The Minister of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr Brian Lenihan T.D., today, speaking at the launch of two booklets on internet safety, announced that the Government has approved his proposals to establish an Office for Internet Safety and an Internet Safety Advisory Council.
Launching, on behalf of the Internet Advisory Board, the two booklets in the GET with IT! series - a revised Parents’ Guide to new media technologies and A Parents’ Guide to filtering technologies - the Minister expressed confidence that the booklets will be of great help to parents in ensuring that their children use and enjoy the wonders of the internet wisely. By taking an interest in the technologies their children use, parents can learn with them and also be aware of what their children are doing online. The message, said the Minister, is simple, as the booklets say: get involved: GET With IT!
Announcing the establishment of the Office for Internet Safety (OIS) Minister Lenihan explained that it will be an executive office of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform with responsibility for:
• internet safety, particularly in relation to combating child pornography,
• internet Hotline (www.hotline.ie) - the system for dealing with reports of illegal content on the internet),
• internet safety awareness campaigns, and
• monitoring compliance with the Internet Service Provider industry code of practice.
The Minister noted that in recent years there has been an enormous increase in internet usage in Ireland. He said that the nature of the industry is dynamic with spectacular developments in communications technologies and the convergence of such technologies. While these are largely positive developments tackling the negative aspects of internet use – whether on a PC or on a mobile phone, is a complex business and continues to set new challenges for all those charged with guarding against the downside of the internet.
Minister Lenihan went on to say that: "As Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform I felt it was time to meet some of those challenges with the establishment of an office dedicated to internet safety, located within my Department. Concern remains high about the appropriateness of certain material which is easily accessible on the internet, with particular concern about child pornography and the use of ‘grooming’ to target children. Those who misuse the Internet are highly sophisticated and technically astute, and we must continually and pro-actively examine the effectiveness of our defences. I am particularly concerned about the need to protect our children from the pernicious activities of those who would use the internet to target them for sexual exploitation.
It is incumbent on all involved in promoting the exciting resource which is the internet to ensure the best possible protection for the community and to reduce the risk of internet crime, particularly that involving the exploitation of children, in all situations. The establishment of a dedicated Office for Internet Safety is an important step in the process of building the best possible protection for the community at large and in particular for children from the downside of the Internet."
In addition, to placing cybercrime issues squarely within the crime policy framework of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, the OIS will be in a position to encourage greater cohesion across state agencies and the industry generally.
The OIS will expand on the work that was carried out by the Internet Advisory Board. The Minister thanked the members of the Internet Advisory Board for the valuable work they had undertaken. He said that under their leadership and direction, the IAB had played a significant role in raising awareness about the risks associated with the use of the Internet, both within the Internet Service Providers sector and among the general public.
Minister Lenihan also announced that he will establish, in the very near future, an Internet Safety Advisory Council, which will succeed the Internet Advisory Board. The Advisory Council will be drawn from representatives of the key stakeholders in the statutory, industry and community sectors, and will support the work of the OIS.
The internet safety booklets are being distributed today and will be available free of charge through libraries, community information centres, on request through a freefone number 1800 24 25 95, and on the websites of the Internet Advisory Board (www.iab.ie) and the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform (www.justice.ie).
20 September, 2007