Irish Communications Minister Voices Support for Porn Filters

Jul 26, 2013 10:30 AM PST

DUBLIN — Irish Minister of Communications Pat Rabbitte said he would be “quite happy” to consider establishing porn-blocking Internet filters after the issue was raised by Sen. Mary O’Brien.

“I would be quite happy to take up this point about examining whether the initiative announced by David Cameron has merit and can be made to work,” he said.

Rabbitte was referencing a speech given by Prime Minister David Cameron Monday calling for default “family friendly” filters on all online devices. He also vowed to make possession of “extreme” porn containing simulated rape illegal.

The proposals created worldwide controversy, including significant backlash from those opposed to online censorship.    

According to O’Brien, who Rabbitte says is the first Irish politician to push the issue in the Irish Senate, the adult material currently circulating on the Internet is “gross.”

"I never thought I would stand up in the Irish [Senate] and feel nostalgic for Hustler, Penthouse or Playboy but we must now admit that we must think of them as part of the good old days," O’Brien said.

Although Rabbitte is entertaining the initiative, he said that an ecommerce directive in Ireland prohibits compelling ISPs to filter content in the way that O’Brien proposed.

He also noted that the “extreme” porn referenced by Cameron, including simulated rape, is already illegal in Ireland in Scotland.

Despite the pitfalls, the Communications Minister underlined some of the proposal’s strengths: “Most experts will say that tech savvy young people will be savvy enough to access but [the initative] may well have the merits of young people not stumbling across the kind of material that no parent would want them to see.”

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