NSPCC puts forward 6 tests for government to regulate social media

The NSPCC has laid out six tests the Government’s regulation of social media will be judged on if it is to achieve bold and lasting protections for children online. Listen to why, here:

The charity’s How the Wild West Web should be won report, released today, sets out how the upcoming Online Harms Bill must set the global standard in protecting children on the web.

With crucial decisions just days away, they are urging Government to ensure they level the playing field for children, and new laws finally force tech firms to tackle the avoidable harm caused by their sites.

The warning comes as new analysis of the latest ONS data shows the number of online sex crimes against children recorded by police in the South West reached the equivalent of seven a day between January and March this year, highlighting the sheer scale of web abuse.

Across England and Wales that figure stood at 101. The NSPCC expect this to have increased during lockdown, with Coronavirus resulting in significant online harms to children driven by a historic failure to make platforms safe, by not putting even the most basic child protections in place.

At the Hidden Harms summit earlier this year, the Prime Minister signalled his personal determination to legislate for ambitious regulation that successfully combats child abuse.

But the NSPCC is worried the landmark opportunity to change the landscape for children online could be missed if this isn’t translated by Government into law.

They have released their six tests ahead of a full consultation response to the White Paper, amid concerns Ministers are wavering in their ambitions for robust regulation.

Regulation must:

  1. Create an expansive, principles-based duty of care
  2. Comprehensively tackle online sexual abuse
  3. Put legal but harmful content on an equal footing with illegal material
  4. Have robust transparency and investigatory powers
  5. Hold industry to account with criminal and financial sanctions
  6. Give civil society a legal voice for children with user advocacy arrangements

The charity believes, if done correctly, regulation could set a British model that leads the world in child protection online.

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