People under 18 can now use an online tool to help them remove nude images or videos of themselves from the internet after thousands of pictures were posted online in the first three months of the year by under 18s.
Created by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) and Childline, the online tool aims to help children who have been groomed, or who have had partners who have posted images of them online.
The tool is a world first, according to the IWF, who will use it to screen images and try to remove them from the internet if they break the law.
People under the age of 18 can now use the report remove tool on the NSPCC’s Childline service’s website.
If the images or videos have already been shared online, users will be able to copy and past the URL for the charity to examine the images, which will be removed if they break the law.
If the content has yet to appear online, the charity will be able to create a digital fingerprint of the picture, which will be shared with tech companies and police around the world in a bid to prevent it from being shared.
It is hoped that under 18’s who are concerned that they might become victims will have their fears alleviated by preventing images from being uploaded in the first place.
Users will be able to report the images anonymously, provided they can verify their age and leave their details to access support from Childline.
Revenge porn: What is the law in the UK?
Revenge porn laws came into affect in the UK in 2015 as part of the Criminal Justice and Court Act.
The Act makes it a criminal offence for a person to: ‘disclose a private sexual photograph or film if the disclosure is made (a) without the consent of the individual who appears, and (b) with the intention of causing that individual distress’.
It means those who maliciously share sexually explicit images without the subject’s consent could face up to two years in prison.
The law covers the sharing of images both on and offline. Images posted to social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are covered by the offence, as are those that are shared via text message, email, on a website or via physical distribution.
The offence covers photographs or films which show people engaged in sexual activity or depicted in a sexual way or with their genitals exposed.
In some instances, police will investigate what has happened. It is their decision as to whether someone else needs to be informed.
Images that are public or available to anyone on the internet can be removed, but the IWF will not be able to remove images or videos on encrypted networks like WhatsApp, or those saved on a person’s phone or computer.
It comes after the IWF said it has noticed an increase in these types of images posted online which have been created by children themselves, who may send them while being groomed or under coercion.
According to the foundation, 38,000 self-generated images were reported in the first three months of this year alone, which is double the statistics of early 2020.
Head of the IWF, Susie Hargreaves, told the BBC that the tool ‘will give young people the power, and the confidence, to reclaim these images and make sure they do not fall into the wrong hands online’.
‘Once those images are out there, it can be an incredibly lonely place for victims, and it can seem hopeless,’ she said. ‘It can also be frightening, not knowing who may have access to these images.’
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