Today (October 29) on International Internet Day, the UK Safer Internet Centre (UK SIC) has announced that children in danger of online harm and abuse have been given an “essential lifeline” as new funding of £5.1m from Nominet will help protect against online abuse, sexual exploitation, and bullying.
The UK SIC needed to replace £1.3 million of funding which had previously been provided by the EU – a figure which amounted to 50 per cent of its funding.
Domain registry company Nominet has pledged £5.1m to help fund UK SIC for the next three years.
Eleanor Bradley, Interim CEO at Nominet says: “As part of our everyday responsibility to manage and keep secure the millions of .UK domains on our registry, we absolutely recognise the importance of UK SIC’s work and the benefit its services provide to children and adults to help keep them safe.
“The UK SIC plays a vital role in tackling online abuse, sexual exploitation, and bullying. I am incredibly proud that Nominet has been able to secure this life saving work for the next three years, in line with our unique role as a public benefit company.”
The UK SIC is a unique partnership of three world-leading charities (SWGfL, Childnet, and the Internet Watch Foundation) working together to deliver critical advice, resources and interventions to help keep everyone, especially children and young people, safe online.
Nominet has worked closely with the three organisations on a number of projects and initiatives addressing issues around internet safety and digital resilience. It funds the Childnet Digital Leaders+ programme, SWGfL’s Project Evolve and has a dedicated countering harm fund in place for the IWF.
Susie Hargreaves OBE, UK Safer Internet Centre Director and Chief Executive of the IWF, said: “The UK Safer Internet Centre provides world-class digital skills to children, parents and teachers to guide and protect them from harm, and provides vital services to identify and remove criminal and harmful content on the internet.
“This generous funding from Nominet is a vital boost, and an essential lifeline for children at a time when we know they are at an elevated risk of online harm and abuse.”
David Wright, Director UK Safer Internet Centre at SWGfL, said: “Everyone should benefit from technology, free from harm. This support from Nominet will enable the UK Safer Internet Centre to build on the impact it has had over the past decade.
“We provide resources, tools and services as well as our much-in-demand Helplines which support people working with children, the public in reporting ‘lawful but awful’ online content and victims of the massively distressing ‘Revenge Porn’.
“There is much work to be done in the online safety space and we are thankful that Nominet has recognised the importance and value that we bring to addressing online harms.”
The call for greater online safety measures is supported by both current and former Government ministers.
An open letter supporting the Centre was sent to Government, signed by a cross-party group of 33 MPs and Peers including DCMS and Home Affairs Select Committee Chairs Julian Knight and Yvette Cooper as well as former Children’s Ministers Tim Loughton and Kevin Brennan.
The letter was also signed by Labour MP Chris Elmore, chairman of the APPG on Social Media.
Mr Elmore said: “I very much welcome the news that Nominet has agreed to fund the UK Safer Internet Centre for the next three years with £5 million of funding.
"The UK SIC is essential in making the internet a safer place, particularly with their work removing child sexual abuse images and videos. It is fantastic that there is now certainty for their funding so they can put more resources into tackling this abhorrent issue.”
In addition, there were interventions from the charity sector, including from Peter Wanless, CEO of the NSPCC, Nancy Kelly, CEO of Stonewall, and Tessy Ojo of the Diana Award, as well as from then Chief Constable Simon Bailey QPM, the National Policing Lead for Child Protection, calling for the funding to be continued.
Sir Peter Wanless, Chief Executive of the NSPCC, said: “The UK Safer Internet Centre plays a vital role in helping to create a better and safer environment for children to explore and enjoy the benefits of the online world.
“This much-needed funding will allow them to continue to offer crucial advice and support for children, parents and professionals at a time when young people face greater risks online.”