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Online exploitation and abuse targeted in a new UK investigation

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The UK government has said that it will launch a new review, separate from the Online Safety Bill, to find any gaps in UK regulation that allows online exploitation or abuse. Specifically, it will be focusing on the UK’s regulation of online pornography to make sure it can fight exploitation and abuse.

Commenting on the initiative, Technology Minister Paul Scully said:

“Keeping the public safe is the first priority of any government and with technology moving faster than ever, we cannot take our eye off the ball in exploring what more we can do.

Our Pornography Review will look closely at the laws and regulations relating to offline and online content, informing our next steps in tackling the heinous crimes of exploitation and abuse, wherever it occurs.”

Gathering insights from experts across government, the Crown Prosecution Service, police, industry, civil society, and regulators, the investigation will look into the role of the porn industry in the trafficking and exploitation of adult performers, child sexual exploitation and abuse, and how extreme and non-consensual content online is dealt with.

The government listed several pieces of legislation that already tackles some of these issues but due to the ever-changing ways media is being consumed, it decided a review was needed. It expects to outline more about what the review will cover “in due course” and expect the review to be complete within a year.

As mentioned earlier, this review is separate from the Online Safety Bill - a major bill that would help protect people when they go online. One of the most well-publicized components of the bill is that it’ll require adult websites to implement robust age verification measures before allowing access to the content.

Last week it was announced that the bill would hold top tech executives personally responsible for failing to keep children safe on their platforms. By holding them personally responsible, it’s believed that they will ensure tougher action is taken to remove harmful content such as that which promotes or encourages suicide, self-harm, or eating disorders.

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