Monday, 17 February 2020

Campaign Reply – Will you be a trailblazer and protect children from abuse online?

Thank you to those constituents who have contacted me regarding the NSPCC’s Wild West Web campaign to support new legislation to make children safer online.
The safety of children, both online and offline, is a government priority and the Online Harms Bill announced in the Queen’s Speech underscores this commitment. I am confident the government will bring forward this bill as soon as possible. The initial government response to the Online Harms White Paper was published yesterday (12th February 2020) and the full response is expected in the spring. The government is continuing to work with a wide range of stakeholders across the industry and civil society to ensure progress is made on online safety now highlighting the seriousness with which the government is taking this issue.
Where there is a risk to the safety of children, the government is working with law enforcement and other relevant bodies to produce interim codes of practice. This will provide guidance on how to tackle specific content and activity of great concern, such as Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (CSEA). The codes will be voluntary but are intended to bridge the gap until a regulator becomes operational, given the seriousness of these harms. I understand these interim codes of practice will be published in the coming months, however the government expects companies to take action immediately to tackle harmful content and activity on their service.
With the rise in internet use opening the door for new ways for children to potentially be abused and exploited, it is essential we get this right. I have every confidence that the government will take this issue seriously and look forward to the full response to the White Paper and reading more detail of the bill when available. I will continue to follow this closely as I am extremely committed to protecting children from all harm, online and offline.