Number of children primed to send pictures of sexual abuse of themselves DOUBLE in first half of this year, charity says
- MPs have warned of ‘disgusting’ increase in so-called ‘self-generated’ abuse material
- Internet Watch Foundation reports a 117% increase in offensive images and videos
- Home Office urged to make it easier for kids to get images removed online
Children are increasingly cared for or forced by adults to sexually abuse themselves in front of the camera.
MPs have warned of a ‘disturbing’ increase in so-called ‘self-generated’ material about child sexual abuse, especially during the pandemic.
In the first six months of 2021, the Internet Watch Foundation recorded a 117 percent increase in offensive images and videos taken with webcams or smartphones.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Media said social media companies should not encrypt messages unless they can keep platforms free of illegal content.
And it says the Department of the Interior needs to review the legislation to make it easier for children to have their images taken down online.
Children are increasingly cared for or coerced by adults to sexually abuse themselves in front of the camera
APPG chairman Labor MP Chris Elmore said companies need to “get a handle on, with institutional redesign, including the introduction of a duty of care from companies to their young users”.
Susie Hargreaves, from the UK Safer Internet Centre, said: ‘The Report Remove tool we launched this year in conjunction with Childline enables young people to have illegal images of themselves removed.’
Self-generated content may include material filmed using webcams, often in the child’s own room, and then shared online.
In some cases, children are groomed, cheated or extorted into creating and sharing a sexual image or video of themselves.
The APPG report, Selfie Generation – What’s Behind The Rise of Self-Generated Indecent Images of Children?, says the trend “appears to have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 crisis.”
MPs say many witnesses have “expressed very real concerns” about the impact of encryption on child protection, saying it could “cripple” the ability of programs to detect illegal images.
They write: ‘The APPG finds it completely unacceptable for a company to encrypt a service that has many underage users.
“This would do so much damage to child protection services. We recommend that technology companies do not encrypt their services until a workable solution has been found that guarantees equivalence with the current arrangements for the detection of these images.’
Of the 10 recommendations, the report says it should be replaced with “first person produced images” to avoid accidental victim blaming.