The UK government has spoken about the need for adult-orientated dating services to do more to ensure their user base is made up of adults.
This is from a new green paper titled Internet Safety Strategy issued by the government that looks at ways to tackle things like online abuse, support for parents, children’s digital literacy and young people’s use of dating services.
The new proposals were issued today by Culture Secretary Karen Bradley in a 58-page report detailing the government’s position on various online issues.
With regards to online dating services, the government says there is a “role” for companies providing adult-oriented services, in particular those that monetise their users, to ensure their user base is over the age of consent.
It also says these companies must work to prevent solicitation and contact between adults and children.
The plan also talks about encouraging users to identify and flag problem users to review teams in order to prevent children putting themselves at risk.
In terms of action, the paper says: “We would like to work with companies offering adult-oriented dating services to review processes and procedures, and to develop new protective messaging to help their user community prevent young people being put at unnecessary risk, and to ensure they remain in line with the law.
“We will consider whether there is a role for companies to provide appropriate messaging, and to take a stronger role in terminating accounts belonging to young people.”
With regards to catfishing, the government said this was outside the remit of this particular report, and that it was the responsibility of the Home Office and law enforcement agencies.
It also said the issue was being addressed separately through the Joint Fraud Taskforce as well as the Serious Organised Crime and National Cyber Security Strategies.
Elsewhere, the report outlines a new code of practice to address cyberbullying, and a so-called “Troll Tax” that would require companies like Facebook and Twitter to actively tackle online harassment.
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Karen Bradley said: “The Internet has been an amazing force for good, but it has caused undeniable suffering and can be an especially harmful place for children and vulnerable people
“Behaviour that is unacceptable in real life is unacceptable on a computer screen. We need an approach to the Internet that protects everyone without restricting growth and innovation in the digital economy.
“Our ideas are ambitious – and rightly so. Collaboratively, government, industry, parents and communities can keep citizens safe online, but only by working together.”
Read the full report here.