The prime minister has announced plans to make the UK the safest place to be online, making sure that what is illegal offline is illegal online
As set out in the Internet Safety Strategy Green Paper which was published last year, the government is clear that abusive and threatening behaviour online is totally unacceptable.
The Law Commission will launch a review of the current legislation on offensive online communications to ensure that laws are up to date with technology.
Law Commissioner Professor David Ormerod QC said: “There are laws in place to stop abuse but we’ve moved on from the age of green ink and poison pens. The digital world throws up new questions and we need to make sure that the law is robust and flexible enough to answer them.
“If we are to be safe both on and off line, the criminal law must offer appropriate protection in both spaces. By studying the law and identifying any problems we can give government the full picture as it works to make the UK the safest place to be online.”
The Prime Minister has also announced:
- That the Government will introduce a comprehensive new social media code of practice this year, setting out clearly the minimum expectations on social media companies
- The introduction of an annual internet safety transparency report-providing UK data on offensive online content and what action is being taken to remove it.
Other announcements made by Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Matt Hancock include:
- A new online safety guide for those working with children, including school leaders and teachers, to prepare young people for digital life
- A commitment from major online platforms including Google, Facebook and Twitter to put in place specific support during election campaigns to ensure abusive content can be dealt with quickly – and that they will provide advice and guidance to Parliamentary candidates on how to remain safe and secure online
DCMS Secretary of State Matt Hancock said: “We want to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online and having listened to the views of parents, communities and industry, we are delivering on the ambitions set out in our Internet Safety Strategy.
“Not only are we seeing if the law needs updating to better tackle online harms, we are moving forward with our plans for online platforms to have tailored protections in place – giving the UK public standards of internet safety unparalleled anywhere else in the world.”
People working with children including teachers and school leaders will be given a new guide for online safety which has been developed by the UK Council for Child Internet Safety.
The toolkit describes the knowledge and skills for staying safe online that children and young people should have at different stages of their lives.
Major online platforms including Google, Facebook and Twitter have also agreed to take forward a recommendation from the Committee on Standards in Public Life to provide support for Parliamentary candidates so that they can remain safe and secure while on these sites during election campaigns.