I worry about my children online, says Cameron in call to web firms to do more to help spy agencies to catch paedophiles
- Police currently have to prove suspects have received an illegal image
- But new law will allow police to pursue those who ‘fish’ for victims online
- Punishment will apply irrespective of outcome of paedophile’s behaviour
- The Serious Crime Bill will make offence punishable by two years in jail
- Revenge porn will also become a specific offence, PM confirmed today
David Cameron today spoke of his fears about his own children using the internet, as he unveiled new laws to tackle web pornography.
The Prime Minister said he did not want to ‘seem like a fuddy-duddy’ but technology meant there were new threats which children face today which did not exist when he was young.
At a summit with internet firms and experts in Whitehall, he announced a new criminal offence of sexual communication with a child is to be created, closing a staggering loophole in the law.
David Cameron said that a new law will allow police to pursue paedophiles who ‘fish’ for victims online
Paedophiles who currently solicit explicit pictures of children routinely escape punishment if it can’t be proved they have received an illegal image.
But the new law will allow police and prosecutors to pursue those who send text messages or ‘fish’ for victims online, irrespective of the outcome of their behaviour.
Mr Cameron announced that a Serious Crime Bill currently going through Parliament will introduce a broad new offence, punishable by two years in jail.
It will allow police and prosecutors to pursue those who ‘fish’ for child victims on social networks and chat rooms but cannot usually be punished unless they can be shown to have received an illegal image.
Mr Cameron said he was approaching the troubling issue of online child abuse, not just as Prime Minister but as a ‘dad’.
‘I have a 10-year-old, an eight-year-old and a four-year-old and I want them to grow up on safe streets but also grow up with safe internet too,’ he said.
‘Children growing up in our world today, there are lots of threats they face. The threats are evolving.
‘I’m 48, I don’t want to seem like a fuddy-duddy, but when I grew up, it was ‘Could you help Dad work the betamax video recorder?’
‘Now we have tablets, iPads, iPhones, DSs in the house … a whole set of new things we have to do make sure our children are safe.’
Mr Cameron said he and his wife Samantha had applied filters to computers and other devices in their home to keep the internet safe for their children.
The PM urged parents and children to talk to each other about the dangers of online child sexual exploitation but added: ‘That’s difficult for parents – we’re still learning a lot about the internet ourselves.’
Mr Cameron told the #WeProtect summit how he had taken steps to protect his three children from danger online
Mr Cameron (5th from right, front row) posed with international representatives at the summit at Lancaster House
It was announced that Britain’s spy agencies are to try to break up the so-called ‘dark web’ used by paedophiles to share sick child abuse images online.
GCHQ will also form a new specialist unit with the National Crime Agency to tackle the serial offenders who hide from justice by using encrypted internet networks
Other new measures include new technology being used to add a ‘digital fingerprint’ to child abuse images and videos identified by the authorities that will prevent them being copied and shared.
Revenge porn – the distribution of a private sexual image of someone without their consent and with the intention of causing them distress – will become a specific offence.
It will also become illegal to possess any item that contains advice or guidance about abusing children sexually.
‘We have seen an increasing and alarming phenomenon of adults grooming children online, encouraging them to send images of themselves over the internet or on mobile phones,’ Mr Cameron said.
‘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.
‘So we are changing the law. Just as it is illegal to produce and possess images of child abuse, now we are making it illegal to solicit these images too.
‘This law will make it clear – this is a crime, and you will be prosecuted for it.’
The new offence will include things like talking about sex to a child via a chat room or sending sexually explicit text messages to a child, as well as inviting a child to communicate sexually.
It is a victory for the NSPCC, which has run a long campaign which it called ‘Flaw in the Law’.
Legislation covering this areas predates the widespread use of the internet and particularly social networking sites. It also fails to recognise the nature of grooming, where an abuser aims to flatter the child rather than sending indecent or offensive communications.
Prosecutors have attempted to use other legislation, such as the Sexual Offences Act 2003, to pursue online paedophiles – but currently have to show they have incited some kind of sexual activity by a child, such as posing for naked pictures.
We have seen an increasing and alarming phenomenon of adults grooming children online
Prime Minister David Cameron
The new offence criminalises anyone 18 years of age who communicates with a child under 16 if the communication is sexual or intended to elicit from the child any sexual response.
Experts believe it will be valuable in targeting offenders at an early stage in offending against children, and could prevent such behaviour from escalating to more serious forms of criminality such as sexual grooming or actual child abuse.
The NSPCC’s research shows that there has been a 168 per cent increase in the number of children being counselled by ChildLine about online sexual abuse – averaging seven contacts a day to its helpline.
Peter Wanless, NSPCC chief executive, hailed the announcement as ‘a victory for our Flaw in the Law campaign but more importantly a major step forward in preventing online child abuse’.
He added: ‘The rise of online communication means that children are increasingly being exposed to sexual messages from adults, but in many cases the police have been powerless to act. The full force of the law can now be immediately brought to bear on anyone who grooms children for abuse online.’
The new offence will include things like talking about sex to a child via a chat room or sending sexually explicit text messages to a child, as well as inviting a child to communicate sexually
‘SAY NO TO ON-LINE PORN’: BATTLE TO CRACK DOWN ON MENACE
Today’s summit is the latest in a string of initiatives announced by the government since the Mail launched its ‘Say No to On-line Porn’ campaign in 2013.
JULY 2013: After a long-running Mail campaign, Government announces plan to block online pornography unless households ‘opt in’.
All 19million UK homes connected to the net are being contacted by service providers and told they must decide whether filters that block porn sites are switched on or off. The same month, pornography depicting rape is outlawed.
NOVEMBER 2013: Google and other net giants announce measures to block searches for around 100,000 terms relating to child sexual abuse.
Instead warnings appear from Google and charities at the top of search results, directing people to places they can get help.
Also last November, a UK-US taskforce is established to target paedophiles who use the internet to hide from the law.
DECEMBER 2014: Offence of sexual communication with a child is announced. Technology to stop child abuse images from being copied and shared to be introduced.
At today’s summit, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft and Twitter will unveil new solutions to block and remove illegal child abuse material online.
The digital fingerprints of thousands of known child sex abuse images identified by the Internet Watch Foundation will be used by tech companies to prevent them being shared on their services, so they can no longer be viewed.
Microsoft, Google and Mozilla have also committed to investigate the feasibility of implementing browser level blocking restrictions designed to prevent people getting access to known child abuse material via Internet Explorer, Chrome and Firefox.
Restrictions are currently only in place to prevent images and videos of child abuse material from appearing in search results. Google has seen a fivefold reduction in the number of searches for child abuse images since these changes were made earlier this year following a Daily Mail campaign.
The Prime Minister also announced commitments from more than 30 countries to increase law enforcement ability to track more paedophiles and help more victims.
They have agreed to set up their own national databases of child sex abuse material, enabling its removal from the internet, and to build better online reporting mechanisms like the Internet Watch Foundation.
Mr Cameron said today: ‘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. Every single view represents that victim being abused again. They may as well be in the room with them.
‘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. It marks significant progress in delivering a truly world-leading response to a global problem.
‘The so-called ‘dark-net’ is increasingly used by paedophiles to view sickening images. I want them to hear loud and clear, we are shining a light on the web’s darkest corners; if you are thinking of offending there will be nowhere for you to hide.’
It is estimated that the number of offences relating to indecent images of children reaching magistrates’ courts will be over 22,500 this year – the highest ever.
More than 1,000 alleged paedophiles have been arrested in Britain in the past 12 months, more than five times the 2012-13 figure of 192.
Conservative MP for Romsey Caroline Nokes said it was right to make it ‘always illegal for an adult to send a sexual message to a child’.
‘Given the alarming rise in online child abuse, it is very concerning that the current law is unable to adequately protect children,’ she said.
Labour’s Virendra Sharma also backed reform. ‘Existing laws are fragmented and sex offenders are able to, and often do, exploit the loopholes,’ he said.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2869284/Cameron-vows-end-loophole-lets-web-paedophiles-New-law-stops-perverts-asking-children-send-explicit-photos.html#ixzz3LccD6TeW
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