Net Nanny is a software designed to assist parents protect children by preventing access to offensive online material.

A new computer product called 'Net Nanny' allows parents to prevent their children accessing pornographic, offensive or inappropriate material on the internet.

Following Belgium's child sex abuse scandal last year, the spotlight fell on the internet. European Union ministers began to ask how the internet could be policed to prevent child pornography and abuse.

A worldwide super highway of free flowing information is hugely attractive to millions of people. Not least those who want to use it for unsavoury purposes.

Policing the internet has posed practical and ethical questions. One step in the right direction is self-regulation.

Indigo is one of Ireland's internet service providers and has acquired the rights to Net Nanny, a software programme allowing parents to block offensive material.

Shay Moran of Indigo describes the internet as a very open means of communication and as such it can be very difficult to curtail websites.

It's important the parents have some method or system that can monitor or filter sites that they don't want their children to see.

The programme downloads around a thousand x-rated titles every month which are then automatically restricted. The software also allows parents to specify key topics, words and phrases which are then out of bounds.

Around 100,000 children use the internet in Ireland meaning they could potentially access offensive material.

Parents can now in effect become their own cyber cops.

Speaking at the launch of Net Nanny, broadcaster Marian Finucane says that while there may be issues around censorship for adults, most parents would like some control over what their children are looking at.

If Net Nanny and other self-regulatory tools do not do the job, then governments may need to consider imposing restrictions on internet service providers.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 28 January 1997. The reporter is Tony Connelly.