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Tuesday 23 September 2014

Rabbitte ignores calls for State role in blocking online porn

Adrian Weckler Technology Editor

Published 24/07/2013 | 05:00

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Pat Rabbitte: 'not convinced'

COMMUNICATIONS Minister Pat Rabbitte will stand firm against calls to require Irish internet service providers to block pornography from home broadband services.

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Writing exclusively in today's Irish Independent, Mr Rabbitte says that legal concerns attached to mandatory filters, as well as a fear of imposing censorship, have persuaded him against trying to force ISPs to impose mandatory pornography-blocking internet filters.

"I remain to be convinced that blanket censorship or a default-on blocker is the correct or workable response," he said.

"Even if it were possible to ensure that such measures were not easily circumvented or didn't inadvertently block perfectly acceptable content, the principled question of whether the State should be encouraging service providers to filter or block content to all users, regardless of whether there are children resident, would still arise."

However, Mr Rabbitte said he would "explore" the question of voluntary internet filters with Irish ISPs.

Mr Rabbitte's fresh intervention comes after child welfare organisations called on the Government to push for anti-pornography filters on Irish home broadband connections.

The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC) said that pornography was damaging to young children and should be removed from their line of sight.

Some Government backbenchers have echoed the ISPCC's call. "By banning access to pornography websites into homes, it will also tackle the scourge of child abuse images that can be accessed online," said Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, Fine Gael TD for Laois-Offaly.

However, other experts warn that forcing internet service providers to implement blocking filters would fall foul of EU legislation, in particular the 2002 E-commerce Regulation.

ENFORCE

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Alan Shatter declined to comment on whether search engines such as Google should enforce stricter standards on search engine results for child pornography searches or whether he would seek legislation if it failed to do this.

In Britain, the government has warned Google and other search engines that it will introduce legislation to force stricter standards on child pornography searches if the companies do not tighten up their own rules.

Irish Independent

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