'Government must honour online safety promises' says IWF as Queen makes improving internet safety a national priority

Published:  Tue 11 May 2021

The IWF is calling on the Government to honour its commitments to making the UK a safer place to be online as the Queen pledges the UK will “lead the way” in internet safety.

Speaking in the Lords today (May 11) at the state opening of Parliament, the Queen laid out the Government’s key priorities.

Among these is a renewed commitment to improving online safety – with the Queen promising internet safety will be a priority for the UK in the coming months.

The Queen said: “My Government will lead the way in ensuring internet safety for all, especially for children, whilst harnessing the benefits of a free, open, and secure internet.”

Susie Hargreaves OBE, Chief Executive of the Internet Watch Foundation, said: “The Government has promised this legislation for the last two Queen’s Speeches – we now need to see firm action taken. Uncertainty is no good for anyone. They now need to honour their commitment to online safety.

“It is now essential that the Government stands by their promise to replace EU funding for the UK Safer Internet Centre (UK SIC). This is due to run out this year. Losing the UK SIC’s vital contribution will be disastrous for efforts to make the UK a safer place to be online, and it is children who will suffer.

“We look forward to the Government bringing forward the Online Safety Bill and continuing to work with them, and with Ofcom, to ensure that children in particular are better protected from harm.”

The UK SIC currently receives £1.3 million of funding from the EU. This amounts to 50 per cent of the Centre’s funding.

The UK SIC is a unique partnership of three world-leading charities (SWGfL, Childnet, and the Internet Watch Foundation) working together to deliver critical advice, resources, and interventions to help keep everyone, especially children and young people, safe online.

The UK SIC has warned that, without this funding, children could be left vulnerable to online abuse, sexual exploitation, and bullying - all things the UK SIC works hard to prevent and remove from the internet.

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