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Lead a global effort to close down online spaces for those who abuse children

Last updated: 12:43pm 25 November 2019

We will lead a global effort to close down online spaces for those who abuse children, incite violence or propagate hate speech.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.38

Our verdict

In its 2017 manifesto, the Conservative Party promised to strengthen Britain’s role in the world, from free trade to digital technology. This is a pledge to drive a global effort to close down online spaces for those who abuse children, incite violence or propagate hate speech.

In November 2018, Home Secretary Sajid Javid and Microsoft co-hosted a hackathon in the United States. At the event, a group of industry experts developed a prototype tool to automatically flag potential conversations taking place between child groomers and children. In the same week, the government announced a package of measures to tackle online child sexual exploitation (CSE), including new tools to improve the capabilities of the Child Abuse Image Database (CAID) used by the National Crime Agency and UK police forces to investigate images of CSE and abuse.

In April 2019, the government launched its Online Harms White Paper, proposing a programme to tackle content or activity that harms individual users, children in particular. The government is yet to respond to that consultation and take initial steps towards establishing a new regulatory framework and introducing new legislation.

In September 2019, the government announced a £30 million funding boost to equip law enforcement with cutting-edge technologies and capabilities to track down paedophiles operating online and safeguard children who have been abused.

In addition, the government reaffirmed its commitment to drive international action by announcing it will be co-hosting a global child sexual abuse summit – in partnership with the WeProtect Global Alliance and the African Union – in December in Ethiopia.

The government has begun work towards the first comprehensive framework for online harms in the world – with particular attention to children – while developing new technologies and participating in global events aimed at closing down abusive online spaces. However, the failure to respond to the white paper consultation before the end of its term of office means that this policy remains ‘in progress’.

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