‘Teenagers unwittingly creating porn’

Teenagers have been warned over unwittingly creating pornography through the use of webcams which could be recording without their knowledge.

Paul Durrant, the general manager of internet watchdog Hotline.ie, said he had discussed a number of cases with gardaí this year in which teenagers have unknowingly created pornographic content which was recorded on a webcam.

Hotline.ie is funded by the Internet Service Providers Association of Ireland and provides an anonymous reporting service to the public who accidentally uncover illegal content on the internet and wish to report it.

Any internet service provider hosting the content can work with gardaí to remove and report the content.

Mr Durrant said the tip-offs and material can also relate to webcams and streaming technologies.

“We are trying as Hotline.ie to give a warning to children who post images of themselves,” he said.

“People have a view that a webcam image is transient and it is from a tracing point of view, but it can be recorded.”

He said there were many examples where young teenagers are on a webcam and could be encouraged by someone, even a boy or girlfriend, to remove their clothing and it could be recorded using software.

Mr Durrant said another issue involved adults posing as young people and tricking teenagers into compromising positions on webcams.

“I have worked with the Garda DVSAU [Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Unit] on self-generated illegal content that has gone up online,” he said.

“We are just saying ‘please be aware of this’.

“There have been a number of instances that gardaí are aware of older people pretending to be a younger person and tricking them into doing something on a webcam.”

Mr Durrant said gardaí had taken “a very reasonable view” of such content and were not seeking to prosecute the young person who unwittingly created the content.

The use of webcams and grooming sprang to global attention this week with a report by a non-governmental organisation in the Netherlands which saw a fictional 10-year-old Filipino girl propositioned by 1,000 men, including three from Ireland.

Mr Durrant said: “If people find a forum where this type of material is being hosted please report it to Hotline.ie because if we don’t know about it we can’t pass it on to the gardaí.”

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