NSPCC lobbying campaign for greater online protection gains ground

A campaign by the NSPCC, which has already succeeded in getting the Government to include some of the charity’s recommendations in the draft Online Safety Bill, is gaining momentum.

Nadine Dorries, who was appointed culture secretary in September (Pic credit: WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Nadine Dorries, who was appointed culture secretary in September (Pic credit: WPA Pool/Getty Images)

For the latest iteration in the NSPCC’s long-running 'Wild West Web' campaign the charity has mobilised thousands of supporters in recent months to renew pressure on the Government to improve the protection of children online.

The charity released a report in September outlining its concerns over gaps that remain in child protection.

In this latest phase of the campaign, which coincided with the appointment of Nadine Dorries as the Culture Secretary, the charity urged its supporters to write to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and urge the Government to strengthen child protection measures in the bill.

The charity, which does not have an external public affairs agency, uses in-house press, campaigns and policy teams.

People power

Since September, more than 2,100 supporters have emailed Dorries, and more than 5,400 have signed an open letter calling for tougher measures to force firms to act.

Earlier this month Dorries said that the bill will be strengthened, with work being done with civil servants to tackle firms that “have the ability to put right what they're doing wrong now”.

Her plans include scrapping the two-year period that firms would have after the bill comes into law before they would be sanctioned, a length of time she described as “a nonsense". Instead, Dorries wants the grace period shortened to three to six months.

Earlier success

This comes just months after the NSPCC was successful in getting some of its recommendations adopted by the Government in the draft bill that was published in May. These included placing a duty of care on firms to protect children, as well as specific requirements to disrupt online grooming, remove illegal content and take steps to prevent the production and distribution of new child abuse images.

Comms perspective

David Hamilton, NSPCC director of comms and marketing, said: “The campaign has been a massive team effort, and our talented people have brought the issue of online safety to life with powerful real-life stories, agenda-setting analysis and regular, high-profile coverage. We have put young people front and centre of the debate to ensure legislation acts as a landmark child protection measure.” 

He added: “The next few months are critical. The legislation can and must be stronger, which is why we are continuing to mobilise thousands of campaigners. We are asking Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries to seize the opportunity to drive a bill that fundamentally keeps children safe and gives them an advocate to fight for them.”

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