A legal requirement for U.K. companies to report child sexual abuse content on their platforms to the National Crime Agency (NCA) has been announced as part of the British government’s Online Safety Bill.
The Bill, which was introduced in the House of Commons on March 17, outlines how the new system will replace the U.K.’s existing voluntary reporting regime with the NCA becoming the designated body for receiving and actioning reports from industry.
Reports from U.K. 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 U.K. 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 U.K. operational response will assist in ensuring robust law enforcement action can be taken to tackle increasing criminal activity online.”
The U.S. 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 U.K. policing. In the same year industry reports led to over 6,500 arrests and more than 8,700 children being safeguarded in the U.K.
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, U.K. 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.