To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to protect children from online grooming during the COVID-19 pandemic.
23 June 2020
The Government is committed to tackling online child sexual exploitation and abuse and recognises many parents may feel concerned about the activities and content their children are accessing during this period. Guidance (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-keeping-children-safe-online/coronavirus-covid-19-support-for-parents-and-carers-to-keep-children-safe-online) has been published for parents and children outlining resources to help keep children safe from different risks online, including online grooming, and where to go to receive support and advice.
The Minister of State for Security, James Brokenshire and the Minister for Safeguarding, Victoria Atkins engaged the Internet Watch Foundation on the threat during the pandemic. The Security Minister has written to industry partners on countering online child sexual exploitation and abuse during the pandemic. He also attended a roundtable hosted by the Internet Watch Foundation with industry partners to discuss what they are seeing at this time, as well as the safeguards and protective measures they are putting in place.
The Government is continuing to engage with technology companies around the Voluntary Principles to Counter Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, a framework of principles launched by the Five Country Ministerial partners in March. In collaboration with the Five Country governments, our partners in the technology industry have developed a new campaign to help keep children safe during COVID-19. This launched on 17 April, with parents and carers directed to online safety resources on GOV.UK, and children directed to Childline.
While some companies are working proactively to tackle illegal and harmful content and activity that occurs on their platforms, we know that more needs to be done. The Online Harms White paper sets out our plans to introduce world-leading legislation to tackle harmful content online and make the UK the safest place in the world to be online. This legislation will include a legal duty of care on online platforms, backed up by an independent regulator to hold them to account.