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Internet firms join gardaí to block child porn online

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Ireland's biggest internet service providers and telecoms firms have agreed to work more closely with An Garda Síochána in an effort to block child abuse content online, referred to in legislation as "child pornography".

Under the initiative, users trying to access websites that have child abuse imagery will be shown a warning message, informing the user that the site contains illegal material.

The scheme will use Interpol's "worst of" list, which currently has 1,857 websites which are blocked worldwide.

The companies to sign up to the new "memorandum of understanding" with gardaí include Eir, Vodafone, BT Ireland, Sky Ireland, Three Ireland and Tesco Mobile.

Virgin Media has had such an agreement with gardaí since 2014.

"Child abuse material on the internet is an exploitative and demeaning crime," said Chief Superintendent Declan Daly of the Garda National Protective Services Bureau.

"The continued introduction of blocking child abuse imagery in Ireland protects children in our communities by reducing demand."

Under the new initiative, when a web address containing child abuse material is entered, the user will be redirected to a "stop" page created by gardaí. This will warn the user that "your internet browser is attempting to contact a website that has been identified by An Garda Síochána as having been used in the distribution of material depicting the sexual abuse of children".

However, it will stop short of blocking access to any child abuse material, instead working off a narrowly defined list circulated among international police forces.

The new initiative also does not address child abuse imagery on the 'Dark Web', where most such illegal content is believed to reside.

At the same event, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said there may be a need for legislation that required those who were charged of "serious crimes such as the possession of child abuse images" to hand over digital passwords.

Irish Independent