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Child safety start-up SafeToNet raises £7m and seals deal with German government

Matthew Field
SafeToNet founder Richard Pursey - David Rose

A London start-up developing child safety technology has raised £7m from investors and sealed a deal with the German government to get its app onto the phones of thousands of children.

SafeToNet, which develops software that can limit what children access on their smartphone and prompt them if they are in a dangerous situation, raised the cash at a £50m valuation from angel investors and current investor West Hill Capital. It brings its total raised to around £20m.

The company said it is planning to launch a new version of its technology that gives parents peace of mind over what their children are doing online, without parents being accused of “snooping or spying”.

Chief executive Richard Pursey said the technology included an “intelligent keyboard” that could stop children from sending or engaging with harmful messages or bullying. 

“There is a chance of a kid doing something silly online,” he said. “They all make mistakes. But this is about helping your child avoid mistakes and feeding back to the parents about the risks.”

The start-up has now secured a deal with the German government, which has come down hard on online hate speech, to give thousands of school children free access to the app.

“We just wish the British government would do the same,” he said. “We are putting a lot of skin in the game in where we are spending our money on this technology. The one reason we exist is to keep children safe online.”

Germany has launched new laws, known as NetzDG, which force technology companies to quickly remove hate speech or face millions of euros in fines.

The UK launched an online harms white paper earlier this year which could see tech companies fined under new regulations, if it becomes law.