Wise policy choices for a safer internet
The importance of internet safety extends well beyond our families and classrooms. With so much of our lives happening online, internet safety is increasingly vital to the health of our online ecosystem. Here are three ways that policymakers can help to promote a safer internet:
- Inform and educate. Empowering families with information about the age-appropriateness of content is one way to help children stay safe online. Another is by encouraging young people to “Get it Right From a Genuine Site,” as the UK creative sector is doing through the world’s coolest antipiracy campaign. (If you doubt my opinion on that, check out this video, or this one.) Congratulations to the UK government for stepping up to help fund this campaign through the Creative Industries Sector Deal – it’s a wise investment.
- Make online commerce more transparent. Existing law says everyone running a business online has to say who they are. Guess who ignores that rule? Anyone who wants to break the law, including con artists, identity thieves, tax evaders, and illegal streaming sites. It’s time to change that. We support the ‘Know Your Business Customer’ campaign to combat illegitimate websites. Its goal is to makes business customer transparency a condition of obtaining the essential web services that illegal sites rely on to operate, such as hosting, payment, advertising, proxy providers, domain name providers and marketplaces.
- When illegal content gets taken down, let’s keep it down. Today’s outdated rules have created a maddening system where illegal content can be put back up as soon as it gets taken down. Fighting illegal content under those rules is like trying to fill a bucket that is full of holes. Here’s a radical new idea – let’s stop wasting time taking down the exact same old illegal content thousands upon thousands of times, and free up our resources to fight the many new threats that arise every day.
Of course, these are only three of many possible steps to enhance internet safety. Whether through these ideas or others, we hope that internet safety will be a central priority in legislative initiatives such as the EU’s draft Digital Services Act and future UK legislation (the UK Government is due to tackle harmful content online through a new regulatory framework, to be set out in a new Online Safety Bill in 2021).
As we look ahead to 2021, and hopefully a future that looks both analogue and digital, let’s rededicate ourselves to pursuing wise policies that promote safety both online and off.