Today (26th October 2023) the long awaited Online Safety Bill has become an act of law, with landmark guidance for tech companies to reduce harm to women and girls to be developed by the regulator, Ofcom.
This is a historic moment for women’s rights, driven by experts in violence against women and girls and more than 100,000 members of the public who supported our campaign with Glitch, calling on the government to turn a Bill that made no mention of women and girls into a law that protects us from the online abuse we disproportionately experience.
Since we began this campaign, what was once a 225 page Bill that failed to mention women and girls once, now requires Ofcom to develop guidance for tech companies to reduce harm to women and girls, and to consult with the Domestic Abuse Commissioners, Victims’ Commissioner, survivors and experts in its development.
The law also requires Ofcom to take action to educate the public about harmful content. This is a welcome step, as public awareness and understanding of this issue is central to ending and preventing gender-based violence – online and offline.
The End Violence Against Women Coalition and Glitch joined together with a coalition of experts, including Refuge, Carnegie UK, NSPCC, Glitch, 5Rights, the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, Professor Clare McGlynn and Professor Lorna Woods to develop a code of practice on violence against women and girls. While the new guidance doesn’t go as far as this, we will work with Ofcom and the government to make sure the guidance takes a holistic approach, focusing on prevention and accountability for tech companies.
Andrea Simon, Director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW), said:
“Along with survivors, other experts and over 100,000 members of the public, we called for the Online Safety Bill to tackle and prevent violence against women and girls. We welcome this landmark new guidance for tech companies to reduce harm to women and girls online, which is a step in the right direction for tackling this abuse.
But we also know that implementation and enforcement is key if we are to address the rapid spread of misogyny and online abuse, and we will work with the government and Ofcom to ensure it is as robust as possible and well enforced.”
Sinead Geoghegan, 07960 744 502, firstname.lastname@example.org