Nearly three-quarters of Britons would consider boycotting online brands which do not do enough to keep their services free of child sexual abuse images, a study by an internet watchdog has found.
The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), which runs an anonymous hotline for web-users to report criminal content they discover online, warned some companies in the UK still “bury their heads” when it comes to dealing with child sexual abuse imagery online.
Some 72% of respondents to a ComRes survey for the IWF said they would consider boycotting services or technology of a company not working with relevant authorities to ensure child sexual abuse content is removed.
And nearly eight out of 10, or 78%, said they would be more likely to buy products from an internet or technology company that takes down child abuse content.
Susie Hargreaves, IWF chief executive, said: “It’s clear that British people want online companies to do all they can to keep their services safe.
“The UK leads this work through the IWF and our Members.
“Since 2003 less than 1% of child sexual abuse imagery is hosted in the UK, compared to 18% in 1996.
“Some companies instantly recognise their responsibilities online.
“But I also know of companies – in the UK and elsewhere – which bury their heads. We’ll be doing all we can to help them do the right thing and work to eliminate online child sexual abuse. There is no excuse.”
Nine out of 10 respondents to the survey – or 92% – said companies should do what they can to stop their technology or products from being misused to promote child sexual abuse images, with 90% agreeing companies have a “moral duty”.
Digital economy minister Ed Vaizey said: ” This research shows the British public will not stand for a company failing to do their part in tackling child sexual abuse material online.
“The importance of the work the IWF does cannot be underestimated. Their success in driving child sexual abuse material away from being hosted in the UK is testament to the dedication and hard work of the IWF and the broader internet industry.”
ComRes interviewed 2,025 British adults online between the September 3 and September 4.