Online Safety Law Activists Unite to Urge Next Prime Minister to Prioritize New Laws | UK News


A group of activists, survivors and families affected by abuse on social media have written to Tory leadership candidates to urge the next Prime Minister to prioritize the Online Safety Bill.

Danielle Armitage is one of those who signed the open letter to the candidates.

She was only 14 years old when she was fostered while playing an interactive online game for children.

The man said he was 16 when he was in his late 40s.

Ms Armitage, who has waived her anonymity to warn others about what happened to her, told Sky News that he initially “arranged a meeting with me after school”.

“I got into his car and found that he was much older than what he said. I froze from that point on,” she said.

He drove Mrs. Armitage into a forest and that is where the first sexual assault took place.

More on the Online Safety Act

The situation then “escalated” and the subsequent attacks became more violent.

Ms Armitage said: “He said if I said anything or told anyone, he would threaten my family. I felt like I had to see him again.”

She added: “By coming together and speaking out, we want the next Prime Minister to know what happened to us was avoidable.

“It is in their hands to protect our children and to ensure that there are safety measures in place for children using the internet.”

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March 2022: What is the Online Safety Act?

The activists are calling on Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak to resist calls to water down proposed cybersecurity laws and pledge to implement them without delay.

The bill was due to go through parliament before the summer recess but has now been postponed pending a new prime minister due to competing demands in the chamber.

It aims to regulate social platforms to ensure they protect their users from harmful content, with fines and other potential penalties for those who don’t.

There are concerns in some quarters that the law will undermine freedom of expression and allow for censorship, while others believe it does not go far enough to stem the spread of harmful material online.

In their letter, activists said it was “disgusting” to see some opponents of the bill “rejoicing at this delay and calling for the legislation to be scrapped altogether.”

The coalition is made up of 15 grooming and sexual abuse survivors and parents of children who have died by suicide after viewing harmful content online.

“These crimes have increased tenfold in just a decade”

“We have long campaigned for legislation to better protect children online and were frustrated and disappointed that the Online Safety Bill was delayed last month and not passed by Parliament,” the letter reads.

“With every month that legislation is delayed, we will see more than 3,500 online child sex abuse crimes against children, according to the NSPCC. These crimes have increased tenfold in just a decade. And bullying, pro-anorexia posts, harmful self-harm, and suicide content continue to fill kids streams.

“This level of harm to children would not be accepted in any other industry, which is why the next prime minister must make online safety law a national priority and pave the way for urgent regulation to begin.”

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After changes in government and ministers with different priorities in overseeing the legislation, concerns have been raised by pundits on all sides of the bill’s debate.

In their letter, the activists insisted that Ms. Truss or Mr. Sunak must move forward with the bill.

“Should you become the next prime minister, we urge you to keep the promise to children and families and bring forward a robust online safety bill without delay and in full,” they said.

“Any watering down of the bill would be unacceptable and would break the commitment made in the Conservative Party’s Manifesto for Children and Families to ensure the best possible protection for children online.”

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