UK police finds child abuse material on VR headsets

New crime figures obtained by the UK’s National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) via a Freedom of Information request show that paedophiles use virtual reality (VR) headsets to view and store child abuse imagery. Eight offences involving headsets and VR were recorded by UK police forces. The NSPCC is warning that the growing use of VR headsets to explore the metaverse exposes children to new risks online. BBC reported that VR headsets were being used to sexually exploit children, while in 2022, it found that a Metaverse app allowed children to enter strip clubs

The CEO of an immersive technology company, Catherine Allen, has warned that virtual reality (VR) could become a haven for online offenders if it is not adequately regulated. At the same time, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) has called for a statutory child safety advocate to be created through the bill.

The UK government has proposed Online Safety Bill, which includes measures to protect children using virtual reality (VR) headsets and the Metaverse. The House of Lords is currently reviewing the bill. If passed, it would impose substantial fines on platforms that fail to safeguard children, with the possibility of senior managers facing criminal sanctions.