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Parentline calls for greater level of filtering to block internet porn

By Sarah Mac Donald - 24 July, 2013

Call for protections similar to those proposed by UK Government.

The introduction of internet filters which block porn by internet service providers  has been described as an “absolute must” by Parentline.

CEO Rita O’Reilly said she would like to see the Irish Minister for Communications introducing a system similar to the one being proposed in the UK. 

“Parents need all the support they can get. Technology is moving faster than the rate they can keep up with. It is a support and help for the children,” she told CatholicIreland.net 

Earlier yesterday, the Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte said he was agreeable to looking at proposals being brought by the British government to block internet pornography at source. 

He was responding to a speech by the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, on Monday (22 July), in which he unveiled a batch of reforms aimed at shielding children from “poisonous” websites that “corrode childhood”.

“This is, quite simply, about how we protect our children and their innocence,” the UK Prime Minister said.

Mr Cameron said there were two challenges, the proliferation and accessibility of child abuse images on the internet, which is a crime, and a cultural challenge.

“The fact that many children are viewing online pornography and other damaging material at a very young age and that the nature of that pornography is so extreme, it is distorting their view of sex and relationships,” he said.

In response to this Mr Cameron proposed:

 ·         By the end of 2014, all 19million UK homes currently connected to the net will be contacted by service providers and told they must say whether family-friendly filters that block all porn sites should be switched on or off.

·         From the end 2013, all new customers setting up a broadband account or switching provider will have the filters automatically switched on unless they opt to disable them to allow sites with ‘adult content’.

·         adult content filters on all new mobile phones.

·         a bar on accessing adult content through public wi-fi.

·         pornography involving simulated rape will be banned both online and offline and will be a crime.

·         online videos will be subject to the same rules as those sold in sex shops.

·         new powers for watchdogs to access heavily encrypted sites.

·         search engines urged to ban searches for child abuse images / sites.

The British Prime Minister said that search engine companies like Google and Yahoo had a duty not to provide child abuse images to the public.

He suggested that there needed to be safeguards so that people searching for child abuse images were not being aided in doing so.  

“You have a duty to act on this,” he said addressing the search engine companies, “and it is a moral duty.” 

Mr Cameron accepted that it might be technically difficult. “If there are technical obstacles to acting on this, don’t just stand by and say nothing can be done; use your great brains to help overcome them,” he added.

Responding to the UK proposals to protect children and childhood, Minister Pat Rabitte said he would “look into the proposals” but said that Irish Internet Service Providers (ISPs) were “largely different” to the UK and that EU law prevented the imposition of mandatory measures.

The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children has supported the measures being proposed in the UK. 

Margie Roe, National Childline Manager, said that pornography had a huge impact on children. Recently she had a child onto the service who, due to peer pressure, had watched online pornography.  “He said he felt weird, uncomfortable and disturbed.  It can have a serious effect,” she told RTE.

Ms O’Reilly from Parentline warned that access to internet porn through Smartphones was very easy.

Even phones that are not Smartphones, have internet access, and there are open Wifi networks everywhere.  “Even on the buses going to school. I know there are arguments about a nanny state, but parents need support and this is a good idea.”

by Susan Gately

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