The Online Safety Bill has been passed in a major step for the wellbeing of children.
The government first promised regulation to protect children online back in 2018. Since then, the tragic death of 14-year-old Molly Russell in September last year has drawn even more attention to the need to regulate what children can see online.
Under the terms of the new Bill, social media platforms will have more responsibility for its user base, and will be expected to:
- prevent and quickly remove illegal content
- prevent children from accessing harmful and age-inappropriate content
- enforce age limits and age-checking measures
- ensure the risks and dangers posed to children on the largest social media platforms are more transparent
- provide parents and children with clear and accessible ways to report problems online when they do arise
Technology Secretary, Michelle Donelan said:
‘I am immensely proud of what we have achieved with this bill. Our common-sense approach will deliver a better future for British people, by making sure that what is illegal offline is illegal online. It puts protecting children first, enabling us to catch keyboard criminals and crack down on the heinous crimes they seek to commit.’
In August, the NSPCC published new research demonstrating the extent of online crime and abuse in the five years that parliament has been discussing the bill. Their statistics showed an 82% rise in grooming crimes, and a 66% rise in child abuse image crimes.
Sir Peter Wanless, Chief Executive of the NSPCC, said this is a ‘momentous day for children’.
‘Children can benefit greatly from life online. Tech companies can now seize the opportunity to embrace safety by design. The NSPCC is ready to help them listen to and understand the online experiences of their young users to help ensure every child feels safe and empowered online.’
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