Order of Business, 19 September 2013

Thursday, 19th September 2013

I support Senator O’Brien in his call for No. 2 to be discussed. It is something we should do to ensure any inquiry is as we intend it and as we would expect. Perhaps it cannot be facilitated today but if there were a commitment, I would be supportive of it.

I commend the French Senate, which yesterday banned beauty pageants for children under 16 years. In fact, it will impose prison sentences. This is about protecting childhood. Beauty pageants prematurely force children into roles of seduction that seriously harm their development. I am most disappointed to note that this weekend for the first time in Ireland there will be such a beauty pageant. It is not a welcome development. I wish to send a clear message that it should be cancelled and that we should not be having these types of beauty pageants in our country. We should be protecting childhood.

I thank the Leader for putting on the agenda for discussion today the EU directive on combatting the sexual abuse and exploitation of children and child pornography. As colleagues are aware, in February 2012 the Independent group put forward a comprehensive motion that dealt with the directive, but nothing has happened since. I welcome that it is on the agenda today. I have published in advance a report on effective strategies to tackle online child abuse material. We should remember that a child abuse image is a crime scene. It is a digital record of some of the most heinous crimes against children. This is about protecting real children from real abuse in the real world. I have copies of the report if colleagues would like to see it in advance of our discussion at 11.45 a.m. We should send a clear message to the Government that we need to ensure we have filtering in place to block online child abuse material. I thank the Leader for placing this matter on the agenda. However, we must do more than just discuss it.

Column: Blocking child porn isn’t about censorship. It keeps children safe.

21st March 2012

Column: Blocking child porn isn’t about censorship. It keeps children safe.
The rights of children must come first – and it’s time to block images of the worst sexual abuse, write Senators Deirdre Clune and Jillian van Turnhout.

CHILD ABUSE MATERIAL is often spoken about as “child pornography” but it is far more serious an offence than can be encompassed by any single definition. A child abuse image is a crime scene, a digital recording of rape, incest, assault, sadism and bestiality being perpetrated against a child.

The sheer horror of such images is closer in content to depictions of the atrocities of war by those who perpetrate them. It is imperative that Irish internet service providers move to block child abuse material to prevent the proliferation of these images.

Think for a moment about the most humiliating and degrading moment you have ever experienced. Think of the desperate helplessness you felt. Now imagine that someone had managed to capture that moment. That image was then spread across the globe so that no matter how far you ran you could never be sure that those you meet did not see it. Now imagine the scenario for a victim of child sexual abuse whose trauma has been recorded and disseminated for the sexual gratification of others. Try to comprehend the on-going harm that victim suffers as long as the image remains available for others to view, their sense of being re-abused again and again and being defined by defilement for ever.

Blocking child abuse material on the internet is not going to stop those who are determined to view it. Traders will share their collections via peer-to-peer, email and other services. The blocking measure is aimed at those who stumble across one image inadvertently and whose curiosity sparks a dangerous spiral, which leads them to seek out more. Interpol describes these individuals as ‘simple viewers,’ and their statistics show that one in three simple viewers go on to abuse a child themselves.

We live in the information age. A photo taken in one part of the world can reach into millions of homes within seconds of being uploaded. It can seem inconceivable that images of child abuse are being sought online. However, a huge volume of requests are made to access child abuse material, intentionally or accidentally, through standard webpages throughout the world. For example, 4.5 million requests are blocked in Norway each year; 13.5 million requests were blocked in New Zealand between February 2010 and November 2011; and BT alone blocks 40,000 requests each day in the UK.

’750,000 people are using websites displaying images of child sexual abuse at any one time’

In 2009,the UN-Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, Najat M’jid Maalla, stated that 750,000 people are using websites displaying images of child sexual abuse at any one time. Attempting to eliminate child abuse material on the internet is a difficult task. As soon an image is removed it can spring up again in another location. Google and Facebook have their own systems in place to block such images. Mobile operators in Ireland also block this material under the Alliance Against Child Sexual Abuse Content.

While Irish ISPs do secure the removal of child abuse material on domestic servers, they are yet to follow the likes of Australia, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Malta, New Zealand, Sweden and the UK by blocking the same material hosted overseas, where removal proves difficult or takes an unreasonable length of time.

There are those who will argue that any form of blocking content online is an infringement on their civil liberties. The only images which are being targeted are those which fall into Interpol’s list of the three most severe forms of child sexual abuse: assault, gross assault and sadism/bestiality. Even the most ardent opponent of internet censorship cannot argue that failing to block the spread of these images of child sexual abuse maintains virtual freedom.

Having robustly debated this issue in the Seanad recently as part of a private members motion proposed by the Independent Group of Senators (Taoiseach’s Nominees) we are even more committed to tackling this issue through the introduction of a blocking system. In response to the motion Minister for Justice Alan Shatter assured the Senate that the Government abhors the evil trade in illegal images of children being sexually abused and pledged his commitment to fully consider blocking internet child abuse material in the development of the planned Sexual Offences Bill.

Deirdre Clune is a Fine Gael senator, and Jillian van Turnhout is an independent senator.

Article link: http://www.thejournal.ie/readme/column-blocking-child-porn-isn%e2%80%99t-about-censorship-it-keeps-children-safe-390656-Mar2012/

Government to fully consider blocking internet child abuse material

Government to fully consider blocking internet child abuse material

Press Release, 1st March 2012
*** FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ***

In a Seanad debate yesterday, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter TD made a commitment to consider implementing blocking to stop Irish internet users from accessing child pornography.

The motion, proposed by Senators Jillian van Turnhout and Marie Louise O’Donnell on behalf of the Independent Group (Taoiseach’s Nominees), called for Ireland to follow the UK, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Italy, Malta, Australia, and New Zealand, in blocking access to sites hosting photographic images of child abuse, even where those sites are located outside of Irish jurisdiction.

While Irish law currently allows for the removal of such material where it is hosted on a server within the State’s jurisdiction, Senator van Turnhout argued that “We are forced to rely on other jurisdictions applying the same standard for removal at source as we apply to material hosted on domestic sites. Where other countries are uncooperative or simply unable to remove this material in a reasonable time, Ireland has a duty to block access to it in some other way”.

Senator van Turnhout also pointed out that, in fact, such blocking exists in one form in Ireland: mobile operators like Vodafone, O2, and Meteor subscribe to the Mobile Alliance Against Child Sexual Abuse Content and already prevent their users from accessing this material.

Describing the ongoing harm caused to victims as long as material remains available, Senator O’Donnell said that “Abusive pornographic images of children on the internet stay with the children throughout their entire lives. The child ends up being defined by defilement forever”.

The motion further called for legislation which would establish a victim identification database, to help identify victims and thus prevent further abuse. This would also lead to swifter and more efficient prosecution of abusers and the disruption of criminal networks which disseminate this material.

Responding to the Independent Group motion, Minister for Justice and Equality Alan Shatter TD said: “I am, this evening, giving a commitment to this House that blocking will be fully considered in the context of the development of the planned Sexual Offences Bill”.

ENDS

Notes for editors:
The Independent Group (Taoiseach’s Nominees) are Senators Jillian van Turnhout, Martin McAleese, Fiach MacConghail, Mary Ann O’Brien, Marie Louise O’Donnell, and Katherine Zappone.

Government to fully consider blocking internet child abuse material

In a Seanad debate yesterday, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter TD made a commitment to consider implementing blocking to stop Irish internet users from accessing child pornography.

The motion, proposed by Senators Jillian van Turnhout and Marie Louise O’Donnell on behalf of the Independent Group (Taoiseach’s Nominees), called for Ireland to follow the UK, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Italy, Malta, Australia, and New Zealand, in blocking access to sites hosting photographic images of child abuse, even where those sites are located outside of Irish jurisdiction.

While Irish law currently allows for the removal of such material where it is hosted on a server within the State’s jurisdiction, Senator van Turnhout argued that “We are forced to rely on other jurisdictions applying the same standard for removal at source as we apply to material hosted on domestic sites. Where other countries are uncooperative or simply unable to remove this material in a reasonable time, Ireland has a duty to block access to it in some other way”.

Senator van Turnhout also pointed out that, in fact, such blocking exists in one form in Ireland: mobile operators like Vodafone, O2, and Meteor subscribe to the Mobile Alliance Against Child Sexual Abuse Content and already prevent their users from accessing this material.

Describing the ongoing harm caused to victims as long as material remains available, Senator O’Donnell said that “Abusive pornographic images of children on the internet stay with the children throughout their entire lives. The child ends up being defined by defilement forever”.

The motion further called for legislation which would establish a victim identification database, to help identify victims and thus prevent further abuse. This would also lead to swifter and more efficient prosecution of abusers and the disruption of criminal networks which disseminate this material.

Responding to the Independent Group motion, Minister for Justice and Equality Alan Shatter TD said: “I am, this evening, giving a commitment to this House that blocking will be fully considered in the context of the development of the planned Sexual Offences Bill”.

Independent Senators call for government action on child abuse images

Independent Senators call for government action on child abuse images
Press Release, 29th February 2012

The Independent Group of Senators (Taoiseach’s Nominees) will table a Private Members’ Motion in the Seanad this evening, calling for the Government to take action to combat the easy availability of images of sexual abuse to internet users in Ireland.

The motion will call on the Minister for Justice and Equality to take action in line with the Directive adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of Europe in December 2011 ‘on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography’.

The State already takes steps to secure the removal of child abuse material held on servers within its jurisdiction. Legislation in line with the Directive would allow Ireland to block access to websites containing this illegal material where it is hosted outside our jurisdiction and where its removal is difficult or likely to take an unreasonable length of time.

The Independent Group motion will remind the House that images of child abuse are not just images: every child abuse image is a crime scene. Where images are disseminated, there is ongoing harm to victims, while the number of offenders continues to grow. One survivor of this kind of abuse said that “*T+hose who view the images of my abuse are no different from those who made them in the first place. It feels like they are in the room, encouraging my abuse.”

Senator van Turnhout, emphasising the importance of the motion said, “a child abuse image is a crime scene, a digital record of sexual abuse being perpetrated against a child. Statistics show that a staggering 69% of the victims depicted in child abuse images are between 0 and 10 years of age. The sheer depravity and calculation of the offenders is such that they are increasingly targeting children at pre-speaking age because they can’t articulate the abuse they are experiencing.”

Since the advent of widely available broadband, access to images of child abuse has become far simpler and more widespread. In 1995, Interpol was aware of 4,000 child abuse images in total. Recent data puts the number of known images at over 1,000,000.

While other countries – including the UK, Australia, and Sweden – already have systems in place for blocking access to sites containing child abuse material, there has been some resistance to the idea in Ireland. The Independent Group motion aims to encourage the Minister to legislate on this critical issue.
The motion will call on the Government to:

1. Bring forward legislation to implement the EU Directive, to combat sexual abuse and the sexual exploitation of children and child abuse material in cyber space.

2. Ratify the United Nations Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, signed by Ireland in 2000.

3. Ratify the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, signed by Ireland in 2007.

ENDS

Notes for editors: The Independent Group (Taoiseach’s Nominees) are Senators Jillian van Turnhout, Martin McAleese, Fiach MacConghail, Mary Ann O’Brien, Marie Louise O’Donnell, and Katherine Zappone.

The motion can be viewed at: http://scr.bi/CAMIrl

Independent Senators call for government action on child abuse images

The Independent Group of Senators (Taoiseach’s Nominees) will table a Private Members’ Motion in the Seanad this evening, calling for the Government to take action to combat the easy availability of images of sexual abuse to internet users in Ireland.

The motion will call on the Minister for Justice and Equality to take action in line with the Directive adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of Europe in December 2011 ‘on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography’.

The State already takes steps to secure the removal of child abuse material held on servers within its jurisdiction. Legislation in line with the Directive would allow Ireland to block access to websites containing this illegal material where it is hosted outside our jurisdiction and where its removal is difficult or likely to take an unreasonable length of time.

The Independent Group motion will remind the House that images of child abuse are not just images: every child abuse image is a crime scene. Where images are disseminated, there is ongoing harm to victims, while the number of offenders continues to grow. One survivor of this kind of abuse said that “[T]hose who view the images of my abuse are no different from those who made them in the first place. It feels like they are in the room, encouraging my abuse.”

Senator van Turnhout, emphasising the importance of the motion said, “a child abuse image is a crime scene, a digital record of sexual abuse being perpetrated against a child. Statistics show that a staggering 69% of the victims depicted in child abuse images are between 0 and 10 years of age. The sheer depravity and calculation of the offenders is such that they are increasingly targeting children at pre-speaking age because they can’t articulate the abuse they are experiencing.”

Since the advent of widely available broadband, access to images of child abuse has become far simpler and more widespread. In 1995, Interpol was aware of 4,000 child abuse images in total. Recent data puts the number of known images at over 1,000,000.

While other countries – including the UK, Australia, and Sweden – already have systems in place for blocking access to sites containing child abuse material, there has been some resistance to the idea in Ireland. The Independent Group motion aims to encourage the Minister to legislate on this critical issue.

The motion will call on the Government to:

1.   Bring forward legislation to implement the EU Directive, to combat sexual abuse and the sexual exploitation of children and child abuse material in cyber space.

2.   Ratify the United Nations Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, signed by Ireland in 2000.

3.   Ratify the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, signed by Ireland in 2007.

 

Order of Business, 7 February 2012

7th February 2012

I would like to begin by wishing the very best to my colleague, Senator Eamonn Coghlan, with his endeavours in his new career with Fine Gael. I look forward to continuing to work with him and all my colleagues in this House.

It is a great shame that the Internet service providers of Ireland have chosen today – Safer Internet Day – to criticise the decision of their UK counterparts to require their customers to opt in before accessing adult material. The Internet service providers of Ireland are more than willing to block access to sites that infringe copyright, but they consider it to be nothing less than censorship to try to prevent a child from accessing potentially harmful material. They took a similar view when they were asked to block child abuse material. This is already being done in many European countries, including Norway, Sweden and Italy. The US National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children has estimated that 20% of all pornography on the Internet depicts the abuse and exploitation of children. However, Irish Internet providers are more concerned with preventing people from downloading songs and other things from the entertainment industry than with blocking terrible images of children being abused. I ask the Leader to invite the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources to the House to outline what Ireland is doing to join its EU counterparts in blocking child abuse material on the Internet.

Order of Business, 7 February 2012

I would like to begin by wishing the very best to my colleague, Senator Eamonn Coghlan, with his endeavours in his new career with Fine Gael. I look forward to continuing to work with him and all my colleagues in this House.

It is a great shame that the Internet service providers of Ireland have chosen today – Safer Internet Day – to criticise the decision of their UK counterparts to require their customers to opt in before accessing adult material. The Internet service providers of Ireland are more than willing to block access to sites that infringe copyright, but they consider it to be nothing less than censorship to try to prevent a child from accessing potentially harmful material. They took a similar view when they were asked to block child abuse material. This is already being done in many European countries, including Norway, Sweden and Italy. The US National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children has estimated that 20% of all pornography on the Internet depicts the abuse and exploitation of children. However, Irish Internet providers are more concerned with preventing people from downloading songs and other things from the entertainment industry than with blocking terrible images of children being abused. I ask the Leader to invite the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources to the House to outline what Ireland is doing to join its EU counterparts in blocking child abuse material on the Internet.

The Lancet

In July 2021, Jillian co-authored an article in the world-renowned medical journal “The Lancet”