Hotline Sees Spike in Child Porn Reports

Hotline Sees Spike in Child Porn Reports
Gretchen Gallen
IRELAND – Dublin-based Internet child pornography watchdog Hotline issued a warning this week that there has been a notable increase in the amount of suspected child porn cases reported via its anonymous online reporting system.

Hotline was founded in 1999 to provide a fast and efficient way for Internet users to file reports when they come across child porn on the Internet, similar to Los Angeles-based Adult Sites Against Child Pornography (ASACP). The service is funded and supported by the Internet Service Provider Association of Ireland that shares an interest with other ISPs in making sure that online services are not used to disseminate illegal content.

Hotline has found that reports of child porn sightings online have more than doubled between the years of 2001 and 2003, marking an increase of 123 percent.

Additionally, the watchdog group says that none of the sites reported had originated in Ireland, a particular point of pride for many Irish residents who view the battle against child porn as being a critical one.

"With any criminal endeavor, people keep one step ahead of the law," said Paul Durrant, general manager for Hotline.

Over the past two years, Hotline has received 1,792 reports, 70 percent of which were related to child pornography. Of that original number, only 213 turned out to be websites featuring strictly illegal sexual content. Those sites were then passed on to INHOPE, an organization supported by the European Union whose members provide Internet hotline services dealing with illegal content over the Internet.

Theories as to why there has been a rise in the amount of child porn reports vary from a change in search engine algorithms, to a stronger participation level from web users who want to see child porn eradicated from the web.

ASACP has seen a similar increase in suspected child porn websites and has been in close contact with other hotlines experiencing the same spike in numbers.

Executive Director Joan Irvine told XBiz that in March alone, ASACP received more than 5,000 reports, an increase of 1,000 from the previous month. From that number, 350 websites were reported to authorities, compared to 100 that were reported in the previous month.

"This is a very significant increase in the number of valid new suspect child pornography sites reported to authorities," said Irvine.

"This is the largest increase in new suspect child pornography companies and websites with new content that I have seen in over six years," said Tim Henning, the Site Reviewer for ASACP. "It is too early to say if this is a trend towards an even larger proliferation of child pornography on the Internet than was previously reported over the past several years or just a statistical blip. The next few months will give us a clearer picture as to what could turn out to be a frightening trend.”

ASACP will be attending a meeting of 25 other international hotlines (INHOPE.org) in Rome next week where Irvine will have an opportunity to discuss this concerning statistic among many other issues.