Irish Independent


Larissa Nolan

IRISH paedophiles using the internet will find it harder to access pornography from early next year when major online providers introduce a new system that blocks child porn sites.

The Clean Feed filter system is already in place in Britain where its pioneers, British Telecom (BT), say it is blocking up to 10,000 attempts to access child porn daily.

Now Ireland's biggest internet service provider IOL is in the process of setting up the system here.

Irish customers will not be charged extra for the service, although insiders say it will cost the company millions of euro to put in place.

IOL spokesperson Una McGirr said that the company have set up a Clean Feed team to work on adopting the system in Ireland as quickly as possible.

"It is a big project, but we plan to have it up and running in Ireland from next year," said McGirr.

IOL customers who try to access a blacklisted site will not be allowed to enter and instead an 'error 404' message will flash up on their screen.

But McGirr warned that the system cannot completely prevent child porn on the net. Clean Feed can block material, but cannot wipe it completely and it cannot record access attempts. "It will definitely stop the curious and those who stumble upon sites accidentally," she said. "But unfortunately, paedophiles who are intent on accessing child porn will always find ways to do so."

Internet paedophiles frequently pass on child porn collections to their peers or continually change website names to avoid blacklisting.

The system was launched by BT in the UK in June and latest figures show it has already scuppered a staggering 250,000 attempts to access paedophile sites in Britain.

The technology allows BT to block material which is on the Internet Watch Foundation list, the UK's internet industry body. The blacklist includes sites that have been assessed as "illegal to view" in Britain under the Child Protection Act. Currently, this country has no such blacklist and an Ireland-specific list must first be set up in order for the system to work.

Clean Feed blocks all material which is blacklisted, which could be a whole site, a page on a site or even just one picture on a site.

But the Internet Service Providers Association of Ireland warned that it is not a complete solution to the problem of child web porn.

ISPAI's Paul Durrant said: "Clean Feed is a well-intentioned project and should be welcomed. But it will not stop the hard core paedophiles and it will not lead to prosecutions. It blocks sites, but does not remove them."

COPINE, an Irish group that tracks child porn sites, say that 50,000 new images are posted on the web each month, with approximately half of the children depicted less than nine years old.

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