Government funds new technology in fight against online child abuse

  • The development of new technology to help stop the spread of child sexual abuse material on end-to-end encrypted social media and online messaging platforms will be funded by the UK government.
  • It is anticipated that innovations in AI and other tech that can scan, detect and flag illegal child abuse imagery without breaking end-to-end encryption, will be boosted.
  • This comes after the UK hosted the G7 Summit which called for global collaboration on tech that makes the internet safer.
  • Five projects are the winners of the Safety Tech Challenge Fund and have been awarded £555,000 in total.
  • These projects focus on finding practical solutions to combating child sexual exploitation and abuse online, without impacting people’s rights to privacy and data protection.
  • This means there will be less illegal content like child sexual abuse and exploitation online and it will be removed quicker when it does appear.
  • The duty of care will still apply to companies that choose to use end-to-end encryption.
  • Full story, here.


Google and Apple among tech groups probed by ICO on endangering children

  • 40 tech companies including Google and Apple are being investigated by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the UK’s data protection regulator.
  • This follows an investigation alleging the companies were endangering children online and breaching the UK’s Children’s Code.
  • Social media, gaming and video/music streaming companies are being investigated to probe location tracking, personalising content and advertising, and behavioural nudges like automatically playing videos.
  • Google and Apple were not in the original batch of companies contacted in the audit launched by the ICO in August.
  • Information commissioner Elizabeth Denham has said that investigations are focused on information which ‘indicates potential poor compliance with privacy requirements’, with a risk of potential harm to children.
  • Breaches of the Age-Appropriate Design Code (or Children’s Code) carries penalties, including a fine of up to 4 per cent of company global turnover.
  • Full story, here.


Headteachers raise funding concerns over tackling bullying

  • Headteachers say they are not convinced that increases in government funding for schools since last year are enough to allow to tackle bullying.
  • The Department for Education (DfE) has announced £1.1 million in extra funding to support schools and colleges in tackling all forms of bullying.
  • Headteachers have criticised that the challenges faced by schools stem from the government’s failure to “sufficiently fund the education system” in the last 10 years.
  • The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) reports that this has made it difficult for schools to provide pastoral care to handle bullying.
  • The DfE reports that the latest funding boost will go into programmes that tackle bullying, including LGBTQ+, special educational needs disabilities, and hate-related bullying.
  • The DfE maintains than £3.5 million has already been provided to charities and organisations to prevent bullying.
  • Earlier this year funding was provided to prevent sexual bullying in schools amid ‘rape culture’ concerns.
  • Full story, here.


UK-Under 18’s with COVID-19 advised to wait 12 weeks for vaccine dose

  • UK officials have said children aged 12 and over who have had COVID-19 should not get a vaccine until 12 weeks after infection.
  • According to experts from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), waiting 12 weeks could help to reduce the “very, very small” risk of heart inflammation after vaccination.
  • Current cases of myocarditis after vaccination among under-18s are “relatively mild” with a suspected rate of nine per every million vaccinations.
  • It is estimated that around half of secondary school pupils have had COVID-19.
  • The advice for older people and for people at high risk from COVID-19, including those aged 12 and over, is to wait four weeks between infection and having a dose of vaccine.
  • UKHSA officials said this should be extended to 12 weeks in lower-risk children between 12 and 17.
  • From Thursday, vaccination workers will start doing verbal checks to assess whether children have had a confirmed natural infection in the last 12 weeks.
  • The UKHSA said children should only wait 12 weeks for vaccination if they have had a confirmed case.
  • Full story, here.