Stourbridge News Column, 7th February 2019

Stourbridge News Column – Thursday 7th February

Organisations across the country took part in ‘Safer Internet Day’ on Tuesday 5th February, to help promote the safe, responsible and positive use of digital technology. 2019 is going to be an important year for internet safety and, as Digital Minister, I want this to be the year in which we collectively take a stand against online harms and the dark side of social media.

The tragic death of Molly Russell is the latest event in a world of social media that behaves as if it is above the law. This year we will take a stand against the cyberbullying, the glorifying of self-harm and suicide, the vile hate crimes and worse. We want and support trusted technology that helps and heals, not harms.

My Department will introduce laws that force social media platforms to remove illegal content and to prioritise the protection of users above their commercial interests. We will consult on some of the more challenging areas: how to tackle anonymity online; how to work across borders to end the use of multiple and fake accounts that co-ordinate campaigns of misinformation; and how to hold social media platforms liable for the organised crime that flourishes in private discussion groups and behind encrypted messaging services.

Offline, there are strict rules to prevent children viewing pornography. But pornographic websites are easily accessible for free with little effort to stop children and young teenagers seeing them.

That is why we will be leading the world this year by making it illegal for pornographic websites to allow people to access them without proving they are over 18. Parents deserve peace of mind that their children will not come across something disturbing.

I will be in Stourbridge this weekend for a number of meetings and events. On Friday afternoon, my meetings will all be focused on education. As well as meeting the principals of both Birmingham Metropolitan College (BMET) and Glasshouse College, I will be at Stourbridge College in the afternoon for a ‘Youth Question Time’ style event, focusing on further education. I am very much looking forward to what I know will be a very interesting debate on one of the most important issues in politics.

On Saturday, I am hosting an Open Advice Surgery at Lye Community Centre, along with Council candidate Kamran Razzaq. If you would like to come along, I will be there until 12pm – no appointment is required.

As always, you can also email any questions or concerns about this article, or indeed anything else, to margot.james.mp@parliament.uk and my team and I will do our best to help.