Misogynistic abuse to be banned online by law

The Online Safety Bill has been amended

Misogynistic abuse will be banned online through a new law in order to combat violence against women and girls.

Under the government’s latest amendments to the Online Safety Bill, tech platforms will be made to prevent online abuse against females by the regulator Ofcom.

There will be a new requirement for guidance to be published which will summarise, in one clear place, measures that social media firms can take to reduce the risk of harm to women and girls, and which demonstrates best practice.

Online abuse of women is widespread in Britain: More than one in three have experienced online abuse on social media or another online platform, research by the charity Refuge has found. One in 10 said they felt suicidal because of abuse.

Ofcom will consult with the Domestic Abuse Commissioner and Victims Commissioner to produce the guidance “to ensure it reflects the voices of victims, as well as the views of experts on this important issue”.

Companies that fail to remove abusive misogynistic material by banning repeat offenders could face fines of up to £18m or 10 per cent of global turnover (whichever is greater). In extreme circumstances, Ofcom can block platforms.

Former culture secretary Baroness Morgan, who has led the campaign to tighten legislation, said it would cover misogynistic abuse, rape threats and revenge porn.         

“It will make it very clear to platforms that in order to comply with their duties, they should follow the guidance,” she told The Telegraph. “This guidance will be designed by the regulator in consultation with relevant interests and parties including the domestic abuse commissioner and victims’ commissioner.

“If the companies follow the guidance and use it, they will have a good defence if someone then says we think you have fallen foul of one of their safety duties.”

One in 10 women feel suicidal because of the abuse they face while gaming, research for Sky Broadband in May discovered. Of 4,000 female gamers surveyed, 49 per cent reported they have faced abuse or harassment when playing or streaming online – rising to 75 per cent of those aged 18 to 24.

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