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Internet Safety Strategy

Volume 629: debated on Wednesday 11 October 2017

I wish to inform the House that, on 11 October, the Department for Digital Culture and Media and Sport will publish the Internet Safety Strategy Green Paper. The accompanying public consultation will close on 7 December 2017. Both can be found at:

The strategy was publically announced in February of this year and will give effect to our manifesto commitment to “make Britain the safest place in the world to be online”.

The strategy considers the responsibilities of companies to their users, the use of technical solutions to prevent online harms and Government’s role in supporting users. It is underpinned by three key principles: what is unacceptable offline should be unacceptable online; all users should be empowered to manage online risks and stay safe; and technology companies have a responsibility to their users.

The strategy represents the first strand of our digital charter work which will ensure that every individual and every business can seize the opportunities of digital technology. We are developing the digital charter by working with companies, civil society and others to establish a strong framework that balances freedom with protection for users, and offers opportunities alongside obligations for businesses and platforms. The manifesto made it clear that the Government will act when people need more protections to keep them safe, including online.

The Digital Economy Act 2017 requires a voluntary code of practice to be established, to set guidance on what social media providers should do in relation to harmful conduct on their platforms. The Internet Safety Strategy consults on the form this should take as part of a wider framework for industry responsibility, including an annual transparency report by social media platforms and a social media levy to enable greater public awareness of online safety and enable preventative measures against online harms.

The strategy is being undertaken alongside new age verification measures for pornography. The Digital Economy Act introduced the requirement for commercial providers of online pornography to have robust age verification controls in place to prevent children and young people under 18 from accessing pornographic material. This measure is due to be in place in April 2018 —12 months after the Act received Royal Assent.

The Committee on Standards in Public Life is separately leading an inquiry into the intimidation of parliamentary candidates, including through online platforms. The measures in the strategy, such as the responsibilities of companies to their users, will usefully support Government’s objectives in these areas.

Government plan to issue a response to the Internet Safety Strategy Green Paper in 2018.