An Garda Síochána and UPC today announced the introduction of new safeguards to block access to internet sites containing child pornography.
UPC, one of Ireland's largest broadband providers, will restrict access to websites containing child sexual abuse material based on a list of domains or URLs provided by gardaí and Interpol. The list will be constantly updated in order to capture new sites as they arise.
Internet users who visit these sites, either deliberately or accidentally, will be restricted from accessing the site and an advisory message will instead be displayed outlining the reason why access is being blocked.
Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald has welcomed the development as a "notable achievement" in combating child pornography.
“Child abuse is a heinous crime and its depiction on the internet compounds the offence,” she said.
"The close co-operation with law enforcement which was launched today will reduce the amount of child abuse material which will be available on the internet in Ireland. It will also reinforce the message that the viewing or possession or indeed trading in child abuse material is simply not acceptable, and that is a message we need to get out loud and clear."
The Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan commended UPC for putting significant resources into this valuable restriction which is expected to play a valuable role in tackling access to child sexual abuse material online.
However, she also said that gardaí “fully recognise that others who wish to view, distribute and make this vile material will use different means to access it and spread it online,” and that the memorandum of understanding signed between UPC and gardaí was just one of a range of measures to tackle the production, distribution and possession of child pornography.
UPC Ireland CEO Magnus Ternsjö said the memorandum of understanding adhered fully to data protection legislation and did not provide for the transfer of user data to the authorities, while users’ IP addresses and the identities of consumers who access the domains is not stored.
Other internet service providers have also indicated their intention to sign up to similar restrictions.