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IT industry urged to fight online child abuse

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The IT industry must do more to prevent children being abused online, according to a manifesto published today by police and leading children's charities.

Among the list of measures designed to beef up policing of the net is a call for the government to investigate using tax incentives to encourage technology companies, computer manufacturers and retailers to help improve online child safety.

The review of internet policing backed by the Children's Charities Coalition for Internet Safety (CHIS) - which includes NCH, NSPCC, Barnardo's and ChildLine - also wants computer manufacturers and retailers to pre-install child protection software on all new machines sold in the UK. And it wants the industry to tackle a "number of pressing technical challenges such as the abuse of peer2peer software, the abuse of anonymity and the abuse of encryption".

The radical proposals come as those behind Child Safety Online - A Digital Manifesto claim that internet paedophiles are evading justice because police resources are spread too thinly. CHIS wants a new national policing unit set up and more resources to help internet crimes against children.

Stuart Hyde, spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) said: "Although we are very pleased with the cooperation we now have between industry, children' charities and the police, there is still much more to do. "Equipping the police service to provide the type of response now expected is a real challenge for us. When we consider the huge licence fees charged for 3G technology, for example, alongside the additional investment in police capability, there is a massive difference.

"We have called for additional investment in both technology and resources to address child protection online. The internet has created new challenges and new business for the police, we need new investment to address it and protect our children," he said.

While CHIS spokesman John Carr chipped in: "As the General Election approaches, the children's charities are demanding that policing of the internet is made a significantly bigger priority. Vital changes in the law must also be made to make cyberspace as safe as possible for our children." ®

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