Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Ministers plan internet strategy 'to make Britain safest place to be online'

Ministers are taking action to tackle "unacceptable" online dangers facing children and young people by developing a new internet safety strategy, the Culture Secretary has announced.

Karen Bradley said she was determined to help people protect themselves from online risks as she revealed ministers are to hold a series of roundtables with social media companies, technology firms, young people, charities and mental health experts.

The discussions will focus on industry responsibilities to society, how technology can improve safety, helping parents face up to and discuss dangers, and how to help young people help themselves.

They are also expected to examine concerns around issues such as trolling and other aggressive behaviour, including rape threats against women, amid growing concerns over sexting, cyber bullying and content which promotes suicide, self-harm and eating disorders.

Ms Bradley said: "The internet has provided young people with amazing opportunities but has also introduced a host of new dangers which children and parents have never faced before.

"It is increasingly clear that some behaviours which are unacceptable offline are being tolerated or even encouraged online - sometimes with devastating consequences.

"We are determined to make Britain the safest place in the world to be online, and to help people protect themselves from the risks they might face.

"To do that we want to understand the full scale of the problem and explore how everyone - including Government, social media companies, technology firms, parents and others - can play their part in tackling it."

The roundtables will involve ministers and officials from departments across Government including the Home Office, Department for Education, Department of Health and Ministry of Justice.

A report by leading academic Professor Sonia Livingstone has also been commissioned to provide up-to-date evidence of how young people are using the internet, the dangers they face and the gaps that exist in keeping them safe.

The work will culminate in a policy green paper, expected in the summer.