Written Answers - Telecommunications Regulation.

Tuesday, 24 February 2004

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 580 No. 5

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  174.  Mr. Deasy  Information on John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy   asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources  Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern   if he plans to introduce legislation or directives to ComReg to protect children from being sent pornographic images via texts on mobile phones. [5833/04]

  179.  Mr. Hayes  Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes   asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources  Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern   if he plans to tackle the growing problem of pornographic images being sent to children through mobile phone text systems; and the measures which can be taken. [5832/04]

  321.  Mr. Ring   Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring   asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources  Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern   the plans his Department has to make it compulsory for persons who purchase pre-paid mobile telephones to register the number in their name (details supplied). [5687/04]

Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources (Mr. D. Ahern): Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  I propose to take Questions Nos. 174, 179 and 321 together.

I understand the Deputies’ concern over the recent media reports of pornographic images being sent via mobile phones, however, legislation already exists to tackle this problem.

It is an offence under the Section 13 of the Post Office (Amendment) Act, 1951 as amended by the Postal and Telecommunications Services Act, 1983 to send by phone any message or other matter which is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character. It is also an offence under section 10 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act, 1997 to harass a person by use of a telephone.

Anyone who has information on these matters should bring it immediately to the attention of the Garda Síochána for criminal investigation. Such offences are not the responsibility of ComReg.

The registration of pre-paid mobile phones is a complex issue. The enforcement and practicalities of implementing such a register would be difficult given the already high level of mobile phone penetration, the high percentage of prepaid phones already in circulation, and the issues surrounding the capturing of and ensuring the accuracy of the required information.

My colleague, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform is responsible for policy on the protection of children from the transmission of pornographic images by phones and other media.


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