Refuge responds to amendments announced for the Online Safety Bill
Ruth Davison, CEO of Refuge, said: “As the Online Safety Bill approaches its return to Parliament, Refuge was grateful to hear the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport announce...
Ruth Davison, CEO of Refuge, said:
“As the Online Safety Bill approaches its return to Parliament, Refuge was grateful to hear the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport announce a number of changes which we feel will make a difference for survivors of domestic abuse.
“We are pleased that the Secretary of State has listened to the recommendations of our recent Marked as Unsafe report and will include controlling or coercive behaviour in the list of priority offences outlined in the Bill. This change will compel social media companies to not only respond when coercive control happens on their platforms, but also to prevent it.
“It’s also encouraging that the Victims’ Commissioner and Domestic Abuse Commissioner have been added to the list of statutory consultees for when Ofcom writes new codes of practice – adding in the voices of survivors at a crucial point in future regulation.
“However, the government has once again overlooked the urgent need for a specific VAWG Code of Practice. Alongside sector partners, Refuge has drafted an oven-ready Code which would mean better protections for the thousands of women impacted by online abuse daily if added. I urge the Secretary of State to reconsider its inclusion in the Bill and demonstrate her commitment to tackling violence against women and girls online.
“Without a Code specifically designed to tackle online violence against women, the ‘triple shield’ announced by the Secretary of State risks failure. User empowerment must not be seen as a substitute to robust action from social media companies – the responsibility to protect users from harm must be placed squarely with them. I’m concerned that, in order to avoid penalties, social media companies will water their terms and conditions down in a way which puts more women and girls in harm’s way.”
Notes to editors
- Read full details of the amendments made.
- Read the full Marked as Unsafe report.
- Read the Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Code of Practice. The Code was jointly developed by Refuge, Carnegie UK, The End Violence Against Women Coalition, Glitch, NSPCC, 5Rights and academics Professors Lorna Woods and Clare McGlynn.
- Find out more information about the Code.
- Take action by writing to the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for DCMS.
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