This week, working with the NSPCC I have tabled an Early Day Motion on tackling online harm to children, calling for a duty of care on social networks to keep children safe online.
This follows work done in my capacity as a member of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee into Online Harms and the Government publishing a White Paper on Online Harms back in April 2019.
The Government are yet to respond to a consultation on this, which ended back in July. Despite promises of legislation in subsequent Queen’s Speeches, we are yet to see any real movement from the Government on this pressing issue.
My tabling of this EDM coincides with the tabling of a Private Member’s Bill in the House of Lords. Lord McNally has tabled a Bill which paves the way for a full Online Harms Bill and instructs the regulator to prepare for new powers and legislation.
While the Government dither, we’re working to ensure the pressure is kept on them to deliver a robust regulator that will keep children safe online.
EDM: Tackling Online Harm to Children with a Duty of Care Regulator
That this House notes the publication of the Online Harms White Paper in April 2019 and subsequent assurances by the Government that they will introduce a robust regulator to safeguard children online; notes that over 45,000 people signed the NSPCC’s Wild West Web petition calling for statutory regulation so that social networks have a legal duty of care to protect every child from abuse online; and further notes the urgent need for Government action as data obtained by the NSPCC shows that over the last year, an average of 11 child sexual offences occurred each day over just three commonly-used social network platforms; notes that the Home Office estimates that 80,000 adults in the UK poses a sexual threat to children online; recognises that due to the pressing need for change and the time it would take to set up a new regulator that an interim regulator should be appointed to fill the regulatory gap while more long-term measures are being put in place; and calls on the Government to bring in legislation as promised to assign a duty of care regulator to keep children safe online as a matter of urgency, and, in the interim, to support Lord McNally’s Private Member’s Bill, introduced on 14 January into the House of Lords, which instructs Ofcom to start preparing for the new regime.