Child Safety Online

Home Department – in the House of Commons on 7th June 2021.

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Photo of James Sunderland James Sunderland Chair, Select Committee on the Armed Forces Bill, Chair, Select Committee on the Armed Forces Bill

What steps she is taking with Cabinet colleagues to help ensure children are safe on the internet.

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

I, too, am earning my salary this afternoon, Mr Speaker! We are working across Government and internationally to ensure that children are safe on the internet. We continue to encourage companies to endorse and implement the voluntary principles to counter online child sexual exploitation and abuse, which we launched in March last year in collaboration with Five Country Governments, and we are engaging the G7 on how we go further in our collective response to protect children. We have published our draft online safety Bill, and companies will be required to take stringent action to tackle the growing and evolving threat of child sexual exploitation and abuse on their platforms.

Photo of James Sunderland James Sunderland Chair, Select Committee on the Armed Forces Bill, Chair, Select Committee on the Armed Forces Bill

Will the Minister please outline the support that her Department is giving the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport with the online safety Bill and confirm that internet companies that break the law will be heavily prosecuted and heavily fined?

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

Indeed. Of course the Home Office has been working with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, at both official and ministerial level, in developing the draft Bill. We remain fully committed to making the UK the safest place to be online while defending freedom of expression, and we believe that the Bill achieves that. The strongest protections in the Bill are reserved for children, and I can confirm that Ofcom, the independent regulator, will have a range of tough enforcement powers to use against companies that fail to fulfil their duties. Those include fines of up to £18 million or 10% of qualifying annual global turnover, whichever is greatest.