The government has announced that the UK Council for Internet Safety (UKCIS), which is the successor to the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS), has had its scope expanded to improve online safety for all in the UK.
Part of Government Commitment
The introduction of The UK Council for Internet Safety (UKCIS) is part of the government’s commitment to making the UK the safest place in the world to be online, and it will feed into the development of the forthcoming Online Harms White Paper. The whitepaper, which sets out the government’s plans for a package of online safety measures that also supports innovation and a thriving digital economy, comprises the legislative and non-legislative measures that will make companies more responsible for their users’ safety online, especially children and other vulnerable groups.
Executive Board From Many Organisations
One of the key ways in which UKCIS is expanding its scope and expertise is by including Executive Board members from a wide a range of organisations in the technology industry, civil society and the public sector. The hope and intention are that these diverse organisations will be able to collaborate effectively and coordinate a UK-wide approach to online safety.
The Executive Board member organisations include Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, GCHQ, Internet Service Providers, BBC, Childnet, the National Crime Agency and National Police Chiefs’ Council, the Scottish Government, the Welsh Assembly, the Northern Ireland Executive, and the ICO.
This Executive Board will be jointly chaired by ministers at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Department for Education and the Home Office, and representatives from the administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Board’s membership will be regularly reviewed to ensure maximum relevance to the evolving challenges that the UK faces in the broad prevention of online harm.
The government says that the priority of focus for the work of UKCIS will not only include well known online harms experienced by children e.g. cyberbullying and sexual exploitation but will also include risks such as radicalisation and extremism, violence against women and girls, hate crimes and hate speech, and any discrimination against any groups protected under the Equality Act e.g. on the basis of disability or race.
The government’s approach with the new UKCIS has, however, been met with criticism from tech commentators who have expressed concern that it may be too vague and that the UKCIS may not be able to act effectively if some difficult problems and trade-offs are ignored.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
The online economy and the digital society that it serves needs effective protection in order to improve safety for all and to benefit the growth and prosperity of the UK economy. This new approach of widening the scope of expertise in a collaborative way and bringing more sections of UK society under the umbrella of protection appears to be a very positive step in making the UK a safer place to be online. This can only benefit businesses, many of which now rely heavily on digital communications and trading platforms. A safer online environment at home may mean that UK businesses can use more of their resources on making themselves more competitive in the global marketplace.