The UK's police forces desperately lack resources to combat illegal content on the Internet a government advisory body warned today.
Eurim, a body made up of members of parliament, industry representatives and special interest groups, set up a working party two months ago to examine illegal content. Its report, 'Internet Content Regulation', concluded that increased priority for funding and training of police forces to battle online crime was urgently needed.
?Nationally police forces are not sufficiently resourced to cope adequately with what is an international problem. It is like fighting twenty first century crime with nineteenth century facilities,? said David Harrington, director general of the Telecommunications Managers Association (TMA) and chairman of the report working party.
The report also found that existing regulations were inadequate to cover the new medium of the Internet.
?There is a need to clarify and refine our existing laws on illegal material. The application of such laws to the Net ... is not particularly clear ... but even when the law is clear, we must ensure that those whose job it is to uphold it, our police forces, are given the equipment and specialist training they need,? said Baroness Dean, Eurim council representative.
According to Harrington, the report accepted that ?harmful? content could not be entirely prevented at source from getting onto the Internet, so it encouraged technology to be developed to enable users to control content at the point of access.
An internationally accepted classification scheme for content was also required to inform end users about the nature of different Web sites and to allow flexibility on content that is illegal in some countries and not in others, said the report.
The Internet Watch Foundation, set up by Internet service providers last year, was seen as a possible way forward on this subject.
Once the scheme and technology were in place, said Harrington, the most important factor was to find a way to educate users about their existence and their use.
Eurim is a parliamentary-industry group that pushes IT issues onto the UK political agenda.
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