Tech companies must prioritise safety of children
Donna Jones, Chair of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners and Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, is calling for tech companies to prioritise the safety of children over the privacy of their users.
Concerns have been raised by technology experts and leading child abuse charities that end-to-end encryption on private messages could be used to conceal child abuse online. Leaders are calling for social media platforms to provide assurance that they will keep their platforms safe from abusers.
In response APCC Chair Donna Jones said:
“Protecting children and vulnerable people is the first job of any government. The new Online Safety Bill was passed on Tuesday this week, meaning it is now law. This bring greater protection for children, putting the onus on social media companies to check the minimum age of users and to ensure that targeted content is age appropriate. Breaches of the new laws will see social media companies paying large fines. I’m pleased to have worked with the government on the creation of this new law but acknowledge that this is just the start.
“Parents need to ensure they know what their children are doing online. There is more threat from harm for a child sitting in their bedroom with a phone than walking down the road alone. The National Crime Agency has mapped there are over 700,000 individuals accessing and viewing indecent images of children online. That’s one in 86 people in this country. This is a huge risk and one which police forces across the country are working hard to combat.
“The safety of our children online must come above any privacy concerns for users and we must see social media platforms stepping up to implement safeguards at every opportunity."
The Online Safety Bill passed its final Parliamentary debate on 19 September and is now ready to become law. The Bill takes a zero-tolerance approach when it comes to protecting children online, meaning social media platforms will be legally responsible for the content that they host, and they will be expected to remove illegal content quickly or prevent it from appearing in the first place.