Westminster eForum

Protecting children online: content regulation, age verification and latest thinking on industry responsibility

Morning, Tuesday, 10th December 2019

Central London


This conference will be an opportunity to discuss the key issues for children arising from the Online Harms White Paper, which set out the Government’s plans to improve consumer safety online.

Delegates will assess practicalities of implementation and the next steps for delivery.

As the ICO puts its age appropriate design code into effect, further sessions examine what are the key priorities going forward.

Industry responsibility

We expect discussion to reflect the focus in the White Paper on industry responsibility.

Delegates will consider the proposed legal duty of care for online companies towards its users - including questions of what duties and liability should fall on social media platforms and tech companies.


As the Government prepares to appoint a new independent regulator, the agenda will bring out latest thinking on the future of online regulation with respect to children - looking at next steps for establishing good practice and building public trust in technology companies and services.

Those attending will also discuss issues around proportionality in a new regulatory framework.

Transparency and public information

We expect this to include how the policy aim of greater transparency around the presence of harmful content on platforms can be achieved, with plans for publically-available yearly transparency reports from online companies detailing the presence of harmful content and what they are doing to address the issue, so as to support children and families in making informed decisions about the platforms they visit.

Delegates will discuss priorities for providing greater support more widely for children and families to make informed choices - including the effectiveness of current public and private sector initiatives aimed at encouraging children to think more critically online - with the White Paper announcing plans to develop a new online media literacy strategy.

Implementation practicalities, technology and mitigating mental health impacts

Delegates will consider what more is needed to identify and remove detrimental content.

It follows the Science and Technology Committee’s report on the mental health impacts of social media - which found that social media exacerbated online harms including negative body image and cyberbullying.

We expect discussion on innovative ways technology can be applied to increase consumer safety, such as the development last year of a new tool to stop online grooming which came about through collaboration between Government and industry, and which is expected to be licensed free of charge to smaller companies.

Privacy, age verification and freedom of expression

Further sessions consider progress that has been made towards protecting children’s privacy online and what further support is needed, one year on from the Data Protection Act.

The conference takes place with the ICO’s Age Appropriate Design Code coming into effect - developed to ensure online products and services that could be accessed by children incorporate data protection safeguards into their design.

Discussion will reflect the practicalities of age verification technology - including protections on the collection and use of data, and the effects on the business models of online companies and services, as well as concerns about a disproportionate impact on start-ups affecting their ability to compete in the digital markets.

We also expect discussion on issues of how to define what is harmful, especially when the content is not illegal, as well as enforceability issues and whose responsibility this should be - and concerns about age verification technology restriction of access to information potentially stifling freedom of expression.

Keynote Speakers

Becky Foreman

UK Corporate Affairs Director, Microsoft and Industry Vice-Chair, Internet Watch Foundation

Jonathan Bamford

Director of Strategic Policy, Domestic, Information Commissioner’s Office

Senior speaker confirmed from DCMS


Ann Coffey MP

Spokesperson for Children and Education, The Independent Group for Change


Lenard Koschwitz

Senior Director, Global Policy, Allied for Startups

Claire Levens

Policy Director, Internet Matters

Paul Herbert

Partner, Goodman Derrick

Professor Lorna Woods

Professor, School of Law, University of Essex