However, specific images were removed in only two of the cases — in both instances there was proof the person in the image was under 17 and the nature of the images constituted child pornography under the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act, 1998.
Hotline.ie, run by the Internet Service Providers Association of Ireland (ispai.ie), is legally hamstrung in that it can only ensure images which are illegal under Irish law are taken down if they are hosted in the Irish jurisdiction.
However, director Paul Durrant said it does liaise with authorities in other jurisdictions with a view to having images removed and this is what had happened in the case of the website relevant to this story.
The site is hosted in the Netherlands, and the Dutch also have a hotline, part of the INHOPE international hotline network to which Ireland belongs. When Hotline.ie notified the Dutch hotline, it was able to have the images that constituted child pornography taken down in less than 48 hours.
Mr Durrant said while the site content is governed by Dutch law, the hosting provider was not the website owner. He said the owner of the domain is protected by Whoisguard Inc, who have a PO Box, in Panama. “The owners/operators of this site could therefore be based anywhere in the world, we have no idea where,” he said.
Hotline.ie provides an anonymous service for members of the public to report suspected illegal content, particularly child sexual abuse material, accidentally encountered online, in a secure and confidential way. It works in collaboration with An Garda Síochána and is overseen by the Department of Justice.