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Friday, 4 May, 2001, 00:53 GMT 01:53 UK
'Safe' net surfing for children
Children on computers PA
Parents worry about their children's internet access
An internet service to protect children from falling prey to paedophiles and accessing pornography online is being launched in the UK.

The firm behind the service says it can guarantee that it can prevent young people from logging on to inappropriate sites. The company V21 says there is a huge demand from families concerned about some of the material available on the internet.

It will say on Friday that it has adapted the browser Internet Explorer, making it impossible for users to enter unsuitable sites.

The launch comes amid fears that, increasingly, paedophiles meet their child victims via internet chat rooms.

'Completely safe environment'

There are already software programs available which help parents to monitor children's use of the internet. However, V21 claims its service will provide a completely safe environment.

Existing services may sometimes end up excluding innocent material and in turn this limits the usefulness of the internet. Latest figures suggest that more than 13 million people in Britain access the internet in their homes.

Growing concerns over internet paedophiles have led to the creation of a special taskforce.

The computer industry, police, charities and the government are reviewing net content rating systems and beginning to implement a "kite-marking" standard scheme for chatrooms with child-friendly services.

A report by the Internet Crime Forum in March highlighted the danger of chatrooms and warned that online criminal enticement of children, particularly girls, was growing.

Home Secretary Jack Straw will review the work of the taskforce later in the year.

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