Internet: Self-harm

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport written question – answered on 27th May 2022.

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Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour/Co-operative, Huddersfield

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether she is taking steps to ensure that the Online Safety Bill includes a new offence of encouraging serious self-harm with malicious intent.

Photo of Chris Philp Chris Philp The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Under the Online Safety Bill, all in-scope services will need to remove and limit the spread of illegal content and activity online. Companies that are likely to be accessed by children will also need to protect them from harmful content, such as self-harm content. The largest sites will also be required to set out in terms of service their approach to addressing harmful content to adults and enforce these consistently.

The Government asked the Law Commission to review the criminal law for harmful communications. Following the Law Commission’s final report, the government accepted the recommended communications offences and the cyberflashing offence, which are being brought into law through the Online Safety Bill. The Government is considering the remaining recommendations, including a new offence to address the encouragement and assistance of self-harm. We will issue a full response to the Law Commission in due course.

The Government introduced the Online Safety Bill to Parliament on 17 March 2022.

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