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Next steps for protecting children online

Morning, Tuesday, 29th June 2021


***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference will consider what more is required from policymakers, regulators and industry to protect children online and tackle online harms.


We are pleased to be able to include a keynote session with Caroline Dinenage MP, Minister of State for Digital and Culture, DCMS - as well as keynote contributions from Mark Bunting, Policy Director, Online Harms, Ofcom; Emily Keaney, Director, Domestic Regulatory Strategy, Information Commissioner’s Office; and Caroline Allams, Co-founder and Chief Product Officer, Natterhub.


The conference takes place against the backdrop of a range of significant policy developments, including:

  • the Online Harms White Paper - with plans for an Online Safety Bill, a duty of care and further accountability and oversight of tech companies, as well as an online media literacy strategy
  • Ofcom being named in the White Paper as the regulator for online harms, and due to publish initial thinking on their approach this year
  • the ICO’s Age Appropriate Design Code - aimed at protecting children within the digital world, and ensuring online products and services they can access are designed with data protection safeguards

Discussion will focus on:

  • taking forward the Online Harms White Paper and the Age Appropriate Design Code
  • the impact of the pandemic on children’s use of online resources
  • online safety in schools and during remote learning
  • the evolving role of platforms
  • media literacy, ensuring the safety of internet connected devices, and innovation in identifying and removing harmful content

The agenda

  • Protecting children online - key issues, emerging trends and the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown
  • Online safety in schools and during remote learning latest developments and best practice
  • Tackling exposure to harmful content online -age verification
  • Protecting children online - the view from Ofcom
  • Tackling child exploitation and ensuring safety online
  • Taking forward the Age Appropriate Design Code
  • Media literacy, ensuring the safety of internet connected devices and innovation identify and remov harmful content
  • Policy priorities for reducing online harms and supporting child online safety

Areas for discussion:

  • protecting children online - key issues, emerging trends and the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown
  • online safety in schools - and during remote learning:
    • latest developments - exploring the most recent updates, as well as looking at best practice
    • meeting safety expectations - how schools have adapted to safely meet government guidance on remote education provided during the pandemic, as outlined in Actions for schools during the coronavirus outbreak
  • the Online Harms White Paper - stakeholder perspectives, and priorities for tackling exposure to harmful content online, with discussion on:
    • tackling online harm - the impact of strategies and action taken so far by online platforms and social media companies
    • impact on the sector - what plans for a new statutory and enforceable duty of care mean for platforms and social media providers, with the duty of care aiming to make companies take more responsibility for the safety of their users
    • scope - the potential role of further content regulation, age verification and assurance measures, and whether more support is needed for industry compliance and effective enforcement
    • safety at home - priorities for households to keep children safe online, as well as the impact of children spending a large amount of time online and alone in their room as a result of the pandemic
  • the online harms regulator - assessing its future role, and developments in content and platform regulation
  • ensuring safety online - developments in tackling child exploitation, and innovation in the identification and removal of harmful material
  • the ICO’s Age Appropriate Design Code:
    • taking the code forward - with the transition period for compliance coming to a close in September 2021
    • safeguards - priorities for ensuring that these are in place for any online products and services which could be accessed by children
  • media literacy and safe internet-connected devices - ensuring the safety of connected devices, and improving people’s knowledge of technology, with the Government aiming to develop a new online media literacy strategy this year, those in attendance will discuss:
    • developing a strategy - what shape any future strategy should take, and how its success should be measured
    • current measures - the effectiveness of current countermeasures to tackle misinformation aimed at children and young people online
    • engaging with consumers - what more can be done to effectively engage with children, carers, and guardians around the delivery of future media literacy strategies
    • the use for innovation - the role of technology in dealing with new and emerging threats
    • further measures - whether more is needed to ensure the safety of internet-connected devices, and build upon the requirements set out in the ICO’s Age Appropriate Design Code
  • policy priorities - for reducing online harms and supporting child online safety

Background to the discussion:

  • the Online Harms White Paper - published in 2019, which includes:
    • the Government’s commitments to deliver the Online Safety Bill
    • plans to improve accountability and oversight for tech companies, as well as for a new duty of care, with the aim of protecting children and vulnerable people online
    • Ofcom being named the regulator for online harms, and with a commitment to publishing initial thinking on their approach this year
    • a commitment to publish an online media literacy strategy aimed at supporting users to think critically about information online, and to feel more confident in managing their privacy online
  • the Draft Online Safety Bill - further outlined in the Queen’s speech:
    • aiming to protect user rights whilst making companies responsible for the protection of children from harmful content and activity online
    • Ofcom being designated as the independent online safety regulator:
      • with planned enforcement powers including the ability to fine companies up to £18m or 10% of annual turnover
      • prioritising cases where children’s safety has been compromised
  • the ICO’s Age Appropriate Design Code - which came into effect in September 2020, with an initial 12-month transition period, aimed at:
    • protecting children within the digital world
    • ensuring online products and services that could be accessed by children incorporate data protection safeguards into their design
  • The Internet of Toys Assurance Scheme - with a panel chaired by Baroness Floella Benjamin, set up with aims to improve the security of smart devices and give parents, carers, and guardians more confidence in internet-connected toys
  • Ofcom’s Children’s Media Lives: COVID-19 specific findings - which found that children were not doing as much schoolwork when working remotely, with some lacking structure and routine and spending a large amount of time online and alone in their room
  • the rise of self-generated indecent images of children online - issues raised in the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Media inquiry
    • as well as the recent BBC investigation claiming to find that the UK subscription site OnlyFans is failing to prevent underage users from selling and appearing in explicit videos
  • ongoing debate around the use of end-to-end-encryption - with the recently published NSPCC report calling for better framing of the public discussion, which would extend understanding beyond a privacy versus safety dichotomy

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by officials from the Competition and Markets Authority; the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport; the Department for International Trade; the Government Legal Department; HM Revenue & Customs; the Home Office; the National Crime Agency; Ofcom; Office of the Children's Commissioner; Office of the Sentencing Council; The Scottish Government and the Welsh Government.
Overall, we expect speakers and attendees to be a senior and informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government and regulatory officials involved in this area of policy, as well as representatives from social media companies and digital platforms, representatives from children’s charities, schools, local authorities, online advertising companies and their suppliers, other industry representatives from across the technology and digital sectors, lawyers and consultants with an interest in these topics, organisations and individuals representing the views of children and families, and academics and reporters from the national and trade media.


This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference



Keynote Speaker

Caroline Dinenage MP

Minister of State for Digital and Culture, DCMS

Keynote Speakers

Caroline Allams

Co-founder and Chief Product Officer, Natterhub

Will Gardner

CEO, Childnet International

Carolyn Bunting

CEO, Internet Matters

Mark Bunting

Policy Director, Online Harms, Ofcom

Caroline Dinenage MP

Minister of State for Digital and Culture, DCMS

Emily Keaney

Director, Domestic Regulatory Strategy, Information Commissioner’s Office

Chairs

Lord Clement-Jones

Chair, House of Lords Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence

Baroness Beeban Kidron

Founder and Chair, 5Rights Foundation

Speakers

Iain Corby

Executive Director, Age Verification Providers Association

Sophie Linington

Deputy Chief Executive Officer, The Parent Zone

Nancy Hine

Policy Lead, Digital Regulation, Sky

Alexandra Evans

Head of Child Safety Public Policy, Europe, TikTok

Rudd Apsey

Director, Digital Policy Alliance

Richard Pursey

Executive Chairman, SafeToNet

Professor Sonia Livingstone

Department of Media and Communications, London School of Economics and Political Science; Director, Digital Futures Commission and Global Kids Online Project (UNICEF), and Founder, EU Kids Online

Susie Hargreaves

Chief Executive, Internet Watch Foundation