News Hub

UK Government faces criticism for child internet safety failures

Written by Thu 17 Nov 2022

A number of organisations representing the safety of children have criticised the UK Government for failing to protect young people from harmful material online, after concerns have grown that 2019 election promises from the Conservative Party will not be passed into legislation.

The Online Safety Bill has proven to be a controversial piece of legislation, with finding the balance between reducing online harm and protecting freedom of speech not being an easy agreement to strike.

The Bill, which has been in gestation since April 2019, aims to establish new rules that businesses, like Twitter and Facebook, need to follow around minimising the shareability and spread of harmful search results.

Advocates say that such legislation is needed to be implemented to deal with high amounts of illegal and harmful content online that is currently being shared relatively freely. The Molly Rose Foundation, founded after the 14-year-old child called Molly Russell who died by suicide after watching harmful material online, asked the Government to quickly pass the Bill and not eliminate elements within it.

Ian Drury, a Molly Rose Foundation Trustee told The Guardian: “Recent statistics indicate that four school-age children die every week by suicide, so it is imperative that action is taken and parliamentary measures are not diluted. Otherwise, how can this be regarded as anything other than a neglect of our collective duty towards these vulnerable, and currently unprotected young people.”

However, human rights organisations such as Article 19 call the Bill a “serious threat to human rights online” due to its extreme complexity. The organisation also asserts that protected speech will need to be censored due to the Bill and it is set to weaken encryption and make anonymity online more difficult. Online platforms like Instagram and Facebook will need to make changes if this Bill is passed, in order to comply with the new rules.

Written by Thu 17 Nov 2022

Send us a correction Send us a news tip