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Speaking in a debate in Westminster Hall today in Parliament, DUP MP Carla Lockhart has urged the Government to address some of the most serious aspects of online harms in forthcoming legislation to protect internet users.

Speaking in Westminster, Carla Lockhart said,

“If what happens every second on the internet happened on our street, firstly, we wouldn’t let our children anywhere near it, and secondly we would be expecting the full force of the law to be applied to stop it.

Yet on the intangible, remote, world wide web, Government and law enforcement has allowed self-regulation and a law onto themselves attitude to prevail for well over a decade. This must end.

Over recent weeks I have met with the National Crime Agency, Facebook and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. What I heard from the NCA was nothing short of frightening. And it is because this issue is so serious that it needs a serious approach from Government.

I endorse the six tests outlined by the NSPCC last week on what must be delivered by legislation. Liability, empowering a regulator, effective sanctions, recognising and dealing with the gravity of issues, like abuse, self-harm and suicide. There is no good reason not to take such steps.

Self-regulation simply doesn’t address the root of problem. Very little is more important than protecting children. The extraordinary Government U-turn of 16 October 2019 regarding age verification never has been accompanied by an explanation that made sense.

Given that the age verification providers were in place and ready to provide robust, high speed, and secure anonymised age verification the alleged technology issues doesn’t stack up. We need action on age-verification immediately.

In relation then to anonymity, I believe we need to tackle these faceless trolls. We need to strip away the ability to have several accounts all of which are used to abuse individuals. We are all used to confirming our identity be it on an airline, to buy certain products, or in our employment, why then the push back online. Yes there may well be a minority of people who need to remain anonymous but these people can be protected in law.”