More than 13,000 online child sex crimes will be recorded when the government’s flagship internet safety legislation falters over the summer, a new study suggests.
This Online Safety Act The NSPCC said it was due to return to parliament today after being delayed from July – while police could register more than 100 grooming and other such offences a day.
But the bill to come back before MPs has been delayed further The latest Conservative leadership crisisSee Rishi Sunak He took office as the new prime minister last week.
The government has since refused to commit to a new timetable.
The NSPCC said “critical” legislation should be considered a “priority”.
Chief executive Sir Peter Wanless said: “There is a general consensus among the public to prioritise the buyback of key legislation and strengthen the protection of children so that they can be systematically and comprehensively protected from harm and abuse for years to come.”
A spokesman for the Ministry of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport told Sky News: “Protecting children and preventing illegal activity online is a government priority and we will bring the Cybersecurity Bill to Parliament as soon as possible.”
What is the Online Safety Act?
The legislation is a key part of the Conservative Party’s 2019 election manifesto, says former culture minister Nadine Dorries Vows to be tough on tech companies.
Speaking to parliament last year, she threatened social media bosses with swift criminal prosecution if they failed to “remove your harmful algorithms today”.
Under the original proposal, tech companies would prepare for the changes within two years of passage of the bill.
Opposition to the plan has focused on a vague definition of “online harm,” which critics argue would give DCMS too much power to dictate Internet discourse.
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Victim’s emotional plea to PM
Nearly 50,000 people signed a petition calling on Mr Sunak to pass the Online Safety Act.
The campaign included a letter from a victim who had been trained and abused online since the age of 11.
“The unregulated online space meant my abuser could use multiple platforms to groom, abuse and manipulate me without ever leaving his home,” they wrote.
“Online grooming by its very nature is intense and deceptive, and it took me a long time to realize that what happened to me wasn’t my fault.
“Sadly, too many kids are still going through the same thing I did.
“They are still not immune to online grooming and sexual abuse.
“But you can change that.
“You have the power to stop this from happening to other young people.”
‘We are endangering young people’
It was after the father of teenager Molly Russell, She committed suicide at 14 after checking social media related to self-harm and suicidewarning that further delays to the bill would endanger young people.
“If we wait and strive for perfection, we especially endanger young people exposed to harmful content,” he told the Guardian last month.
The current culture minister, Michelle Donelan, insists the bill is her top priority.
The NSPCC cited Home Office police data for the analysis, which is based on the total number of online child abuse cases recorded in England and Wales in 2021/22.