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Reader's letter: Online protection must go further

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The NSPCC has been calling for legislation to protect children from grooming, abuse and harmful content online, since 2017.

On December 15, the government announced the framework for an Online Harms Bill that has the potential to provide much greater protection for children when they use the internet.

This is a landmark moment ­— a major step towards legislation that can make an enforceable legal duty of care on tech companies a reality.

Social media companies will have a duty to protect young users from child abuse and harmful content online and face fines of up to £18m or 10% of their global turnover if they fail.

But that doesn’t mean that the work we do stops now. For instance, the proposals fall short of ensuring criminal sanctions against named directors whose companies fail to uphold their Duty of Care.

Child protection and children’s voices must remain front and centre of regulatory requirements.

We have set out six tests for robust regulation – including action to tackle both online sexual abuse and harmful content and a regulator with the power to investigate and hold tech firms to account with criminal and financial sanctions.

Failing to pass any of the six tests will mean that future generations of children will pay with serious avoidable harm and sexual abuse.

We will now be closely scrutinising the proposals against those tests. ­— Ally Sultana, NSPCC Midlands Campaigns Manager.

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