Govt child protection site 'linked to porn'

Home Office ad banned after ASA found it linked to porn sites
Home Office ad banned after ASA found it linked to porn sites

The Home Office has been forced to bin a radio advert for its new online protection centre after one listener accidentally found himself diverted to a porn site.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint against the ad for thinkuknow.co.uk, a guide to how children can avoid potential paedophiles online.

"We considered that a significant effect of the ad had been to indirectly publicise services which were unacceptable for broadcast - namely restricted adult material and other sexual services," it said in today's ruling.

The radio advert claimed: "What you say online isn't always what a paedophile hears. Giving out personal info could let a paedophile track you down. Be smart online, be safe offline. Visit thinkuknow.co.uk".


But one listener did not realise the text message spelling of 'you' was to be used, and instead visited the website "thinkyouknow.co.uk" - to find it contained links to websites the ASA says were "of an adult nature, including pornography websites".

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), which ran the Home Office campaign to help keep teenagers safe online, said it believed the target audience would understand that "u" was intended, rather than "you".

They also told the ASA that the pornography was at least four clicks away from the homepage of the misspelt website, and that any user would by that point realise it was not about child protection on the internet.

However, the ASA was not convinced, and ordered the Home Office not to broadcast the ad again and to consider the problems it had raised in the future.

"This was particularly concerning as the ad was aimed at teenagers and the service being promoted was to help them stay safe online," the authority added.

The CEOP was launched in April this year to bring together law enforcement agencies and businesses to tackle online child abuse.

Yesterday, it launched a new initiative with Microsoft to create a new icon on the live messaging service, MSN Messenger, to allow young people to report suspected sex offenders to the police.

"By working together in a very clear and tangible way we can safeguard children from online sexual predators," said chief executive Jim Gamble.

"Behind the 'report abuse' button will sit police and intelligence officers who have been specially trained to tackle child sex abuse."

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