Children spend a significant amount of time online - averaging 23 hours a week on smartphones and other gadgets (CensusWide, 2019). So it's important that they are guarded from the darker side of the internet. And currently, the law needs to progress, to protect children online as they are offline.
Online Harms White Paper - Duty of Care Campaign
In the Queen’s Speech, her Majesty outlined how the UK government is set to be world pioneers in internet regulation.
“Britain is leading the world in developing a comprehensive regulatory regime to keep people safe online, protect children and other vulnerable users and ensure that there are no safe spaces for terrorists online.”
The new rules will tackle industry-wide problems; child sexual exploitation, harmful content, cyberbullying, extremism, misleading disinformation. This means that any tech firm, big or small, that allows the “sharing” of content or "interaction" between users will be subject to the duty of care and face harsh sanctions if they breach it.
What has been the response to the regulation?
The era of self-regulation is set to be over. Welcomed by pressure groups, who for years have been pushing for the tech giants to be accountable and follow a defined set of rules.
Rebecca Stimson, Facebook's head of UK policy, said in a statement: "New regulations are needed so that we have a standardised approach across platforms and private companies aren't making so many important decisions alone.”
But, critics have said the white paper rules would stifle free speech. Giving the government power to behind-the-scenes pressure to ban things they don't like.
The executive director of Open Rights Group, Jim Killock, said the government's proposals would "create state regulation of the speech of millions of British citizens".
Online Safety Plan
While the regulators do have a long way to go to get it right. The regulation is a responsible step in the right direction. But, in the meantime, children and young people need to know how to keep themselves safe online.
The plan is free to the first 100 schools and will include:
Click here to register before the 14th February.