Protecting Kids Online – Whose Responsibility Is It?

Now more than ever, the internet is a fundamental part of our lives. It’s how we work, socialize, game, and even learn. This also means that the dangers of the internet have become a part of our lives too. This is a serious threat, especially when it comes to kids. 

With the popularity of social media amongst kids and the increasing use of EdTech, children are on the internet in greater numbers and for longer amounts of time than ever before. This makes online safety an increasingly urgent issue.  

In this post, we’ll examine the various stakeholders in ensuring the safety of the internet and see how these allies form a united front to lead the global fight against online toxicity. 

Major Players In The Online Safety Tech Ecosystem

NGOs

Several organizations lead the non-governmental response to online safety. Some of the key players include:

NSPCC

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, or NSPCC, is a UK non-profit organization that raises awareness and promotes legislative reform to protect children. One of their more successful social media campaigns was the #WildWestWeb movement which garnered over 45,000 supporters and urged the government to introduce new laws to protect children from sexual abuse online.

IWF

The Internet Watch Foundation, or IWF, is another organization that serves a critical role in the fight against online toxicity. Their many services include:

  • Image Hash List – a list of unique digital fingerprints of child sexual abuse images that are used to identify online images so they can be quickly removed
  • Takedown Notices – alerts about images and videos containing abusive material
  • URL List – a list of webpages that contain child sexual abuse material, so that access to them can be blocked

These are just some of the incredible organizations leading the fight in the Safety Tech Ecosystem that are helping to combat online toxicity. 

Governments 

With help and pressure from NGOs, governments around the world are passing legislation to make it harder for abuse to occur online. 

U.S.

In the United States Senate, a bipartisan bill was introduced called The Eliminating Abuse and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies Act or EARN IT for short. Essentially, this legislation threatens technology companies like Facebook and Google with losing some of the protections they enjoy under a law called Section 230, which prevents online platforms from being treated as the publisher of content from their users. This legislation is an example of the role governments have to play in fighting online toxicity and abuse.

UK

In the UK, as part of the Online Harms White Paper, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport – also known as the DCMS – pushed for independent regulators to be introduced to ensure companies meet their responsibilities regarding preventing online toxicity and harm.

This includes “duty of care”, which requires companies to take reasonable steps to keep their users safe and tackle illegal and harmful activity on their services. The regulator will have effective enforcement tools, and powers to issue substantial fines, block access to sites, and potentially to hold senior members of management liable.

These are just a few examples of government regulations trying to tackle online toxicity from around the world. As the issue becomes more acute, it is generating more attention from the relevant authorities.

Parents 

Last but not least, online safety starts at home. By encouraging awareness and education, parents have a pivotal role in making sure that kids stay safe on the web. But this is easier said than done. Even if both parents work from home, it’s virtually impossible to supervise web usage all the time. Thanks to the scale, anonymity, and real-time nature of the internet, parents need to be supported by technology in order to keep kids safe. 

We Work Better Together

The fight against online toxicity needs to be addressed on many levels, with each organization type playing their part. 

Governments, NGOs, and technology solutions are allies in this fight to keep children safe online. 

At L1ght, we take our role in this fight seriously. By bringing advanced technology to bear, L1ght is an integral part of any child protection strategy and has already successfully worked with governments, NGOs, tech platforms and providers around the world to make the internet safer for kids.

To learn more about L1ght, and the fight for a safer internet, get in touch

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