A legal requirement for UK companies to report child sexual abuse content on their platforms to the National Crime Agency was announced as part of the Government’s Online Safety Bill.
The Bill, which was introduced in the House of Commons today (17 March), outlines how the new system will replace the UK’s existing voluntary reporting regime with the NCA becoming the designated body for receiving and actioning reports from industry.
Reports from UK companies to the NCA will need to meet a set of clear standards to ensure law enforcement receives the high quality information it needs to safeguard children and pursue offenders.
Rob Jones, a Director General at the NCA, said: “We welcome this new reporting system as it will improve the UK response to the threat, and compel industry to do more to combat child sexual abuse content on their platforms.
“Our extensive experience in leading the UK operational response will assist in ensuring robust law enforcement action can be taken to tackle increasing criminal activity online.”
The US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) has already demonstrated the importance of enabling reporting from industry. Last year the NCA disseminated over 20,000 industry reports to UK policing. In the same year industry reports led to over 6,500 arrests and more than 8,700 children being safeguarded in the UK.
The NCA is now working in partnership with the Home Office and Ofcom to prepare for the introduction of the new system.
In the meantime, UK companies should continue reporting all instances of child sexual abuse content on their platforms through the existing mechanisms – NCMEC’s CyberTips portal, or directly to their local police force.