Online child pornography is a scourge of our times. It pollutes the internet. It also gives every right-minded person pause for thought as to the wisdom of unfettered freedom online. Digital rights? Sorry, no. As a society, we should be very clear about one point. It is simply not acceptable, as some internet experts suggest, that we shrug our shoulders and say the net is ungovernable. Vile child abuse cannot, and must not, be a practice that we accept as a price worth paying for “digital rights”.
In this context, it is right that Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte has summoned Irish internet providers to get a firmer grip on ways of stamping out access to this diseased content. As we report today, he has decided to bring firms such as Eircom, UPC and Vodafone into a closer alliance to get rid of child-porn access on our home computers.
It will be no easy task. Much of what happens in this criminal arena is in an area of the internet that is difficult to penetrate, even for the best-equipped security agencies. Faced with this cold reality, conventional measures technically available to internet providers – such as blocking filters – may only go so far.
But we have to try. We are in a new age where internet access rivals – and often exceeds – television usage. Child porn must not become an acceptable price of online privacy. We cannot shrug our shoulders any longer.