The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) will be taking submissions from Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and Google as they look at the rising numbers of online abuse and the growing problem of online exploitation.

The submissions will be made secretly in closed sessions of the inquiry in London. IICSA has said that the reason that the sessions will be held in private are so that the tech firms could answer questions about any documents that are covered by previous restriction orders.

Jacqueline Carey who is the Counsel to the inquiry, reported that the time that 12 to 15 years old were spending on the internet is continuing to rise. Ofcom reported that the average time spent by children of 12 to 15 years of age has risen from 20 hours and six minutes in 2016 to 20 and half hours in 2018. Figures also show that 83% of children from that age range have their own smartphone. Carey said that “law enforcement agencies believed there could be as many as 100,000 people in the UK involved in the downloading and sharing of indecent imagery.”

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) has found child sexual abuse content in more than 105,000 reports made to them. This is an increase of 32% from 2017. However, Peter Alcock, Counsel for the IWF, has told the inquiry that the number of images detected online with child sexual abuse content has fallen in the UK as a proportion of overall internet content from about 18% in 1996 to less than 1% by 2003 and has continued falling since then.

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