Online Safety Act ‘significant step forward’ in protecting victims of domestic abuse

Domestic Abuse Commissioner welcomes the Online Safety Act receiving Royal Assent and has described it as a “significant step forward” in protecting victims of domestic abuse from online harm.

Campaigners who have worked tirelessly for new laws that will protect children online joined politicians, civil society and regulators to welcome the legislation.

After years of campaigning, legislation that will put a legal duty on tech companies to protect children from sexual abuse and harmful material on social media sites, gaming apps and messaging services was given Royal Assent on Thursday last week. Nicole Jacobs, Domestic Abuse Commissioner for England and Wales, said:

“The Online Safety Act is a significant step forward in protecting victims of domestic abuse from online harm. More than half of victims have experienced coercive control through social media, which can wreak havoc on their lives and seriously jeopardise their safety. This landmark legislation makes online coercive control a priority offence.

It’s time for social media companies to step up and take responsibility for protecting victims from abuse through their platforms. I look forward to working with the Department for Culture Media and Sport to ensure the upcoming statutory guidance for this legislation is ambitious and robust.”

Young people who campaigned for the bill and a mum whose daughter was sexually abused on social media, spoke at the event. They joined our Chief Executive Sir Peter Wanless and Ofcom Chief Executive Dame Melanie Dawes who will be responsible for the Act’s implementation.

The event was chaired by Sajid Javid MP who was Home Secretary when regulation to help protect children online was first promised by the Government in 2018, following the launch of our Wild West Web campaign. Sir Peter Wanless, NSPCC Chief Executive, said: 

“It was an honour to bring together so many people from different walks of life whose campaigning and dedication has helped make the Online Safety Act possible. I want to particularly thank everyone who has been impacted by online abuse and unimaginable harm who have campaigned selflessly to help protect others.

While we rightly celebrated, it was also a catalyst towards working together to ensure the legislation results in the protections online children desperately need. We look forward to seeing the landmark Act implemented with bold ambition to ensure there is a rigorous focus on children as regulation comes into force.”

The NSPCC set up an installation outside the Houses of Parliament thanking the over 147,000 campaigners who backed the legislation. The charity has released a video with young people welcoming the Online Safety Act.

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