I am extremely glad to hear that the Culture Secretary of State Maria Miller MP and leading members of the internet industry met at the beginning of the week to discuss the way forward on curbing online child abuse. This is a repulsive activity and every effort should be made to stamp it out. At the meeting, I understand there were also representatives of the UK’s major Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Virgin Media, Talk Talk, BSkyB and BT in addition to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre, plus Ed Vaizey MP, Damian Green MP, Ed Timpson MP and Claire Perry MP. It was agreed that going forward the IWF and CEOP would work together to identify online child abuse and ensure its prevention. In addition, £1M of funding was pledged by the four ISPs mentioned above to deal with the creation and distribution of child sex abuse material and a “zero-tolerance” pledge was signed against child sex abuse imagery. The need for “splash pages” which alert internet users if they are attempting to access a banned internet page was also highlighted.
The news of this week’s summit is extremely welcome – access to online child pornography has clearly been far too prevalent in the past and I am glad to see that the Government is taking positive steps to ensure its distribution is stopped. I understand that following on from the meeting, industry representatives are planning on reporting back to Maria Miller in the next month on how they feel their technology and knowledge can be used to best facilitate this new approach going forward. I look forward to hearing on what further steps will be taken in the future.