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“Safer Children in a Digital World” (Progress Review)

Volume 508: debated on Monday 29 March 2010

I am writing today to Professor Tanya Byron in response to her review of the progress made on improving children’s digital safety since the publication of her 2008 review, “Safer Children in a Digital World”.

The pace of technological change since Professor Byron’s 2008 review has been rapid. In recognition of this, in December 2009 I asked Professor Byron to review progress in keeping children safe when using new technology and report to the Government by the end of March. I am grateful to Professor Byron for the inclusive, consultative approach which she has taken—including meeting hon. Members—and for her thoughtful analysis and conclusions which are, as ever, balanced, insightful and informed throughout by the voices and interests of children, young people and families.

Professor Byron’s report celebrates the world-leading precedent which has been set by the establishment of a UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) and the important advances that have been made, particularly around raising public awareness of how to keep children safe online and teaching children how to stay safe through improved digital safety education. As we move forward, Professor Byron is clear that the priority must be to deliver, without delay, what was set out in the UKCCIS strategy last December. She also makes recommendations on how we should respond to the developments that have taken place since her 2008 review alongside a set of helpful recommendations to improve the workings of UKCCIS.

I welcome Professor Byron’s report and, because UKCCIS was founded on the principle of shared responsibility, I agree with her recommendation that the UKCCIS executive board should decide on the best way to address her recommendations. The Home Secretary and I are therefore writing today to the UKCCIS executive board asking them to consider the report and agree a response covering all of the recommendations by 31 July 2010.

I have placed copies of Professor Byron’s report, my letter responding to her and the letter to the UKCCIS executive board in the Libraries of both Houses. They are also available online at www.dcsf.gov.uk/byronreview.