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PONTYPRIDD’S LABOUR MP, ALEX DAVIES-JONES MP URGES GOVERNMENT TO GO FURTHER TO PROTECT USERS ONLINE

Written by on 14th December 2021

A group of MPs have called for the Online Safety Bill to be overhauled to protect children and penalise tech firms.

The Joint Committee on the draft Online Safety Bill today published their report which stated that sweeping changes are needed to tackle an industry that has become “the land of the lawless”.

The report further states that ‘lack of regulation online has left too many people vulnerable to abuse, fraud, violence and in some cases even loss of life’.

According to the Committee of MPs and Peers, the online safety bill needs a sweeping overhaul to prevent children from accessing pornography, vulnerable people from being encouraged to commit self-harm and negligent tech chiefs from failing to protect users

The upcoming online safety bill, which the UK Government is expected to bring to Parliament in the new year covers websites and apps that offer user-generated content, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube, as well as search engines such as Google. It places a duty of care on these companies to protect users from harmful content, or face substantial fines by Ofcom, the regulator who are expected to be responsible for overseeing the legislation once it becomes law.

Alex Davies-Jones MP will, in her new role as Shadow Minister for Tech, Gambling the Digital Economy, be leading on the Bill from the Labour Party.

In response to the report from the Joint Committee, Alex said:

“I very much welcome the work of the Joint Committee and their recommendations. They had a lot to do to clean up the Government’s confusing and long-delayed Bill.

“Social media companies have for too long got away with allowing, and in some cases even promoting, harmful content online. Current regulation is from the analogue age and lags far, far behind the digital age in which most of all now live.

“The issues raised in this report are not new to me, and are often raised by young people during my visits to schools across Pontypridd and Taff Ely.

“The danger is, even with the Joint Committee’s excellent recommendations, the Online Safety Bill will be inadequate and out of date before it even becomes law. It’s been years in the making already.

“We all know of the harms faced on social media and online, especially for young people, with the spread of fake news and financial scams.  Let alone the often pernicious and detrimental use of algorithms to promote certain content.

“Without the big changes recommended by the Joint Committee, and a faster pace from Government, more and more people will find themselves at the mercy of harms online.”