NEWS11 January 2023

Ofcom seeks evidence on online harm to children

News Technology UK

UK – Media regulator Ofcom is seeking evidence on the risks of harm to children online as it prepares to develop codes of practice ahead of becoming the UK’s online safety watchdog.

Child on phone

Ofcom is calling for evidence on issues including child risk assessments and protecting children from harmful content. Its call for evidence will stay open until 21st March 2023.

The consultation is part of the regulator’s second phase of online safety regulation, following its first call for evidence focused on duties relating to illegal content.

The government’s long-awaited online safety bill is set to pass this year, and the new legislation seeks to make tech companies more accountable for their users’ safety online.

The new laws are currently going through parliament, with Ofcom’s powers as online safety regulator set to come into force two months after the bill has passed.

Under the legislation, social media platforms will have to remove illegal content quickly (including content promoting self-harm) or prevent it from appearing in the first place. Other measures will include enforcing age limits and age-checking measures on platforms and preventing children from accessing harmful and age-inappropriate content.

Ofcom plans to consult on draft codes of practice and guidance for social media platforms after secondary legislation passes to define priority content that is legal but harmful to children.

The call for evidence published on the Ofcom website states: “We welcome responses from interested stakeholders and we anticipate this call for evidence will be relevant to a wide range of stakeholders, including those with an interest or expertise in protecting children online, including civil society organisations and providers of online services.”