Carnegie Trust urges returning Digital Secretary to speed up progress on protecting children from online harm
The UK Government has been urged to speed up progress on protecting children from online harm.
An open letter published by the Dunfermline-headquartered Carnegie UK Trust called today for social media companies to be bound by a ‘statutory duty of care’ to protect children from harm.
The charity urged returning Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Nicky Morgan, to begin her new tenure today by reviewing a draft Bill designed to impose a statutory duty of care on social media companies to protect children from harm.
The Bill – which is endorsed by organisations including the NSPCC, 5Rights Foundation, the Institute of Strategic Dialogue and the Royal Society of Public Health – was written by Carnegie UK Trust to end months of delay since the publication of a government Online Harms White Paper.
William Perrin, Trustee at Carnegie UK Trust, said: “The Prime Minister talked of ending stagnation in Parliament on Brexit, but vital domestic policies have stagnated too. Work on legislation to protect children, and the elderly online has barely progressed.”
“This draft Bill aims to give Nicky Morgan fresh impetus as she returns to this important task, meeting an election manifesto commitment to ‘legislate to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online’. Under our draft Bill companies who run online services would need to demonstrate that their systems are safe, well run and respect human rights. We have set out in detail how parliament could legislate for a duty of care enforced by a regulator.”
The draft Bill shows that a duty of care could be introduced quickly and effectively. It puts a duty on relevant companies and gives regulatory powers to enforce that to Ofcom. Ofcom would take responsibility for drawing up Codes of Practice for social media companies to reduce the risk of harms online and for the monitoring and enforcement of the regime.
Carnegie UK Trust’s draft Bill creates a framework for international best practice for social media companies. They set out how the UK has the building blocks for a so-called “British Model” for online regulation which includes:
-Protecting children with a statutory duty of care for online harm reduction
-Enhancing and promoting free speech and democratic engagement
-Attacking scams and fraudsters who prey on the elderly
-Levelling up for free trade – getting ahead of the pack
-Helping British start-ups with a ruthless focus on anti-competitive behaviour
-Championing British rule of law online
Perrin added: “The early introduction of legislation is an important component in setting the pace internationally – as the UK has done in the past in so many areas of tech and digital policy. As we prepare to exit the European Union, we are in a strong position to carve out a uniquely British model of regulation. The duty of care is an integral part of this approach to increase our competitiveness, support our national values and lead the world online in enhancing free speech, protecting children and the elderly and improving national security.”
The open letter claims that a statutory duty of care enforced by Ofcom as a regulator is a more ‘comprehensive, straightforward’ package than a proposed EU regulator under its Digital Services Act, for which it is about to ‘dive into years of complex argument’.
The pandemic has taught me how to share more – and I feel a better leader for it
As a young professional starting out in the tech sector 30 years ago, I thrived on the fast pace,constant change and demanding workload. I lived in London, Singapore and Australia…
We need to shout about our successes. Liz Fletcher on celebrating women in biotech
Throughout my career in biotechnology and life sciences, I have seen many women leading ground-breaking research studies in their fields of expertise. Yet, and I include myself in this, we…
Getting the best out of patient data is key to unlocking future health benefits in Scotland
It is important that clinicians’ voices are heard in the consultation around Scotland’s new health and care data strategy, which closes this week (12 August). Busy GPs like myself are the trusted…
How motherhood helped me be a better leader
Consider this an open letter to anyone I have worked with before I became a mother and before I fully understood how being a parent is actually a prized asset…
‘We cannot achieve our goals without entrepreneurs’ – Kate Forbes on vision for new ‘tech scaler’ network
From the very start of my ministerial career, I have had responsibility for the Scottish tech sector – and I can still say what I have said from the start,…
Finding a role in cyber was ‘tough’ for Cheryl Torano. Now she’s determined to help other women join an under-represented industry
When I decided to upskill to change careers at the age of 30 and dive into the digital world, I knew I would be starting out at the bottom of…
Why innovation and marketing are the perfect partners to make changes that matter￼
With the rapid evolution of traditional marketing and the appearance of digital marketing, technology and innovation has become part of any marketer’s life without the need of working for a…
Transitioning to a four-day week – CEO’s vow to strike a healthier balance in the workplace
I came to Scotland nearly 20 years ago from Ireland, with no contacts but a lot of determination. While Ireland will always be my home, Scotland has given me amazing…