In May 2021 HM Government published the draft Online Safety Bill. The strongest protections in this legislation are for children. Companies in scope whose sites are likely to be accessed by children will have to ensure that only users who are old enough are able to access services which have age restrictions or which risk causing them harm. The regulator, Ofcom, will be able to take enforcement action against companies that fail to comply.
The largest and most high-risk companies will also be required to publish annual transparency reports about the steps they are taking to tackle online harms. This will include steps they are taking to fulfil their safety duties and provide a higher level of protection for children. Ofcom can take robust enforcement action where companies do not provide the required information.
In addition, the Secretaries of State for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, and for Education, alongside the Children’s Commissioner for England, hosted a roundtable with social media companies on 1 December 2021 at which the companies pledged to identify further information regarding children on their platforms and the nature of harms children may face.