Prime Minister David Cameron has announced a global effort to reduce the impact of child abuse, partnering with 50 governments, 23 technology companies and various non-governmental organizations to help with the project.
Speaking at a London Summit ‘#WeProtect children online’, Mr. Cameron said there “’There can be no grey areas here. If you ask a child to take their clothes off and send a picture, you are as guilty as if you did that in person. So we are changing the law. Just as it is illegal to produce and possess images of child abuse, now we are making it illegal to solicit these images too.
‘This law will make it clear – this is a crime, and you will be prosecuted for it.”
A partnership between UK intelligence agency GCHQ and the NSA will look to stop online child abuse. The Conservatives will be pushing through a bill in Parliament that prosecutes online child abuse in the same way as physical child abuse, so anyone who views material relating to child abuse could be hit with the same sentence as those who actively profit from the material.
Intelligence agencies will target the “dark web”, where most child pornography is found. Google, Mozilla and other tech companies have been actively removing and reporting child abuse online. Mr. Cameron thanked the tech companies for “going above and beyond” to reduce the quantity and availability.
The new ruling will be enforced for any adult who sends explicit messages to children. The government wants all countries to support this act and work with the UK and U.S. to bring down organizations that actively profit from child pornography and abuse.
A new global protection fund would be set up, to protect victims of child abuse. The UK will pay £50 million to the fund, which is currently the largest donor from all countries backing the fund.
Critics claim the UK government is using the child abuse as a front for more surveillance activity. Mr. Cameron mentioned the new filters would be able to track terrorist activity on the Internet too, alongside other potential crime rings.
The GCHQ has been questioned over the past month by privacy advocate groups for tapping into broadband and mobile networks, but a British committee claimed the surveillance was not a human rights abuse.
Privacy International—a group focused on fighting Internet surveillance—will head to the European Court of Human Rights to prevent further surveillance activity by GCHQ.