Blair considers new paedophile laws

Grooming of children online could be made a criminal offence

Paedophiles who approach youngsters through Internet chatrooms could be prosecuted if new legislation, being considered by Tony Blair, becomes law.

Months of investigation by ZDNet UK News on Yahoo!'s running of chatrooms has been seen by Blair and Charles Clarke. The work reveals that children are being sexualised by paedophiles who are now using voice chat as well as text to lure children into meetings.

According to reports, Liberal Democrat Paul Burstow told Mr Blair that a 12-year-old in his constituency had been "groomed" by a paedophile while in an Internet chatroom.

The grooming process is designed to convince vulnerable children that sexual relations with adults is acceptable.

Burstow is reported as asking: "Will you take steps to review the law to ensure that such online grooming is a criminal offence and also use pressure, and bring it to bear on Internet service providers, so that they offer parents chat-free services so that all of our children can be protected?"

Blair is said to be considering the implications of new legislation "carefully".

In March, ZDNet will unveil authoritative research into online chatroom abuse by paedophiles in a Special Report

Are your children in danger on the Internet? Find out with the Web of Porn Special

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