A Highland MSP is calling on the UK government to put the safety of young people at the forefront by enforcing measures to protect them against online pornography.
MSP Rhoda Grant has criticised UK government ministers over their failure to enforce UK-wide legislation, designed to protect children and women from ‘extreme’ and violent content online.
Last month, Westminster revealed plans to scrap the roll-out of Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act 2017, which was designed to protect children from accessing harmful online materials.
The Labour MSP has now tabled a Holyrood motion, with support from fellow SNP ministers appealing, calling on them to “change course” with immediate effect.
Call to action
The motion notes that “a coalition of women’s organisations, headteachers, children’s charities and parliamentarians” have called on the government to enforce Part 3 “without further delay” to ensure that children, and women, in Scotland and throughout the UK are protected.
Mrs Grant said she hopes this motion will act as a “wake up call” to ministers.
She said: “How we keep our children safe online should be an absolute priority, so the failure to implement Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act 2017 is a terrible reflection on the UK Government.
“Access to some of the most violent forms of illegal pornography normalises violence against women and girls at a young age, and will perpetuate the scandal of women in our society suffering abuse, violence and sexual attacks.
“The long list of those calling for the implementation should be a wake up call that this legislation needs to be enacted and enforced immediately, and I wholeheartedly support this call to action.”
Protecting young people is a top priority
Public policy charity CARE, who worked closely with politicians at Westminster on the provisions in the Digital Economy Act, have pledged their support the motion.
Michael Veitch, parliamentary officer for the charity CARE, urged the UK government said enforcing legislation was more important than ever to safeguard the wellbeing of online users.
“We are highly concerned about the potential impact, here in Scotland, of the UK Government’s failure to implement Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act,” he said.
“For each day these safeguards fail to be implemented, children in Scotland continue to stumble across commercial porn sites which are full of graphic and disturbing content.
“Implementing Part 3 would also see the establishment of a regulator to take strong action against sites showing extreme and violent porn. With growing concerns about ‘rape culture’ and tragic cases of sexual violence, such as that of Sarah Everard, this type of regulation couldn’t be more important.
“We are delighted that a number of MSPs, from different parties, have backed this motion and we urge the UK Government to change course.”