- Charities, law enforcement and technology companies brought together to discuss tackling online child sexual abuse
- Attendees heard from survivors and children’s charities on the devastating and lifelong impact child sexual abuse continues to have
- The Home Secretary and Technology Secretary call on social media companies to work with the Government to tackle this abuse
Charities, law enforcement and social media firms came together today to discuss the horrific effect of online child sexual exploitation and abuse (CSEA).
Child sex abusers have found new ways to target and gain access to young children, especially online, and the government has made it clear that putting in place the protections needed to identify and stop these abhorrent crimes is key priority.
The meeting, jointly chaired by the Home Secretary and Tech Secretary, was an opportunity for government, alongside key organisations including the NSPCC, the Internet Watch Foundation, Microsoft, Meta and TikTok to discuss the emerging trends, severity and prevalence of child sexual abuse online.
Together the Home Secretary and Tech Secretary called on social media platforms to demonstrate their commitment to tackling child sexual abuse on their sites and make sure there are no safe spaces online for abusers.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman said:
“We want to work with social media companies to keep children safe. They cannot turn a blind eye to the abhorrent abuse happening on their platforms which is why it is a government priority.
“Every day, young children are sexually abused online, groomed, and coerced by predatory offenders.
“It is my duty as Home Secretary to tackle this crisis head on.
“Social media companies must take responsibility. They must not allow their platforms to become a safe space for child sex abusers.
“Today’s roundtable is part of my ongoing work to impress upon social media companies that they should only roll out end-to-end encryption alongside robust safety measures.”
Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan said:
“For the past year I have been strengthening the child protection measures in the Online Safety Bill. We cannot allow twisted criminals to sneak below the radar and use social media for heinous crimes.
“Today, we made clear what’s at risk if we don’t act together, immediately and decisively, to stop child abusers in their tracks and we will continue to work with social media platforms to prioritise catching some of the most heinous criminals in our society. This is a top priority for the government and I.”
The two set out the collective responsibility to protect children from heinous crimes that take place online and urgent need to take coordinated action to make that happen.
Neil Berkett, Chair at the NSPCC, said:
“For far too long social media and messaging platforms have been a gateway for abusers to target children and at the NSPCC we know the devastating impact that this can have and the growing scale of the issue.
“A key priority of the Online Safety Bill is to tackle this problem head-on, compelling tech companies to make child safety an integral part of their design and business models. Part of this settlement must include protection for young users within end-to-end encrypted messaging services.
“It is now essential this ground breaking piece of legislation is finalised and signed into law as quickly as possible, giving Ofcom the powers to ensure our online landscape is a much safer place for this generation and future generations of children to explore and enjoy.”
The UK Government’s ground-breaking Online Safety Bill, which returns to the House this week, will make the UK the safest place in the world to be a child online. Provisions in the Bill take into account the significant risks posed to children in encrypted channels and the need for companies to innovate and develop new methods to prevent child sexual abuse. This is why the Government is calling on social media platforms to step up and play their part.
The UK Government is continuously working to protect children online. The Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Strategy sets out the Government’s long-term ambition to tackle all forms of child sexual abuse, whether it takes place online or in families, institutions or communities, here in this country or overseas. There has been investment across all areas of Government, including enhancing our capabilities to disrupt and bring offenders to justice, and we have set out our commitment to take further action in response to the Independent Inquiry on Child Sexual Abuse, including introducing mandatory reporting.