Chris Elmore, MP for Ogmore and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Media, is calling for the Government to enforce criminal penalties upon social media platforms that fail to protect children online.
On Tuesday, the UK Government outlined their proposals for this parliamentary session in the Queen’s Speech. This included the Online Safety Bill. Although the Bill will bring about some welcome changes, such as working to reduce and protect individuals from user-generated scams, it needs to go further to make the internet a safe place for all.
The UK Government states that the Online Safety Bill will introduce a new regulatory framework calling for companies to improve the safety of their users online; companies will be required to prevent illegal activity and remove ‘legal harmful content’. The Bill will also introduce powers to curb user-generated fraud. The UK Government intends to appoint Ofcom as an independent regulator to oversee and enforce this statutory duty of care, but the Bill will not introduce criminal penalties until a later date. Criminal liability powers will only be drafted as a dormant clause in the bill that can be activated by Parliament.
Chris Elmore, MP for Ogmore and Chair of the APPG on Social Media, said:
“ The Government has a duty to protect children and prevent them from being exposed to harmful content online. Although the bringing forward of this Bill is welcome, we must ensure the UK Government gets it right, so that we do not fail another generation of children .
“The APPG on Social Media has produced numerous reports on the need for regulation and reform. I would happily work with the UK Government to implement our proposed reforms.
“The Queen’s Speech was an opportunity for the UK Government to act and I believe there is still some way to go before this Bill will truly take the steps required to keep children and the most vulnerable safe online.