image of a person typing on a phone

Public backs action to prevent child abuse in private messaging

New YouGov polling has found overwhelming public support for measures to protect children from abuse in private messaging, according to the NSPCC.

The survey of 1,723 adults across the UK found most believe there should be a legal duty on tech firms to identify child sexual abuse in private messaging and to disrupt it in end-to-end encrypted environments.

It comes ahead of the next stage of the Online Safety Bill which would give Ofcom powers to require platforms to use accredited technology to identify child sexual abuse in end-to-end encrypted messaging apps if a significant risk to children has been identified. The new polling shows this measure is backed by seven in ten (73%) of the UK public.

The polling also found:

  • Eight in ten (79%) think companies should seek to develop technology that allows them to identify child sexual abuse in end-to-end encrypted messaging apps
  • 60% of the public think it should be a legal requirement for tech companies to scan for child sexual abuse in private messaging services
  • Eight in ten (79%) think it should be a legal requirement on social media sites

Richard Collard, Head of Child Safety Online Policy at the NSPCC, said:

“This new polling shows the UK public overwhelmingly support measures to tackle child abuse in end-to-end encrypted environments.

Most tech companies already scan for child sexual abuse on their apps and messaging services leading to more than 1,000 children being protected from sexual abuse every month.

It is now clear that companies who wish to pit children’s fundamental right to safety against the privacy rights of adults are out of step with the public and, ultimately, their user base.

Tech firms can show industry leadership by working with regulators, child safety advocates and safety tech companies to invest in technology that protects both the safety and privacy rights of all users.”

Want to have your say? Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read more stories

Join nearly 3,000 other family practitioners - Check back daily for all the latest news, views, insights and best practice and sign up to our e-newsletter to receive our weekly round up every Thursday morning. 

You’ll receive the latest updates, analysis, and best practice straight to your inbox.