Online safety a game of whack-a-mole with ‘too many moles to whack’ – Ofcom boss

25 November 2021, 13:34

A hand at a keyboard
Online Safety Bill. Picture: PA

Maggie Carver said expectations need to be set about the scope of the upcoming Online Safety Bill.

Online safety is like a game of whack-a-mole with “far too many moles to whack”, the interim chair of media regulator Ofcom has said.

Maggie Carver, who has been in the position since January, said expectations need to be set about the scope of the upcoming Online Safety Bill.

Ms Carver told the VLV Autumn Conference on Wednesday that the watchdog was working “very constructively” on the legislation with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

The forthcoming Bill is expected to force the biggest technology firms to abide by a duty of care to users.

Asked if she thought the Bill would go far enough, she said: “We do need to set expectations, we’re not going to be able to manage everything and that is just the nature of the beast.

“I always say it’s a bit like whack-a-mole where, with the broadcasting code, you can whack every mole.

“But online there are far too many moles to whack.

“What I do think we’re going to do is to make a big difference and we’re going to measure that so I am hopeful… but we’re not going to be able to wipe everything that’s illegal or harmful off the internet.”

On the relationship with the Government and DCMS she added: “All of us are working very constructively to achieve a very effective Bill so I am optimistic about that.

“We have quite a bit of water to go under the bridge but the Ofcom board is working really hard on that.

“We are working with DCMS and Government and they are listening to us.”

Andy Burrows, head of child safety online policy at the NSPCC, said: “If the Online Safety Bill is to be judged a success it needs to prevent abuse and end the current whack-a-mole approach platforms take to harmful content.

“To do this the legislation needs to be significantly strengthened and compel platforms to work together to stop abuse spreading across different sites and apps before children come to harm.

“This means changing the culture at the top of firms.

“The Bill should put a legal duty on every social media platform to name a senior manager who is responsible for children’s safety and give Ofcom the power to hold them criminally liable for failure.”

By Press Association

More Technology News

See more More Technology News

Glastonbury Festival 2019

EE expects Glastonbury data usage to double at this year’s festival

Ford geofencing technology

Ford trials geofencing tech to automatically control vehicle speed

The Duomo in Milan on Google Street View

Google Street View’s ‘time travel’ feature comes to smartphones

Facebook

Facebook and Instagram to reveal more on how ads target users

Mark Zuckerberg

Washington sues Mark Zuckerberg over Cambridge Analytica privacy breach

Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro smartphones

More powerful cameras key to smartphone success, says Google manager

An underwater drone on a ship deck

Underwater drone carries out first-ever offshore wind farm inspection

Child uses laptop

Create watchdog to protect children online, charity says

Technology Stock

Dark web ‘scramble’ over Buffalo attack amid fears of post-pandemic attacks

Technology stock

Twitter users told to be wary of scam messages about verified accounts

Computer virus stock

Scientists create tool to kill cyber attacks in ‘less than a second’

Attorney General Suella Braverman

International law should be applied to cyberspace, Attorney General to say

Games console controller

Gaming sector in Scotland needs UK-wide network to thrive, report warns

Sir Nick Clegg

Sir Nick Clegg says the metaverse is coming ‘one way or another’

A child at a computer

Online Safety Bill fails to stop violence against women and girls, experts warn

Coders race to take part in Robot Dog Olympics

Coders take part in Robot Dog Olympics to help develop tech solutions for Army