Home Secretary calls on G7 to hold tech giants accountable for harmful content online

By Kieran Isgin

Priti Patel has urged G7 nations to back the UK's approach to holding tech giants accountable if harmful content continues to be posted on their platforms.

The Home Secretary has warned social media companies to make children’s safety a priority as much as they do their bottom line at a meeting of the G7 interior ministers.

It comes as a new Safety Tech Challenge Fund was launched in a bid to tackle child sexual abuse online.

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Up to £85,000 each is on the table for five organisations that can come up with innovative technologies that keep children safe when using end-to-end encrypted messaging services.

Internet safety and security was the focal point of the first day of meetings between the Home Secretary and G7 counterparts, which are due to continue until Thursday.

John Clark, president and chief executive of the National Centre for Missing & Exploited Children, welcomed the move, saying: “Last year we received more than 21 million reports relating to child sexual exploitation, and the numbers of reports this year are likely to be even higher.

“The Safety Tech Challenge will be crucial to enabling the tech industry, academic experts, non-profits, and government agencies to collaborate together on global solutions to keep children safer online without compromising consumer privacy.

“Time is of the essence to develop safety measures that can operate in encrypted environments to protect children, whose images are being circulated online.”

Andy Burrows, head of child safety online policy, also reacted, saying: “If poorly implemented, end-to-end encryption is one of the biggest threats to online child protection because it means millions of child abuse reports will be lost.

“That’s why this fund is a welcome move from the Government to encourage new technical solutions to mitigate the risks of end-to-end encryption and to continue to be able to detect and disrupt child abuse online.

“It also crucially reframes the debate away from seeing encryption as ‘all or nothing’ onto how to technically address the risks and ensure platforms can roll it out in a way that balances safety and privacy for all users.”

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