Belfast Telegraph

Friday 28 November 2014

David Ford vows to include Ulster in porn laws

David Cameron
David Cameron

David Cameron has threatened to impose tough new laws on internet giants if they fail to blacklist key search terms for horrific images by October as part a crackdown on online porn.

But Stormont Justice Minister David Ford has vowed that Northern Ireland will not be left behind on internet porn legislation.

But the Northern Ireland-born former head of the organisation set up to combat online child abuse said paedophiles would laugh at the proposals.

The Prime Minister set out a raft of reforms to protect children from "poisonous" websites "corroding childhood", including introducing family-f riendly filters that automatically block pornography unless customers choose to opt-out.

Possessing violent pornography containing simulated rape will be made a crime in England and Wales and videos streamed online will be subject to the same restrictions as those in shops.

Mr Ford said: "The specific aspects of the proposals relating to internet regulation will include Northern Ireland as they are not devolved to our Assembly and will therefore benefit the UK as a whole," he said.

"However, in relation to expanding the criminal offence of possession of extreme pornographic material to include rape, I'm determined that Northern Ireland has the same levels of protection as England, Wales and Scotland and I will be considering how best to proceed in Northern Ireland."

In a speech at NSPCC HQ in London yesterday, the Prime Minister acknowledged the issue of extreme and child porn is "hard for our society to confront" and "difficult for politicians to talk about".

He added: "I feel profoundly as a politician, and as a father, that the time for action has come. This is, quite simply, about how we protect our children."

Experts from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop will be given enhanced powers to examine secretive file-sharing networks.

But former Ceop chairman, Northern Ireland ex-policeman Jim Gamble, who quit over its merger with the National Crime Agency, warned the Government was not doing enough to deter paedophiles online.

He said: "The balance is attack the root cause, invest with new money into child protection teams, victim support and policing on the ground."

He added: "Let's create a real deterrent, not a pop-up that paedophiles will laugh at."

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