New Online Safety Laws to be introduced in UK to Combat the Harmful Aspects of Social Media

The rise of social media has brought with it a wealth of benefits, forging and rekindling connections new and old and even helping businesses and other ventures find success. That being said the online world is not without its dangers, particularly where it pertains to children. These were recently brought to light once again as part of the Internet Safety Strategy consultation, published on Sunday 20th May, prompting UK Digital Secretary Matt Hancock to announce that new online safety laws will soon be created and introduced in a bid to tackle the “Wild West elements” of the internet and ultimately ensure that the UK becomes “the safest place in the world to be online”.

“Digital technology is overwhelmingly a force for good across the world and we must always champion innovation and change for the better,” said Mr Hancock during his announcement. “At the same time I have been clear that we have to address the Wild West elements of the Internet through legislation, in a way that supports innovation. We strongly support technology companies to start up and grow, and we want to work with them to keep our citizens safe.

“People increasingly live their lives through online platforms so it’s more important than ever that people are safe and parents can have confidence they can keep their children from harm,” he continued, “The measures we’re taking forward today will help make sure children are protected online and balance the need for safety with the great freedoms the internet brings just as we have to strike this balance offline.”

While it is unclear as yet what form this new legislation will take, or when exactly it will be introduced, the UK Government says you can rest assured it is coming. The specifics are to be developed over the coming months/years in collaboration with tech companies, children’s charities and other unspecified stakeholders, with the UK Government taking the lead. For now the DCMS and Home Office will be working with other government departments to create a white paper, to be published later this year, which will “set out legislation to be brought forward that tackles a range of both legal and illegal harms”.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said of the Government’s ongoing efforts, “Criminals are using the internet to further their exploitation and abuse of children, while terrorists are abusing these platforms to recruit people and incite atrocities. We need to protect our communities from these heinous crimes and vile propaganda and that is why this Government has been taking the lead on this issue.

“But more needs to be done and this is why we will continue to work with the companies and the public to do everything we can to stop the misuse of these platforms. Only by working together can we defeat those who seek to do us harm.”

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