The Government Wants to Make the UK "the Safest Place in the World to Go Online"

By Tom Pritchard on at

The Conservative party conference is currently going on in Manchester, with the (sort of) ruling party outlining its plans for the year ahead. Like the Home Secretary promising to do something encryption, while readily admitting that she doesn't understand it.

It's also a place for proper ideas that have been thought about for more than five seconds, including Culture Secretary Karen Bradley's plan to make the UK "the safest place in the world to go online". The plan itself focuses on three main points:

The first is to encourage social media to stick to an online code of conduct, but didn't mention any specifics other than the fact it would help tackle “major issues such as trolling and abuse.” The second is encouraging the same companies to design products with a "safety first ethos". The final point is to emphasise the importance of online safety education in schools.

That code of conduct is the most intriguing part of this, particularly since there aren't any specific details to go on yet. It was described as 'voluntary minimum standards', which seems like a bit of an oxymoron. But if it can get social media companies to actually care about abuse on their platforms, rather than ignoring it like Twitter seems fond of doing, then that's probably a good thing. Actually managing to get them to pay attention is another thing entirely.

The thing is that you can't really make it specifically safer to go online in the UK. Government policy can have an impact on the way companies operate online, but because it's a global network then anything affecting users in the UK should affect users all over the world. Unless, of course, the policies affect how we interact with our ISPs. But that's not the case here.

Plus given how slowly the wheels of government can turn, it's unlikely that legislation is likely to be able to keep up with the rapid pace of changing technology. Plus the fact that politicians seem to struggle to comprehend the most basic of technological concepts.

Full details are set to be revealed in a government green paper in the near future. [The Next Web]


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