PM announces new measures to kerb abuse images

December 11th 2014

The Prime Minister has announced that a new offence of soliciting explicit photos from children on mobiles or online is to be created in England and Wales, closing a loophole that has until now enabled paedophiles to escape prosecution.

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Currently, it is unlawful for an adult to exchange explicit images by text or online with someone under 16, but they can still legally request sexual pictures. Prosecutors have had to provide that incitement to commit sexual activity has taken place. The new offence will make it illegal for anyone over 18 to talk about sex to a child under the age of 16 on a chat room, send sexually explicit text messages or invite sexual communication.

David Cameron told the Daily Mail that such sexual communication with a minor will carry up to two years' imprisonment.

The Prime Minister's comments came in advance of the 'We Protect Children Online' Downing Street summit later today, which will be attended by representatives from over 50 countries, 23 technology companies and nine non-governmental organisations.

Delegates will also hear that GCHQ and the National Crime Agency (NCA) will have new powers to target abusers sharing online content. This will enable them to track down people who are increasingly hiding behind the dark net and using sophisticated encryption to share child abuse images, and follows an NSPCC campaign.

The Serious Crime Bill currently going through Parliament will be introduced to introduce the new measures, which will also make it unlawful to possess material offering guidance on abusing children.

Mr Cameron said: "We have seen an increasing and alarming phenomenon of adults grooming children online, encouraging them to send images of themselves. There can be no grey areas here. If you ask a child to take their clothes off and send a picture, you are as guilty as if you did that in person." He continued: "Every time someone chooses to view an online image or a video of a child being abused, they are choosing to participate in a horrific crime. I want to build a better future for our children. The package I am announcing today is a watershed moment in reducing the volume of child abuse images online."

Further measures

Delegates at the Downing Street summit will also be told about new solutions developed by Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Twitter and other tech companies to track down offenders, including using digital fingerprints of thousands of known images identified by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) to block sharing.

Google has developed technology to identify and block known offending videos, which will be rolled out to the wider industry.

Google – along with Microsoft and Mozilla – are also looking to build restrictions into their browsers Chrome, Internet Explorer and Firefox to prevent access to offending websites.

By Get Safe Online

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