Since Molly Russell’s story broke in the national news a year ago today, we have grown used to seeing her face in the papers or on television as her story has been reported widely. We have called for new laws to protect the young and vulnerable when online. We believe today marks a big step forward.
MRF are grateful to Baroness Kidron for introducing the Age Appropriate Design Code and to the Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham for taking important concrete steps towards changes that are essential to keep children safe online.
Molly’s father, Ian Russell says, “It is shocking that in failing to make the necessary changes quickly enough, the tech companies have allowed unnecessary suffering to continue. Although small steps have been taken by some social media platforms, there seems little significant investment and a lack of commitment to a meaningful change, both essential steps required to create a safer world wide web. The Age Appropriate Design Code demonstrates how the technology companies might have responded effectively and immediately.”
This is not a question of censorship since the material will remain online – it is a simple question of platforms refraining from actively using a child’s personal data to recommend material that harms the child, or in tragic cases like Molly’s, may even help push them to take their own life.
In the last year, the UK Government has made promises to parents and children that they now have in their grasp to deliver. The Age Appropriate Design Code must urgently be put in front of Parliament so that soon it will be mandated that companies do not recommend suicidal or self-harm material (and any other detrimental material) to children based on their browsing history. It is time to move fast to introduce effective legislation to save young lives.
We must see the end of profit from data gathering being given precedence over the safety of Children. We must stop monetising misery.