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Saturday 15 December 2018

Dating app ban for sex offenders would be 'unfeasible' to police, expert warns

(stock photo)
(stock photo)
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

An expert in data privacy has warned it would not be possible to police a ban on convicted sex offenders using dating apps as proposed by Fine Gael.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said the ban, first suggested by Senator Catherine Noone, could be considered and that "in principle it sounds like something we ought to do".

However, Daragh O'Brien, who runs a business consultancy firm specialising in data privacy, raised questions about the feasibility of such a ban. He queried how people could be blocked from registering and he pointed out fake profiles were easy to create.

Mr O'Brien, managing director of Castlebridge, said the only way of implementing a ban would be to provide every dating app with an up-to-date and accurate list of sex-offenders.

"This would simply not be a feasible thing to do or to police effectively," he said, adding data protection issues would also arise.

Mr Varadkar was asked about Ms Noone's proposal at the launch of the government's Action Plan for Online Safety.

He also said that while he wasn't aware of the legalities of implementing such a ban, it was something the Government can "definitely examine in more detail".

A spokesperson for Mr Varadkar last night said the Action Plan was "about finding ways to make the internet a safe place for everyone".

He said there was an 18-month consultation process and anyone can put forward ideas: "If they make sense and they work, the Government will see if they can be implemented. If they are unlikely to work, then they won't be pursued. But, above all, we want people to engage."

Irish Independent

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