among Irish youths in Government, amid comments made by Senator Mary O'Brien condemnig the "gross" nature of what's available online.

Ms O'Brien, who has been elected to the Seanad, explained: "I never thought I would stand up in the Irish Seanad and feel nostalgic for 'Hustler', 'Penthouse' or 'Playboy' but we must now admit that we must think of them as part of the good old days," she said.

Ms O'Brien said the effect of internet pornography on children was devastating. "They think these gross scenes are normal," she said.

"I would be quite happy to take up this point about examining whether the initiative announce by Cameron has merit and can be made to work," Mr Rabbitte added.

"The e-commerce directive makes it illegal to compel ISPs (Internet Service Providers) to block material in the fashion that Senator O Brien raises.

"A reasonable an important point and is the first time she’s raised it - nobody in the Senate has ever raised this point with me before.

"We shouldn’t conflate two things. Obnoxious material is already illegal in Ireland (but not in UK) thereafter you are talking about his voluntary code that he will require these family friendly filters to be put in place.

"Most experts will say that text savvy young people will be savvy enough to access but they may well have the merits of young people not stumbling across the kind of material that no parent would want them to see."

Meanwhile, National Childline Manager, Margie Roe, is supportive of British Prime Minister David Cameron's decision to filter access to pornography online and urged Irish lawmakers to consider the same action here.

Ms Roe this morning told of her backing of David Cameron's campaign to end internet pornography which is "corroding childhood".

Mr Cameron accused companies such as Google, Bing and Yahoo, that they faced being forced by law to ban internet searches for illegal images if they refused to do so voluntarily. Mr Cameron yesterday said they had a "moral duty" to act because their expertise was "aiding" paedophiles.

“I think it has a huge impact on children,” Miss Roe said on RTE Radio’s Morning Ireland today.

“In Childline, we would have children and young teenagers who would ring us and maybe have accidentally come across pornography online.

“Recently, we had a call where a young person peer pressured him into watching porn.

“He said that he felt weird and uncomfortable afterwards, he was disturbed by what he had seen. It can have a serious affect on them. You can imagine a younger child – some of the material online can be quite graphic and quite violent. That can be quite frightening for a young child.”

And Ms Roe added that Irish branches of international companies should be encouraged to do the same.

"It sounds like a very simple and effective means of filtering out pornography," she explained.

"I’m not sure how the technology will work, but I think it’s something we should give serious consideration to and look to see if it’s a viable option for broadband users here in Ireland.

“I think that everybody has a role to play – government, industry, the gardai and parents themselves. We all have a role to keep children safe online. If everyone does their part, it helps to safeguard young people.

“To look at what’s happening in the UK, to see if it’s a viable option for Ireland and to see if it’s a tool that can navigate their way around, it’s not going to work because children are very IT savvy. If it’s possible to do this in an effective way, we should take steps to make sure it happens."

Mr Cameron set Google and the other firms a deadline of October when they would be called to Downing Street to produce their plans for "obliterating this disgusting material from the 'net"."

Mr Cameron outlined a series of measures to tackle the threat to children from the internet. For instance, all internet services are to be automatically set to block adult content when they are sold to domestic customers.

A Google spokesman said the company had a "zero tolerance" attitude to child sexual abuse imagery. "We use our own systems and work with child safety experts to find it, remove and report it," he said.

Additional reporting from the Daily Telegraph

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