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NSPCC proposal to tame 'Wild West Web' backed by 9 out of 10 adults in East Anglia

The children's protection charity has drawn up a proposal calling for regulations on social networks to keep young people safe.

It would mean that tech firms have a legal responsibility to protect the children that are using their applications. 

A survey from the NSPCC revealed that 92% of adults in the East of England would support their Taming the Wild West Web vision, which was drawn up with help from Herbert Smith Freehills, an international law firm.

The vision proposes the introduction of a social media regulator to force them to protect children using their platforms. 

The regulator would have legal powers to investigate and demand information regarding child safety measures, they would have to meet a set of child safeguarding standards and be proactive in tacking online harm issues.

It would also mean that touch sanctions would be deployed if tech firms failed to protect their young users, including fines in the millions, disqualification of directors, shaming tactics and criminal offences.

Peter Wanless, NSPCC Chief Executive, said: "The support for statutory regulation of social networks is now overwhelming.

"It is clear that society will no longer tolerate a free for all under which tech firms allow children to operate in a precarious online world with a myriad of preventable risks.

"Social media bosses should be made to take responsibility for the essential protection of children on their platforms and face tough consequences if they don’t. Over a decade of self-regulation has failed, and enough is enough.

"The Government’s Online Harms White Paper must impose a legal duty of care on social networks. Our proposal to tame the Wild West Web would make the UK a world leader in protecting children online. We urge the Government to be bold and introduce these measures without delay."

The survey also discovered that the majority of adults think children's social media accounts should have the highest privacy setting by default, with friend suggestions being deactivated, being invisible from public searches and location settings turned off. 

Tech firms would also have a duty to notify the regulators immediately if a child had come to harm or been put at risk when using their site.

 

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