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Surge in child porn complaints in Ireland

As net use rises

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Analysts from the ISPAI have reported a marked increase in both the severity and amount of online child pornography content being reported to its hotline.

According to authors of the third Internet Service Providers Association of Ireland (ISPAI) report on unlawful online content, a shocking 60 per cent of the illegal pornographic material falls into categories that constitute the rape of children.

The ISPAI, which represent internet service providers in Ireland, runs a hotline which collates reports of illegal web content and forwards information to Gardai and Interpol for criminal investigation.

The ISPAI's latest report covering the period from July 2003 to December 2005 details 5,102 reports from internet users who suspected online material was illegal.

Average reports have been increasing by nearly 200 a month since July 2005. Almost 90 percent of these complaints referred to child pornography, with the remainder reporting adult porn, financial scams, racist material and concerns about hacking. The report authors believe this rise is due to two factors: the sheer month-on-month increase in the number of Irish internet users, and a greater public awareness of the organisation's hotline (www.hotline.ie).

Children's charity Barnardos welcomed the ISPAI report but pointed out that although the internet body traced no illegal pornography coming from Irish sources, there are a minority of paedophiles publishing material in this country and the public, especially parents, should not be complacent.

"The current system in Ireland is internet industry self-regulation and we need to monitor that in terms of effectiveness," Barnardos spokesperson Anne Conroy told ElectricNews.Net. "If it is not we will have to look at the option of legislation," she explained.

The ISPAI said 54 per cent of complainants had encountered child pornography via spam e-mails, while 41 per cent had encountered it while surfing the net.

ISPAI analysts determine whether reported content is illegal, and attempt to trace the source country and network. In 52 cases the country of origin could not be located. In the remaining 363 cases the apparent source was traced and information was passed on to law enforcement agencies.

"The legal term 'child pornography' sanitises what this material actually entails," the report states. "These videos and still images have captured evidence of heinous crimes being committed against innocent children. It is technical reference to this evidence that the hotline forwards to law enforcement so they may initiate criminal investigations."

Copyright © 2006, ENN

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