UK Government Announce New Rules to Online Harms Bill

The UK Government have announced today that there will be new rules introduced with how online tech firms are held accountable towards certain online content. Social media platforms and other firms will now have a duty of care to protect children from online harms and look to remove any illegal content that may be shared from users including 'child sexual abuse material', 'terrorist content' and 'suicide material'. There will also be more focus on protecting children from harmful content like bullying, grooming and pornography as well with fines given if action is not taken.

SWGfL, as part of the UKSIC have worked to bring online safety to the forefront of public attention whilst supporting and raising awareness of these issues for many years. Having created platforms such as Test Filtering which restricts illegal content on devices as well as hosting the helpline services Report Harmful Content, Revenge Porn Helpline and the Professionals Online Safety Helpline, which support those dealing with online harms, it is encouraging to see the Government taking action on a serious topic.

Our work with industry partners including social media platforms has led to more focus on tackling and restricting this type of content. Now, with more duty of care, it will hopefully limit the exposure and reach of illegal material so young people can remain safe whilst online.

As many of these services are funded by the EU as part of the UK Safer Internet Centre, it is crucial that funding can continue by the UK government to carry on the support in tackling online harms.

David Wright says:

We welcome the Governments Online Harms response, in particular the proposed legal duty of care which is something statutory agencies have had for some 15 years.  The confirmation that Ofcom will be the regulator is encouraging together with the powers that they will assume.  In line with others, for example statutory agencies, those in senior roles should be accountable for their actions if this fails to prevent harm to their users and this should extend to criminal proceedings.  Everyone should benefit from technology, free from harm

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