NSPCC CEO Peter Wanless' open letter to the Times
Sir, further to your investigation into social networks hosting images of child abuse (Apr 14), it is time for the government to take bold action to hold internet companies to account.
Online safety is one of the biggest issues for children and young people today and one that the government must tackle head-on. It is high time for online companies to come under robust scrutiny from an independent regulator with bite and to face fines when they fail to keep children safe.
A regulator must require social networks to display clear age ratings to reflect the kind of content displayed on their sites, in the same way that films are categorised by the British Board of Film Classification.
We already protect children from viewing inappropriate or violent content at the cinema and on television. Given that today's children spend their free time online, why do we not afford them the same protections in this sphere?
Social networks must be required to offer children accounts that are tailored to protect them. Default privacy settings, guards against 'groomers' and filtering of harmful content would go a long way towards keeping children safe. Whichever party wins the general election must commit to ensuring that Britain has the right tools to keep children as safe online as they are offline.
Chief executive, NSPCC