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Majority of adults back sanctions on tech firms to combat child abuse – survey

Jamie Harris, PA Science Technology Reporter
·1-min read

The vast majority of people support making tech giants legally responsible for preventing child abuse, according to a YouGov poll for the NSPCC.

Nine in 10 respondents (90%) back introducing tougher legal requirements on tech firms to detect crimes such as grooming on their platforms.

Prosecuting senior managers of social media companies if they consistently fail to protect children is favoured by more than three-quarters of people polled (78%).

Of the 2,125 adults questioned, eight in 10 believe social media bosses should also face fines.

It comes as the Government prepares its Online Safety Bill, set to address the issue of online harms and introduce stricter regulation for the tech sector, which is expected before Parliament this year.

The child protection charity is calling for Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden to ensure new laws convincingly tackle online child abuse and put the onus on firms to prevent harm.

NSPCC chief executive Sir Peter Wanless said: “Today’s polling shows the clear public consensus for stronger legislation that hardwires child protection into how tech firms design their platforms.

“Mr Dowden will be judged on whether he takes decisions in the public interest and acts firmly on the side of children with legislation ambitious enough to protect them from avoidable harm.

“For too long, children have been an afterthought for Big Tech but the Online Safety Bill can deliver a culture change by resetting industry standards and giving Ofcom the power to hold firms accountable for abuse failings.”