The disturbing figures will be revealed in the Hotline.ie annual report, to be published shortly.
Hotline.ie is the national reporting service for potentially criminal content online and the platform has an updated code of practice.
Hotline.ie removes reported child porn imagery from the internet, and also works to identify and safeguard the children pictured.
It operates in conjunction with An Garda Síochána, and its operations and procedures are overseen by the Department of Justice and Equality.
Alongside a ‘Notice and Takedown’ referrals procedure, Hotline.ie also provides its members with expert advisory and assessment services for the operational handling and processing of harmful and potentially illegal content.
Hotline.ie is Ireland’s primary channel for members of the public to register anonymous and confidential reports regarding potentially harmful content.
In the foreword to the updated code of practice, justice minister Helen McEntee says the platform supports collaboration between gardaí and industry partners and plays a vital child protection role in combatting the illegal, harmful and predatory use of the internet.
She describes online sexual abuse as a dreadful crime.
The updated code takes account of the rapidly evolving online environment, advancements in technology, new uses of technology and the internet, and new forms of online behaviour.
EUROPOL’s recent ‘Exploiting Isolation’ report noted a significant surge in the consumption and dissemination of child sexual abuse material online during the COVID-19 crisis.
Minister McEntee said: “2019 saw the largest number of child sexual abuse material reports classified and actioned by Hotline.ie since it was set up in 1999, and represents a year-on-year increase of 79% on 2018.
“I welcome the launch of the updated code, which seeks to offer further protections to the victims of the proliferation of heinous child sexual abuse material, and also to members of the public and employees who may be exposed to the harmful effects of this material online.
“The code’s enhanced focus on advisory and assessment services relies on increased collaboration across the entire industry”
The minister has written to industry to encourage companies to signup to this national service.
“Combatting illegal, harmful and predatory use of the internet requires the broadest multi-agency responses possible. Hotline.ie supports such a collaborative approach, serving as both a conduit between An Garda Síochána and industry members and as a knowledge hub for industry.”