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Catholic agencies call on government to keep working to protect children from internet dangers

Maria Miller who resigned as Culture Secretary earlier today

Two Catholic agencies have welcomed government moves to increase protection of children from harmful and explicit online content.

Representatives from Google, Yahoo!, Twitter, Microsoft, and a number of internet service providers attended talks chaired by Culture Secretary Maria Miller at Downing Street on Tuesday.

The meeting considered the impact that pornographic, violent and other harmful online content has on children’s development, mental health, relationships and self-esteem.

After the meeting the Catholic Education Service and CSAN (Caritas Social Action Network) released a joint statement, which said: “As the Catholic agencies with responsibility for education and welfare we hope that both the Government and internet service providers will take steps to allow children to explore the online world without fear of accessing adult or inappropriate content.”

Significant numbers of children are still exposed to pornography, according to research by the Children’s Commissioner, despite efforts to increase online safety.

The agencies accepted that parents have a duty to educate their children about online safety. But they say it is important to provide parents with necessary support to help them in this role.

“We support Baroness Howe of Idlicote’s Online Safety Bill as a means of providing this protection,” they said. “The Bill proposes that Internet Service Providers and mobile phone operators provide an opt-in service for adult content and we hope the government will offer support to the Bill and its proposals.”

The Bill has completed second reading and is at Committee stage.