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The IT industry should do more to protect kids online, according to campaigners, who believe that tech companies should spend dosh to create a global child protection organisation and use their expertise to regulate chat rooms and block the transmission of offensive images.

Tighter regulation and increased education make up just part of a rack of proposals following the launch of the global "make-IT-safe" campaign. Thailand-based child-rights group ECPAT International and the UK's Children's Charities Coalition on Internet Safety (CHIS) reckon that while the IT industry has done stacks to crack down on online fraud and spam, it has failed to invest the same amount of time and resource in combating child abuse.

ECPAT International executive director Carmen Madrinan said it's time for the IT industry to acknowledge that it shares the same responsibility for protecting children as all other members of the global community.

"Parents, teachers, children's groups and governments all have their part to play. But only the IT industry can deliver the technological and financial resources to ensure the safety of children and young people online and in interactive technologies.

"It's time for concerned IT companies to take the lead and ensure effective, global standards to make IT safe for all children and young people," said Madrinan.

Another ECPAT spokesperson, Sangeet Shirodkar chipped in: "Young people and children in need or in distress often look to the Internet to find affection and support from unknown people. A number of children are getting attracted to these chat rooms and later land up being exploited. IT industries should regulate the chat rooms and the transmission of harmful pictures and video should be banned."

No one from the UK's internet trade group - ISPA - was available for comment at the time of writing. However, in a statement it said: "The UK Internet industry continues to run an effective, self-regulatory 'notice and takedown' procedure. This means that when an ISP is made aware of illegal material by organisations such as the Internet Watch Foundation or law enforcement agencies, they remove it." ®

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