Gardaí introduce initiative to block websites containing child abuse material 4 months ago

Gardaí introduce initiative to block websites containing child abuse material

The initiative will apply to approximately 96% of Internet users in the country.

An Garda Síochána, in partnership with BT Ireland, Eir Ireland, Sky Ireland, Tesco Mobile, Three Ireland and Vodafone Ireland, has signed a memorandum of understanding to block access to websites containing child sexual abuse material.

Officially announced on Monday (10 February), the move follows an initial memorandum between the Gardaí and UPC (now Virgin Media) that was signed on 10 November 2014.

Applicable to 96% of Internet users in Ireland, the Garda Blocking Initiative is a voluntary scheme under which Irish Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and An Garda Síochána collaborate to block access to illegal child sexual abuse material (CSAM).

Gardaí cite Interpol's 'worst of' list (IWOL) which contains domains that provide the most severe child sexual abuse material available on the open web. 1,857 websites on the IWOL list are currently blocked worldwide.

These domains contain images and videos that fit the following criteria:

  • The children are "real”
  • The ages of the children depicted are (or appear to be) younger than 13 years
  • The abuse is considered severe

"The purpose of preventing access to such pages is to protect consumers, including children, from viewing documented child sexual abuse material, and to prevent the further exploitation of children who have already been abused and photographed/filmed," notes an official An Garda Síochána statement.

Under the initiative, the Garda National Protective Services Bureau (GNPSB) provides each Internet service provider with an updated list of suspect domain names. This list of websites has been verified by Interpol to contain the most severe instances of child sexual abuse material.

Gardaí have noted that the blocking of online child abuse material is not a complete solution to restricting access, rather a deterrent option to individuals who are in danger of accessing such material either deliberately or accidentally.

"Child Abuse Material on the internet is an exploitative and demeaning crime," said Detective Chief Superintendent Declan Daly, GNPSB.

"It is a child abuse offence, which has pathways to the contact offending of children. The continued introduction of blocking child abuse imagery in Ireland protects children in our communities by reducing demand. It increases their protection and facilitates a concentration of policing resources towards those who seek to harm children online.

"I welcome the signing of these MOU’s today and renew An Garda Síochána’s commitment to working with industry to protecting children and preventing access to this material," Daly concluded.