News | 12 Feb 2020

Government takes ‘step in the right direction’ on internet safety

Vodafone broadly welcomes the Government's response to its Online Harms White Paper consultation.

The Government has published its initial response to the Online Harms  White Paper consultation. The White Paper proposes possible solutions to policing user-generated online content and activity considered harmful to children and vulnerable adults.

In its response, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, suggested that media regulator Ofcom should be the body to regulate companies that “provide services or use functionality on their websites which facilitate the sharing of user-generated content or user interactions, for example through comments, forums or video sharing”.

Such companies “will need to ensure a higher level of protection for children, and take reasonable steps to protect them from inappropriate or harmful content”, the response says.

Companies will also be required to “take particularly robust action to tackle terrorist content and online child sexual exploitation and abuse”.

Taking responsibility

As Vodafone has a long-standing commitment to keeping people safe online, especially children and other vulnerable groups, it welcomes the Government’s response as “a step in the right direction”. 

Helen Lamprell, Vodafone UK’s General Counsel and Director of External Affairs, said: “We support the Government’s ambition to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online. The Government’s ambition is achievable only if everyone that delivers the networks and services of the future take the appropriate responsibilities for protecting UK citizens from potential harm.”

Vodafone is not only an active member of the Internet Watch Foundation, it was one of the first mobile network operators in the world to publish a self-regulatory Code of Practice for online child protection in January 2004. That code has formed the basis of similar industry codes adopted across the globe. 

The company’s Digital Parenting magazine is now in its eighth edition, with more than seven million copies printed. Alongside the Digital Parenting website, it provides parents with information and advice on how children can safely participate in the online world.

Vodafone recently launched the Digital Family Pledge to help families set ground rules for the online behaviour of everyone in the household, and it has partnered with Digital Awareness UK to host a series of workshops throughout 2020, to help equip parents and children with the skills and confidence they need to lead safe online lives.