According to the Office for National Statistics, in 2019, 91% of adults in the UK were recent internet users. 45% of adults using the internet indicate that they have experienced some form of online harm. A 2018 Ofcom report found:
“16% of children aged 8-11 who go online have ever seen something online that they found worrying or nasty, but at 31%, 12-15s are nearly twice as likely to have experienced this.”
In that context, this policy commits the government to leading global efforts to close down internet spaces for those engaged in causing online harm.
In April 2019, the government published the Online Harms White Paper, setting out ideas to tackle illegal and unacceptable content and activity online, and starting a round of consultations on an appropriate framework. The paper reveals that plans to develop new regulations have not progressed as quickly as intended. However, the government aims to be the first in the world to establish a comprehensive legal framework to encourage online companies to take steps towards ensuring the safety of their users under an independent regulator. The consultation on the White Paper proposals ran from April to July 2019 and responses are being analysed.
The publication of the White Paper demonstrates an intent to tackle online harms and keep internet users safe. This policy is ‘in progress’. Before we can update it to ‘done’, we expect the government to bring forward legislation to establish the first comprehensive regulatory framework on online harm in the world. Follow this policy for updates.
Interested in knowing more?
- Children and parents: Media use and attitudes report 2018 – Ofcom
- Internet users’ experience of harm online: summary of survey research – Ofcom
- Online Harms White Paper factsheet – Gov.uk
- Websites to be fined over ‘online harms’ under new proposal – BBC News
- What Works to Prevent Cyber Violence against Women and Girls – Gov.uk