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Online child porn block welcomed by gardai

Accessing child pornography online has now been made more difficult after broadband giant UPC blocked access to domain names containing sex abuse material.

It has signed an agreement with the garda authorities to create a situation whereby if anyone tries to access child pornography, either deliberately or mistakenly, a garda advisory message will be displayed on their screen outlining why access is being blocked.

Acting Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan said gardai welcomed UPC putting this valuable restriction in place and said other providers had indicated they wanted to sign up to a similar measure.

UPC Ireland chief executive officer Magnus Ternsjo said his company adhered fully to data protection legislation but stressed the agreement did not provide for any transfer of user data to the authorities.

This means the IP address and identity of a person trying to access domains is not stored when the blocking notice appears.

"UPC does not make user data available to any external parties, except where required to do so by law," said Mr Ternsjo.

But legislation does exist that allows gardai to require data from internet service providers if they are investigating a possible criminal offence.

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Commissioner O'Sullivan said that while the initiative will play an important role in tackling the use of child sexual abuse material online, and dissuade some people from accessing it, she fully recognises that others who wish to view, distribute and make child porn material will use different means to access and spread it online.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald described child abuse as a heinous crime and said its depiction on the internet compounded the offence.

"The close co-operation with law enforcement will reduce the amount of child abuse material available on the internet in Ireland," she said.

"It will also reinforce the message that the viewing, possession of, or trading in child abuse material is simply not acceptable," Minister Fitzgerald added.

cfeehan@herald.ie


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