Home Secretary demands tech firms do more to fight online paedophiles
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Tens of thousands of youngsters are in danger of being groomed, exploited and blackmailed by sexual predators on the internet, warns Sajid Javid.
In a flagship speech today, Sajid Javid will disclose shocking figures of online sex offers and will demand tech and social media firms impose a zero-tolerance approach towards the disturbing content.
Mr Javid will threaten to enact new powers to allow police to intervene and shut down their systems if they continue to refuse.
He says at least 80,000 people in the UK pose a sexual threat to children online, including on social media.
Mr Javid is expected to say: “It was when I visited the National Crime Agency’s (NCA) Child Exploitation Online Protection Command that the full horror of the scale and evolving nature of child sexual abuse was really brought home to me.
“One officer I met, who had previously worked in counter-terrorism for over 20 years, told me how in all his years of working he’s never been so shocked by the scale of the threat or the determination of the offenders as he is in his current job.”
The NCA revealed the number of tips about online child abuse has soared by 700 per cent, from 10,384 in 2012 to 82,109 as of last year.
The department also warned that live-streaming of abuse is an increasing trend due to faster internet speeds, smartphone technology and the growing ease of money transfers across borders.
In the previous 12 months, separate figures have indicated the police have recorded an average of 23 child sex offences involving the internet every day.
National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for child protection Simon Bailey said: “The police response to tackling child abuse online has been robust, but there is a growing need to pursue offenders who pose the most harm to children and are using sophisticated technology to evade detection.
“Technology plays a significant part in all online investigations and there is an expectation that technology companies acknowledge their social responsibility in preventing and designing out this type of offending from their platforms.
“Only by working collaboratively with technology companies and law enforcement partners will we be able to minimise the risk posed to children online by predatory offenders.”
Last month, Solicitor General Robert Buckland said the use of the internet to download or share images of child abuse is as “insidious a crime as direct sexual assault”.
Javed Khan, chief executive of children’s charity Barnardo’s, said: “We welcome Sajid Javid’s commitment to ramp up the Government’s efforts to tackle online child sexual abuse.
“The Government must now deliver its promise to make the UK the safest place to be online by forcing online companies to ensure effective safeguards are in place to help better protect children.
“Any delay to acting now could put a generation of children in danger online.”
In July, education secretary Damian Hinds announced the dangers of social media will be taught to school children from the age of four.
Back in 2014, Google reported a man to the police after its automatic email scanning technology found sexually explicit images of children.