Childnet welcome new Online Harm Measures, supporting a move to more transparency and accountability online.

Posted on 15 December 2020

The government response to the Online Harms White Paper consultation has been published today, this outlines the government’s plans to make the internet a safer place.

The government response to the Online Harms White Paper consultation sets out a new legal duty of care on online companies, giving them new responsibilities towards their users. Forthcoming  legislation will outline the harmful content and activity that will be covered by this, and the regulator will be Ofcom, who will outline in codes of practice how companies can fulfil their duty of care.

Larger online companies, such as Facebook and Tiktok, will need to be clear on what is allowable on their platform and enforce their own rules ‘transparently and consistently, and publish transparency reports on the actions they are taking to tackle online harms.  

All companies will need to take action to address illegal content and activity, and also have to assess ‘the likelihood of children accessing their services and if so, providing additional protections for them’.

Childnet’s response to the Government announcement.

Childnet and its partners in the UK Safer Internet Centre welcome this announcement from the Government and sees this as a positive move to make the internet a safer place for Childnet and young people.

We support this bill as a step in the right direction towards more transparency and consistency in terms and condition of services online.

Will Gardner OBE, CEO of Childnet International said: ‘At Childnet, keeping children and young people safe online must always be a top priority. We see the measures the Government are announcing around  Online Harms legislation as a significant step towards making the UK the safest place to be online. The introduction of the duty of care seems to be a sensible and proportionate approach in this area, and we are supportive of the intention behind it, and will work to support its practical application.
However, we also see that this duty of care needs to be matched by an equally significant step, to ensure users have the knowledge and skills to use these services safely, to be clear about what is acceptable and what is not acceptable on these services, to know what to do to report and seek support, and have clear understanding and expectations of these processes. We want to make sure that education is not an afterthought in this area, or in the area of online safety as a whole.’
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