A new internet watchdog has been launched to protect children from harmful web content.
The UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) brings together social networking sites and technology firms and aims to teach children about web dangers, target harmful net content and establish a code of conduct for sites featuring material uploaded by users.
The council, which will report to the prime minister, will have a membership of more than 100 organisations, including technology companies such as Microsoft and Google, websites such as Facebook and mobile phone companies such as O2.
The members will work together to create a child internet safety strategy to be published next year. It will also establish measures to protect children and young people, such as taking down illegal internet sites and promote responsible advertising to children online.
The move follows a government-commissioned report by psychologist Tanya Byron earlier this year, which called for the setting up of a child safety council, as part of a drive to protect children using the internet and digital technologies.
John Carr from UKCCIS, told the BBC website the council offered a last chance for the online world to police itself. He said: “There are continuing levels of anxiety amongst parents, teachers and so on, about kids getting access to material they really shouldn't be seeing on the internet. If the internet industry doesn't respond and do this - clean up its act on a voluntary basis – they're going to get legislation and compulsion.”
Prime Minister Gordon Brown claimed that the responsibility for protecting children from online danger lay with the whole of society. He said: “The challenge for us is to make sure young people can use the internet safely and do so with the minimum of restrictions but the maximum of opportunities.
“But just as we would not allow them to go out unsupervised in playgrounds or in youth clubs or in swimming pools, so we must put in place the measures we need to keep our children safe online.”
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, also at the launch, said: “We are determined to do all we can to ensure that the internet environment is safe for children to use.”