Richard Huckle shared images with paedophiles worldwide through the dark web
John Bingham Telegraph
International paedophile rings are exploiting the growth of internet live streaming services to run on-demand child abuse screenings in a “horrifying” new tactic to avoid detection, the chief executive of the NSPCC has warned.
Peter Wanless called for global child abuse networks to be treated in a par with terrorists, employing similar tactics to those used to intercept online communications between jihadists.
He issued the call in an interview with The Daily Telegraph ahead of a conference on new threats to children.
In a speech to the event in London next week he is expected to single out the spread of live streaming abuse as one of the major threats worldwide.
NSPCC chief Peter Wanless
It follows the conviction earlier this month of Richard Huckle, dubbed Britain’s worst paedophile, who used the so-called "dark web" to abuse up to 200 Malaysian children, posing as a respectable Christian English teacher and philanthropist.
Two years ago, 54-year-old Peter Daly from Mersyside was jailed for paying Thai mothers to abuse their own children while he watched over Skype.
Mr Wanless said police and groups such as the Internet Watch Foundation had made “impressive” progress in combatting traditional child sexual abuse images by using technology to tag the pictures and take them down.
“This has shown that where there is a concerted focus and effort from all sides you can make a palpable impact on the visibility of those sorts of images,” he said.
“But live streaming is completely different, it doesn’t leave a record that you can tag and pull down in the same way.
“And that is scary.”
He said that while some recent cases showed that many of those paying to witness child sex abuse were in the Far East, there are believed to be both perpetrators and victims in the UK.
But because the live footage does not leave a digital trail in the same way, the true scale of the problem is still unclear.
“It is really difficult, we don’t know and that is part of our concern,” he said.
“We know about the static images increasingly, although even there the data is quite out of date and we have been working hard to try and establish a stronger picture.
“But there isn’t any authoritative factual or regularly updated information either about the scale of this sort of activity or how effective the UK and others are being at tackling this.
“I pay tribute to the police who have prosecuted a small number of cases [which have enabled] us to be able to understand that it exists at all.”
He argued that the only way to crack online streaming rings could be to employ similar tactics to those used to stop terror cells.
“There are live conversations taking pace in the internet plotting terrorist activities of one kind or another and it seems acceptable, appropriate and indeed an obligation, if you like, on the main digital payers to do something about this and intervene ahead of the bomb going off,” he said.
He cited recent reports in the wake of the Paris attacks, highlighting how Twitter, Facebook and Google all have procedures to alert the authorities about anything likely to indicate a terror threat.
But he added: “If you delete ‘terrorist’ and add ‘live sexual abuse of babies’ what are the policies or approaches to that?
“I can’t tell you what the answer is but I think it is interesting that we are increasingly coming to expect and require social media platforms to engage in a preventative fashion around combatting terrorism so how do we feel about applying that logic to the live sexual abuse of children?
“It seems to me that has got to be as a minimum a question worth asking.”
Excellent point Peter, I pray this idea gains considerable traction at the conference. You're my hero today, God bless you.
We should also be pressing to have courts treat perverts like Peter Daly as though they were physically sexually abusing the children themselves.