About this submission
Internet Matters has long supported the need for greater regulation of online services, alongside education for parents and carers, to improve children’s experiences of digital life. The Online Safety Bill is a welcome development and we support its guiding aim to make the UK the safest place to be online, along with many of its specific provisions and measures.
Our submission is therefore limited in discussion to a single area where we believe the Bill could be significantly strengthened and therefore better serve the needs of young people and families. This area is the Bill’s treatment of content which is legal but harmful to children.
The challenges with the current definition
The Bill addresses three kinds of content which is legal but harmful to children:
- (1) Content designated as “primary priority content” – defined by the Secretary of State through regulations.
- (2) Content designated as “priority content” – also defined by the Secretary of State through regulations.
- (3) Content not specified through the above “which presents a material risk of significant harm to an appreciable number of children”.
It is important that (3) is worded in such a way that it captures the full range of harmful content which children and young people may encounter online, as it is likely that only a limited number of content-types will be designated “primary priority” or “priority content”. But in its current form, Internet Matters is concerned that (3) could fail to capture the full range of harms.