Labour’s Rhoda Grant, Highlands and Islands MSP, has expressed concern over the scrapping of UK legislation aimed at protecting children online.
The UK Government intends to repeal vital protections requiring age verification and the regulation of ‘extreme’ and violent content.
Rhoda Grant MSP said:
“How we keep our children safe online should be an absolute priority, so the failure to implement Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act 2017 is a terrible reflection on the UK Government.
“Access to some of the most violent forms of illegal pornography normalises violence against women and girls at a young age, and will perpetuate the scandal of women in our society suffering abuse, violence and sexual attacks.”
A motion in the name of Rhoda Grant MSP has been lodged in the Scottish Parliament. It is supported by several SNP MSPs and expresses “concern” over the UK Government’s failure to implement Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act 2017, UK-wide legislation aimed at protecting children from accessing harmful online materials.
“That the Parliament notes with concern the UK Government’s reported failure to implement Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act 2017 (the 2017 Act), aimed at protecting children from accessing harmful online materials; understands that the UK Government’s recently published Draft Online Safety Bill would remove the age verification safeguards that were approved by the UK Parliament in 2017, targeted at all commercial pornography websites; further understands that Part 3 of the 2017 Act also empowers the regulator to enforce the law in relation to websites showing the most violent category of illegal pornography, which it considers does much to normalise sexual violence towards women; acknowledges that a coalition of women’s organisations, headteachers, children’s charities and parliamentarians have called on the UK Government to implement Part 3 as an interim measure, and therefore urges the UK Government to implement Part 3 of the 2017 Act without further delay, so as to ensure that children, and women, in Scotland and throughout the UK are protected.”
The motion was welcomed by public policy charity CARE which worked closely with politicians at Westminster on the provisions in the Digital Economy Act.
Michael Veitch, Parliamentary Officer for the charity CARE, commented:
“We are highly concerned about the potential impact, here in Scotland, of the UK Government’s failure to implement Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act. For each day these safeguards fail to be implemented, children in Scotland continue to stumble across commercial porn sites which are full of graphic and disturbing content.
“Implementing Part 3 would also see the establishment of a regulator to take strong action against sites showing extreme and violent porn. With growing concerns about ‘rape culture’ and tragic cases of sexual violence, such as that of Sarah Everard, this type of regulation couldn’t be more important.
“We are delighted that a number of MSPs, from different parties, have backed this motion and we urge the UK Government to change course.”