Statement from CEASE CEO on the delay to the Online Safety Bill 

Statement from Vanessa Morse, CEO of CEASE (Centre to End All Sexual Exploitation) and Lead of the #KeepKidsOffPorn Coalition on the delay to the Online Safety Bill 

“We – on behalf of children, parents, families, individuals and survivors across the UK – are furious that the Government is delaying the long overdue scrutiny and accountability the Online Safety Bill will bring to the commercial online porn industry. 

“Delaying the debate and passing of the Bill represents an unacceptable immediate risk to children online. 

“Delaying or even scrapping the Bill means the public is at risk of losing these vital proposed online protections: 

  • ‘Age gates’ to protect children from stumbling onto hardcore, violent porn.
  • Platforms’ duty of care to proactively prevent illegal material, like child sexual abuse or filmed rape, from their platforms. Instead they can continue to profit from it.
  • Ensuring platforms remove content which is illegal in the offline world, such as portrayals of rape and child abuse.
  • Safer online platform design which tackles algorithms and other features that push children to increasingly harmful content.
  • Platforms being held to account over reporting how they are removing content and responding to complaints. 

“The Online Safety Bill has been carefully prepared for years by successive governments and numerous stakeholders to painstakingly balance freedom of speech with the protection of children online. 

“The Conservative government’s own desire for the Bill – to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online – is in danger of collapsing if it is further delayed. Discussions that it might be scrapped are deeply alarming. 

“Some measures included in the Online Safety Bill, such as age verification for online porn sites, were originally included in the 2017 Digital Economy Act. However, age verification was not enacted and was instead included in the Online Safety Bill. 

“The timetable for enacting age verification is currently over two years. And delay will only add to this. Failing once again to enact this legislation is unacceptable and will leave children and vulnerable adults open to further harms from accessing online porn.  

“We are calling for everyone who believes in protecting children from the harms of online porn to write to their MP asking them to support the Online Safety Bill in parliament.” 

See https://cease.org.uk/ for more information.