The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) urged internet companies to step-up efforts to combat posts featuring child abuse material by screening images and videos prior to publication.

In a report, IICSA acknowledged there were “significant efforts by internet companies to detect indecent images of children on their platforms and services”, but argued preventing access to such material was a necessary step in the fight against possession and distribution of such imagery.

IICSA also noted there was a rapid increase in cases of online child grooming, especially on social media platforms. Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat were found to be the most frequently cited apps in this regard.

Despite the fact most companies ban children aged under 13-years from accessing their platforms, the inquiry gathered evidence showing younger users were easily able to access the services.

It also stated internet companies “failed to demonstrate that they were fully aware of the scale of underage use” and lacked a plan to combat the problem.

IICSA highlighted encryption as a risk to detection and investigation of child sexual abuse online and suggested companies to do more than “simply deploying existing technologies”.

It also suggested the use of human moderators to monitor live streaming in order to combat child offending.