On 14th May 2015, Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald T.D., launched the ISPAI Hotline.ie Annual Report covering January to December 2014 – an Analysis of Online Illegal Content – during a press event hosted in Dublin at the Irish Architectural Archive.
Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald T.D. and Paul Durrant Chief Executive of ISPAI and Hotline.ie Manager at the launch of ISPAI Hotline.ie Annual Report covering January to December 2014
The event was attended by ISPAI Members, representatives of the Office for Internet Safety, An Garda Síochána, Webwise, ISPCC, NPC, CARI, Scouting Ireland, other child welfare organisations and last but not least members of the media.
“I also launched the Annual Report for 2013 and I note that you have been even busier in 2014 with a large increase in the number of reports received and processed. While it is unfortunate that there still remains a need for a service such as Hotline.ie, I am pleased to see that this efficient and timely service continues to carry out its work to the benefit of the people of Ireland” noted the Minister.
“(..) I note that some of the reports made to Hotline.ie cannot be properly followed through because there is not enough information available. This is a great pity. I would urge members of the public to ensure that they provide as much information as possible to the Hotline so that their concerns can be fully addressed. In case there is any apprehension that the reporting persons details will be traced I can assure the public that anonymity is guaranteed. The only interest that Hotline.ie and in turn the Gardaí have is to trace the source of illegal material and to remove it” said the Minister on the occasion.
During her keynote address she added “at the moment the Law Reform Commission is looking closely at the area of cyber-crime affecting personal safety, privacy and reputation including cyber-bullying and I look forward to receiving their report in due course.
In my own Department the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill is currently being drafted. This piece of legislation will update the law in this area and provide, among other matters, for the further protection of children and vulnerable persons against sexual exploitation and abuse and, in particular, protect children from unwarranted and unwanted advances. There will be, for the first time, provision specifically targeting the use of modern communication technologies as a tool in the sexual exploitation of children. The new legislation recognises that seemingly innocent contact through social media or messaging apps can be the initial steps in the sexual grooming of a child.”
Building on national efforts to improve the response to identified Online Child Sexual Abuse Material Hotline.ie was one of the 12 European Internet Hotlines to volunteer to be part of an EU funded Pilot Project known as BIK-NET IC-CAM.
The IC-CAM system was coordinated by INHOPE and developed in partnership with INTERPOL, so that it captures “hash values” of CSAM newly identified by Internet Hotlines. These “hashes” can then be added to the Interpol Child Exploitation Database to assist in law enforcement investigations around the world.
What’s new with IC-CAM?
For example, in 2014, an unprecedented number of confirmed Online Child Sexual Abuse Material (83) proved to be untraceable. The content was inserted into IC-CAM, captured, each image / video received an individual “hash” and subsequently input into INTERPOL’s database to assist investigations and victim / offender identification. In 2013 this would have not been possible and the content would have been lost.
Paul Durrant Chief Executive of ISPAI and Hotline.ie Manager highlighted that “(…) we are proud to have had the opportunity to be part of the IC-CAM Pilot. As an outcome of this Pilot, it is now possible to document Online Child Sexual Abuse Material (images and videos) distributed via .onion resources, which we believe enhances and brings added value to the work performed by Internet Hotlines around the world. We’re looking forward to put our expertise to work, once again, and help further develop and improve this useful tool.”
“Law Enforcement cannot tackle abuse of the Internet alone. Industry, civil society and Governments all have their part to play. The results which can be achieved through these collaborations can be seen through the work of Internet Hotlines which bring together Law Enforcement and Industry around the world to reduce the availability of Child (Sexual) Abuse Material.
Hotline.ie has been very active in this movement for many years and their relationship with An Garda Síochána is an example of how two organisations can complement each other in working towards a common goal.
Recognition of the value of cross-agency cooperation has been further demonstrated with the creation of the INHOPE / INTERPOL BIK-NET IC-CAM project. Although still in the pilot phase, the initial results are very promising with clear gains in victim identification work combined with the reduction of duplication of effort and enhanced communications supported by joint training.” Michael Moran – Assistant Director, Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation, INTERPOL
Furthermore, the International Association of Internet Hotlines (INHOPE) awarded ISPAI Hotline.ie Service with the INHOPE Quality Assurance Certificate, after being assessed by an independent expert and found to be in full compliance with the international standards and requirements set out in the INHOPE Quality Assurance Programme.
Paul Durrant, Chief Executive of ISPAI and Hotline.ie Manager, being handed the INHOPE Quality Assurance Certificate by Denton Howard, Training Manager at INHOPE
The digital version of ISPAI Hotline.ie Annual Report covering January to December 2014 is available online @ bit.ly/hotlinereport2015