Rabbitte meets internet chiefs in bid to halt child-porn access

Published August 11, 2013 by JS2

Pat Rabbitt

COMMUNICATIONS Minister Pat Rabbitte has summoned the country’s biggest internet providers to hammer out ways of preventing access to child-abuse material – including child pornography – online.

 

The hastily convened meeting, which occurred last week, was attended by the three largest internet service providers – Eircom, UPC and Vodafone.

Mr Rabbitte told the internet providers in the meeting that he may seek an intergovernmental taskforce – which would also involve the Department of Justice – to look at ways of dealing with illegal activity online.

He has said that further meetings with the internet providers will need to take place in coming weeks and months.

Mr Rabbitte’s fresh intervention comes as Irishman Eric Eoin Marques, who is wanted for extradition to the US on charges of facilitating, distributing and advertising child pornography, remains in garda custody.

FILTERS

The FBI has accused Mr Marques of being “the largest facilitator of child pornography on the planet”, a charge that Mr Marques’s father has strenuously denied.

If convicted, Mr Marques faces up to 30 years in jail.

While the Government is constrained by EU law in imposing mandatory filters for legal adult pornography services, it may have greater legal power to seek tighter filters for illegal content such as child-abuse material.

Under the EU’s new anti-child exploitation directive, which must be signed into Irish law by the end of the year, EU member states “may take measures to block access to web pages containing or disseminating child pornography towards the internet users within their territory”.

At least three Irish internet providers say that they are already compliant with most of the measures outlined in the anti-child exploitation directive.

Senior internet provider executives say that they would not object to filters blocking child-abuse material provided that they are regulated by a publicly accountable body under law.

Mr Rabbitte has previously stated that he would not seek the mandatory imposition of blocking filters for legal services, including adult pornography, on Irish home broadband connections.

British Prime Minister David Cameron is currently trying to force UK internet providers to block adult pornography, a move that is being resisted by telecoms companies there.

ACCESS

However, Mr Rabbitte told Irish internet providers that he was interested in exploring alternative ways of dealing with home access to online adult pornography.

It is expected that the Irish internet providers will meet Mr Rabbitte again in coming weeks to further discussions on the topics raised.

The Department of Justice is expected to join the discussions at a future date.

Irish Independent

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