Government Announces New Rules To Tackle ‘Online Harms’

Government Announces New Rules To Tackle ‘Online Harms’

The government is proposing a new framework to make sure internet and social media companies take more responsibility for the safety of young people who use their platforms.

The government is proposing a new regulator and ‘duty of care’ to ensure tech companies take action on cyberbullying and other harmful content.

The new framework would make sure that internet and social media companies take more responsibility for the safety of young people who use their platforms. It would cover ‘online harms’ like cyberbullying, fake news and material encouraging self-harm or suicide.

Emma Thomas, our Chief Executive, said: 

“Being online is a normal part of life for young people and can have many benefits – but it’s important that tech companies take action to tackle cyberbullying and to reduce the likelihood of children being exposed to harmful content.

 Some young people say that talking about their experiences of things like self-harm, eating disorders or feeling suicidal online is an important way of finding support. But if they are accessing material which teaches them new ways of self-harming or which encourages eating disorders, this can have a devastating impact."

It’s crucial that we help young people develop ‘digital resilience’ at school and beyond.

“That’s why we welcome the government’s plans to introduce a duty of care and an independent regulator, so that companies have a clear understanding of what action they need to take. But any new guidance mustn’t inadvertently prevent young people from accessing supportive content.

 Alongside this, it’s crucial that we help young people develop ‘digital resilience’ at school and beyond, so that they can use the internet in a way that’s positive for their mental health.”

Last year, we published a major report on cyberbullying, and since then we have been calling for a duty of care on social media companies.

We have also successfully campaigned for a greater focus on digital resilience in schools, as part of the new Relationships and Sex Education curriculum.

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