London Daily

Focus on the big picture.

Encouraging self-harm to be criminalised in Online Safety Bill

Encouraging self-harm to be criminalised in Online Safety Bill

The encouragement of self-harm will be criminalised in an update to the Online Safety Bill, the government has said.
Content that encourages someone to physically harm will be targeted in a new offence, making it illegal.

The government said the changes had been influenced by the case of Molly Russell - the 14-year-old who ended her life in November 2017.

Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan said she was strengthening the bill "to make sure these vile acts are stamped out".

"I am determined that the abhorrent trolls encouraging the young and vulnerable to self-harm are brought to justice," she said.

Molly Russell, from Harrow in north-west London, took her own life after viewing suicide and self-harm content on Instagram and Pinterest.

Her father has previously criticised delays to the Online Safety Bill and called for online platforms to stop self-regulating their content.

At the inquest, the coroner concluded the schoolgirl died while suffering from the "negative effects of online content".

In October, Coroner Andrew Walker wrote to social media firms and the government to call for changes including separate platforms for adults and children.

Ms Donelan said social media firms could no longer be "silent bystanders" and they would face fines for "allowing this abusive and destructive behaviour to continue".

She said the update to the Online Safety Bill would create a new offence, bringing self-harm content in line with communications that encourage suicide - which is already illegal.

The amendment would mean social media platforms would be required to remove self-harm content and any person found to have such content would face persecution.

More details about the maximum penalty would be published in due course, the government said.

The NSPCC's Richard Collard said it was "good news" the government was recognising the dangers of children being exposed to online content promoting self-harm.

But he said a "culture of compliance and accountability" from technology firms that have allowed this type of content "to spread like wild fire" was needed.

The Online Safety Bill is due to return to Parliament in early December, following a number of delays.

The digital department said it could not say when the amendments would be tabled.

Earlier this week the government announced other new offences being added to the bill that would crack down on the sharing of intimate images without consent.

Representative's from both Pinterest and Meta, Instagram's parent company, gave evidence during Molly Russell's inquest.

Meta executive Elizabeth Lagone said she believed posts seen by Molly, which her family say "encourage" suicide, were safe, but the firm agreed that regulation was needed.

Judson Hoffman of Pinterest told the inquest the site was "not safe" when the school girl was using it. The company said it was "committed" to making ongoing improvements to help ensure the platform is "safe for everyone".

Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said "lives and families" had been destroyed by "those who encourage vulnerable internet users to self-harm".

"Our changes will ensure the full force of the law applies to those callous and reckless individuals who try to manipulate the vulnerable online in this way," Mr Raab said.
Newsletter

Related Articles

London Daily
0:00
0:00
Close
Public Uptake of AI Tools Remains Limited
New Tax Rules on Second Homes in the UK to Address Housing Crisis
Can Europe Transition to a War Economy?
France Implements Stricter Airbnb Regulations
Upcoming Pandemic Inevitable, Warns Former UK Chief Scientific Advisor
British Tourists Assaulted by Bouncers in Pattaya, Thailand
Facebook Delays Removal of Fake Account Exploiting TikTok Star
Billionaire Non-Domicile Flees UK Amid Tax Law Changes
Theresa May Admits Mistakes Over Immigration Policies
Nicki Minaj's Manchester Concert Canceled After Amsterdam Arrest
UK Conservative Party Proposes Mandatory National Service at 18
Kate Middleton's Public Absence Throughout 2024
Asylum Seekers Arriving In UK by Sea Exceed 10,000 This Year
UK Criticizes ICJ Order on Israel's Rafah Assault
Ukraine's Fight Against Corruption Gains Ground Amid War
Czech President Petr Pavel Injured in Motorcycle Accident
Record Number of Abortions in England and Wales
Paul McCartney Honours Bruce Springsteen at Ivor Novello Awards
US and UK to Reject ICJ Ruling on Israel's Rafah Offensive
World Court Orders Immediate Halt to Israeli Offensive in Gaza
Understanding FLiRT COVID Variants and Their Impact
Baltic NATO Members to Construct 'Drone Wall'
Global Life Expectancy Dropped By 2 Years Due To COVID-19
Macron Halts New Caledonia Voting Reform After Riots
Rishi Sunak Shelves Rwanda and Smoking Policies Ahead of Election
US Refuses World Court Jurisdiction
China Conducts Surprise Military Drills Around Taiwan
Grim Polls Predict Major Loss for PM Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak's Campaign for UK Election: Key Issues Highlighted
German Property Crisis Worsens as Foreign Investment Declines
Princess of Wales's Taskforce Calls for Business Investment in Early Childhood
Campaign Groups Condemn UK Report on Protests
Former Royal Marine Charged with Espionage Found Dead
Australian PM Calls for Julian Assange's Freedom
ICC Seeks Arrest Warrants for Israeli and Hamas Leaders
UK's Infected Blood Scandal: Conclusion Nears After Seven Years
Julian Assange Granted Right to Challenge US Extradition
Congo Army Thwarts Attempted Coup Involving Americans and a British Citizen
Ireland's Homeless Gain Voting Rights
Blinken orders crackdown on Israel-Hamas leaks
Julian Assange Faces US Extradition: Key Facts
Jacob Zuma Takes Campaign to ANC Stronghold Soweto
Attempted Assassination of Slovakia PM Robert Fico: Investigation Ongoing
What Happens If an Iranian President Dies in Office?
Spain Recalls Ambassador After Argentina President's Remarks
Rishi Sunak Faces Cabinet Backlash Over Proposed Changes to Foreign Student Visas
Rwanda Denies Entry to Human Rights Researcher
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi Reportedly Killed in Helicopter Crash
Blue Origin Resumes Space Tourism with 90-Year-Old Ed Dwight
Rishi Sunak and Wife Akshata Murty Wealthier Than King Charles
×