Amazon has come under fire from the NSPCC after a 12-year-old girl stumbled across explicit material on its website while searching for free e-books.
The girl’s mother, referred to only as Nicola, has complained to Trading Standards and The BBC her daughter typed “free Kindle books for teenagers” into the retailer’s search engine and discovered titles such as Being Bad and Bad Babysitter, which contained X-rated material.
Amazon said the titles were “temporarily miscategorised” but the girl’s mother complained the company was not helping to keep her daughter safe online.
She said: “I'm trying to protect my teenager in every way possible. I'm doing all the things that I ought to do and a company like Amazon is not only allowing her to access it but is actually offering it to her when she's not even looking for it.”
The NSPCC has also waded into the row, with a spokesperson saying Amazon should make parental guidelines clearer on its website.
A spokesperson said: "Amazon state that under 18s should not use the site without parental supervision. However, this should be made much clearer on sign-up so that parents can take steps to prevent children viewing or purchasing age-inappropriate content."
In a statement, Amazon said: "These titles were temporarily miscategorised by our systems and should not have appeared under these search terms. We're fixing the error and have contacted the customer to apologise."
The issue echoes a row which broke out in October 2013 when explicit e-books were found on WH Smith’s website. At the time, its e-book retail partner Kobo attributed the issue to “a select group of publishers and authors violating the self-publishing policies of our platform".