CARE: Christian Action, Research and Education

For what you believe
Open menu Close menu

New guidance urges tech companies to crack down on online child abuse

Online Safety
9 November 2023
Shutterstock 177132158 1

Ofcom has released the first guidance for tech platforms in light of the new Online Safety Bill.

The guidance, which is over 1,500 pages long, urges social media platforms to tackle illegal content – including online child abuse.

Tech companies are asked to fight online grooming by stamping down on the default nature of suggesting children as “friends” on social media platforms.

They must disable functions that allow children to share location information on their profile or posts and must prevent children from receiving messages from anyone not in their contacts list.

Recent figures from Ofcom have revealed that over one in ten 11–18-year-olds have been sent naked or semi-naked images online.

Ofcom will also require some platforms to adopt hash-matching in order to detect child sexual abuse material (CSAM).

This technology converts an image into numbers – called a “hash” – which will be compared to a database of numbers generated by known CSAM images. If a new image matches the database then it means a CSAM image has been found.

However, this hash-matching will not apply to encrypted messaging services.

Asked in a BBC interview if those powers would ever be used, Ofcom's chief executive Dame Melanie Dawes said, "it's hard to say right now, but there isn't a solution yet, a technology solution, that allows scanning to take place in encrypted environments without breaking the encryption."

But she encouraged encrypted messaging companies to find ways to combat child abuse on their platforms.

Receive news from CARE each week

By signing up stay in touch you agree to receive emails from CARE. You can change your mailing preferences at any time either by getting in touch with CARE, or through the links on any of our emails.

Recent news in Online Safety


Online Safety

For children and young people, access to harmful online content is only a click away. CARE is working towards a society where they are as well-protected online as they are offline.

Find out more about the cause