The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) has announced vague plans to introduce new laws surrounding online safety, following the publication of the Internet Safety Strategy consultation results.

Following the Internet Safety Strategy report, the UK government has claimed that 'users feel powerless to address safety issues online and that technology companies operate without sufficient oversight or transparency.' To back that up, it cites six in 10 respondents as having witnessed 'inappropriate or harmful content online', while four in 10 had personally experienced online abuse and another four in 10 had reported concerns to social media companies but felt they were not taken seriously.

'Digital technology is overwhelmingly a force for good across the world and we must always champion innovation and change for the better. At the same time I have been clear that we have to address the Wild West elements of the Internet through legislation, in a way that supports innovation. We strongly support technology companies to start up and grow, and we want to work with them to keep our citizens safe,' claims Matt Hancock, DCMS Secretary of State, of the government's planned new laws. 'People increasingly live their lives through online platforms so it’s more important than ever that people are safe and parents can have confidence they can keep their children from harm. The measures we’re taking forward today will help make sure children are protected online and balance the need for safety with the great freedoms the internet brings just as we have to strike this balance offline.'

'Criminals are using the internet to further their exploitation and abuse of children, while terrorists are abusing these platforms to recruit people and incite atrocities. We need to protect our communities from these heinous crimes and vile propaganda and that is why this government has been taking the lead on this issue,' adds Home Secretary Sajid Javid. 'But more needs to be done and this is why we will continue to work with the companies and the public to do everything we can to stop the misuse of these platforms. Only by working together can we defeat those who seek to do us harm.'

To kick things off, the government has announced that the DCMS and Home Office will work on a joint white paper to be published later this year, setting out legislation to tackle 'a range of both legal and illegal harms, from cyberbullying to online child sexual exploitation'. Details of what form this legislation will take - and, indeed, why additional legislation against harms which are already illegal under current legislation is required - have not been disclosed. The government has also pledged to work closely with the industry, regulators, platforms, and advertising companies - the latter to ensure that laws to prevent children being exposed to unsuitable advertising offline are also properly applied to online advertising.

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October 14 2021 | 15:04