Tuesday 12 December 2017

Adrian Weckler: Fight not yet won – but we're on right path

Are we winning the fight against child pornography?

Yesterday's moves by Google and Irish ISPs might suggest that we are.

But although the initiatives should not be disregarded, neither is likely to make more than a minor dent in the scourge of child abuse material online.

Most of it exists in hidden, anonymous networks that are very difficult to detect.

Police forces sometimes puncture web rings. But to date it has been the exception rather than the rule. Whether David Cameron's enlistment of intelligence agencies in rooting out the illegal material changes this remains to be seen.

It is significant, though, that a new path is being found in this country to help root out vile abuse websites without necessarily handing over the keys of the internet to the Government.

Websites identified and verified by gardai as hosting vile abuse content will be blocked by ISPs.

Using this system, there will be a reduced fear that the Government might try to start blocking sites it simply doesn't like.

But to be clear, those who access child abuse material are not known to do so through Google searches. And Google has not specified how many web links it found that actually contained child abuse material within the 100,000 words or terms it says can lead to illicit web links.

Even so, putting these new systems in place could make the discovery of pathways to child abuse networks more difficult. And if it deters even a few people, that means it is worth it.

Irish Independent

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