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Friday 23 February 2018

New laws to crack down on paedophiles using 'dark net'

Eric Eoin Marques
Eric Eoin Marques
Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

NEW laws will crack down on paedophiles who use the 'dark internet' to download secret instruction manuals on how to groom children for sex.

The authorities here will review legislation dealing with those caught in possession of paedophile guidelines, which give advice on how to identify vulnerable victims, abuse them and then avoid detection.

The information is found on so-called 'dark net' sites – anonymous and virtually untraceable global networks – which are not reachable through normal methods.

They contain vast tracts of information and instruction on a variety of illegal activities.

These sites are a notorious haven for paedophiles but others also contain information on hacking ATM machines, creating false passports and manufacturing drugs and explosives.

British Prime Minister David Cameron announced last month that existing legal loopholes in the UK, allowing paedophiles to legally download material without fear of prosecution are to be closed off.

A Department of Justice spokeswoman here has confirmed that the Government now plans to "review" the legislation when full details of the proposed measures in the UK are announced.

She said legal and other restraints currently in place "may need be strengthened".

"The department needs to examine the matter more," the spokeswoman added.


The most high-profile case involving the 'dark internet' here involves the man whom the FBI has called "the largest facilitator of child porn in the world".

Eric Eoin Marques is alleged to be the owner and administrator of an anonymous hosting site known as Freedom Hosting.

He is wanted by US authorities to face charges relating to conspiring to distribute and advertise child pornography and advertising and distributing child pornography.

The 28-year-old, with an address at Mountjoy Square in Dublin, has been in custody since his arrest last August.

The DPP decided not to prosecute him in Ireland – but Mr Marques has applied for a judicial review of that decision.

Last night, Maeve Lewis, executive director of One in Four, which supports abuse survivors, said: "There is a legal loophole here, as there is in Britain, but I welcome the fact that the department is going to review it.

"The idea that it would not be illegal to download these manuals is astonishing.

"The technological developments in recent years have been such that the law-enforcement agencies are outmanoeuvred all the time and are invariably playing catch-up."

She added: "Child-protection services are also completely under-resourced and social workers are struggling with ridiculous case loads. So we still have an awful long way to go to make sure that children are safe in this country."

Irish Independent

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