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Last Updated: Monday, 18 April, 2005, 02:28 GMT 03:28 UK
Safety urged for child web users
Hands on computer keyboard
Children are "large-scale" users of the internet
Children's organisations around the world are urging technology companies to make the internet safer.

The campaign calls on the computer and telecoms industries to protect children from pornography and possible abuse.

It wants to see minimum global standards, including the regulation of internet chat rooms and a ban on sending harmful pictures and videos.

The "Make IT safe" campaign involves charities from 67 countries, including a coalition of British organisations.

'Tragic instances'

Campaigners say the industry needs to protect children the same way it looks after other users of the internet.

They are asking for further research to make the internet safer, and for funding for a global education programme.

Of the millions of images of child abuse that Interpol reports to be circulating online...only 297 of the children abused to make these images have actually been located
Carmen Madrinan

British internet safety expert John Carr said children are being exposed to damaging materials online.

"We continue to read of tragic instances of children being abused by sexual predators where the internet played a key part in facilitating the initial contact that led to the abuse," he said.

Mr Carr said the industry had shown "great willingness" to join forces against problems such as spam, viruses and phishing.

But he said: "This has simply not happened in the field of child protection. This must change, and soon."

'Same responsibility'

The project was launched by End Child Pornography, a United Nations-supported group, and Child Prostitution and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Exploitation International (ECPAT), in Bangkok, Thailand.

ECPAT executive director Carmen Madrinan, said: "It's time for the IT industry to acknowledge that it shares the same responsibility for protecting children as all other members of the global community".

"Of the millions of images of child abuse that Interpol reports to be circulating online, for example, so far only 297 of the children abused to make these images have actually been located."

The campaign is backed by the UK-based Children's Charities Coalition on Internet Safety.

This group includes Barnardo's, Childline, the National Children's Bureau, the National Council of Voluntary Child Care Organisations, NCH, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and the Children's Society.

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