Social Media: Epilepsy

(asked on 7th July 2020) - View Source

Question to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the prevalence of the deliberate sharing of material capable of causing an epileptic seizure on social media platforms, and (2) the case for including measures against such behaviour in their forthcoming online harms legislation.

Answered by
Baroness Barran Portrait
Baroness Barran
This question was answered on 20th July 2020

The Online Harms White Paper sets out the government’s plans for world leading legislation to make the UK the safest place to be online. We intend to establish in law a new duty of care on companies towards their users which will be overseen by an independent regulator. The ‘duty of care’ will ensure companies take risk-based and proportionate steps to keep their users safe. The regulator will also have the power to require companies to publish transparency reports, which will improve users’ understanding about the prevalence of harmful content and the countermeasures companies are taking. We will publish a full response to the white paper consultation later this year, which will set out final details regarding the scope of the duty of care and the obligations on companies. We will follow this with legislation.

In addition to this new legislation, it is important to make sure that the criminal law is fit for purpose to deal with online harms. DCMS and the Ministry of Justice have engaged the Law Commission on a second phase of their review of abusive and offensive online communications. This will include considering whether co-ordinated harassment by groups of people online could be more effectively dealt with by the criminal law, whether it is targeted at individuals with epilepsy or others. The Law Commission will review existing communications offences and make specific recommendations about options for reform, to ensure that criminal law provides consistent and effective protection against such behaviour.

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