Internet companies should be forced to filter the web in order to reduce the volume of indecent material being shared online, according to children's charities.
In a new "digital manifesto" published today, a leading group of charities including the NSPCC, the Children's Society and the National Children's Bureau argue that the government should legally compel ISPs to screen out images of child abuse and underage sex.
Compulsory filtering is just one of a number of recommendations made by the Children's Charities Coalition on Internet Safety (CCCIS), which believes that action must be taken now to prevent new technologies from being used to proliferate abusive images online.
"The problem of child abuse images is directly linked to the growth of the internet and new technologies," said Zoe Hilton, an NSPCC spokeswoman and co-author of the manifesto.
"A large number of people continue to seek out these images in any way possible. The UK government must be tenacious in its efforts to put in place measures to protect children online."
According to government figures, more than 1,400 people were either prosecuted or cautioned in relation to images of child abuse in 2007, a figure which the NSPCC says could be reduced by blocking such material at source.
The report suggests that ISPs should be forced to subscribe to a blacklist of websites compiled by the Internet Watch Foundation, an independent charity that has become Britain's de facto regulator of online content.
The IWF, which was founded in 1996, scans the web and responds to reports from members of the public to block sites containing objectionable content. While the group largely focuses on blocking images of child abuse and indecent pictures of anyone under 18 found anywhere on the internet, its blacklist also includes obscene or racially offensive material hosted in the UK.