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April 11, 2022

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Public figures back new online safety laws after suffering from abuse online

Carol Vorderman, Anton Ferdinand, Peter Andre and ex-Love Island stars Amber Gill and Sharon Gaffka among celebs to meet Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries to discuss new Online Safety Bill.

Carol Voderman and Nadine Dorries

Public figures who have suffered online abuse, including Carol Vorderman, Peter Andre and Amber Gill, have come out in support of world-leading online safety laws following an exclusive discussion recorded at the Science Museum, London.

Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries met with several celebrities such as Emily Clarkson, ex-footballer Anton Ferdinand, The Voice finalist Okulaja, model and influencer Fadhi Mohamed, Olympic javelin thrower Tessa Sanderson and former Love Island contestant Sharon Gaffka to discuss how new online safety laws will protect people from trolls and cyberbullying and hold tech companies to account.

The meeting is available to watch in full, here…

The roundtable followed the introduction of the Online Safety Bill to Parliament in March – a big milestone in the journey towards making the UK’s pioneering online safety laws a reality. The bill’s second reading is due on Tuesday 19 April. Other figures in attendance include Rosie Duffield MP and Deputy CEO of the Diana Award Alex Holmes.

Nadine Dorries met them at the Science Museum in Kensington to hear about their personal experiences of online abuse, harassment, trolling and the effect this can also have on their families and loved ones.

Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries said: “I’ve heard too many horrific stories about how online trolls have seriously impacted people’s lives. I’m determined the Online Safety Bill goes as far as it can to make a difference, especially to young people.

“If we don’t act now, we’re condemning the next generation of children being exposed online to abuse, self-harm, bullying and suicide content. No parent wants that.

“The discussion focused on issues those present have personal experience of – including online bullying, parents being able to trust that their children are safe on social media, the importance of free speech online and anonymity.”

Carol Vorderman added: “It’s vital that the internet is safe for young people and we need to be confident they won’t experience horrendous harms. I’m glad the Bill will include protections to further tackle grooming, a subject close to my heart, both now and with the new technologies of the very near future.”

Peter Andre said: “Bullying when I was a kid was face to face but when people hide behind computers the impact can be even worse. These laws will help make a huge difference and hold companies to account for protecting users.”

Amber Gill said: “Social media has so many positives and it should be the kind of place people can be themselves and say what they think. I want younger people to be able to enjoy it and not fear it and laws like this will bring real change.”

Protect children

The new laws will protect children, tackle illegal content and protect free speech, as well as requiring social media platforms to uphold their stated terms and conditions.

If they don’t, the regulator Ofcom will work with platforms to ensure they comply and if they don’t, it will have the power to fine companies up to ten per cent of their annual global turnover – which could reach billions of pounds – to force them to fulfil their responsibilities or even block non-compliant sites.

The Bill tackles anonymous online abuse by giving users greater control over who they interact with online and the kind of content they see. The largest platforms will have to offer verification and empowerment tools to users to minimise exposure to trolls and other harmful content like self-harm promotion or racist abuse.

In recent weeks ministers have also strengthened the Bill in a number of ways so that it goes further to protect people – including by bringing paid-for scam adverts and sites that host pornography into the scope of the Bill and making companies proactively tackle the most harmful illegal content and criminal activity quicker.

The Science Museum is home to an exhibition on the ‘Information Age’, celebrating more than 200 years of innovation in information and communication technology through the eyes of those affected by the first wave of technology, including the internet – the computer Tim Berners-Lee used to invent the World Wide Web is featured in the exhibition.

The Online Safety Bill will now further change the online landscape in the UK and set the standards for a better, safer internet.

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