Opinion Former Article

IET: Online block to child abuse images not enough to solve problem

The move by internet search engines to make it harder to find child abuse images online do not go far enough to solve the problem.

Dr Martyn Thomas, Chair of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) IT Policy Panel, said: “Whilst these moves to make it harder to find child abuse images online are a step in the right direction, they do not go far enough. There are better and more effective ways to protect children.

“The measures will help to protect young children from accessing such material, but they will do little for the people sharing these images which is being done through private peer-to-peer networks.

“Every illegal image is a crime scene but law enforcement agencies do not have the resources to identify, locate and protect every victim, nor to identify, and charge every abuser. More resources must be provided. That is the top priority.

“Protecting children from online exploitation and abuse are best addressed by parents following the excellent advice provided by GetSafeOnline and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection agency CEOP, and teaching their children to do the same.

“Universal blocking of websites, search terms and content is a blunt and ineffective tool and can easily be circumvented. The serious offenders are already using encryption and other technical means to hide their activities, which blocking by ISPs will not affect.

“The internet was designed to withstand serious damage and it treats censorship as damage and provides routes around it. There is no quick technical fix that will protect victims – it needs education, responsible parenting and more resources for enforcing the laws that already exist.”

Ends

Notes to editors:

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§  For more information, visit www.theiet.org

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Media enquiries to:
Robert Beahan, External Communications Manager
T: +44 (0)1438 767336
M: +44 (0)7595 400912
E: rbeahan@theiet.org

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