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UK to Tackle Child Sexual Exploitation Online

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Communities Secretary Sajid Javid MP

Home Secretary Sajid Javid says all technology companies must step up their efforts to tackle online child sexual exploitation ….reports Asian Lite News

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Home Secretary Saji Javid-with new Australian Prime Minister Scott-Morrison MP

Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced an extra £21.5 million investment in law enforcement over the next 18 months to reduce the volume of offending and pursue the most hardened and dangerous child abusers.

He was addressing a meeting at the headquarters of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC). The Home Secretary vowed to lead the cross-Government effort in the response to the evolving threat of online CSE, including funding for law enforcement, intelligence agencies and a new prevention drive.

The majority of the new funding will go to UK law enforcement and intelligence agencies to tackle the most tech-savvy and dedicated abusers.

The Home secretary revealed the scale of online child sexual exploitation (CSE). Reports show a 700% increase in child abuse image being referred to the National Crime Agency (NCA) in the last five years, up to 80,000 people in the UK presenting some kind of sexual threat to children online and material increasingly featuring younger and younger children.

In a speech at the headquarters of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) the Home Secretary vowed to lead the cross-Government effort in the response to the evolving threat of online CSE, including funding for law enforcement, intelligence agencies and a new prevention drive.

He called on the technology industry to work in partnership with each other and with government to stop online child sexual abuse, sharing solutions and best practice to improve the response.

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Atul Pathak, Mahendra Jadeja with Sajid Javed and Ragasudha Vinjamuri

“I’ve been impressed by the progress the likes of Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and Apple have made on counter-terrorism,” said Mr Javid. “Now I want to see the same level of commitment for child sexual exploitation. In recent years there has been some good work in this area. But the reality is that the threat has evolved quicker than industry’s response and industry has not kept up. And there are some companies that refuse to take it seriously.

“I am not just asking for change, I am demanding it. And the people are demanding it too. And if web giants do not take more measures to remove this type of content from their platforms, then I won’t be afraid to take action. How far we legislate will be informed by the action and attitude that industry takes.

 

The Centre of Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse estimates that 15% of girls and 5% of boys experience some form of sexual abuse before the age of 16 while NSPCC research shows some children are being groomed online and blackmailed to perform sexual acts in less than 45 minutes from initial contact.

To further support the response the Home Secretary also outlined measures to support law enforcement to track down offenders, build children’s resilience, prevent abuse occurring and support victims. These include: the Home Secretary will be convening a meeting of industry experts in the US, in partnership with Microsoft to challenge companies to work together to come up with tools to detect online child grooming which will then be offered for free to other companies £250,000 being made available to support new ideas on how to detect and disrupt live streaming of abuse concerted international co-operation at the next Five Country Ministerial – a major meeting of the Five Eyes security partners – which will be held in London in 2019, focusing on targeting online CSE

A new international network of Government advisers on serious and organised crime who will be stationed around the world and will help coordinate and drive action to tackle child sexual abuse in different regions. A working group will be established with business and the advertising industry to look at stopping profit being generated from adverts on child abuse websites.

Sajid Javed

The measures outlined by the Home Secretary builds on the government’s substantial investment since 2015 in UK law enforcement capabilities to tackle child sexual exploitation. This includes: Nearly doubling the number of officers in the National Crime Agency combatting CSE;  Investing £600,000 in Project Arachnid – a ground-breaking piece of technology that helps identify and remove Child Sexual Abuse material from the internet. It’s already crawled 1.3 billion web pages for suspected child sexual abuse material, analysed 51 billion images and issued more than 800,000 takedown notices;  Establishing the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse to thoroughly examine the extent to which institutions in England and Wales have done their job at protecting children.