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IET comments on reports of a delay in the Online Safety Bill

Institution of Engineering and Technology

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A joint comment from Catherine Allen, co-author of the IET’s Safeguarding the metaverse report and member of the IET’s Digital Policy Panel, and child safety advocate and IET Honorary Fellow, Carol Vorderman M.A.(Cantab) MBE:

"It's disappointing to hear reports of a delay in the Online Safety Bill, which aims to keep online users safe from harm. 

“Online platforms and emerging technologies must be properly engaged with by politicians, globally - and for decades this has not happened. As a result of this inertia, many parts of the internet now feel like a wild west. Until now the UK was leading the way in comparison to many other countries.

“We have been waiting far too long for policy makers to take new technologies and platforms seriously. Whether it’s TikTok, a virtual reality headset or a metaverse gaming platform, politicians must avoid trivialising or feeling mystified by new technology platforms. Yes, there are complex factors to consider, like protecting our existing rights to freedom of expression, but that doesn't mean we can delay addressing underlying problems. 

“A delay in legislation of several months is significant, because of the particularly rapid pace of technology's development. The speed at which online platforms evolve mean that new threats emerge daily.”

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