So­cial me­dia safe­guard call for chil­dren

The Sunday Telegraph - - News - By Ed­ward Mal­nick WHITE­HALL ED­I­TOR

SO­CIAL me­dia com­pa­nies should be forced to in­tro­duce safe­guards for chil­dren be­cause un­der-18s are “not pro­tected” on­line, the for­mer head of one of Bri­tain’s big­gest in­ter­net providers has warned.

Baroness Hard­ing, who stepped down ear­lier this year as chief ex­ec­u­tive of TalkTalk, said that some of the largest firms in the world “are sim­ply not putting in place the most ba­sic pro­tec­tions for our chil­dren”.

The stark warn­ing came as the Con­ser­va­tive peer backed pro­pos­als to force com­pa­nies to adapt their web­sites for chil­dren – to­gether with Baroness Shields, the Prime Min­is­ter’s ad­viser on in­ter­net safety, and Baroness Lane Fox, the founder of Last­minute.com. Baroness Lane Fox cited the BBC as an or­gan­i­sa­tion that had de­signed tai­lored ser­vices for chil­dren on­line, adding that other or­gan­i­sa­tions were “shirk[ing] their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties”.

The in­ter­ven­tions will sig­nif­i­cantly in­crease the pres­sure on min­is­ters to of­fer con­ces­sions over the Gov­ern­ment’s Data Pro­tec­tion Bill, which will legally en­shrine the age at which chil­dren are al­lowed to cre­ate ac­counts on­line as 13.

Matt Han­cock, the dig­i­tal min­is­ter, said the Gov­ern­ment was “sym­pa­thetic to the sen­ti­ment” but said adding such a mea­sure would cre­ate “con­fu­sion and dis­pro­por­tion­ate leg­is­la­tion”.

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