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Online Safety Does Not Equal Regulation.

As a married father of two daughters both me and my wife have always taught and spoken to our daughters about online safety and how they can both enjoy the internet whilst staying safe.

The Government, this month introduced a draft online safety bill which will bring in a much stronger regime of online regulation which will affect everyone who uses the internet.

We do not need further regulation in this area as there are many, many built in safety aspects to protect individuals especially the young falling into danger and are already available for use.

The problem arises because people have become so used to the idea that the Government will solve all of their problems for them and will keep them safe online. Some will argue that they feel that they don't need to look for themselves as nanny government has got it covered. There are also those who just are unsure of what to do and don't know where to start looking.

There are many inbuilt mechanisms within search engines, social media sites and in the actual hardware such as tablets, laptops, mobile phones and broadband set up that will keep the individual safe whilst browsing the web. These are too many to list in an article but they are there and do the job that they are supposed to do.

There also needs to be the element of self responsibility and for those with children to actually take charge and responsibility for their children's actions and online safety. I know this may sound harsh but if you decide to have children you must be responsible for them, both for their safety and their discipline in all parts of their life.

We have seen in other areas that have had prohibitions and substantial regulation imposed on them that the criminal element and those willing to cause harm will always find a way to get around it. When an area of life becomes rooted in regulation and bureaucracy it is not the criminal element who is disadvantaged but those individuals trying to live their lives within the law and without interfering in others lives.

Concerns have been raised to this new legislation by other organisations and some responses noted in the Commons Library Briefing dated the 28th May 2021 are very scathing of it.

One in particular is on the concept of "harm" is as follows:

"Paul Wragg, Editor in Chief of Communications Law, noted that the Paper 'moves, awkwardly and confusingly, between criminality and immorality, between commerce and health and safety, between social cohesion and personal development'. This is not a 'description of a problem, or even some problems. It is the description of all our problems'. Wragg claimed there was a tension throughout the Paper between questions of law and ethics, between what is illegal and what is unacceptable. According to Wragg, freedom of expression becomes the 'obvious casualty' when attempting to prevent harm to others." *

* Source House of Commons Briefing Paper Number 8743.

Many of you may have seen the advert on television where people are asked what the different computing terms such as phishing mean. It is astonishing that people don't know.

So my point is that we do not need to regulate more but educate ourselves on the technology that is at our disposal to protect ourselves and our children. If we feel intimidated by some keyboard warrior then just block them. Our internet journey is always in our hands and we need less government interference in this and every other area of our lives.

We need to move away from continuous regulation and prohibition otherwise we move to a very dangerous form of government that will be authoritarian. The Libertarian Party will always be against further regulation as it is in direct contradiction to our philosophy and core beliefs. A policy of having the right information available will certainly help individuals educate themselves in online safety and elevate the importance of self responsibility.

Glenville Gogerly - Libertarian Party Chairman & Home Affairs Spokesperson.