The Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD, is currently hosting a webinar on countering online child sexual abuse and providing the tech industry with an opportunity to hear from and engage with Irish and European experts in countering online child sexual abuse. The webinar is being attended by representatives from tech companies based in Ireland, law enforcement officials, domestic and European policy experts, and Ireland’s national reporting service for illegal content online, Hotline.ie.
In her welcoming address, Minister McEntee acknowledged the significant progress made in recent years. There is now more and better industry cooperation with An Garda Síochána’s National Protective Services Bureau, and the Minister reflected on the benefits to companies of joining Hotline.ie. The Minister said:
“Companies who are members of Hotline.ie recognise the need and benefits of cross-industry collaboration with law enforcement to tackle the truly horrific crime of online child sexual abuse.
“I strongly encourage more tech companies based in Ireland to become members and demonstrate their support for a collaborative approach to tackling online child sexual abuse and exploitation”
This event is timely for a number of reasons, including Ireland's ratification of the Lanzarote Convention, the upcoming launch of a public consultation for proposed EU legislation to combat child sexual abuse, and follows on from efforts by the Department and Hotline.ie to encourage more companies to become members of the national reporting service. The Minister said,
“Recent years have seen considerable increases in the number of reports being received and actioned by Hotline.ie. As the most recent Annual Report shows, 2019 saw a 79% increase in such reports on the previous year. This reflects increasing public engagement with the service, however, it potentially demonstrates a concerning increase in illegal online child sexual abuse material.”
Ireland’s recent ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, also known as “the Lanzarote Convention”, demonstrates Ireland’s commitment to the fight against these reprehensible crimes, and highlights the need to act both locally and internationally, and in concert with private sector and civil society partners.
In this context, this webinar is providing companies based in Ireland the opportunity to learn more about the ongoing developments at European level, and an opportunity to discuss how they can play their part in the ongoing fight against online child sexual abuse and exploitation.
Minister McEntee continued,
“Up until now we have acted in a largely reactive capacity, after the fact, after the abuse has taken place. Today’s webinar is about learning how proactivity must become the norm in order to prevent the victimisation of current and future generations of children.”
Notes for Editors
The webinar features contributions from members of An Garda Síochána, the Dutch Police force and Europol, as well as representatives from the European Commission and the Council of Europe, and is being attended by a wide range of Industry representatives.
It was organised in recognition of the need for the broadest multi-agency collaborative response possible to combat the illegal, harmful, and predatory use of the internet.