The UK Government will require popular dating apps to show how they protect children, following an investigation by the Sunday Times.
In a report published last week, the newspaper found that apps, such as Tinder or Grindr, are putting children at risk of sexual exploitation.
A Freedom of Information request by the Sunday Times showed that police have investigated more than 30 cases of child rape since 2015, along with 60 additional cases, which included grooming, violent assaults and kidnapping.
Victims of abuse, the youngest of which was eight years old, were able to evade age checks on dating apps. According to the paper, one 13-year-old boy was raped or abused by at least 21 men after accessing Grindr.
Grindr and Tinder said they have strict measures in place to prevent minors from using the apps.
A spokesperson for Tinder said the company spends “millions of dollars annually” to prevent underage users from accessing the app.
In a statement to the Sunday Times, Grindr said: “Any account of sexual abuse or other illegal behaviour is troubling to us as well as a clear violation of our terms of service.
“Our team is constantly working to improve our digital and human screening tools to prevent and remove improper underage use of our app.”
Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright described the details in the report as “truly shocking” and said it provided “yet more evidence that online tech firms must do more to protect children.”
Wright said he intends to contact both dating apps to ask “what measures they have in place to keep children safe from harm, including verifying their age.”
Legislation requiring age verification technology on porn websites – due to come into effect in April 2019 – could be extended to dating apps following the investigation by the Sunday Times, Wright suggested.
The Government said these measures are being introduced to protect children. Web users in the UK will have to prove they are 18 and over to watch pornography online by providing email addresses or even credit card details to verify their age, which has raised concerns over privacy.