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Internet: Children

Volume 470: debated on Thursday 24 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps the Government has taken to make the internet safer for child users. (179150)

[holding answer 15 January 2008]: The Government take internet safety extremely seriously, particularly in relation to children.

In September 2007, the Prime Minister announced a review into the risk to children of exposure to harmful or inappropriate content in video games and online. The review will also assess the effectiveness and adequacy of existing measures to help prevent children from being exposed to such material and help parents understand and manage the risks of access to inappropriate content.

Dr. Tanya Byron is conducting this review and will report to Ministers in March 2008.

Other activity in this area includes the following:

(a) The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), which operates an internet hotline for people to notify them of child abuse images online. Internet service providers are liable to prosecution if they do not remove sites notified to them by the IWF.

(b) The Home Office Task Force on Child Protection on the Internet, which was set up in 2001 and has published:

Good Practice Guidance for Search Providers and Advice to the Public on How to Search Safely.

Good Practice Models and Guidance for the Internet Industry on—Chat Services, Instant Messaging and Web Based Services.

Good Practice Guidance for the Providers of Social Networking and Other User Interactive Services.

(c) Cyberbullying guidance, which was launched in September 2007 by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, provides practical help and guidance for parents and pupils on how to deal with any cyberbullying incidents.

(d) The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) which was set up in 2006, combines its enforcement powers with the business sector, Government and other interested organisations all focused on tackling child sex abuse policy. CEOP had some notable successes last year in bringing prosecutions.

(e) The EU Safer Internet Plus Programme promotes a safer use of online technologies particularly by children, and supports those fighting illegal and harmful content ranging from child abuse images to racism. IWF and CEOP receive funding from this programme.

(f) Many internet service providers and mobile companies work in partnership with Government in providing parents and children with practical help and advice on their websites.