By law in the UK, there are processes in place to help protect people from harmful online content by providing independent appeals processes for reporting and removing content. These processes are now at risk due to proposed changes to the Online Safety Bill. The UK Safer Internet Centre is now running a campaign called ‘Don’t Steal My Right to Appeal’ to spread awareness around this issue, whilst the Online Safety Bill debates are taking place in the House of Lords.
Help us spread the word by sharing the following social media posts. Your support will help us ensure this key safeguard is included in the Online Safety Bill.
The UK Safer Internet Centre delivers a vital service called Report Harmful Content (operated by SWGfL), a national reporting centre to protect individuals from harmful content online. This service acts as an independent appeals process that provides individuals with a separate avenue to report and get harmful online content removed. This process allows people to feel they have somewhere else to go when content they have reported remains online. This protection provides essential support when someone is experiencing devastating online harm.
Through 2021-2022, Report Harmful Content removed 87% of content that had already been reported directly to an online platform with no action. Without an independent appeals process, harmful content could remain online, causing considerable distress to individuals. The proposed changes to the Online Safety Bill risk taking away this essential safeguard.
How Will This Affect Me?
If the proposed changes to the Online Safety Bill are implemented, it will be more difficult for users to get harmful content removed, and it will be harder to appeal decisions made by online platforms. This could leave individuals in the UK more exposed to harmful content online.
We believe that without this essential safeguard in place, the UK Government will not be able to achieve its aim of making the UK the safest place to be online. It is essential that individuals are given a more supportive process to appeal decisions about harmful online content, especially when it is causing significant harm. Therefore, we call on the UK Government to ensure that the Online Safety Bill includes the necessary safeguard to protect individuals from harmful online content.
David Wright (CEO of SWGfL and Director of the UK Safer Internet Centre) said:
‘‘The UK currently supports individuals with taking online concerns further through an independent appeals process. It is now time to ask, why is this process not being included within the Online Safety Bill? Thousands of people will report concerns direct to online platforms, and from what we have seen through our own services, a large portion of content will remain online. Through 2021 – 2022, we removed 87% of harmful content that had been reported and not been taken down.
We need to give people better support; we can’t just rely on a single reporting process that is solely controlled by the platform; it is just not enough. This safeguard needs to be included within the Online Safety Bill to ensure that the UK is definitely working towards being the safest place to be online.’'
Kathryn Tremlett (Report Harmful Content Manager at SWGfL) said:
"Independent appeals continue to protect individuals against a multitude of harm in all areas of life, so it is deeply worrying to see it disregarded online without consideration for what damaging implications this will ultimately bring.
This giant step backwards plants considerable doubt and concern for the future whilst highlighting alarming gaps within the current Online Safety Bill. We hope the obligation for platforms in scope to provide independent appeals will be strengthened with immediate effect. The Bill should first and foremost prioritise the safety of individuals - and currently, it does not.”
Ensure that you don’t lose your right to appeal - show your support by helping us spread the word about the campaign.