View the letter in The Times here.


It is disappointing to see that the opportunity to improve child protection presented by the Online Safety Bill has been delayed, perhaps indefinitely (“Bill to regulate social media runs out of time”, Jul 14). The internet has never been more dangerous for children vulnerable to online sexual abuse — last year was the worst on record, according to the Internet Watch Foundation. This bill would have placed robust requirements on tech companies to minimise the risk of harm to children and improve detection of sexual abuse materials. Children in the UK are known to be abused live over the internet, paid for and directed by sex offenders, and this crime is going largely undetected. The lack of protection for children, coupled with the challenges in detecting this type of content, makes it far harder to hold perpetrators accountable. We can surely all agree that no child should be sexually exploited online, but without legislative action, the reality is that many more children will be.

David Westlake, CEO, International Justice Mission UK

Iain Drennan, Executive Director, WeProtect Global Alliance

Lynn Perry CEO, Barnardo’s

Patricia Durr, CEO, Every Child Protected Against Trafficking

Sir Peter Wanless, CEO, National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children

Susie Hargreaves, CEO, Internet Watch Foundation