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The Online Safety Bill is soon to become law

Published: 21 September 2023 at 13:00

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VIEWPOINT: PIER Director Professor Samantha Lundrigan discusses the legislation

On Tuesday, 19 September, the Online Safety Bill passed its final Parliamentary debate and is now ready to become law. 

The work of Anglia Ruskin University’s Policing Institute for the Eastern Region (PIER) is closely linked to the bill through its focus on research to tackle online harms.  

PIER Chair Simon Bailey recently took part in a government roundtable discussion on the topic and, along with PIER Director Professor Samantha Lundrigan, spoke to policy leads at the European Commission about PIER’s work in this critical area.

Here, Director of PIER Professor Samantha Lundrigan talks about why this is so vital for child protection:
“This is a hugely positive step forward in UK efforts to better protect children online.

“Our institute is at the forefront of research into the many factors involved in online harms. From supporting the delivery of groundbreaking innovation to prevent offenders from being able to reach and harm children, to informing work on how to support parents and young people in understanding the threat.

“We know that online child abuse is continuing to rise, our colleagues at the Internet Watch Foundation, whom we have worked with closely over recent years, continue to share shocking statistics on the global rise in this type of crime.

“There is a huge amount of work underway across the world to address this, but we simply cannot do enough without the buy in and support of the tech companies which host so much of this vile abuse and exploitation.

“It is incumbent on every technology provider to do everything in their power to protect young people using their platforms, but whilst this remains a choice, and something that will often come as a secondary consideration to profit, we will never see true action.

“The Online Safety Bill will make a number of requirements of social media platforms mandatory, which will go some way towards protecting young people online. It won’t stop the abuse, but it is a step in the right direction and a unified stand against an acceptance that this is part of life for young people using the internet.

“We’re progressing a number of projects with partners in this space, which seek to identify new and innovative ways to use technology to protect young people.

“We’re also working with the Internet Watch Foundation to raise awareness and understanding of the risks associated with spending time online, and how parents and carers can have crucial conversations with their children and young people to help them stay safe.” 

Find more information on the Online Safety Bill here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/britain-makes-internet-safer-as-online-safety-bill-finished-and-ready-to-become-law