Friday, 24 Mar 2023

Delays to online safety bill will endanger young people, says Molly Russells father

Delays to online safety bill will endanger young people, says Molly Russells father


Delays to online safety bill will endanger young people, says Molly Russells father

Further delays in implementing the online safety bill will endanger young people at risk of harmful social media content, Molly Russell's father has warned.

Ian Russell said he received a phone call last week from the culture secretary, Michelle Donelan, in which she pledged to resume the bill's progress through parliament before Christmas.

The bill, which includes provisions for protecting children from harmful content, was paused in July and is to undergo revisions to enhance protection of free speech online.

"If we wait around and chase perfection, we're endangering young people in particular, who are exposed to harmful content," Russell told the Guardian.

Molly Russell, 14, from Harrow, north-west London, took her own life in November 2017 after viewing extensive amounts of content, particularly on Instagram and Pinterest, related to suicide, depression, self-harm and anxiety.

Last month an inquest into Molly's death reached a landmark conclusion that social media contributed to her death, stating that she "died from an act of self-harm while suffering from depression and the negative effects of online content".

The bill could become law next year if the government timetable is not changed, but Russell said he wanted to see "fine words" put into action.

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