Online Safety Bill must be strengthened to protect children, says NSPCC
The government must go further with its online safety bill to better tackle child grooming and child abuse, the NSPCC has said in a new report. The children’s charity made the call following new data which shows that reports of online child sexual abuse to the police have increased by more than a quarter (27%) since 2018, when ministers have promised for the first time to legislate against online harm.
In its Time To Act report, the NSPCC said it welcomed the “historic” online safety bill, which is now going through parliament, but listed three areas it said could be strengthened to better protect children. It calls for amendments to a crackdown on so-called ‘breadcrumbs’, where offenders use social media to form networks, advertise sexual interest in children and report child pornography content hosted on other sites.
The report also calls for private messaging to be more targeted by giving regulator Ofcom the power to compel companies to use technology that can identify child abuse and grooming in private messages. And he says more should be done to tackle cross-platform abuse, suggesting sites should be required to cooperate with each other by law in order to disrupt grooming.
“This landmark online safety bill can finally force tech companies to consistently protect children from preventable harm,” said NSPCC chief executive Sir Peter Wanless. “With record levels of online child abuse crimes and the public rightly demanding action, it is crucial that this legislation remains a key pillar of the child protection system for decades to come.
“Today’s NSPCC report outlines simple but targeted solutions for the bill to be improved to end preventable child sexual abuse and finally put an end to years of industry failure .”
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