Minster for Justice and Equality welcomes Hotline.ie 2019 Annual Report
20 October 2020
The Minister for Justice and Equality, Helen McEntee TD, has welcomed the publication of the 2019 Annual Report of Hotline.ie, the national reporting service for potentially criminal content online.
“In 2019, Hotline.ie completed another year of its commendable and difficult work as a vital avenue for members of the public to securely, anonymously and confidentially report suspected illegal content online, particularly child sexual abuse material (CSAM).
“Overseen by the Department of Justice and Equality, and collaborating with An Garda Síochána, Hotline.ie has carried out this work for 21 years with diligence and professionalism.
“Recent years have seen considerable increases in the number of reports being received and actioned by Hotline.ie. As this report evidences, 2019 saw a 79% increase in such reports on the previous year. On the one hand, this reflects increasing public engagement with the service, but on the other hand, it potentially demonstrates a concerning increase in illegal online child sexual abuse material.
“As this Annual Report details, each of these anonymous reports from the public received by Hotline.ie can involve anything from a single image to thousands of images and videos. Every such image and video is a crime, and for each of these there is a victim, or victims, who have suffered abuse, and who are revictimised each time their abuse is viewed as it is disseminated across the globe.”
The Annual Report, which follows the publication of Hotline.ie’s updated Code of Practice, as announced by the Minister in July 2020, identifies CSAM hosted in 32 countries, including Ireland. 83% of CSAM reports showed children estimated to be between 4 and 10 years old.
Welcoming ongoing industry engagement, the Minister stressed that,
“Combatting illegal, harmful and predatory use of the internet requires the broadest multi-agency responses possible. Hotline.ie supports such a collaborative approach, serving as both a conduit between An Garda Síochána and industry members and as a knowledge hub for industry.”
Notes for Editors:
Prioritising online safety is a key element in building stronger and safer communities under the new Programme for Government, Our Shared Future.
Established in 1999, Hotline.ie works with national and international partners in law enforcement and industry to ensure that whilst child sexual abuse material is removed from the Internet, the children within images may also be identified and safeguarded. This work is essential to disrupting the cycle of Online Child Sexual Exploitation, preventing repeat-victimisation of survivors of child sexual abuse, and supporting law enforcement investigations.
Hotline.ie operates in conjunction with An Garda Síochána, and its operations and procedures are overseen by the Department of Justice.
Alongside this ‘Notice and Takedown’ referrals procedure, Hotline.ie also provides its members with expert advisory and assessment services for the operational handling and processing of harmful and potentially illegal content.
Hotline.ie is Ireland’s primary channel for members of the public to register anonymous and confidential reports regarding potentially criminal content online, especially child sexual abuse material. Hotline.ie is part of the INHOPE global network of 46 member hotlines leading the fight against Online Child Sexual Exploitation.
The shared services provided by Hotline.ie include:
- Processing and triaging of reports by members of the public of suspected illegal content online. Triaging involves the assessment of reported material by hotline.ie analysts, trained in line with international best-practice;
- Issuing ‘Notice and Takedown’ referrals (NTDs), and providing member companies with clear guidance on the status of content without member companies having to expose their staff to illegal content;
- Providing expert advisory and assessment services to member companies on best practices for the operational handling and processing of harmful and potentially illegal content, with an emphasis on protecting and maintaining the safety and wellbeing of member company employees coming in contact with such content.
- Supporting the exchange of expertise, knowledge, and best online safety practices across the community of member companies.
- Acting as an international and domestic focal point for member companies to collaborate on projects of common interest for a safer internet and greater child protection online
The Government Action Plan for Online Safety is available here.
Hotline.ie’s 2019 Annual Report is available on www.hotline.ie.