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September 20, 2023

What is the Online Safety Bill, who is in favour, who opposes it, and how will it be enforced? 

  • The Online Safety Bill is on its final stages before it becomes law. 
  • It is expected to be one of the government’s flagship pieces of legislation but comes following several delays due to controversy over its privacy implications. 
  • The Bill aims to impose rules on tech companies such as Meta and Apple, with the goal of keeping inappropriate and harmful content, including self-harm material, away from children.  
  • The Bill also aims to hold platforms responsible for illegal content such as child sexual abuse material (CSAM), and stop underage children being able to create social media accounts. 
  • One of the proposals would also force platforms such as WhatsApp to undermine messaging encryption so private chats could be checked for illegal content. 
  • Amongst supporters for the bill are the NSPCC and bereaved families who say harmful content contributed to their child’s death. 
  • Tech companies have opposed the bill, regarding end-to-end encryption, with WhatsApp threatening to leave the UK if they are forced to enable scanning texts. 
  • For more, please visit the Sky News website. 

Meta encryption plan will let child abusers ‘hide in the dark’, says UK campaign

  • This week, the Home Office launched a new campaign including a statement from an abuse survivor, urging Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta to halt its plans until it has a safety plan in place to detect child abuse activity within encrypted messages.
  • The National Crime Agency (NCA) estimates that encryption will lead to reductions in abuse referrals.
  • The home secretary, Suella Braverman, said Meta had not provided sufficient assurances on keeping their platforms “safe from sickening abusers”.
  • The government, and child safety campaigners fear that end-to-end encryption will enable users to evade detection when grooming children and receiving and sending images of sexual abuse.
  • Meta have published an updated report on safety measures for Messenger and Instagram direct messages, pointing to safeguards such as restricting over-19s from messaging teens who do not follow them and using AI systems to spot suspicious activity.
  • For more, please visit The Guardian website.

Many teens feel unsafe and anxious, but are positive about future – poll

  • In a survey conducted by Survation for the BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Bitesize, of 2,000 young people aged 13-18, 27% said they had experienced sexual harassment in some form. 
  • 44% said they do not feel safe walking alone on the street. 
  • The results also show that teenagers are concerned about the amount of pornography they see on social media. 
  • Almost a third surveyed, had watched Andrew Tate and many said they liked him. 
  • 58% of girls surveyed said they follow influencers online, and more than a third said influencers make them feel the need to change their appearance.  
  • More than half of male and female responses said they felt anxious when they don’t have their phones. 
  • A third of teenagers said they have vaped at least once. 
  • The Children’s Commissioner for England, Dame Rachel de Souza, responded to the survey, stating that urgent work is required to protect children from online pornography and other harmful content. 
  • A government spokesperson also said they were considering updating or adding to guidance for schools to support them about this issue as part of the ongoing review of relationships, sex and health education statutory guidance. 
  • For more, please visit the BBC News website. 

The following story may be regionalised:

‘Alarm bells’ as sexual and violent crimes surge in Scotland 

  • Violent crime rose by 4% in the last 12 months to June compared to the same period in 2019.
  • The number of sex crimes rose by 8% over the same period, including a 4% rise in rapes and attempted rapes.
  • Additionally, there was a 50% rise in cases involving indecent photos of children.
  • Russel Findlay, the Scottish Tories’ shadow justice secretary stated: “The under-25 sentencing guidelines as well as use of diversion from prosecution means that some rapists are not being held to account”.
  • For more, please visit the MSN website.