Fall in online child pornography detections

Wednesday 29 June 2011 20.12
Internet - Web browsing becoming safer
Internet - Web browsing becoming safer

There was a significant drop in internet child pornography detected in Ireland last year according to a report by Hotline.ie.

The annual report of the public hotline, which is run by the Internet Service Providers' Association of Ireland, showed that of over 2,500 reports made to the hotline by members of the public in 2010, 183 cases were found to concern child pornography.

This compares with 275 cases in 2009 and a peak of 718 cases in 2007.

Hotline.ie's General Manager Paul Durrant said this showed the public was encountering less illegal content online and measures being taken by the industry and law enforcement agencies were successful.

But Mr Durrant warned that criminals were moving to more sophisticated techniques to place child pornography online, including peer-to-peer (P2P) contact and the mirroring of images across databases.

The Minister for Justice said there was no room for complacency and urged the public to continue to report illegal content to the hotline.

Alan Shatter said the development of Ireland as a cloud computing hub potentially opened up the jurisdiction here to an increase in cases where illegal content is mirrored.

There were two cases of mirroring in Ireland last year reported through the hotline.

Gardaí were notified in December about a website hosted in Ireland on a cloud service that contained several images of child abuse. The site was taken down within 24 hours.

Mr Shatter said the case confirms a trend in which criminals are moving to more sophisticated techniques to place their illegal content online.

Mr Durrant said that while figures show ordinary web browsing had become safer, public co-operation is vital.

The report found that of the 2,464 reports processed in 2010, 794 could not be fully assessed for various reasons, most commonly because they were outside the hotline's remit.

193 reports were given with insufficient detail which meant analysts could not find the content that prompted the complaint in the first case.

The report also found that surprisingly few financial scams were reported despite the level of phishing and other e-mail scams on the internet.

A man in California was jailed for six years after an investigation prompted by a report to the hotline in 2008.

In a separate incident earlier this year, police in Bulgaria arrested a teacher for the possession and distribution of child pornography following an anonymous report to the hotline of a file being shared on a P2P network.

Internet users are urged to report anything they encounter on the World Wide Web, a P2P network, other services that may be illegal to www.hotline.ie.