Block childrens access to Pornography and MindGeek's ability to profit from taboo content

Block childrens access to Pornography and MindGeek's ability to profit from taboo content

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Children of the Digital Age started this petition to Minister for Justice Helen McEntee

Over the last several years Ireland has witnessed a dramatic increase in sexual related offences, with one-fifth of all detected cases of sexual violence involving children as both victims and offenders, according to figures released from the Central Statistics Office for 2021. Four out of every five are female. These figures have increased dramatically over the last number of years.

The number of children and young women becoming victims of non-consensual image abuse, online sexual abuse and exploitation are also at levels never even imagined possible.

The recent publication by https://www.everyonesinvited.uk of a list of Irish schools identified by victims of sexual abuse makes for harrowing reading. Over 300 Irish schools are listed from virtually every county in Ireland.

Everyone’s Invited was created by Soma Sara in 2020. The site is a safe place for survivors to share their stories completely anonymously. The act of sharing their story with Everyone’s Invited allows many survivors a sense of relief, catharsis, empowerment, and gives them a feeling of community and hope. Their mission declares the intention to expose and eradicate rape culture with empathy, compassion, and understanding.

Many of the victims testimonials feature the issues we have highlighted above. Incidents that are becoming all to prevalent in Irish society. A steadily growing “Rape Culture”, we believe is being fed by early access to pornography, so it’s now time to collectively stand up and address this.

First, we seek that the Irish government immediately address children’s access to pornography by demanding porn providers such as MindGeek regulate access to their sites in Ireland through the use of age verification.

Several other European countries including Germany have already taken steps to protect children in this way. MindGeek are not voluntarily introducing this feature internationally. However, they are adopting the system in jurisdictions where government has called for Age-Verification to be introduced.

The technology to introduce age-verification exists, is available and currently in use in parts of the world through https://www.yoti.com, which affords third party digital identity and age verification. It would not be an enormous task to introduce this in Ireland. This is why we believe that age-verification should be included as part of the Online Harms legislation. Age-verification could also be utilised to ensure underage children are not accessing inappropriate content or platforms.

Our second call is also to the Irish government to hold MindGeek accountable in Ireland for the harm it has unleased internationally.

The porn giant has used 11 businesses in Ireland to process almost €3 billion through the state since 2012. Other countries have reacted strongly against MindGeek since the publication of a New York Times article “The Children of PornHub”, in December 2020, which accused PornHub of hosting illegal content, including child pornography and rape videos. The company profiteered from this content through advertising revenue raised on each one of what can only be best described as a crime scene.

Following publication of the article, both Visa and Mastercard acted quickly to suspend processing payments for Pornhub in December 2020. The company’s accountancy firm Grant Thornton also moved to distance itself from MindGeek in 2021 by severing ties, after managing MindGeek accounts in several jurisdictions including Ireland. Yet the entity continues to trade as normal here, passing enormous sums of money through the state through shelf companies.

MG Billing Limited is one of the Irish MindGeek entities registered at the Grant Thornton offices in Dublin, is responsible for the global subscription payments for their porn sites. Given the global backlash against MindGeek, it is incredible to think that the Irish government has not acted to address this. Especially given the level of harm caused both directly, and indirectly to women and children all over the world.

As a parent, I want to ensure that my children are safe and don’t have to grow up in a hypersexualised environment, driven by early access to pornography. This is why, I am asking others to stand with me and try to make a difference also on behalf of their children and all of the victims out there who are suffering from sexual related trauma. Please take a moment to support this cause.

While we continue to attempt to help address the harm caused with students in Ireland. But more needs to be done. Many parents will be astonished to see the school their children attend feature on the Everyone’s Invited Irish Schools and Colleges list. We would like to encourage each one of you to write to your own school, to both inform them that they feature on this list, as well as asking them to ensure they have appropriate mechanisms in place to ensure victims are listened to if they come forward.

We would also encourage you to write to the Department of Education as well and the Minister for Justice to demand an immediate response to address the harm that has been identified by the Irish victims who have listed their experiences on the Everyone’s Invited website.

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