Home Page | About Us | Press Enquiries| Reports | Policy Issues | News Items | Press Releases | Mailing Lists | Bookstore

[This version is provided by http://www.cyber-rights.org]

Making Britain the safest place for children to surf the net

Speaking in Northhampton today, Jack Straw, Labour's  (former) home secretary, unveiled a new package of measures to tackle use of the Internet by paedophiles. Details of the proposals are as follows:

Sunday May 20, 2001, The Observer, at http://politics.guardian.co.uk/Print/0,3858,4189352,00.html 

Making Britain the safest place for children to surf the net

Labour's manifesto Ambitions for Britain pledges that we will "take measures to tackle the problem of child pornography on the Internet". But our larger ambitions also go much wider than this.

We want to make Britain the safest country in the world for children to access the Internet.

A lot done

Labour in Government has already made an important start.

We have established a new Task Force on Child Protection on the Internet to bring Government, Internet Service Providers (such as AOL, BT, Yahoo and Microsoft), the police and children's charities together to develop a strategy for improving the protection of children using the Internet

We have provided 25m to set up a new police National Hi-Tech Crime Unit and fund up to 80 specialist investigators to tackle crime of all kinds on the Internet

We have passed the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act to give police and other law enforcement agencies the powers they need to intercept and decrypt communications between child pornographers

But there is a lot more to do as well. Today we announce a new package of measures, supported by children's charities and the industry, to provide extra protection to children using the Internet and give police new measures

A "Family Friendly" kitemark scheme

Millions of families are buying home computers each year and signing themselves on to the Net. There is a bewildering array of Internet Service Providers (ISP) to choose from, with widely differing approaches to child safety. Does the ISP, for example, provide easy access to parts of the Internet where illegal material such as child pornography might be found? Do they prominently display easy to understand safety messages? Do they provide software which will make it easy for parents to block unsuitable Chat Rooms and web sites?

Labour in Government will fund a new kitemark scheme, run by the children's charities, which will provide parents with clear and independent advice about what they can expect from different ISPs. The scheme will rate each ISP against a child safety checklist and then assign each one a star rating.

Child safety software and guidance pack to be distributed with all new family PCs

New computers sold for family use now all come with a huge variety of pre-installed software and guidance manuals. Some computer retailers already offer software which can enable parents to screen out automatically unsuitable web sites and chat rooms. We will be challenging every company selling PCs into the family market by the end of this year to preinstall such software, set to a high level of security, so that parents can be sure their children's machines are as safe as they can be for the Internet from the moment they turn them on. And we will be working with the industry and the children's charities to develop a guidance pack on safe Internet use which can be distributed with every computer sold.

New 'paedophile prevention orders' to protect children from paedophile approaches over the web

Our criminal laws already cover some paedophile activity over the internet. For example it is illegal to produce or distribute indecent images of children over the net, or to ask children to perform indecent acts over the net. But there is one key area which has not yet been addressed - the non-sexual approaches which paedophiles make to children over the net as a way of 'grooming' children for an eventual sexual assault. Such approaches often take the form of apparently 'harmless' e-mail messages and so are difficult to tackle using the criminal law.

But there is a new way forward. With the help of our Internet Child Protection Taskforce we will develop a new civil injunction style 'paedophile prevention order' to give the police new powers to tackle 'grooming behaviour'. The new order will draw on the approach that government has already successfully adopted in the Protection from Harassment Act and our new Anti-Social Behaviour Orders. Police will be able to apply for the order in relation to approaches over the internet which they think would give a reasonable person cause for concern (for example because they involve a person lying about their age or sex ) that any meeting being suggested would be intended for unlawful conduct - like indecent assault. The order would prevent the named person from making any further approach over the web. Breach of the order would be a criminal offence and would be treated as such. Breaches of existing anti-social or protection from harassment orders for example already carry penalties of up to five years imprisonment.

Guidance for schools on how to protect children when using the net

Earlier this year Carol Vorderman and government Learning and Technology Minister Michael Wills launched a revised Superhighway Safety guidance pack for schools on how to protect children whilst using the internet in school. Recommendations included whole class rather than individual internet e-mail addresses and advice on filtering software. Government has also supported GridClub (www.gridclub.com) which provides a wide range of activities and a safe learning environment for 7 to 11 year olds. We will make sure all this guidance is regularly updated and will ensure that schools and teachers are closely involved in protecting children from harm over the web.

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2001