The NSPCC has been calling for legislation to protect children from grooming, abuse and harmful content online, since 2017.

After years of the charity campaigning, on December 15th, the Government announced the framework for a future Online Harms Bill that has the potential to provide much greater protection for children when they use the internet.

This is a landmark moment –a major step towards legislation that can make an enforceable legal Duty of Care on tech companies a reality. For too long children have been exposed to disgraceful abuse and harm online.

Social media companies will have a duty to protect young users from child abuse and harmful content online and face fines of up to £18million or 10% of their global turnover if they fail. But that doesn’t mean that the work we do stops now. For instance, the proposals fall short of ensuring criminal sanctions against named directors whose companies fail to uphold their Duty of Care.

Child protection and children’s voices must remain front and centre of regulatory requirements. We have set out six tests for robust regulation.

Failing to pass any of the six tests will mean that future generations of children will pay with serious avoidable harm and sexual abuse.

We will now be closely scrutinising the proposals against those tests. Above all, legislation must ensure Ofcom has the power and resources to enforce the Duty of Care and be able to identify and then take appropriate action against tech firms that fail.

For more information, search ‘NSPCC six tests’.


Local Campaigns Manager for the South West NSPCC