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Taskforce will stop millions of the most severe child sexual abuse images and videos being shared online

Source:IWF Internet Watch Foundation published on this site Friday 18 June 2021 by Jill Powell

A specialised new team will take ‘digital fingerprints’ of millions of images so companies and organisations around the world can spot them and have them removed.

A “vital” new taskforce will assess and grade millions of the most severe images and videos of child rape and sexual torture as analysts see record numbers of reports of illegal content. 

The new team has been set up by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), the UK-based charity working internationally to identify and remove images and videos of child sexual abuse from the internet. 

The analysts in this team will view, hash (create a digital fingerprint), and classify two million Category A and B images from the UK Government’s Child Abuse Image Database (CAID). 

They will then distribute the hashes globally to tech companies, allowing them to be blocked or removed should anyone attempt to share them anywhere in the world.

Category A images involve penetrative sexual activity and sexual activity with an animal or sadism, while Category B images involve non-penetrative sexual activity.

The IWF is the only non-law enforcement body with access to CAID. The work will boost the UK’s contribution to global efforts to stop the distribution of child sexual abuse images on the internet and help to keep the internet a safer place for all.

Hashing an image or video is a process which produces a unique code like a “digital fingerprint” so that it can be recognised and dealt with quickly by the IWF or its partners in the future. 

The work will enable tech companies to take swift action to prevent the spread of this abusive material, giving peace of mind to victims who often live with the knowledge footage of their abuse could be being shared by criminals around the world. 

IT companies wound up in pop-up software scams

Source: The Insolvency Service published on this site Thursday 17 June 2021 by Jill Powell

 

Msinfosys Support Ltd and MS Global Support Ltd were wound up in the public interest in the High Court on 9 March before Judge Barton. The Official Receiver has been appointed liquidator of the companies.The court heard that the two IT companies generated unsolicited pop-up error messages and when people phoned-up to check what was wrong, some were led to believe there was a fault with their computers.

The victims were led to believe they were dealing with well-known software companies and some paid money to fix their computers. But neither Msinfosys Support or MS Global Support were authorised to act on behalf of the larger software companies.

The Insolvency Service started confidential investigations into Msinfosys Support and MS Global Support after complaints were received from customers.

Investigators found that the director, Vikram Singh, had no real control of either company and work was outsourced to a company in India called Underpin Services Private Limited.

Vikram Singh admitted both companies were Underpin’s businesses and allowed Underpin to trade in the UK, the High Court was told.

The records of the companies were kept and maintained by Underpin in India and were not available for inspection in the UK, a breach of the Companies Act 2006.

Judge Burton commented on Vikram Singh’s response, his lack of knowledge and the lack of relevant records showed the companies’ accounts ‘ran in a chaotic manner’.

 Msinfosys Support Ltd and MS Global Support Ltd did not defend the petitions at the hearing and Insolvency and Companies Court Judge Burton stated consumers had been ‘misled’ by the companies and that it was appropriate the companies were wound up to protect the public.

Edna Okhiria, Chief Investigator at the Insolvency Service, said:

Msinfosys Support Ltd and MS Global Support Ltd deliberately used false pretences to deceive consumers, with many paying the companies on the belief they were dealing with well-known software companies or their authorised representatives.

In reality, both companies were controlled by an overseas company with the director recognising he had no knowledge of what the company informed consumers.

The court recognised the severity of this misconduct and both have been removed from the business environment to protect the public from further harm.

All public enquiries concerning the affairs of the companies should be made to: The Official Receiver, Public Interest Unit, 16th Floor, 1 Westfield Avenue, Stratford, London, E20 1HZ. Telephone: 0300 678 0015 Email: piu.or@insolvency.gov.uk

Statement from the CQC Chief Inspectors on developing the CQC’s monitoring approach

Source: Care Quality Commission (CQC) published on this site Tuesday 15 June 2021 by Jill Powell

“As we move forward from the last year, we’re making some changes to how we regulate.

In March 2020, we suspended our routine inspection programme in response to COVID-19 and developed our ability to monitor services using a mix of on-site and off-site methods. We’re further evolving our monitoring approach to ensure the public have assurance about the safety and quality of the care they receive, while still focusing on risk. We'll start piloting changes in how we monitor services from this week, before rolling these out to more services from July.

Over the last year, driven by a need to adapt to the pandemic, we made real progress in our ability to monitor services. The introduction of the emergency support framework gave us a structured way to have conversations with providers to help monitor risk and support them. We built on this with our transitional monitoring approach. The developments we’re announcing today carry on the progress in how we monitor services in three key areas by:

  • improving our ability to monitor risk to help us be more targeted in our regulatory activity
  • bringing information together in one place for inspection teams, presented in a way that supports inspectors with their decision making
  • testing elements of how we want to work in the future, including how we provide a more up-to-date view of risk for people who use services.

We want to build on our learning over the last year to make changes in our ability to monitor services. We’ll use the pilot to help improve the process further before rolling out to all services.

We’ll carry out regular reviews that will help support our ability to monitor risk. Where the information we have does not find evidence that tells us we need to re-assess the rating or quality at a service, we will publish a short statement on the profile page on our website for these services. This will inform the public and people who use services, that this review has taken place and that we had no concerns based on the information we held at that time. We will also communicate this with the provider by email prior to the public statement being published.

We currently plan to carry out this review each month. This will enable our teams to target their resources where they are most needed.

Marriage by under-18s to be outlawed, pledges government

Source: Family Law Week published on this site Wednesday 16 June 2021 by Jill Powell

The Guardian and other news media have reported that the government has pledged to raise the minimum legal age of marriage to 18 in England and Wales. At present, 16 and 17-year olds can marry if they have parental consent. In a letter to organisations campaigning against child marriage, Lord Wolfson, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice, wrote:

"The government supports raising the legal age for marriage in England and Wales to protect vulnerable children living here."[It is] committed to making sure children and young people are both protected and supported as they grow and develop in order to maximise their potential life chances. This includes having the opportunity to remain in education or training until they reach the age of 18."Child marriage and having children too early in life can deprive them of these important life chances."

The Times reports that Sajid Javid will introduce a private member's bill making it illegal for anyone under 18 to marry

Teacher who sexually abused two pupils is sent to prison

Source: Gloucestershire Live published on this site Monday 14 June 2021 by Jill Powell

Thomas Hancock nurtured friendly relationships with the complainants, aged 17 and 16, Bristol CrownCourt heard. 

But the trusted teacher revealed he had feelings for both before he groped one and sent the other lewd footage of himself. 

Hancock, 29, of Beyon Close in Cam, Gloucestershire, pleaded guilty to sexual assault and sexual assault (on multiple occasions), in a position of trust, on the 17-year-old. 

He pleaded guilty to causing or inciting a child to look at sexual activity, and causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, in a position of trust, on the 16-year-old. 

Judge Michael Cullum jailed him for 16 months. 

He told Hancock: "Both young women have been deeply affected and have altered the course of their lives.

"Teachers are supposed to do that in a positive way, not a negative way." 

The judge handed Hancock a 10-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order designed to stop him re-offending.

Stephen Dent, prosecuting via video link, said that at the time Hancock had taught at the school for six years. 

He had retained contact with the 17-year-old and became flirtatious with her, the court heard.