In Brussels, at the European Parliament, I have long supported campaigns that seek to protect our children online. It is important for me that we recognise our responsibility to protect and legislate for those that we care so dearly for, both in reality and the digital abyss.
On a number of occasions, I have spoken for the Internet Watch Foundation, which fights endlessly to tackle online child sexual abuse imagery. As an Internet Watch Foundation champion, I have made this issue a priority of mine in my first term, and I have continued this into my second term. While I recognise that the European Union has made progress on tackling this issue, we must also understand that due to the nature of the crime it is not enough for different regions of the world to fight this crime in their own separate ways.
The nature of these images is truly horrific and it is important that we do all we can to protect children from being exploited in this way. This is a cross-party issue and I have been fortunate enough to have worked with a number of different members from different political backgrounds within the European Parliament.
The production, possession and distribution of such images is universally considered to be a criminal act, yet the response in tackling the problem is not global in reach. The fight against online child sexual abuse content is now an essential part of EU child protection initiatives, which is of course welcomed, but the cross-border nature of the crime shows that we must work towards international cooperation on this issue. That is why I push hard for the EU to do more to tackle this issue globally; only through collaboration can this be addressed.
In 2017, I will start work on the Culture and Education opinion to the report looking at combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography and will ensure that The European Union keeps this firmly on the agenda.
For more information on this campaign, please visit here: https://www.iwf.org.uk/