UK fails to bar internet access to child porn: Jamie Doward, The Observer, Sunday July 20, 2008
Almost a million UK households could access websites known to host images of child sex abuse despite a government pledge made two years ago to stop access to paedophile sites.
Last night a coalition of leading children’s charities, including Barnardo’s, the NSPCC and National Children’s Homes, described the situation as ‘completely unacceptable’. They have written to the Home Office minister in charge of crime reduction, Vernon Coaker, urging him to take immediate steps to ensure all telecom companies offering internet access block customers from being able to see images that in some cases show children as young as a year old being sexually abused.
Around 5 per cent of consumer broadband connections can access the images because their internet service providers (ISPs) chose not to subscribe to a scheme introduced by the Internet Watch Foundation to bar known paedophile websites.
The list is available to all ISPs and companies such as BT and Vodafone have signed up to take it. Updated twice daily, it contains between 800 and 1,200 live child-abuse websites at any one time. But the revelation that some internet companies are refusing to sign up to the list undermines a key government pledge to tackle paedophile material on the internet.
In May 2006, Coaker said he hoped all internet companies would sign up to the scheme and that, if there was not 100 per cent take-up by the end of last year, the government would look to compel the industry to ‘face up to its responsibilities’.
In their letter to Coaker, the children’s charities said it was now time for the government ‘to draw a line under this issue’ by getting 100 per cent compliance from the industry.