Online Safety Bill: Record amount of online child abuse blocked as legislation remains in limbo | Science and technology news


An unprecedented amount of child sex abuse content online is being blocked by tech companies while laws to tackle this material are undelivered, the government has warned.

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) list of blocked sites currently includes 24,649 web addresses with such images of young people, sometimes even babies – a record number.

The dynamic database is updated twice a day, confirming that each URL contains images and videos of abuse.

All 175+ members of the IMF – including tech giants such as Amazon, Apple, Google, Metaand Microsoft – can use the list to block access to these criminal websites.

Once blocked, the IWF works with these companies, hotlines, and law enforcement agencies to quickly remove the illegal content.

The increase in the number of objectionable pages indicates that material is being flagged but is not being removed quickly enough at the source.

It comes as that of the government Online Safety Lawthat would aim to crack down on such content remains in limbo nearly three years after it became part of the Conservative Party’s general election platform.

More on the Online Safety Act

“No excuse for the bill not going through”

The bill was due to return to Parliament earlier this month after being postponed from July but has been delayed again the recent Tory leadership crisisthe saw Rishi Sunak installed as prime minister.

Asked about the timeframe at Wednesday’s PMQs, Mr Sunak said the government was looking forward to presenting the bill to MPs “in due course”.

Susie Hargreaves OBE, chief executive of the IMF, told Sky News that the delays caused the UK to go from being “a world leader to a laggard”.

“We are crying out for enforcement of this regulation,” she said.

“It’s no longer good enough that it keeps being postponed. It’s important that it gets done this year.

“Children are at great risk and it is the government’s moral responsibility to deliver on what it has promised.”

“Tens of thousands” of online sex crimes against children

It comes just a week after NSPCC research estimated more than 13,000 online child sex offenses were registered over the summer.

Probably more than 100 grooming offenses and other such crimes are registered by the police every day while online safety laws remain out of sight. said the charity.

The delay is believed to be due to the bill’s vague definition of “online harm,” as critics suggest it would give the government too much power to dictate internet discourse.

Ms Hargreaves said: “I understand there are concerns about the legal but harmful content and privacy, but our concerns are with the children and the images they see.

“Everyone, whether industry or NGOs, we really want this regulation to come in and know where we are and put some of these measures in place.”

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has said it will return the legislation to Parliament “as soon as possible”.

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