New UK watchdog to protect children on the Web

Mon Sep 29, 2008 6:17am EDT
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Children will be protected from suicide websites, bullying and pornography by a new Internet watchdog, the British government said on Monday.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said it will be the biggest coalition of public and private bodies set up to safeguard young people online.

It will teach them about possible dangers, target illegal sites that contain harmful content and establish a code of conduct for sites that allow people to post their own video clips or messages.

The UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) will also tackle violent games and promote responsible advertising online.

"We are determined to do all we can to ensure that the Internet environment is safe for children to use," Smith said in a statement ahead of the watchdog's launch in central London.

Reporting directly to Prime Minister Gordon Brown, its 100 members include BT, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Vodafone. A list of all the members is online:

Ministers have come under pressure to do more to tackle violent video games, bullying and sites that appear to glamorize suicide.

In March, a report for the government by psychologist Tanya Byron included a range of measures to protect children, including a call to set up a child safety council. Her review is online at

"The council will be a powerful union of some of our key players giving support to parents and guidance to children," she said.

Culture Secretary Andy Burnham said the watchdog would help ensure that "what is unacceptable offline should not be acceptable online."

(Reporting by Peter Griffiths; editing by Steve Addison and Paul Casciato)