Swindon & Wiltshire Business News

New powers to protect children on social media welcomed by Institute

Paul Fletcher

 

The announcement that the broadcasting watchdog Ofcom may be given new powers to regulate the social media industry has been welcomed by the body that represents IT professionals.

Social media companies have, until now, been self-regulating. But Ofcom may soon have the power to compel the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and TikTok to take action over 'harmful content', including cyber-bullying, child abuse, terrorism, and violence.

Platforms will have to ensure content is removed quickly, and could face large fines for not taking action quickly.

The announcement has been welcomed by BCS, the Chartered Institute of IT, which is based in Swindon.

A recent survey of 6,500 young people by BCS found that 75 percent of young people think social media companies should automatically block offensive or abusive messages, and that more than 40 percent of young people don’t think digital companies consider their safety when developing websites of apps.

Paul Fletcher, CEO of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT said: “This is a positive step that will reassure parents and keep children safer, supported by the introduction of a media literacy strategy coming in the summer and online harms legislation later in the year.
 
“Commendably, recent government and societal efforts have focussed on the vulnerability of young people to online harm.

"We fully support this while re-stating that there are people from a wide range of age groups and backgrounds whose online safety requires similar attention.

"We encourage the government to look at the impacts of online harms across communities and identify how these can be mitigated so everyone benefits from digital inclusion.

“Whilst domestic regulation and protections are vital, we also support UK government efforts to continue work with international partners to shape global solutions and co-operation on digital regulation.

"We look forward to working with government and other stakeholders to improve accountability, transparency and ethical practice across our industries.”

“We believe the UK won’t reach its full digital potential until everyone who is willing and able is equipped with the skills and opportunity to use the internet safely.

"Lack of access to digital technology is an ‘offline harm’ and further research is required to understand who is being left behind and how they can be included."