Newly-released research has shown a marked increase in revenue for internet safety firms over the last year.
According to the UK Safety Tech Sector: 2021 Analysis, commissioned by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the sector is one of the fastest-growing in UK tech, with a 40% profit increase in the past year reaching £314 million.
Internet safety firms have also increased employment across the country, data suggests, with a 30% increase in jobs equating to more than 500 new roles.
More than half (58%) of all safety tech jobs are based outside London, with high-performing hubs developing in cities including Leeds, Cambridge and Edinburgh. The sector has seen overall growth of 43%, with the number of safety tech companies surpassing 100.
Commenting on the new data, Digital Minister Caroline Dinenage said: “The stellar growth we’ve seen shows how the UK is at the forefront of using technology to solve problems around how online companies protect their users.
“Through our ground-breaking new laws, and with our safety tech sector going from strength to strength, we are paving the way for people to have a better relationship with the online world.”
Internet safety firms provide products and services to create “safer online experiences” for users, including products such as AI programmes that can block illegal content, identify underage users, disrupt the spread of harmful disinformation, and help moderators detect abuse.
Last year, ministers committed to developing the safety tech sector and recently published the draft Online Safety Bill to give firms a new legal duty of care to protect their users, particularly children, from harm.
Andy Burrows, NSPCC Head of Child Safety Online Policy said: “This growth in the safety tech sector is a great opportunity for the UK to build a position as one of the leading centres of expertise on online harms, and in turn, to keep children safe from abuse.
“Safety tech is so exciting because it delivers innovative new solutions to online harms. It’s a crucial part of supporting companies large and small to meet their upcoming requirements under the Duty of Care regulatory regime.”
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The sector’s growth reflects the “strength of the wider UK tech industry” where startups grew tenfold between 2010 and 2020.
Earlier this year, the government announced its Ten Tech priorities, which include a focus on keeping the UK safe online, fueling an era of startups and unleashing the transformational power of tech and AI.
Ian Stevenson, Chair of the Online Safety Technology Industry Association (OSTIA) and CEO of Cyan, added: “The report highlights that the UK Safety Tech sector is thriving.
“As the threat grows, innovators and determined tech creators are finding new ways to support organisations in their efforts to better protect children online, identify abuse and flag harmful content. The UK is already well ahead in the global safety tech sector.”