The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) is currently conducting 10 days of hearings looking at institutional responses to child sexual abuse and exploitation facilitated by the internet.

William Chapman is representing three victims of online abuse at the Inquiry. The victims A1, A2 and A3 were all abused as young children following online grooming. A1 and A2 are brother and sister an were both abused by Anthony O’Connor who is serving a 14-year prison sentence for his offending. A3 was abused by Lawrence Glynn who was convicted of abusing her and jailed for two years.

Representatives from Facebook, Google, Apple, BT and Microsoft will all give evidence to the inquiry which will review national policies on preventing abuse facilitated by the internet and will consider the appropriateness of the response of the National Crime Agency, its CEOP Command, and the police.

The Inquiry will also investigate the policies of internet service providers, providers of online platforms, and other relevant software and communication technology companies relating to child sexual abuse, and consider the adequacy of the existing statutory and regulatory framework applicable to those organisations.

The objective of the investigation is to make practical recommendations that minimise the opportunities for abuse facilitated by the internet in the future.

Chapman told the opening day of the inquiry “the largest tech firms are failing” to prevent children at risk of sexual abuse.

“Is it really beyond the wealth and wit of these technology companies to prevent and detect child sexual abuse on their platforms?” he said.

“Or is there something incompatible with their commercial objectives… their culture and ideology… that makes them bridle at the necessary steps to curb this modern scourge?”

Legal counsel to the Inquiry told the inquiry that:

  • A UK police database contained more than 13 million indecent images of children
  • In 2018, the Internet Watch Foundation had received 105,000 reports of child sexual abuse

The inquiry continues and parts will be held behind closed doors to allow evidence to be heard in relation to matters covered by previous restrictions.

William Chapman is instructed by Switalskis Solicitors.

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