UK gov seeks safer web for kids

Won't somebody think of the children?

Home Office minister Paul Goggins said today that he wants to make Britain the safest place for kids to be, online and offline, and announced a new campaign to promote online child safety.

Speaking at the Promoting Mobile and Internet Safety Conference, Goggins said that although technology offered many valuable services, it still carries many risks. He argued that organisations should work together to better understand the challenges that need to be addressed to make the internet a safer place for children.

He cited a paper produced by the Task Force on Child Protection on the Internet (TFCPI), Good practice models and guidance for the industry on chat services, instant messaging and web based services as a good example what could be achieved. The TFCPI was established in 2001 to deal with paedophiles' use of the net, specifically chatrooms, to "groom" their victims.

"Our experience indicates that Internet safety and consumer protection is best achieved in co-operation with the industry. We have to continue to work together and spread our common understanding, to ensure that Britain continues to lead the world in child safety."

Recent government research indicated children have a very good understanding of how the world works online: 94 per cent knew that it was possible to pretend to be someone else, and 89 per cent knew not to give out real-world contact details to stranger they meet in chatrooms.

Despite this, Goggins said, children do still put themselves at risk. He cautioned that as communications technology continues to evolve, so will the potential for its misuse. To deal with current, and future threats, the government will begin a new awareness campaign next month that will target children while they are actually online. ®

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