UKSIC response to the Online Harms White Paper

10 Jul 2019 Becca Cawthorne

Earlier this year the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Home Office published the Online Harms White Paper, outlining government proposals to make the internet a safer place.

At the UK Safer Internet Centre we broadly welcome the Government’s Online Harms White Paper and the opportunity to contribute to the new proposed regulatory framework. We particularly welcome action taken by both the Home Office and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to ensure that there are high levels of engagement with industry stakeholders and others, and for affording the UKSIC and its three member organisations the opportunity to contribute to those discussions.

The UKSIC consultation response is focused on three crucial areas of concern to UKSIC in the White Paper:

  • Defining the Scope and Harms- Further work and clarity is needed from Government in several important areas. This includes further defining ‘harmful’ content in scope of the White Paper with regards to the response required to it and its impact. This is particularly with reference to online harms that are “less clearly defined”.
  • Education and awareness raising- around online safety and online harms is crucial and needs support from Government to ensure that sufficient importance is placed on it in formal education settings, and that there is support for education and awareness raising more broadly.
    Education and awareness raising can help prevent online harms by educating the public about their rights in an online context, and in supporting users to develop positive online behaviours, thereby preventing risk and harm taking place. Platforms and services must also contribute in this space. There is a particular need for more support for education, training and awareness raising in schools.
  • Provision of services to the Internet Industry- UKSIC members are already offering services and support that are crucial in delivering the desired outcomes of the White Paper.
    • Childnet, in its work as the awareness centre of the UKSIC, produces educational content and support that reaches hundreds of thousands of teachers, young people, professionals and parents each year, and co-ordinates Safer Internet Day in the UK. These services and support will continue to have an important part to play and we are looking to Government to further use the insight, expertise and reach of the UKSIC in delivering its outcomes.
    • The IWF works to minimise the availability of illegal content online- specifically child sexual abuse images and videos. The IWF provides an anonymous place for the public to report suspected Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) and utilise the latest technology to proactively search the internet for this content.
    • SWGfL runs a support service – Report Harmful Content Online – that exists to support users through online reporting systems and offers mediation, support and escalation for individuals who do not get the outcome they hoped for through reporting processes on online platforms.

Young people give their thoughts on the White Paper

We asked 78 of the Childnet Digital Leaders questions which were relevant to the proposed online harms white paper. These ranged from questions about the issues facing young people online to what they thought industry could do more of.

Here are some of the things they said:

 “I think the biggest issue on the internet at the moment is people are over-sharing and therefore giving others too much information which they can abuse. We are always told the same things: ‘never share your password online’ ‘never talk to someone you don’t know’ and ‘keep your privacy settings high’, which are all incredibly important, however we are never taught any of the new problems.”

“I believe that social media is a big issue as it leaves a large window for cyber bullying, peer pressure, online predators and addiction. Young people face issues through social media and are constantly challenged to have the best things, the most followers etc and it can greatly upset a minor.”

“(I want to know) What the outcomes of telling teachers or trusted adults about your problems are.”

 “Something that should be covered in school more often is teaching about what to do when you are being cyber bullied and how to deal with it.”

Share your feedback:

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.