Yesterday, the Government published its response to the Green Paper on the Internet Safety Strategy. Within its 75 pages is a thoughtful analysis of the problems and the conundrums of the internet:
the delight of connectivity, knowledge and know-how at our fingertips
the disgust at the excesses of some who use the internet to frighten and the harm others
the despair at how some companies disregard the welfare and data of their users
There is much to welcome in the Government response to the ISS particularly the recognition that making the internet a safer place, especially for children and vulnerable people will require two streams of activity – parental education, and better and more tools from all of the tech companies.
Focus on parental education
We are pleased that parental education is regarded as a priority –it is the single most significant factor in keeping children safe online – and the education of parents is something we were created to deliver. Our research indicates that 96% of parents regard keeping their children safe online as their responsibility and 70% of parents are looking for help to do just that.
Parents need help in two ways – to engage with what their children are doing online and to understand what they can do if something goes wrong. A code of practice and transparency reporting will both help, as will proposed age verification measures on social media sites.
Engaging Tech companies
We also welcome the focus on getting not just the largest technology companies, but many more of them engaged in better and more responsible behaviour. Given the on-going level of parental concern, making the internet a safer place to be, has to be in the commercial interest of these organisations.
This response is simply the next step in a political process – and in tone and intention, it is to be welcomed. The next step has to be moving from diagnosis to prevention, and we look forward to working with DCMS to deliver that.
Creating an internet where children can flourish is the real objective. We have to tackle these issues this way round as anything that leads to an endgame where children can’t access the benefits of technology is a failure. For our children, for parents and for our economic future.