• Minister adds Ireland’s voice to the growing and determined international effort to address Online Child Sexual Exploitation.
• Ireland’s contribution to the global effort to fight Online Child Sexual Exploitation highlighted.
• Minister pledges continued action to tackle Online Child Sexual Exploitation.
• Minister announces the establishment of a new cross sector Forum bringing together law enforcement, technology and ICT industry and child protection bodies to ensure maximum co-operation between stakeholders in the fight against online child sexual exploitation.
11 December 2014
The Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald, TD, together with Garda Commissioner Noreen O’Sullivan, is attending the Global Summit to Tackle Online Child Sexual Exploitation, taking place in London 10-11 December 2014.
The Summit, building on the work of the Global Alliance Against Child Abuse Online which Minister Fitzgerald attended recently in Washington, is being hosted by the British Prime Minister. It brings together international governments, law enforcement agencies, industry and civil society organisations to agree concrete actions, and build strong partnerships in order to create an international network to collaborate together across borders.
During the Summit, the Minister will highlight a number of actions being taken by Ireland to enhance our contribution to this global effort including the recently published proposals to strengthen the criminal law in this area in particular with regard to the offence of grooming; action being taken by An Garda Síochána to improve capacity in the examination of child pornography cases; the development of the recently launched Garda blocking initiative and further engagement with the communication service providers based in Ireland.
The Minister also announced that she is establishing a new Forum, under the auspices of her Department, which will bring together law enforcement, technology and the ICT industry and child protection bodies to ensure maximum co-operation between stakeholders in the fight against online child sexual abuse. This Forum will meet twice yearly with the first meeting to be in the New Year. The Minister will be inviting leading experts from a range of companies including Facebook, Google, UPC, as well as An Garda Síochána and Túsla to participate.
The Minister said: "as highlighted by the UN Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography at the Summit, such cross sectoral partnerships are key to building on, and maximising, the work that is already being undertaken by such experts within their respective fields."
On the margins of the Summit, Minister Fitzgerald will also hold a bilateral meeting with Minister of State for Policing, Criminal Justice and Victims, the Rt Hon Mike Penning MP to discuss progress in both jurisdictions on tackling this crime and international collaboration to enhance the global effort.
The Minister stated: “The viewing, possession or trading in child abuse material and the continued abuse of the internet to exploit children for sexual gratification and profit is a heinous crime. It causes immeasurable harm to children and young people whose suffering is multiplied by the continued circulation of images of their abuse online. All of us who are concerned with protecting our society, and particularly our children and young people from illegal and harmful use of the Internet must be ever vigilant and ready to take necessary action."
Congratulating the conference organisers the Minister acknowledged the added value of organising such summits: “I very much welcome the opportunity to be here today getting to hear and share at first hand with international law enforcement agencies, industry, senior practitioners and civil society the range of practices we have in place as well as our plans for future endeavours. It is determined international action of this kind, where law enforcement works in close partnership with other stakeholders which is so vital.”
Closing her remarks, the Minister confirmed that: “Ireland remains committed to playing its part in ensuring that the international community rises to the challenge of tackling this cyber enabled crime and puts its best efforts into protecting all children from these evil crimes.”
Note for Editors
The objectives of the Summit are to secure –
Global action to remove child sexual abuse imagery from the internet worldwide;
Co-ordinated global action to identify and protect victims; and
Strengthened co-operation between law enforcement agencies.
The Summit will feature keynote speeches from senior UK Ministers and a range of international speakers which will set out the threat presented by online child sexual exploitation, the work that is currently underway to tackle it, and what needs to be done in the future. A number of breakout sessions which are intended to go into greater detail on each of the 3 objectives will also form part of the summit. The Minister will avail of this opportunity to speak of the natural synergies between the Summits goals of removing child abuse material from the Internet and the measures Ireland has in place including its hotline.ie service as part of the INHOPE network and the recent MOU signed by An Garda Síochána with UPC on the Restriction of Child Sexual Abuse Material Online in Ireland.
Global Alliance against Child Sexual Abuse online
In response to the challenge of Child Sexual Abuse Online 54 countries from around the world gathered in a Global Alliance against Child Sexual Abuse Online. The Alliance was launched in December 2012 and unites Minister of the Interior and of Justice behind four shared political targets that is hoped will result in a larger number of rescued victims, more effective prosecution, and an overall reduction in the amount of child sexual abuse images available online. Emanating from the first conference, a report summarising the commitments that participating countries have undertaken in order to reach the four political targets has been produced in December 2013.
At the invitation of the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs and the US Attorney General, global decision makers (including Minister Fitzgerald) met in Washington for the second Ministerial Conference of the Global Alliance on 29 and 30 September 2014 where attendees assessed what progress had been made in the first two years of the Global Alliance and how to expand the fight against global proliferation of child sexual abuse online in the future. A Ministerial declaration committing to further address barriers was produced as a result of the Conference.
The Office of Internet Safety as an Executive Office of the Department of Justice supports the work of hotline.ie. This facility is operated by the Internet Service Providers Association of Ireland to receive reports from the public of illegal content on websites - and is part-funded by the EU. It is vital for Ireland to have the Hotline.ie reporting structure in place. Hotline.ie acts on reports that it receives and passes on pre-vetted suspicions to the Gardaí. Members of the public play a vital role in combating crimes against children when they report suspect content online. Whether the suspect content is on the web or on peer-to-peer or on a cloud platform, the general public is encouraged to report anything that upsets them online. Illegal content on the internet can be child sexual abuse content - also referred to as child pornography - or other content such as incitement to hatred, financial scams, racism and xenophobia etcetera.
When Hotline.ie receives reports of suspected illegal content on the internet, it is scrutinised by their specially trained analysts and, if it is assessed as being probably illegal, it is referred to the Gardaí for possible prosecution, as well as to host companies in Ireland for takedown. If the host company is outside of Ireland, the report goes through INHOPE, within its member countries, and through law enforcement channels elsewhere in the world, so that the content can be removed from circulation.