Tories to reveal plans to make UK web the safest

Culture Secretary to release green paper on digital safety plans next week

The Tories have pledged to reveal plans to make the UK the safest place to go online, as Culture Secretary Karen Bradley once again raised the issue of online safety, this time to members of the Conservative Party at its annual conference. 

This government has long struggled to find effective ways to block children from seeing inappropriate content such as online porn, and battled with Google, Facebook and other Silicon Valley giants on removing abusive or extremist content from the web.

The new strategy largely falls into line with existing plans  her speech echoed one from March that also pledged to make the British corner of the web the safest in the world. However, Bradley pledged to release a green paper on the subject next week such papers are early stage proposals to spark discussion, rather than drafts of legislation.

The aim was to ensure that behaviour that's "unacceptable in normal life should be unacceptable on a computer screen", Bradley said, making the UK the "safest place in the world to go online".

As part of those plans, Bradley said the government was considering introducing a "code of conduct" for social media companies setting out minimum standards for dealing with abuse and bullying, as well as asking such firms to build in "safety by design" although it's difficult to see how that would be enforced or what difference it would make with existing social media sites. Plus, students would be taught online safety skills as part of the national curriculum.

"As part of the strategy the government will work with industry to introduce a new code of practice - giving guidance to social media companies on what action they should take against unacceptable behaviour online," Bradley said in her speech, reported by the Guardian. "By setting voluntary minimum standards, the code will tackle major issues such as trolling and abuse."

She added: "The strategy will also provide support to new innovative businesses in the UK by embedding the principle of safety by design' into the development of new technology. This means that companies will need to think about internet safety during the design process of their products so that safety features are embedded from the outset."

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